I recently spoke with an attorney that is using a well known legal marketing firm. The campaign has been successful for him thus far but he was looking for some additional help. In his words, they got him to the playoffs and now he wants to win the big one. Since his contract is going to expire with his current firm, he asked us to take a look at his site and advise what should be done.
After our analysis, we advised that he continue to use his current search marketing firm and enlist our help with some advanced web strategy. The reason we advised this route is that the firm's site is built on top of a proprietary platform and is connected to a link network setup by the search marketing agency. If the law firm were to leave the agency, they would need to invest in a new website and would lose all the links from the search marketing agency's network. This could result in a drop in the law firm's visibility on the search engines. We did not want to run the risk of taking steps backwards. We knew that we could take his site to the next level by employing advanced web strategies on top of what he was currently getting.
Unfortunately, his search marketing firm was not so eager to help. He informed them that he wanted to continue with their service and have us help with some additional activities. They declined to work with us in any capacity.
Normally this wouldn't matter, but the site is on the search agency's proprietary network. The law firm has to have the search agency perform any changes it wants to the firm's website such as updating title tags, headers, text, etc. The lawyer I spoke with told me the search agency has been slow to make requested changes, if they are made at all. I offered a few suggestions for work-arounds, however as of this post the issue is still unresolved.
It really stresses the point that you need to make sure you know who you're working with and what you are paying for. My colleague, Gyi Tsakalakis writes:
If you're preparing to launch a new law firm website or legal blog, please take the time to do the research. I know it's confusing. I know you don't have the time. Unfortunately, if you don't take the necessary time to understand the major issues surrounding web strategy, you're more than likely to get burned.
Ask these questions:
- Do I own the site?
- Do I own the content management system?
- What is the process for making updates?
- Can I make updates to page titles?
- Can I add content on my own?
- What happens if I terminate service?
- On what platform will my website or blog be built?
- Will permalinks reflect page titles?
- Will I be able to add widgets?
- Can I add an author byline?
- How long will it take from design to launch?
- What text editor does the platform use?
- Do you actively build links each month?
- Am I paying for access to a link network?
- Do I lose links to my site if I cancel with you?