115. Susan Ziegler, SLS Consulting – SEO Foundations: A Mini Masterclass

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Susan Ziegler is the catalyst behind explosive law firm growth – taking one firm from five offices to 70; she routinely doubles traffic and brings in billions of revenue for her clients as a result. Her foundation of two decades in digital marketing has earned her and her firm, SLS Consulting, the Pasadena Business Hall of Fame 13 years running. Specializing in website design, SEO, PPC, and content, Susan starts with the unique problem each firm faces and crafts a bespoke plan to get the best results.

Susan and I cover how to structure comprehensive SEO and PPC campaigns, what to spend, and what goes into building a website that converts.

What’s in This Episode:

  • Who is Susan Ziegler?
  • What elements make up a strong SEO strategy?
  • What kind of links are best for helping a website rank?
  • Why it takes three months to see results from a PPC campaign.
  • Where social media comes into play for law firms.
  • What free marketing platforms can law firms use to get started?

Transcript

Episode – Susan Ziegler

Susan Ziegler:

If you work with any PPC agency, make sure they do a projection. to show you what they think, what your competitors are doing, what the market looks like and how much they think it’s going to cost per case.

Chris Dreyer:

To win cases, execute a tactical and comprehensive SEO strategy.

Susan Ziegler:

Content, clean code, fast sites. I mean, it’s all part of the SEO landscape and everything and anything you can do to it! That’s the main thing, make sure your link structures. Good. Your architecture’s good. Your sites fast and content is still king

Chris Dreyer:

You’re listening to Personal Injury Mastermind, where we give you the tools you need to take your personal injury practice to the next level.growing a firm from five offices to 70 requires a strategic marketing plan. Meet Susan Ziegler, the SEO architect behind this explosive growth owner of SLS Consulting. She is responsible for billions in earnings for her clients and doubling traffic to their sites. Susan’s firm has earned a place in the Pasadena hall of fame, 13 years in a row, and received the Best in Search award from TopSEOs today, we run the SEO, gauntlet , and cover the tools and tactics personal injury firms need to outpace the competition and win more cases. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer, founder, and CEO of Rankings.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first paid rankings with search engine optimization, Susan and SLS consulting, specialize in creating websites that both look great and convert. I wanna know about Susan’s approach to design and what attorneys should be looking for in creating a lead generating here’s Susan Ziegler, owner of SLS Consulting.

Susan Ziegler:

The main thing is you have to consider that you only have 10 to 15 seconds to get somebody’s attention when they come to your page. And sometimes it’s the first impression and it’s the first time the person has gone to a website for lawyers. So you have to get your entire point across in 15 seconds. How are you going to do that? Um, you have to make sure that your. State your purpose. What do you do? What kind of lawyer are you? Make sure they know that it, you can’t just assume that they’re going to know you do personal injury, um, awards and easy layout. So they know where they’re going, where they can find what they’re looking for, testimonials every single person who’s coming to the website is looking for something different. So we try and put everything in there and then. With our design, move them where we want them to go, which is to the call of action and have them pick up the phone and call or fill out a form. good impressions is the most, most important thing. And what do you do and a phone number that’s easy to contact or to see on the page. You have to make it stand out.

Chris Dreyer:

When you have this website made and you’ve built it, how do you evaluate, if it’s functioning properly, do you do. You know, focus groups, or is there a tool that you use? Like how do you get that objective data?

Susan Ziegler:

One is analyzed and called tracking. Cause really I’ll tell you lawyers don’t care if the phone’s ringing a thousand times, and it’s not converting. So we have Crazy Egg. We have Hot Jar that watches how people convert. We have call tracking. We look at analytics, we talked to our clients every month and we do an ROI conference to see of the calls that we brought through the website, which of those calls were good, which were bad. Why were they good? Why were they bad? Did you sign any cases? So it’s pretty. Pretty in depth for tracking how the website works.

Chris Dreyer:

You can see kind of that user behavior, those heat maps really make it help to optimize a website, even on some of your other digital activities that you do. it’s a mobile first world, you know, most of the times when you look at Google analytics, you see, 60% is from mobile, 40% from desktop. So I wanted to just touch on that is there an approach because some design agencies that I see, and I think everyone should be listening should be aware of this. Yeah. May look pretty on a desktop and it may have some functionality on a desktop. Really, if a higher percentages is going to be on mobile, that should be your focus. how does your team take a, a mobile first approach? how do you optimize for mobile?

