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This is the first post in a series about online law firm marketing “sleight of hand.” Posts in the series will focus on common methods that marketing companies and SEO providers use to keep attorneys in the dark about how to successfully market their firms on the web or that keep attorneys dependent upon certain legal marketing services.

You can return to this post to find links to new entries in the series as they are published.


Sleight of hand (n.)

  1. A cleverly executed trick or deception.
  2. A skill and dexterity in conjuring tricks.
  3. Skillful hiding of the truth in order to win an advantage.


For a long time, attorneys have been easy prey for some online marketers and SEO providers.

Attorneys are busy and often unfamiliar with how search engines work or how potential clients are likely to find an attorney on the web. Law schools often do little to prepare attorneys for how to run a business, much less how to market themselves online. And, with so many things to do in any given day, attorneys often believe they don’t have time to learn how to market their firms successfully on the web.

It’s a perfect environment for marketers and SEO providers to distract attorneys and trick them into handing over their hard-earned money.

In this series, we’ll discuss online law firm marketing sleight of hand — the tricks and deceptions commonly employed by online marketers and SEO providers that often confuse or scare attorneys into paying for expensive services that they don’t need, that are unlikely to move the needle, and/or that are dangerous. A new post in this series will be published each Friday in the month of July.

Topics in the “Online Law Firm Marketing Sleight of Hand” Series

There are a number of ways that marketers or SEO companies will hide the truth in order to win an attorney over.

They may play upon attorneys’ emotions or personality traits, such as fear, greed, or pride. They may point to the “complexity” of SEO, use unnecessary technical jargon, and insist that successful online marketing is too complicated for an attorney to understand or execute. They may promise things that are too good to be true (but may attract an attorney who doesn’t know any better).

Topics in this series that we’ll cover include:

Scary legal marketing emails and cold calls to your firm 

Have you ever been contacted by someone who claims that something is seriously wrong with your website? If so, it probably scared you.

That fear, unfortunately, is probably what that marketer or SEO provider is counting on. Fear is one of the main reasons that attorneys will blindly accept what they are told in these unsolicited emails or phone calls. And, because these attorneys are scared that something is wrong with their web presence or that they’re missing out on something, they’ll often pay for useless services that, in some cases, can harm their web presence.

In this post, we’ll provide examples of these emails and phone calls and give you the knowledge you need to feel confident when it comes to unsolicited contacts from a marketer or SEO provider.

The truth about law firm pay-per-click ads (PPC)

Pay-per-click (PPC) doesn’t belong in the same sentence as SEO, but that hasn’t stopped marketing companies and SEO providers from claiming that pay-per-click ads will help attorneys improve their organic search rankings, that pay-per-click ads are essential to online success, or that attorneys must have a middleman to broker the ads for them.

In some cases, pay-per-click ads may be useful. However, dependency upon this form of marketing usually leaves attorneys with little to show for the large sums of money they’ve spent.

In this post, we’ll explain what attorneys need to know about PPC, how to determine whether PPC is right for their firm, and, if so, how to do it correctly.

The problem with law firm SEO reports

Much like unsolicited emails and phone calls from online marketers, SEO reports can unnecessarily frighten attorneys.

Yet, often times, these reports are more like Mad Libs than useful marketing tools. Just as marketers and SEO providers may prey on your emotions in an email or phone call, SEO reports may be nothing more than another attempt to push your buttons. These reports can include things like your law firm’s name, a “grade” or a “score,” scary looking graphs, and more. Unfortunately, these reports are usually designed to do one of two things: sell you something or keep you on the hook.

In this post, we’ll show you examples of what you might see in a law firm SEO report, and how to know whether the information within a report is actually useful to you.

Check back in the coming weeks as we show you how to separate fact from fantasy in online law firm marketing.

More posts in this series: