This month, CEO of Kaplan, Leaman & Wolfe Court Reporting & Litigation Support, Gregg Wolfe, sat down with Search Engine Optimization guru for the legal industry, Laurence Banville, Esq. from Ag ConeXus, to understand what law firms can do in 2015 to generate business from the web, and in particular search engines.
- What can a law firm do itself, at a basic level, which would help them generate business in 2015 from the web?
- Engaging in an ongoing SEO campaign requires a large investment in the legal space. If you are a small firm or solo that does not have deep marketing budgets, then the easiest way to generate business from the web is by:
1) Ensure you claim your Google My Business page. This is your directory listing within Google. Complete all fields and don’t cut corners.
2) Engage in getting friends and past clients to review your work on that Google page.
By following these two pretty simple steps, you should start ranking in the Google local results after putting in a consistent effort.
- What are the big changes that have recently taken place in Google’s algorithm that will affect ranking and SEO in 2015?
- That’s a very good question. So Google updates its algorithm about 800 times a year now. We don’t have enough time to cover them all here, but the main updates that have taken place are:
1) Google Panda – this update basically means that you can no longer put out canned or paid for content on your site pretending it’s unique. Also keyword stuffing your articles and putting tons of zip codes and cities in the footer of your site won’t work. This update basically looks at the quality of your site and its content. The penalty is now rolling out automatically on a monthly basis.
This means you must blog and write really good content. You cannot copy it from someone else.
2) Google Penguin – this update is another hugely important one. This one means you can’t go out there and buy links to your website or fake it. These are practices which used to work, but no longer do. If you used to rank a few years ago and now you are nowhere to be found, it’s likely this penalty hit you.
What this update basically comes back to is having good quality content which naturally attracts links to your site. You can’t force it.
3) Google Hummingbird – this update changed the underlying way that Google’s engine ran. Traditionally it focused on keywords. Now it focuses on semantic language, which enables the focus to be on the intent of the person typing in a phrase versus matching keywords.
What this means is that your content should really be in a Frequently Asked Questions style, as most searches will be looking for answers.
- What do you predict will be a game changer in the future for law firm SEO?
- Well, this relates to all industries, but Google is constantly looking at ways to keep websites honest. We believe that the user experience on a website will be a major factor in who is most relevant for the query.
Google knows how long people are on your site, they know how many people click on pages. With that knowledge, if someone comes to your site after typing “Personal Injury Lawyer Philadelphia”, and they leave within 15 seconds of arriving, does that signal that the person found what they are looking for? – No. This will be a factor.
On average, visitors have short attention span, so we combat this by making the pages engaging.
- How do you ensure a good user experience?
- First stop is having a responsively designed website. This means it displays optimized for the devices being used to view it on. People leave websites within 5 seconds if they have to pinch the screen to zoom in and read the content.
Second, you need to give the user what they want. This varies from vertical to vertical. If they want to know statute of limitations answers, make sure that is prominent on a page dealing with that.
Third, people love video. 30 second videos that give the user great information will save you from that quick exit.
Fourth, design. If a site looks terrible it loses trust. If a site looks great, you will associate the firm as being great. Better looking websites convert users to calls and contacts.
Fifth, speed. If your site is slow to load, it’s game over. They will click back and Google will know you are not relevant for that search. Speed optimization is crucial.
- What is important for a firm to consider when choosing and SEO provider these days?
- It’s pretty simple.
1) Look at clients they currently work with, ask to speak with those clients and get a reference. The proof is in the pudding and it will cut through salesmanship.
2) If you have some knowledge about the area, ask them to show you an example of their link building. If it is in breach of Google Guidelines, then do not hire them as you are more likely to be penalized than anything.
- How much does SEO cost?
- There are many variables at play. Avoid people with packages that are pre-priced. Your SEO strategy should be priced based on how much does it cost to do whatever it takes to beat the 10 people ranking on page 1 for the keywords you want.
SEO has become a lot more complex in recent years and requires a lot more work, time and patience. To execute a SEO campaign with the latest and most creative strategies can range from $5,000 per month to $100,000 per month. Again, geo targeting and competitiveness of keywords will be huge variables.
- How long does SEO take?
- Longer than before! On average, we see real results for clients at the 12 month mark. Until then you are making Google trust you and your content. So it takes a large commitment to get to the coveted positions, but when you are there, your ROI is incredible.