Susan Ziegler:

Well, we code all of our websites three times. Once for desktop once per tablet and once for mobile. So everything is tested. Everything is coded separately. Each image is coded separately to make sure that the experience is as good as possible for the user. And again, it goes back to tracking everything. We do use some focus groups, but mostly we go by the products that are out there, the software that we can use to test it and interaction with our clients which is invaluable because the only thing, like I said, that really matters is if it’s working,

Chris Dreyer:

yeah. That’s the ultimate telltale sign. If it’s converting, if it’s working, it’s making money, right. it’s the last conversion point, you know, you may be doing a lot of billboard advertising or TV, but most of the time you’re going to get higher conversions on the site. what CMS do you prefer or do, or prefer hard coding. And what should attorneys be wary about when it comes to like builders and things of that nature?

Susan Ziegler:

Uh, well, the code that we use, we’ve been developing over the last 23 years. We use straight HTML unless the client insists on having a WordPress site. But we have found that HTML hard-coded sites perform much better. We have so much more control. Uh, website builders are kind of bogged down by heavy code. Our code is super light, super fast. Uh, we include ADA compliance in our code. Everything is referenced things offsite so that we don’t have to have all the code in the page, making it bulky. So our sites load really fast builders. You have plugins, you have just so much code that you can’t control. That’s, that’s interesting that you say that cause that’s, that is a different approach. And I appreciate that. And I think you highlighted one of the main reasons that this unnecessary code and it slows down your site.

Chris Dreyer:

If the site’s not loading, they’re going to bounce. They’re going to go somewhere else. And now Google has, you know, there’s even an SEO based signal on how you can rank in the search engines, if your site’s slow.

Susan Ziegler:

Yeah. , a lot of people. Who use WordPress don’t really know how to customize it. They don’t know. And I have to take some of that stuff out of there that you don’t need. They don’t even know what’s in there. So if your WordPress site is bogged down by all their plugins and you have less control over your images and everything else with WordPress, it still works. And it, you know, WordPress sites rank great.

Chris Dreyer:

And one of the first things that. A lot of individuals that do, when they’re trying to speed up beside is then they’ll go add another plugin pack or a Pegasus or something of that nature, which is this you’re just keep get you’re continually adding more code to the website

Susan Ziegler:

and making it slower and not, not faster.

Chris Dreyer:

SLS has been an industry leader since 1999. So I’d love to talk about, some of the changes you’ve seen and your thoughts on best practices. So first let’s just, let’s start with SEO. That’s where I’m really passionate about. What’s working what’s relevant in SEO today.

Susan Ziegler:

Content clean code fast sites. I mean, it’s all part of the SEO landscape and everything and anything you can do to it! That’s the main thing, make sure your link structures. Good. Your architecture’s good. Your sites fast and content is still king after. I mean, I did a speech at the AAJ conference 20 years ago and that was, that was what I spoke about content is king. It still is. You can do amazing things with content. You just have to do it right. You can’t have a million keywords stuffed in there. You can’t have, you can’t try and rank for personal injury. With the personal injury page, you’d have to rank for car accident and, you know, fractures and all the other. You have to have a page on everything and have a great content strategy in order to rank well.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah, and I, I couldn’t agree more. I mean, you got to have those words and phrases on a page in order for Google to see and understand that that you’re relevant for those phrases. where is like your thought process on, on link building link acquisition. what are some strategies attorneys can take or do you like just, Hey, if you build great content, you can get that content crawled over time. Like where, where do you sit on on the link acquisition side?

Susan Ziegler:

So links are absolutely essential, but natural links are so much better than any other link so you want to get those links from good content. You want to get those links from your local chamber of commerce. You want to get links from your scholarships that are natural links that come to you because of the work that you’re doing, you don’t want to pay for links. You don’t want spammy links. You never want to buy like. Program, because they’re not relevant. You’re going just have to be 100% relevant to what you do. You can’t just buy links on a, you know, grocery store website. Cause you put an ad there that doesn’t do any good for you. And five good links is what is a hundred times better than 500 bad links..

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah, Google’s going to filter those out. It’s going to filter out the bad links and not even pass authority

Susan Ziegler:

over quantity.

Chris Dreyer:

Gaining traction and climbing to the top of Google search requires a solid and smart investment in SEO and PPC. I spoke with Susan about what goes into a winning strategy.

Susan Ziegler:

You have to research the market before you get started, do a projection, figure out what the spend is going to be figuring out. If you want to spend that. Don’t spend money on pay-per-click. If you can’t afford it, don’t spend more than you’re ready to spend, figure out what the case by case acquisition approximation is. So in big cities, you’re going to pay $5,000 in pay-per-click for personal injury case minimum. You have to be ready for that smaller cities. Maybe not as much don’t use pay-per-click for the word personal injury. most lawyers are searching personal injury, not consumers. Most consumers don’t even know what personal injury is. work with somebody who does legal pay-per-click first of all. Don’t work with any pay-per-click company out there. Cause they don’t know legal keywords. clients come to us all the time. You know, I’m spending $10,000 a month on pay-per-click and I’m not getting any cases. Well, they’re putting your money out there for personal injury. That’s not the keyword that you need. So do your keyword research work with somebody who’s good at what they do and don’t spend more than you’re ready to spend and don’t spend it just because you think you’re going to make a lot of money, right? Because it takes three months to get your pay-per-click account up running Google’s trust. There’s so many pieces to the puzzle. Now you can’t just put it up and say, oh, it should be magic because it’s not.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. I want to expand on that because that’s a different, and I completely agree. A lot of times you’ll hear. unethical, digital marketing experts will say, oh, we’ll get you cases immediately with pay-per-click and why does it take a little bit of time on the pay-per-click side?

