Recently, someone came to our site from searching:
Why does my lawyer website have bad seo results?
Google landed them on Jeff's post, I Think My Law Firm’s Website Suffered A Penguin Penalty. What Should I Do? Which does a nice job stepping through recovering from a penguin penalty. But obviously, lawyers can have "bad SEO results" for a lot of reasons beyond a penguin penalty. So, I thought I'd take a second to talk about some other possibilities.
Is It Bad SEO Results?
Before we discuss "bad SEO results," it's probably worth talking more generally about lawyer website "results" first.
I don't know if it's specifically applicable to the visitor who arrived at our site, but a lot lawyers confuse poor performance in organic search ("bad seo results") with a variety of other website problems. Usually, most of these perceived bad results somehow tie back to the problem of not "getting business" from their website. Obviously, there a lot of dots to connect from someone arriving at your law firm's website, blog, or other web property, and converting that visitor into a new, paying client.
For example, maybe you're attracting visitors, but they're arriving at your site accidentally. In other words, their search intent doesn't match the content of your site. This problem is especially prevalent with Google image search. More specifically, you add an image to a blog post or web page that is optimized for a popular, yet irrelevant term. Maybe it's an image related to a sports team or historical figure. So, you attract a bunch of search traffic for people searching for the team or person. Usually, none of this traffic relates to your law practice and is likely to simply bounce off your site.
Sometimes, lawyers who are generating traffic have conversion optimization problems. Maybe it's because of ill-conceived calls-to-action or a failure to respond to inquiries. For example, I've worked with lawyers who don't promptly answer their phones or respond to web form inquiries. They figure that people will leave a message or simply wait for them to eventually respond. They won't. They'll hang-up and begin a new search.
So, before you jump to the conclusion that you have an SEO problem, it's worth taking a look at a few of these other possibilities first.
What are Bad SEO Results?
To me, from a strictly business standpoint, ultimately bad SEO results means failing to maximize the return on your organic search investments. Of course, this can take many forms. It could be because of a technical website problem, a more traditional marketing problem or a misunderstanding of search more generally.
Technical Website SEO Issues
There are a variety of technical website problems that are related to SEO. These usually relate to structure, organization or code problems that are preventing search engines from crawling, indexing or otherwise understanding what your pages are about. You should check out Google Basics in webmaster tools help and the forums. If you've exhausted your knowledge (or time) trying to figure out what's wrong, maybe we can help.
SEO Marketing Problems
After technical issues, the most likely reason that you're not performing well in organic search probably has something to do with the popularity of your pages. In other words, for some reason, your content isn't being well-received by the people who see it. Which means that they're not linking to it, sharing it or otherwise talking about it online.
Fixing this problem is a bit more complex. However, to get started, I recommend you focus on doing real law firm stuff.
I'm sort of using this as an umbrella category. Misunderstanding search might mean technical problems. It might mean content marketing problems. But it might also mean things like hyper-focusing on ranking for a particular term, being misled by an inexperienced, or worse, unscrupulous SEO consultant.
Often, it's the lawyers who know just enough about search to be dangerous who have the worst SEO results. They interpret:
"Your site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you."
To mean that they need to go out and try to artificially build or pay for as many back links as they possibly can. Which might lead to some temporary success, followed by a search engine penalty. Or alternatively, nothing at all. Well not nothing: A big waste of time and money.