By Chris (Tres) Homer
Even as marketers we receive emails all the time from SEO companies telling us that they can get us ranked on “[insert keyword here]” in only 1 month for such a small fee. A lot of these companies even offer a guarantee on the ranking.
To an attorney who needs leads NOW in order to stay in business, this guarantee seems extremely appealing. But if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. We’ve been in the business for far too long to even dedicate a single brain cell to the thought of guaranteeing rankings.
We tell our clients that they will see a return in 9 to 12 months from when their new website goes live. With the first couple of months focusing around website design, development, branding, branded search/reputation management, and strategy creation, this leaves about 9 months of active SEO work. Unlike SEM, the results from the effort put into SEO will not be seen right away. It will take at least a month or so to see the effects from the work we put in. Since all of the SEO work we do is white hat, we set up your law firm’s web presence for long-term success, not short sprints.
When we talk about the increase of leads leading to a positive return, we do not mean that you will not get a new lead from the web until 9 to 12 months, but instead it is at this point in time where the amount of new leads will net a positive return in your investment into marketing services.
We recently had a law firm reach this point around 12 months since their website went live. We are seeing consistent lead flow, setting goals that advance their marketing and allow them to capture new leads, and have a hard time getting on the phone due to the volume of business.
So, what did we do to achieve this success? Well, it was a combination of multiple strategies; all executed and optimized over 8 months, which lead to the major spike in traffic, organic keyword rankings, leads, and backlinks.
One of the most important components for organic ranking is a solid backlink acquisition strategy. We offer a great backlink acquisition strategy in the form of a college scholarship. This is a fantastic two-for-one deal that allows you to obtain 20–30 .edu backlinks and reap the benefits of the positive PR that helping a student go to college brings. With countless hours of manual outreach, both via telephone and email, we are able to obtain over 20 links, which helped increase the domain authority by 4 points. Note: domain authority is a logarithmic curve, so each time you increase your domain authority, it becomes just that much harder to raise it another point. See Figure A.
[A] The graph above shows the increase in links acquired by month.
Along with the acquisition of backlinks, we focused on optimizing the site for conversion. The site we were optimizing had both English and Spanish pages due to the large Hispanic population in the area. We originally had the website optimized for the Spanish content and keywords, however after digging into the Analytics on the site, we found that more people were navigating to English pages than the Spanish pages, even though we saw a high amount of appointment requests filled out in Spanish. We re-optimized the site and shifted towards the Spanish content first and saw a tremendous increase in traffic and conversions. This shift, coupled with the backlink acquisition, allowed traffic to the site to grow by 123% and conversions to grow by 72%! See Figure B.
With the use of FAQ content, the amount of long-tail keywords that lead to clicks has also increased. FAQ’s are a great way to provide useful, actionable information to the users who are looking for it. You show that you are an expert in your field and are extremely knowledgeable on the subject, which allows for increased trust in your services.
The addition of new, fresh content is important to show the search engines that you are active on your website and helps improve the indexation rate. The more frequently you update the content on your site, the more Google will want to crawl the site for new pieces of content.
We also helped improve the site speed of the site to help with TTFB (time to first byte), which is Google’s measurement of site speed. This is extremely important for mobile users, as they demand a faster load time than their desktop using counterparts.
[B] The graph above shows the increase in number of traffic and conversions after re-optimizing the website in April.
Lastly, we implemented an online chat service that is available 24/7. With the amount of increasing traffic, it makes sense to capture as many of those leads as possible. With the increase in younger generations needing legal help, we can expect more users to use functions like online chat or even text messaging to communicate with law firms. With the millennial and Gen Z generations being the largest in the United States right now, we can only expect these services to become that much more important.
[C] The image above plots the organic growth over the past year.
With all of the work we did, the continuous optimization, the goals we set, we were able to see organic growth that lead to continued success online. See Figure C.
As you can see, organic keyword growth remained pretty much stagnant for most of the year, and only about 12 months since going live we saw the organic search growth finally take place.
When we explain that organic ranking takes about 9–12 months, this is why. It is not a sprint; it is a marathon. We are conditioning your web presence to last the entire 26.2. Just like running, it may be a struggle for the first couple legs of the race, but once you hit your stride, you can run forever.