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In our “Summer of SEO” series of eBooks, we include three icons to help highlight bits of information of particular importance to our readers:

A pair of aces, illustrating SEO “bets” that offer a high probability of success;

A laptop with a warning message indicating where technical issues might affect an attorney’s SEO efforts;

A brain accompanied by a warning message, demonstrating to readers the possibility of going on ‘tilt.’

But what, exactly, is ‘tilt?’

Here is the explanation we provide in the opening section of those eBooks:

When a poker player gets frustrated and starts making ill-informed bets, they are said to be on ‘tilt.’ Similarly, attorneys hoping to rush their SEO success may be tempted to dabble in risky black hat tactics. This icon indicates black hat SEO tactics that may seem appealing at first glance (especially when fluffed with misleading rhetoric by SEO salespeople), but that are highly likely to harm your website’s SEO in the long run.

It is possible that the phrase, as it is used in poker, arose from the warning message that appears when a frustrated player shakes or lifts a pinball machine, causing the flippers and bumpers to lock up, resulting in the loss of a ball. ‘Tilt’ has a similar effect when applied to people.

When a poker player goes on tilt, it typically means that they are playing in an uncharacteristically aggressive manner. And, often, when other players recognize that one among them is on tilt, they expect that player to begin bleeding money as a result of their illogical play.

Similarly, when attorneys go on ‘tilt’ as a result of online marketing frustrations, the chance that they begin throwing money away on SEO tactics that either won’t work for their websites or might even hurt them in the long run increases drastically.

Naturally, this raises the following question:

“Why would attorneys find themselves on tilt when it comes to online law firm marketing?”

Here are three possible reasons that an attorney may go on ’tilt.’

Law Firm SEO Success Is Taking Longer than the Attorney Anticipated

Regular content creation requires regular effort, and seeing positive results for your content on search engine results pages (SERPs) can take time.

In our “Creating Compelling Content For Your Law Firm Website” webinar series, LawLytics Vice President of Content Operations, Rachel Chalot, says that her department has, in some cases, seen positive SEO results for aggressive, targeted blogging strategies after about six weeks of publishing on a specific topic. However, sometimes, it can take longer..

Many attorneys are simply not aware of the time needed to see success with content marketing. An attorney may be tempted to ditch a content marketing strategy in favor of paying a SEO provider to take control of his or her law firm’s website.

Outsourcing SEO for your law firm website to a third party, however, comes with its own unique set of risks, including the risk of stepping outside of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and landing your site with a search engine penalty, as well as the risk that your SEO provider could put your practice in danger by violating the professional rules as they relate to advertising.

SEO tactics for attorneys: playing the SEO game to Win

The Attorney Does Not Understand How Law Firm SEO Works

When it comes to information about SEO, the internet can be an intimidating place. There seems to be a mix between helpful information about SEO, and information meant to scare you into paying for SEO help from a third-party provider.

When attorneys attempt to build a strong online presence without the basic knowledge about how search engines work or how their potential clients search for information online, those attorneys may get frustrated when their online marketing efforts fail to attract the type of traffic they were hoping for.

When this happens, rather than stepping back and taking the time to educate themselves, many attorneys simply throw up their hands and pass the responsibility to the nearest marketing or SEO company.

When this happens, attorneys risk giving control of their law firm’s marketing to individuals or companies who may actually engage in unethical SEO tactics that go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines These tactics wind up doing more harm than good to their law firm website’s SEO.

Whether or not you intend to manage your law firm website’s SEO yourself (and we highly recommend that you do), you will want to educate yourself about how search engines work and what they expect from the content they return on SERPs. That way, you can minimize your risk of stepping outside of search engine guidelines.

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The Attorney Believes They See a Competitor Getting Ahead Using “Black Hat” SEO Tactics

People offer a number of reasons to justify their involvement in SEO tactics that go against search engine webmaster guidelines. Black hat SEO providers, for instance, often claim to be educating Google about its own vulnerabilities, whereas website owners point to the alleged success experienced by owners of other sites as a result of violating search engine’s guidelines.

It can be infuriating to watch as a competitor’s site climbs up the rankings on SERPs after participating in a link scheme or loading their site up with thin content. What’s more, it can be tempting to try and duplicate that “success” by engaging in the same practices.

But, not only is violating Google’s guidelines unethical, it’s also very risky.Google is constantly making updates to its algorithm in order to catch and penalize sites that employ black hat SEO tactics. And for those that it can’t catch algorithmically, the search engine can also apply penalties manually.

Further, should you decide to ignore webmaster guidelines, your competitors are able to report your site directly to Google to see that the site’s activities aren’t overlooked by the search engine’s webspam team.

When it comes to avoiding tilt as a result of frustration associated your law firm’s SEO activities (or the activities of your competitors), the best thing attorneys can do is educate themselves about ethical, content-based SEO and exercise patience.

Even if someone manages to “trick” Google for any length of time by stepping outside of their webmaster guidelines, rest assured that an update targeting that practice is on the horizon. Any “success” that someone gets using black hat tactics isn’t likely to last for long.

And, when that update hits, you’ll be glad you’re on the right side of the algorithm—the side that is being rewarded for white hat practices while black hat SEO practitioners scramble to recover whatever “advantage” they lost in the process of that update.