As we discussed in our September newsletter, marketing is no easy feat for today’s law firm. There are many tactics out there that used to work, but us marketers ruined them. Now, it is all about being not just better but 10 times better than the rest of your competition.
I can’t tell you the number of times that we have looked at a website that is ranking extremely well, only to sit there, staring at the screen with a perplexed look on our faces. The site is out of date, the content is thin and provides no useful information, and it is lacking a proper structure, yet it ranks. We create fresh, SEO-friendly websites, write great keyword-driven content, obtain quality backlinks, and still can’t knock that bad site out of the rankings. At times, you feel like Sisyphus, constantly rolling that giant boulder up a hill only to get close to the top and roll back down again. It is a constant uphill struggle, and for one main reason: domain age.
WHY ARE THEY OUTRANKING US?
There are a lot of law firm websites out there who have simply been around a lot longer than the others. The easy, spammy techniques that are now frowned upon—such as link farms, private blog networks, and press release syndication—worked wonders when they arrived on the scene. These tactics got the website ranked, and since they received a ton of clicks, they haven’t moved. When Google sees that a website is getting clicked on a lot, the trust in that site is born. Google also pays attention to the rate in which people leave the site, called bounce rate. The early adopters of these SEO techniques were the only real players in the game, which meant that users really didn’t have many other options. For that reason, people stayed on the site. Since those sites received a high amount of clicks and very few bounces, Google saw these sites as a fantastic resource for the search queries that users were typing. Unfair as it may seem, the fact of the matter is that Google gives these sites extra weight because they have been around a lot longer and have a history of great performance.
Another reason that bad sites continue to show up in the search results is the number of links that point back to their site. Since they have been around for a long time, they have been accumulating these links for years and will naturally have more backlinks than you. Years ago, there were far less websites and resources to link to. When a writer was creating content for their site and needed to reference information, they had a limited amount of sites to use as their main resource. These sites were able to gather those links simply because they were the ones who were visible and had decent enough information to link to.
HOW TO BUMP THEM DOWN IN THE RANKINGS
In order to bump them down in the rankings, you need to obtain a significant number of high quality backlinks. There are multiple methods that you can use for backlink acquisition, but the best and most natural way is to write amazing content that is a better resource than that outdated site that is ranking well. Once the content is written, you need to make sure it gets placed in front of the right eyes. Find the sites that your competitor is receiving links from and present your content as a better resource than the current link. It benefits both parties. The site that is now linking to you is now more credible since they are linking to better content, and you just gained a link while your competition lost one. It is not easy, especially when those competitors have built up relationships over the years with other sites and competition, but it is a great way to catch up.
INVEST IN YOUR SUCCESS
Four years ago, it was easy. Four years ago, you could create a ton of directory listings, create a press release and syndicate it out to a bunch of websites, and submit your site into a link farm, and consequently, you would rank almost overnight. These tactics were overused and lead to an irrelevant Internet. Now, searches are getting more specific and Google is serving up content tailored to each user. The Internet is slowly getting better, but these early adopters still dominate a good portion of it.
Things are getting much harder, which leads to a lot more work. More work means more hours, more hours means more money. There is a lot of competition out there that understands all of the work that goes into online marketing. Unfortunately, oftentimes the top players simply out-spend everyone else. It is extremely difficult to overcome, especially on a budget. If you want to take your place in the winner’s circle, you have to be able to invest in your success.