There is a lot of advice directing companies to not cut their marketing budgets during these tough economic times. That is very true, but the secret is to not only refrain from cutting your efforts, but also to reorganize your resources. Keep spending marketing dollars, but spend them wisely.

So what are some smarter decisions?

The second part of the advice is to focus on the lesser expensive methods that yield a high return and really focus on directing a target audience to explore your site and service. One way that is continuing to prove its effectiveness is using SEO.

During these times, the Internet is growing in popularity by consumers who want to save time and effort when searching for a service. Having an optimized site with the most effective keywords will drive quality targeted traffic to your site, get your message in front of the right people and help create visibility in the market. When placing an expensive ad on a high traffic site, you are not guaranteed who will see your ad, who will click and if people are truly interested in your service. Instead, use targeted keywords to optimize your site. When deciding keywords and effectively using them for optimization, a person who is searching and uses your keywords will see your service and you are then providing a solution to an existing need and therefore, your traffic is of higher quality and has a proven interest.

SEO can also be tracked using Google Analytics, which shows where visitors are coming from, which pages are most visited and the effectiveness of keywords. Using these analytics, you can decide which keywords are proving most effective and focus on using them to keep the quality traffic flowing. This can also help organize your marketing budget.

SEO is cost effective and can take the place of other expensive, lengthy marketing and advertising campaigns that will yield similar results in increased traffic—such as e-mail marketing blasts and paying for ad impressions. One challenge to keep in mind is that a site must be optimized and continually offering updated content to be effective.

You can work on SEO in-house, or hire an agency that will most likely provide more than just an SEO service at a reasonable cost. Because SEO is an art and science and constantly evolving, it might be most effective to hire a professional to assist and implement the services.…

Read More

Okay, so you already know how important it is to have an effective search engine marketing strategy in place in order to obtain and keep page one search engine rankings. You’re an attorney, which likely means that you don’t really have the time to go out and build links yourself because you’re spending most of your time in the court room and with clients.

So who do you hire to do so?

Here are a few options and our opinions on each:

1) Have a Paralegal or Junior Attorney in your office do it

You’re already paying them so why not give them another task?

This is the most popular decision when it comes to finding someone to perform routine link building tasks like directory submissions and article distribution, but what about training and research time? It takes a good amount of time and effort to get paralegals and assistants with no experience to know enough about the art of SEO and SEM, and even then are they qualified as experts who can do an effective enough job to increase your search engine rankings?

We’ve also noticed that this route leads to a high turnover rate, as most of the time assistants and paralegals either move on from their link building duties because they’d rather be more involved in the legal aspects of the firm (which is what they went to school for) or because the firm finally realizes that they aren’t Internet Marketing professionals after a few months.

2) Can your Traditional Marketing consultant(s) do this?

Most firms and small law offices have traditional marketing consultants that they go to for their “traditional” marketing needs, whether it be in-house or not. These people surely know enough about SEO and SEM to either do most of it themselves, right?

Well, that depends. From our experience, the marketing consultants are great for certain aspects of web marketing, like serving as contact people for online press releases, helping out with necessary social media tasks, and basically serving as the go-to person for the attorney(s) since they don’t really have the time, but from our experience the traditional marketers don’t know enough about SEO and SEM to create and maintain an effective link building campaign. There are some exceptions, of course, but from our experience the traditional marketers make better project managers who can measure the level of effectiveness of an SEO/SEM campaign than actual “do’ers”.

3) Hire A Freelance SEO/SEM consultant

This is another very popular decision when it comes to finding someone to build links to your website. You can find hundreds of people on Craigslist and freelance websites like Elance, but be very careful of this. Be sure to ask for other websites that they have performed SEO/SEM duties on, and see what types of rankings and back links these sites have.

Also try to make sure that they are actually competitive keywords that the freelancers are using, and aren’t showing you keywords that pretty much anybody could obtain with a few pages of content.

Hiring a freelancer is a good option if they can prove that they know what they’re doing and are effective, but turnaround usually plays a part (the freelancer takes on too many projects or takes a full-time job and suddenly doesn’t have time to dedicate to your project) as does measuring success.

It usually takes some time to obtain number on rankings on search engines because of indexing (usually up to six months), and it’s not easy for you to pay someone every month without seeing some type of return on investment. Be sure to monitor your Google analytics for increases in traffic and keyword visits, and also ask for a detailed breakdown of what links were obtained by the freelancer. If you really want to be sure, check the PageRanks of the sites that the freelancer is obtaining links from and also make sure that they are legal-related or relevant to your location.