Susan Ziegler:

Because Google’s not showing your ads as much as they would show somebody else’s ads. Even if you say you’re going to pay more than the other people, it used to be pay-per-play, but now it’s pay if we trust you because Google wants to make money. So if they don’t trust you yet, because you’re a new advertiser, . It takes them awhile to just start putting your ads out there during the high traffic hours, when they’re already making money from the other people out there. So it’s, Google’s trust their trust score and Google ads. You have to prove yourself,

Chris Dreyer:

right? Right. Cause that’s how they make money. Right? That’s how they

Susan Ziegler:

make money. If your ads and somebody else is not showing and that other person already, we already know Google already knows they’re going to make money from them. They’re not going to put you in high trap. They’re going to, they’re going to test the waters and put you off there every now and then. And then once you get like 80, 90% impression share, then you’re doing great, but they won’t give it to you at first.

Chris Dreyer:

Absolutely. And we’re kind of going reverse here. Right? We started with SEO, then we’re going to Google ads. So now I’m going to ask you about Google screen, the local service ads. So, you know, that’s when you type in a query for our audience, that’s the very first thing you see, you’ll see individual attorney’s shots of photos. There’s three, typically, depending upon the device that you search on, you know, so what goes into local service ads? Uh, explain it to us a little bit about that.

Susan Ziegler:

People who are they’re spending a ton of money, but it doesn’t mean they’re getting a lot of cases. I can verify you with clients I have, who spend a ton of money, that they are not very effective. I know everybody wants to be there. And then the hoops they make you go through and the background check and all of the things you need to do to get there. I really hope Google takes them away. . But if you’re going to do them again, it’s about doing it right? Finding the right keywords, um, spending the right amount of money. If you work with any PPC agency, make sure they do a projection. They have to do a projection to show you what they think, what your competitors are doing, what the market looks like and how much they think it’s going to cost per case. And they shouldn’t be able to tell you that,

Chris Dreyer:

Local service ads. When they first came on the scene, it’s just like anything with attention arbitrage, right? You could get on there. You’re one of four and you can get these very low cost per acquisition. And, and maybe you’ve got your background check and you’re on the platform really early, but now it’s, it’s saturated and it’s very difficult. You are pay-per-click, you can, you can invest more for placement and an SEO can invest more for better content, more links, a great website and local services ads, there’s not as much you can do. It’s it’s kind of left. What they tell you. If you call Google support is they’ll say region response and reviews. So regions, proximity, response, activity, and review. Well, you can’t get reviews unless you have activity and you can’t get response unless you have activity. So it’s one of the most difficult things to manipulate. I think that, unfortunately, while it’s here, you might as well sign up. Right? Cause you can get some of those lower cost per acquisition. Yeah. Uh, I’m with you. I, I don’t, I don’t like the lack of control, I guess that’s the, one of the biggest things that the bugs me about

Susan Ziegler:

it. Yeah. Well, and it makes it hard for the lawyers and anything. That’s hard for them just adds to their day. They’re not going to want to do it. We have some great clients who have staff that do it, but you know, some of our clients who are independent, they just won’t do it. They just won’t. Yeah.

Chris Dreyer:

So we’re trying to hit the gauntlet for digital marketing. For honest, isn’t this like a very fast, super course here. You know where we talked about SEO. We talked about Google ads. We talked about LSA. So we hit most of the search engine. Now we’re going to go off Google. We’re going to go to social media. We’re going to talk about organic social media. Where does that come into play? First of all, for personal injury attorney, you know, what social media networks should they even be on? Should they be using social media? What what’s kind of your outlook.

Susan Ziegler:

Yes, they should be doing social media. Like I said, everything in anything that you can do to get yourself out there and brand awareness and to show that you’re human. So, you know, anything that you do for charity, we have all of our clients do scholarships and charity events and social media can work. If you do a charity event or giveaway where people come to your office and then they check in and it helps your local. So social media is important for overall brand awareness to make you human, to put up office addresses. We also push our blogs on there. Um, we have clients who signed cases from Facebook. So Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, maybe it depends on who the client is. If they have time and they’re going to be doing it, it’s great. If they don’t have time and. And, you know, all we’re putting up on Twitter is blog posts and other things nobody’s going to read it. It has to be interesting. I will, I do have a lot of lawyers who are interesting and they, they live their lives on Twitter. If you have time for that, people are out there doing it. But Instagram also brings in cases, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn are the three most important LinkedIn for the Attorney referrals, that kind of thing.

