This blog post is part of a series about 5 Questions Lawyers Should Ask Before Hiring A Law Firm SEO Company.
In the last post, we discussed the importance of choosing a SEO provider who follows Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Understanding and following these guidelines is an essential part of building a strong web presence for your law firm.
In today’s post, we’ll discuss a claim that some SEO providers make (either explicitly or implicitly) about having a special relationship with Google.
Does the law firm SEO provider claim to have a “special” relationship with Google?
If you ask the law firm SEO provider whether they have any kind of special relationship with Google, the answer should be “No.” If they answer “yes,” or they try to imply that the answer is more nuanced than “no,” you should not do business with them.
Some law firm SEO providers will email or cold call attorneys claiming to have a special relationship with Google. They may say that they know something special about a Google algorithm update or that they can guarantee #1 rankings for your law firm.
However, most information about Google’s algorithms and ranking factors is a closely guarded secret. Google has an interest in providing the best search results to its users, and that means the information that allows the company to provide the best results is valuable. While Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are public information, much of the information about the company’s algorithms and ranking factors never become public knowledge.
With this in mind, attorneys may want to ask themselves the following: If the individual or company claims they know something special about a Google algorithm or update, why would someone (with access to information that valuable) email and cold call law firms in an attempt to sell attorneys SEO services for a couple thousand dollars a month? Somebody who really possesses this information would not need to cold call or cold email to drum up business, and they could spend their time more lucratively than serving attorneys for a couple thousand a month.
What if the SEO provider says they’re a “Google Partner”?
Sometimes, a law firm SEO provider may not explicitly say that they have a “special relationship” with Google, but they may say other things that are meant to imply such a relationship.
For example, you may see a vendors that list themselves as a “Google Partner” or claim that they have some sort of Google-related certification.
Can a law firm SEO provider be a “Google Partner” or have a Google-related certification? Yes. SEO providers can resell Google products like PPC ads or Google apps, but none of these things can give an attorney an advantage in organic search results, which is what SEO is all about. The way that these titles or certifications are used by vendors sometimes deceptively imply that Google somehow favors them in search results.
Why some SEO providers make the Google relationship claim
It is misleading for a law firm SEO company or individual to imply that they are with Google or have a “special relationship” with the search engine.
But when attorneys don’t realize this, they may be more likely to fall for such a claim. The claim implies an advantage and inside knowledge, which can seem appealing to attorneys who don’t understand what makes for successful online marketing, or who want to see immediate results. Some law firm SEO providers recognize that they can appeal to the emotions of greed or fear, or that they can prey on attorneys who may not understand how Google works.
A “special relationship” analogy for law firms
Here’s an analogy that attorneys will understand.
Imagine there’s another attorney competing with you for a case. A potential client has been told by the competing attorney to hire their firm because his/her firm can do something other firms can’t based on their relationship with the court, judge, or prosecutor. Maybe the attorney said that they’re good friends with the judge, or that they have a regular card or golf game together.
What would you tell that potential client?
Both the Google relationship scenario and the attorney-judge relationship scenario imply something unethical. But the attorney-judge scenario isn’t a completely parallel analogy to that of the SEO provider who claims to have a relationship with Google.
Relationships like the one described above might exist in the real world: one can probably find attorneys who are friends with judges, and may even be able to use that friendship to get favorable treatment. But if we imagine for a moment that a SEO provider could have a “special relationship” with Google, it’s highly unlikely that the guy in the garage, or the 10-person SEO company, or the 500-person legal marketing giant is going to have enough of a relationship with Google to be able to curry a needle-moving amount of favor.
The only people who have a “special relationship” with Google are those individuals who actually work for Google. Attorneys who recognize this early on are likely to save time and money by avoiding SEO providers who make a special relationship claim or who make promises that are too good to be true.
There are no shortcuts in building a solid foundation for your online legal marketing. The good news is that, once attorneys understand the basics of law firm SEO, they often realize that online marketing success doesn’t require magic or the biggest budget. With the right tools, training and support, many attorneys have discovered they can participate successfully in their online marketing, even with a busy practice.
The best way for attorneys to learn what’s real and what’s not when it comes to SEO (and SEO providers) is to educate themselves about search engine optimization and best practices on the web. We recommend that attorneys take the time to read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and learn how Google search works.
In the next post, we’ll discuss the importance of hiring a SEO provider who understands your practice type(s) and the practice of law in your geographic area.
Read other blogs in this series:
- Blog Series Introduction: 5 Questions Attorneys Should Ask Before Hiring A Law Firm SEO Company
- Does Your Law Firm SEO Provider Understand Legal Ethics?
- Does Your Law Firm SEO Provider Follow Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- Does Your Law Firm SEO Provider Understand Your Practice?