4) Hiring an Offshore Web Marketing Company

You likely get contacted by companies from India and other countries overseas that promise you page one rankings for a low monthly fee all the time. This is because the labor in these countries is very cheap and, just like with any other business, outsourcing your project to an overseas vendor can be tempting, especially if they can show results for past clients and are hundreds or thousands cheaper than a company here in the States.

There are a few problems with this. One is the language barrier, not only between you and the company but also the grammar errors that come up while the offshore company provides their link building services on article and press release sites, blogs, forums, etc. You may say to yourself at first “well, I’ll just proofread everything” but that turns into more time than completing the actual work.

Another issue is that most offshore companies use black hat techniques, like obtaining crappy back links that have nothing to do with law or your location. You may not care about this at first when you’re on page one of Google, but if the search engines find out about these sites linking back to yours it’s very likely that your site will be penalized and you’ll be stuck after paying for services that ended up hurting you more than they helped.

Have you ever tried to convince Google to re-index a website with hundreds or thousands of bad inbound links? We have after we tried to help out a few clients who made bad choices when hiring link building “companies”, and it’s near impossible. Long story short: you get what you pay for.

5) Hiring a Web Marketing Company

While it’s true that this is probably the most expensive option, it is usually also the most effective. Hiring trained and proven professionals to handle your SEM and link building campaigns provides a return on investment that most of the previous options do not.

You understand how important your search engine rankings are, and building quality and relevant links is absolutely key to obtaining and keeping these rankings. Are you really thinking about pinching pennies when you know this?

Be sure to check out some of the web marketing’s companies and their search engine rankings before hiring them. Also be sure to follow similar rules that pertain to “hiring a freelancer”, like asking for a detailed work completed report and monitoring the quality of the back links that the company obtains.

Having a web marketing company on your side also pays off when you need web marketing advice, like whether or not certain paid advertising opportunities that are available online are worth the investment, what kind of strategies they can implement to increase traffic conversion, networking and referral opportunities, and more.

There is power in numbers and most web marketing companies already have the necessary resources in place to make your link building and search engine marketing campaign a success, and help you generate more leads, cases, and most of all, money.…

Read More

Those of us who have been in the SEO/web marketing industry have seen these types of sentences in Craigslist “Job posts” plenty of times:

“We need you to help get this site to page one of Google, but our budget is limited.”

“We are willing to become partners with you if you can get us to page one of Google in two months.”

“We are looking for an SEO intern who can get us to page one of Google and get some real-life experience in the process.”

“I’m looking for someone to help us get more links back to our website. We will pay you per link if you obtain 100 or more PR4 links within 30 days.”

Here’s my favorite:

eqva11 Planning on Hiring Someone For SEO? Set a REALISTIC Budget!

If you can find someone willing to work for $9/hour who has some sort of experience and is worth anything, more power to you. But, a lot of times, website owners and web design/web marketing companies looking for SEO help don’t have realistic expectations of what an SEO consultant is worth or what QUALITY SEO work actually costs.

Here is what the average SEO-related salaries currently are according to

4sfu39 Planning on Hiring Someone For SEO? Set a REALISTIC Budget!

SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization) published a report last January based on a survey that asked a number of in-house SEM professionals what they make per year. Here are the results:

chart2 Planning on Hiring Someone For SEO? Set a REALISTIC Budget!

chart3 Planning on Hiring Someone For SEO? Set a REALISTIC Budget!

A few things are true when it comes to hiring someone to perform SEO on your or your clients’ site(s);

  1. Yes, the economy is currently struggling. People are looking for work and you could probably find someone for cheap.
  2. Yes, you could hire someone to do freelance work at a lower hourly rate.
  3. Yes, you could always outsource your project to someone overseas for a lot cheaper.

However, while all of these statements are true, is SEO REALLY something that you want to pinch pennies over? Because most of the time, you get what you pay for.

Do you really think that paying someone $9/hour is going to keep them motivated and dedicated to making your project a success?

I always like to think of this statement when looking at SEO as a whole: “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

If it was as easy as paying someone $200 bucks a month to get your website to number one for “personal injury attorney” or “Los Angeles accident lawyer”, don’t you think someone would have thought of that by now??

Legal SEO is a very competitive market. Lawyers are never scared to spend money on marketing, especially after they have realized the ROI that is involved. If you think that you’re the only lawyer in your city that has thought about having someone help with your online marketing, think again. The reality is that you’re probably already a few years behind your competition, and trying to find some college kid or inexperienced SEO’er on Craigslist who doesn’t have a job for a reason is not going to make up for that.

