I am emailed or called nearly daily with one particular question from attorneys and law firm administrators “Are SEO services a scam?” The answer is simple, yes and no.
Before we dive into the SEO racket that marketing agencies have developed, it is imperative that you understand what SEO is and is not.
The Lie of Legal SEO
Most agencies and legal marketing companies pitch SEO as a core product that can standalone and generate visits to your website that will turn into clients. This is a lie. Some agencies and legal marketing companies pitch SEO as a new revolution that outperforms all other forms of advertising. This too, is a lie. Some agencies and legal marketing companies will go as far as to sell an “SEO package” that includes “content updates” which will “generate leads.” Again, a lie. SEO, at its core, is nothing more than an attempt to make a website relevant and authoritative in search engines. This task is achieved by creating content that is relevant to user searches, webpages that are linked to by authoritative websites, stories that are shared across social networks, clean code that allows a website to load quickly, mobile content that displays properly, and a host of other benchmarks that lead to the creation of a quality web experience. Even if your website checks all the boxes, proper SEO still cannot guarantee conversion.
If SEO is so terrible, why the hell do you need it (and how can it work)?
SEO isn’t terrible, it’s a small part of a larger strategy. Let’s look at an analogy.
Imagine that the CEO of McDonald’s has put together a plan to sell more hamburgers. In that plan, the CEO has outlined a procedure for placing commercials on particular television channels. Proud of this new plan, the CEO presents it to investors. “It will be fabulous,” the CEO assures the investors, “commercials everywhere always works!” The investors scratch their heads and ask “Okay, so we place commercials on particular channels… how does this make us money?” Pausing for a moment, the CEO replies “Well, it just does.” The investors shake hands with the CEO, excited about this plan although it lacks any direction or chance of success. “He’s the expert,” the investors reason to themselves “he must know what he’s doing.”
Why do I use this example? Because the CEO’s plan is no different than what attorneys and law firms pay thousands of dollars to questionable legal marketing companies to execute on a daily basis… an SEO plan with no direction, message, or chance of success.
The question that must be answered is “How do we make SEO work?”