This is the first post in a series about logical fallacies in online law firm marketing. Successive posts in the series will focus on specific, common misunderstandings within the topic of law firm SEO and online marketing. You can return to this post to find links to new entries in the series as they are published.
The internet is full of misinformation.
A simple Google search on a topic such as “law firm SEO” (search engine optimization) can yield valuable information and guidance on the subject in question. But it can also lead down a digital rabbithole of conflicting ideas, or even to information that is based completely on unsubstantiated opinions, or is otherwise misguided, unverified, or incorrect.
Take discussions on link building, for example. Google has acknowledged that the presence of external links pointing to your website is one of the most important ranking factors with respect to where your website’s content will appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant searches. The search engine also provides guidelines which explicitly state that trading in or purchasing such links is bad SEO, and that your site can be penalized or deranked for taking part in such practices.
Still, a Google search for the phrase “link building” reveals ads, sold by Google, which purport to offer “ethical” link building practices on behalf of your website for a fee.
They say that “knowledge is power,” but that’s only true if the knowledge in question pertains to accurate information. But how can attorneys be sure that the information they receive about marketing their law firms online is actually going to help them rise up the rankings of SERPs for relevant searches? Or that their SEO efforts are going to direct those who could one day become clients to their law firm websites?
Know the Rules of the Law Firm SEO Game
Here at LawLytics, we’ve covered the topic of law firm marketing myths on two separate podcasts (listen to “Common Law Firm Myths” and “5 More SEO Myths for Attorneys”).
We’ve also addressed the topic of common law firm marketing myths on our blog, and have gone into detail about things like blogging myths, the myth of overnight success in online marketing, whether or not spending big on online marketing equates to big results, and misunderstandings about the way that potential clients search for legal information online.
Sometimes attorneys make decisions about online marketing that go against their own self interests as a result of information given to them by so-called “black hat” SEOs (meaning SEO providers that work outside of Google’s or other search engines’ webmaster guidelines).
Or, faced with conflicting information on the subject, attorneys may draw logical conclusions about search practices or search engine functionality that seem to be based on common sense, but that are not supported by actual data.
The best way to combat misinformation coming from the former camp is to familiarize yourself with search engine webmaster guidelines, and to vet the SEO “experts” who offer to provide “solutions” that are outside of those guidelines. The best way to combat misinformation from the latter camp is to learn how people — your potential clients — use search engines to find information about their legal issues, and how those search engines prioritize information for display on SERPs. We will touch on each of these items where applicable in coming posts.
Avoiding Logical Fallacies in Online Law Firm Marketing
Just because a tactic or technique sounds good in theory does not necessarily mean that it’s good for your law firm’s marketing efforts. For instance, writing about certain trending topics on your law firm’s blog might help to drive more traffic to your law firm website, but it won’t do your law firm any good if that traffic is made up primarily of individuals who either cannot or will not one day become clients.
In that same vein, it might seem like a good idea to outsource your law firm’s SEO work to a third-party professional to save time, but not all SEO “experts” are as qualified or experienced as they advertise. The work performed by a black hat SEO professional on your behalf, for example, will end up doing more harm than good in the long run with respect to your law firm website’s appearance on SERPs.
This series is meant to help you, the attorney, distinguish between fact and fiction in the realm of online law firm marketing. It is also intended to arm you with information that helps you succeed in your online marketing efforts. The posts in this series will address the following common logical fallacies in online law firm marketing:
- More traffic to your site always equates to more business for your firm.
- More content/more pages on your site always equates to better placement on SERPs.
- Attorneys must be tech savvy to see SEO results.
- Paying a SEO “expert” is better than managing your SEO efforts yourself.
- Attorneys must write all content for their law firm websites themselves.
By no means is this meant to be an exhaustive list of logical fallacies commonly associated with online law firm marketing. Indeed, the list of potential topics that could be addressed in this arena is nearly endless. Rather, the point is to offer insight into some of the common stumbling blocks associated with law firm marketing and SEO, and to empower you to take control of those elements most likely to move the needle for your law firm while mitigating unnecessary fear of the unknown.
Check back in the coming weeks as we continue to demystify some commonly muddled concepts and logical online marketing fallacies via the posts in this series.