Chris Dreyer:

So I think it’s one of those situations too, where if you’re looking for direct attribution, like it’s, it can be murky, right? Cause you’re building a brand and the. I’ve seen you on social media then did a Google search. And then, and then, oh, it’s, it’s attributed to, to SEO or Google search where the amount of originated from social and got to know your brand and they liked you and they trusted you. And you know, the other thing that I, that you mentioned, I think is fantastic set those grassroots marketing strategies, where you’re giving away a Turkey or you have an office event, it’s a great way to humanize yourself and you can do that much, eat more easily on social.

Susan Ziegler:

And social brings links back to your website. So, and Facebook advertising is actually super inexpensive and you can pretty much geo-fence around courthouses and which works for criminal lawyers and hospitals for personal injury lawyers. I mean, Facebook really lets you do a lot as far as where your ads are showing and what the audience is. And it’s cheap. No reason to not.

Chris Dreyer:

Geofencing gets display ads in front of the right audiences, based on the actual locations they visit like car repair shops, ERs, or hospitals. This is a massive subject, but we’ve got you covered. Check out our mini masterclass with Justin Croxton in the show notes. Law firms that don’t have a marketing agency or large budget can start with free platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram for growing law firms. I wanted to know how Susan approaches digital marketing from a tactical point of view.

Susan Ziegler:

We start with. What is the problem when they come to us, how do we fix that? Why are you calling us? Why are you coming from wherever you’re coming from? What is your problem? What the problem is, you have a lot of traffic in no cases, you have the wrong kind of cases, whatever the problem is, we figured that out first, and then we figured out how to solve it. And then we do the website design based on the firm’s personality, what their goals are, what their most important types of cases are that they want people to know that they handle. Um, highlight their successes and then bring their personality so that once we do the other things, the brand is complete. consistency is very important, but we do an in-depth analysis before we even take a client and see where they’re not ranking, why they’re not ranking, why they’re not getting good cases. What are their analytics look like? And then we build a custom plan for every client. We do every, the content plans different everything’s different depending on who the client is and what their goals are. We have clients who say, I don’t care if I get two good, good cases a year who do big cases, I don’t need 50 phone calls a month. I need two good cases a year. And other clients are like, bring them in. I want every case for every practice area under the sun. Yeah. And

Chris Dreyer:

Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. That’s the same in, in digital marketing. I mean, you wouldn’t take a court, you wouldn’t take a case to trial without doing a discovery and getting information and like exactly.

Susan Ziegler:

And anybody who goes to marketing company, who gives you a cookie cutter, it’s not going to work for you. We’re very personal with our clients. We’ve talked to them every month, usually more than once a month. And we are very in touch with how the marketing is working. Sometimes it takes a long time for it to work. If they’re new, sometimes it’s overnight, you know, it just, I come from the days in SEO where you could make changes to your metadata and refresh the page and you would move up. So. That was a long time ago.

Chris Dreyer:

Those days I miss those days. And that’s, it’s very saturated and competitive and the crawl rates have slowed down because there’s so many more pages for Google to crawl on the internet and

Susan Ziegler:

well, and there’s so much less real estate for organic. You know, you have ads and ads and ads and ads at the bottom now, and the maps and everything else that are on there. And you just organic has a few spaces, but it still works.

Chris Dreyer:

This is when we’ve covered the whole gambit here. And this was like a, like an master class class on digital . Marketing. And I love it, what’s next for SLS consulting? Where can individuals go to learn more?

Susan Ziegler:

We’ll see. We just started doing bail bonds, marketing, uh, bail bonds is actually what marketing for lawyers used to be. There are no ads. They don’t allow bail bonds to do any advertising on Facebook. There’s no Google ads. There’s nothing. It’s true sEO and it’s beautiful. I have a great staff. I have really good people who have been with me for a long time and we have great clients. So hopefully expanding on that and making new relationships.

Chris Dreyer:

A comprehensive and effective marketing plan requires firing on all cylinders, an omnichannel approach, brand story, and community engagement, PPC and SEO, LSA and geofencing. Consistent effort will help your law firm increase visibility and establish authority. I’d like to thank Susan Ziegler from SLS Consulting for sharing her story with us. And I hope you gain some valuable insights from the conversation you’ve been listening to personal injury mastermind. I’m Chris Dreyer.If you like this episode, leave us a review. We’d love to hear from our listeners, catch you on next week’s PIMM with another incredible guest and all the strategies you need to master personal injury marketing.

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