If you came here to see a list of the best law firm SEO companies, let me disappoint you now. If you're interested in learning how to make informed decision about hiring a law firm SEO agency, stay with me.
Why "Best Law Firm SEO Company Lists" Stink
I've shared some my thoughts on "Top SEO Lists" before. At best, a list like this has been curated by people who have experience using all the companies on the list and thoroughly vetted their work. Let me save you some time, those lists don't exist.
If you head over to Google and search for "best law firm SEO company," what you'll mostly find there are sponsored lists. Put simply, SEO companies pay the websites to be included on their lists. You should give these lists little to no weight or consideration.
You'll also see sites that claim they have a vetting process. In theory, this sounds great. In reality, it's misleading.
First, any proper vetting would have to be conducted at least quasi-scientifically. It would require extensive research of data that would have to be shared by both the law firms, as well as, the SEO agencies. If you are aware of such a list, please feel free to share it in the comments below. Be warned though, if you share trash, it will be known. Second, it would have to be independent. In other words, the publisher of the list would have to be completely disinterested. No conflicts. Of course, then you would have to ask about their motivation in investing the time and money to properly curate the list. As you begin to contemplate this, hopefully you realize why these lists are so problematic.
Even if a bunch of experienced law firm SEO experts got together and agreed on some kind of methodology for curating a list like this, and even if they got their clients' permission to share the requisite data, there would still be huge issues relating to the value of the list. You see, what works for one law firm might not work for others. So even objective data that correlates strongly to results for a particular firm doesn't mean that SEO company will be right for you.
In fact, lawyers should know this. Go look at any "best lawyers" list and you'll immediately recognize many of the same issues.
Characteristics of the Best Law Firm SEO Companies
So what characteristics do the best law firm SEO companies share? Here are some of my thoughts. But before I share, a few disclaimers. Hopefully, if it wasn't obvious, I own a company that does SEO for law firms. Why would I write this and expect you to believe it? Well, I'm writing it because I genuinely want you to make a more informed decision about hiring an SEO agency. Obviously, I'd love it if you considered us. But after doing this for over 10 years, I am deeply sympathetic to how bad it is out there. With respect to why you should believe me, you shouldn't. You question everything I'm saying here. You should run it by other lawyers who have hired SEO companies. You should run it by my competitors. You should run it by SEO experts that don't work with lawyers. Okay, here's what I've learned.
First, the best law firm SEO companies are familiar with rules of professional conduct. Ideally, they're familiar with your state's rules. In the very least, they should be familiar with the model rules. You should have conversations with them about how they approach the issues related to legal ethics rules. Specifically, how they will keep you informed about what their doing on your behalf, and the process for obtaining your informed approval.
Second, they should have experience successfully doing SEO for law firms like yours. Are you in a competitive practice area and location? Then ask them about their experience with law firms with the same practice area in a comparably-sized market. The degree of difficulty in executing effective SEO for a personal injury law firm in Chicago is vastly different from that of a rural estate planning attorney.
Third, in my experience, the best law firm SEO companies are committed to limiting conflicts of interest. In other words, they won't work with your competitors. So, you should definitely ask them who they are working with in your practice area(s) and location(s). If conflicts exist, ask them how they address them. If they're unwilling to commit to some type of exclusivity, I would look for other options.
Fourth, the best companies will be willing to define success in advance. You should have conversations about what success means to you and what milestones you can expect along the way. Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that they'll make guarantees that they can't deliver on. In fact, if someone is making you a guarantee that's impossible for them to make, this should be a red flag that they're willing to be dishonest with you.
Fifth, the best law firm SEO companies are transparent. They should be eager to share with you what they intend to do for you and the reasons why they are suggesting it. If they're claiming "proprietary method," you should consider other options. In fact, they should be sharing what they're planning to do, why they're suggesting it, and why it has value to your firm from a business standpoint.
Sixth, the best law firm SEO companies don't hold their clients hostage. This means that you, the law firm client, should own all of your accounts, data, content, content management system, domain, and really everything else related to your web presence. To me, this is non-negotiable. Get it in writing. It also means that they shouldn't hold you hostage to long-term contracts. If they're not doing what they said they were going to do, you should be able to walk away and find someone who will.
Seventh, they should be experts. Admittedly, this one is a bit more difficult to explore. After all, the very reason you're searching for the best company is that you're likely not an expert yourself. Here are some of the areas of expertise with which they should be familiar:
Local Link Building: In my experience, if you serve local legal services consumers (i.e. personal injury, criminal defense, divorce, etc) local link building will be one of the most important factors in your ability to show up in local search results, both local packs, and traditional localized results. If your SEO company can't describe their approach and experience with building local links for law firms like yours, you should consider additional options.
Content Relevance: The best law firm SEO companies are acutely focused on developing relevant, high-quality content that responds to the intent of the searcher's query. A lot SEOs will say things like, "create great content," but they can't really say more than that. Ask about specific technical content optimizations like speed, sitemaps, and fixing internal link issues. If their content strategy stops at keywords research and title tags, they're simply not experts.
Structured Data: The best law firm SEO experts understand the importance of using relevant structured data markup on your pages. If they're either not familiar with structured data, or dismissive of it, they're not experts, in my opinion.
Conversion Rate Optimization: The best law firm SEOs focus on conversions. They understand the importance of defining what conversions will have the most value to your firm, as well as, how to improve the rate at which you earn those conversion. Simplistically, this usually includes generating more qualified phone, form fills, and live chat requests from potential clients.
At the end of the day, finding the best SEO company is much like finding an expert in any other context. Do your homework. Ask people you know, like, and trust. Arm yourself with at least basic knowledge so you can speak their language. Ask for examples of their work. But most of all, make sure their values align with yours. Your relationship with them will play a significant role in your ability to meet your online objectives. If your relationship isn't built on a sound foundation of honesty, integrity, trust, and transparency, it's unlikely to deliver value to your firm.
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