Finding someone to perform SEO on your website is very similar to finding a lawyer. If you can’t afford it, can you go with a public defender or represent yourself?


But what are the realistic chances that you’re going to succeed?

Spend the money and hire a professional!

Read More

wvtoop Calls to Action: What Are You Offering?

I was driving through Baltimore City this weekend when I passed by a local dry cleaners with a very interesting sign out front that caught my attention. This particular dry cleaners is still considered to be in the city but it is kind of on the outskirts in a district where there are a lot of residential properties and businesses, but not a lot of “service” businesses, like fast food restaurants, grocery stores (there is a small Whole Foods but that’s about it), or pharmacies.

The sign read “Free Box Storage”, and I thought to myself, why on earth would a dry cleaners offer free storage?

Well, come to find out, there aren’t any self storage businesses in this area either. There are a few two miles into town, but as anyone who lives in a major city knows, 1) driving and parking two miles away in the city can be a lot worse than it sounds, and 2) storage space can be hard to find.

But how is the business capitalizing on offering free box storage? Is he just offering this to help others in the community, or is this a business decision?

I went inside and spoke to the owner about the service for a bit. He told me that it was as simple as bringing in any size box, and they’ll store it for as long as I’d like. After speaking to the gentleman for a few minutes and building some rapport, I finally asked him what his motivation for offering this type of service was. And it was pretty simple.

He told me that he had some extra space on the second floor that he tried to rent out as an office, but he had no interest from anyone because that particular area is primarily retail, there is no parking, and not a lot of businesses that would have a need for such a space.

So he decided to dedicate the space to storage in a hope to get some extra dry cleaning business by referrals (”you can go store some things at the local dry cleaners for free, and they get my dress shirts back to me within two days if you want to start using them while you’re at it”) and also as another way to get more people in the door.

He told me that he has about 15 people who have boxes stored there and, since they came in the first time with their boxes, they have been back multiple times for dry cleaning services and use them on a regular basis. He also told me that he doesn’t really have a way of tracking how many people are now his customers thanks to referrals from satisfied box storers, but he did say that he noticed a little bit of an increase in business since offering the service. And after all, he has their boxes and he knows that they’ll be back at some point, and the people trust him enough to hold their boxes, why not trust him with pressing their suits and cleaning their coats? He’s building a business relationship with clients, who also refer business, all because of some extra space that he had.

I thought this was a pretty creative marketing technique. The space was just going to sit there anyways and the only expense that he had was the cost of the sign that he had out front (it was just a simple vinyl banner) and whatever amount of man hours it took to take a box up a flight of stairs.

This made me think about what kind of creative marketing techniques attorneys use to obtain leads, cases, or even contact information for a drip campaign follow up.

My guess is that if you’re a personal injury attorney reading this blog post, and you have a website that you use for web marketing (versus a normal 5-page that you have just so you can put the address on your business cards), that you offer a “free case analysis” somewhere on your site.…

Read More

igm079 Does Google Pagerank Relate to Search Engine Rankings?

A lot of times clients will e-mail us with concerns about their under-performing or suddenly dropping Google Pagerank, and wonder if it means that their website’s search engine rankings are suffering as a result.

How important is Google Pagerank to a client or webmaster when it comes to SEO?

Well, it’s actually not as important as you may think.

Your website’s Google Pagerank will not give you much of an accurate indication of how your website ranks on search engines for desirable keywords. A website’s Google Pagerank is based more on the number of inbound links that particular website has, and how many pages of content are on the website. The same can be said for individual pages on a website as well.

And, if you’d like to (try to) understand the technical equation behind how Google Pagerank is calculated, here’s a pretty good explanation. To summarize it: the more quality inbound links and pages of content (which should also have inbound links), the higher the Google Pagerank.

So you’re probably now saying to yourself, “well isn’t that what SEO is? Building links and adding content?”

To an extent, yes, but there is a lot more of a strategy involved than just building links and adding content, and the question at hand is “does a website’s Google Pagerank directly relate to it’s search engine rankings (for particular keywords)?”

No, and here are a few reasons why.

1. Anchor Text Variations

The MOST IMPORTANT aspect of SEO…. more important than a website’s on-page optimization like page titles, meta descriptions, and URL structures, more important that how many links a website has, more important than any other factor related to SEO, is the anchor text of the inbound links a website has.

You could have 5,000 PR5 links coming into a website, but if the anchor text of all of those links are “click here” or “visit our website”, while you may have built up a respectable Google Pagerank,  this has nothing to do with how your website ranks on search engines for your preferred keywords because you’re only helping your website rank for “click here” and “visit our website”.

