Below are some common law firm SEO myths that I still hear mentioned in conversation with our current and prospective clients.
Myth #1 – You Should Geotag All Blog Content
Geotagging content is particularly important for practice area pages, where relevancy and targeting an ideal client is crucial. That said, I can’t recommend geotagging the majority of your blog content.
Blogs serve a fundamental purpose for obtaining backlinks through editorial outreach. When you target too specific of a geography, you limit your potential for backlinks. Imagine the pool of sites that you could reach through “What to do after a Chicago car accident” vs. “What to do after a car accident.” With the first hypothetical blog, you only appeal to Chicago-based groups. With the second, you’re casting a very wide net: literally anyone anywhere could be in a car accident.
Myth #2 – Legal Directories Are All I Need
When it comes to link building for attorneys, you typically need an abundance of high-quality links. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of high-quality legal directories. If all you do is submit to legal directories, you’re going to get left in the dust.
You should consider alternate forms of link building, such as editorial outreach, guest posting, creating linkable assets, sponsoring local charities/communities, collaborating with other non-competing firms, and local web directories and media.
Myth #3 – Content Is All You Need
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Content is king.” While it’s certainly important in the saturated legal vertical, I think it’s more accurate to say “Content is the foundation.”
For example: if you’re a Chicago personal injury firm, all of your competitors will have a Chicago car accident landing page, so that’s merely a requirement to compete in the market. It’s a necessity to also build backlinks to promote your content; think of links as “votes” and the first page of Google as the “election.” Links play a very important role in content strategies, as they signal prominence.
Myth #4 – Content Freshness Is Always Important
This is one where it isn’t so much that the myth is patently false; it’s just that it’s been taken out of context and blown out of proportion.
It is certainly true that content freshness is important…but it’s only important for pages where content freshness is part of the searcher’s intent. Think of, say, weather forecasts or box scores from last night’s ball games. In those cases, of course you want fresh content: that’s the point.
However, think of your practice area pages. Unless there has been some change in the nature or practice of the law, that content can and should be considered evergreen. There’s no reason for you to hold yourself to some imaginary quota of weekly content changes; just change the parts that benefit your readers and you’ll be fine.
Myth #5 – Social Media Helps Search Rankings
Many individuals will tell you that social media is a great form of acquiring backlinks for your firm. What most will fail to tell is that social media links are largely nofollow (meaning that they don’t pass link equity to the destination). While social media is certainly important for top-of-mind awareness and branding in general, the links themselves have very little (if anything) to do with improving your search results.
Myth #6 – You Should Blog About Every Highway Accident
Many will tell you to blog about every incident on a local highway. The problem with this form of marketing lies in the intent of a searcher who comes across your article: they are searching for information about the accident, not information about hiring an attorney.
Compounding this problem is that it simply isn’t evergreen. Once an accident is out of the news cycle (which is likely to be a matter of days, at most), your site is simply carrying dead weight through that page. This also dilutes the overall link equity of your site, reducing the impact of your best-performing pages.
Myth #7 – You Should Disavow All Bad Links.
Many SEO agencies use “Your site is full of toxic links” as an excuse for their own underperformance. Frequently, they blame other agencies for the bad work that they’re doing themselves. John Mueller recently stated that it’s unnecessary for site owners to disavow all bad links; rather, they should focus on disavowing links that may have been paid for or otherwise acquired by means that Google frowns upon.
In my opinion, I believe that the disavow tool is really being used as a form of crowdfunding for Google to learn which sites should be automatically disavowed. I don’t know this for certain, but our research has tentatively shown this to be plausible.
Myth #8 – 500 Words Is Sufficient For Law Firm Content
In the recent past, it was widely quoted that content writers should strive for a 500-word standard. That may have been true then, but those repeating it today are empirically wrong.
Not only does Google look for in-depth authoritative content (which is hard to achieve in only 500 words), it also measures the dwell time of users who visit your site. That is, Google is interested in how long a visitor stays on your site and considers that time to be a metric for authority (or lack thereof). Long-form content has been proven to hook visitors, reel them in, and keep them on sites, so it’s safer to write lengthier blogs.
Think of it this way: Google has no way of measuring the smile on your reader’s face, but it does have a way of measuring how long they stayed there (dwell time).
Myth #9 – You Only Need Practice Area Pages
While it’s true that practice area pages typically target the keyword phrases with direct intent, you also need blogs to support to your SEO efforts. When (properly) doing editorial outreach, very few high-quality sites will link directly to a sales page (which is what practice area pages really are), so it’s necessary to create blog content to support link building. Blog content is also typically informational and can drive top-of-mind awareness.
Myth #10 – It Takes Six Months To See Results From SEO Work
Many agencies claim it takes six months to see results from SEO efforts. In actuality, every site’s ranking capability is different. In some situations, a technical or accessibility issue may be holding back your site…and if that issue is resolved, you could see results from SEO in a month. In other situations, it may take longer than six months, depending on your competition. If you’ve recently started a law firm in a major metro, you’ll need a substantial amount of backlinks and content. Subject to the conditions of the market, you could be looking at a year or even longer before you see the results you want.
The best way to forecast or predict SEO success is to do a thorough discovery and competitive analysis. You’ll need to evaluate the content and links of your site, as well as that of your competition, to know what you’ll need to see results. The level of investment in your SEO can also impact the time required.
If an agency quotes a price without conducting a thorough discovery process, that should be a major red flag for you. If your car wasn’t running properly, you took it a mechanic, and they quoted you a price before you could even get out of the driver’s seat, you’d think they were crazy. After all, they need to at least take a look under the hood. Similarly, an SEO agency should also “look under the hood” of your website before they can say with any certainty when you can expect to see results.