Is it possible that the website still ranks well for keywords like “California personal injury attorney” and “Los Angeles accident lawyer”? Maybe, but it would have a LOT better chance obtaining top rankings if the anchor text of those inbound links were keywords that are within the SEO strategy.

2. Internal Pages

We say this all of the time: don’t focus all of your attention on your website’s home page. You don’t want your home page to rank for every search term that you can think of because it can hurt your conversion efforts.

If you’re a search engine user looking for an auto accident attorney, and you did a Google search for “California auto accident lawyer”, are you more likely to click on and spend on a website in the results if it’s a broad home page with multiple practice areas, or are you more likely to visit a result dedicated to you’re actual search: auto accidents?

Well, the first reason we gave as to why Google Pagerank isn’t directly related to search engine ranking, the anchor text of inbound links for the website’s home page, can be applied to the internal pages on your website as well.

Just because your practice area and other internal website pages have a high or low Google Pagerank, it doesn’t mean that it does or does not perform well on search engines from an SEO standpoint.

We’ve seen practice area pages on other attorneys’ websites with Pageranks of 3/10 (which is pretty good for an internal page), but those pages still struggled to obtain search engine rankings for their desired keywords because the person(s) who performed the link building to those pages had no idea how important anchor text or relevancy (see below) was, and were instead more concerned with obtaining links from websites with high Google Pageranks.

We’ve also seen web pages with lower Google Pageranks, but because the links coming into thos epages were from relevant sources and because the anchor text of those links were directly related with the keywords in ther SEO strategy, those pages ranked better on search engines than those with higher Pageranks.

3. It’s good to have links from websites with high PR, right?

Not so fast.

If you’re a lawyer or you’re involved in legal web marketing in any way, you’ve likely received an e-mail at some point from someone requesting a link exchange. Most of the time, the main selling point of these e-mails is the Google Pagerank of the website that your site will be linked from.

When I first started in SEO a few years back, I realized the importance of link building and thought that the more websites with high Pageranks that I obtained links from, the better my clients would rank.

Then I got to thinking… “hmm, the website’s home page has a Google Pagerank of 5/10, but most of these links are coming from internal pages on the websites, which have low or zero Pagerank. So does it depend on the Pagerank of the home page or internal page?”

Good question, grasshopper. The answer is both, but if the internal page has a high Google Pagerank (which isn’t typical), that is a lot more effective. But, they also need to be relevant links, which means that the pages that your site is linked from shouldn’t also have links to a jet ski rental website in Barbados and a website selling knock-off Nike shoes.

Also, search engines (Google, specifically) take into account what “neighborhood” these links are coming from. This can also be related to something called a “footprint”. This is the most overlooked aspect of SEO.

You probably already know that one-way links are more valuable than two-way or reciprocal links. Well, there are also three-way links, four-way links, five-way links, and so on, and you may not even be aware of them.

Let’s say you hired a website design company to launch your website. This design company specializes in medical malpractice attorneys and, to increase the search engine rankings of their clients, they have a page on every client’s site that links to and from each client.

Also, on the bottom of your website, there is a footer with that particular design company’s info or logo which links back to their website.

When Google’s spiders crawl the design company’s website, your website, and the websites who are clients of the design company (all of which are linking to your website), they are able to establish (because of the “footprint” left between all of the sites) that all of these sites are in the same neighborhood, and the “juice” of these inbound links, regardless of the websites’ Google Pageranks, is lower because this neighborhood has been identified.

This is why, sometimes, you’ll receive link requests (most of the time from SEO consultants or firms) asking you to link to one site, and in return you’ll receive a link from a completely different website. They’re trying to establish one-way links and hide the footprint, but even then it’s hard for the webmasters and SEO companies to cover all of their tracks.

So Google PageRank is Useless To Me?

Not exactly, but your website’s Google Pagerank doesn’t give an accurate indication of how your website performs on search engines.

You should still monitor your website’s Pagerank to make sure it doesn’t experience any dramatic and sudden drops because then you know you have a problem.

You should also still pay attention to the Pagerank of websites you are trying to obtain links from, just make sure you look into the other variables involved which are mentioned above.

You should also monitor the Google Pagerank of your competitors just so you have a general idea of how they are seen, for the most part, in the eyes of Google. But, once again, just because they have a high or low Google Pagerank, it’s not an accurate indication of how well they do on organic search engine results.

The best way for you to know how well your site performs on search engines is to monitor the actual rankings themselves. However, you have probably realized by now that performing searches on your own aren’t always as accurate because the search engines are pulling from your brower’s history and know that you’ve visited certain sites in the past.…

Read More