The search engine optimization profession is brand new, highly un-regulated and wrought with sham companies that make promises and don’t deliver. It’s also a highly technical practice so lawyers don’t always know the difference between genuine professionals and fly-by-night agencies with smooth-talking sales professionals. If you’re looking for someone to help market your site in search, here are some tips on choosing the right agency.
A sure-fire way to have a good experience with an SEO is to use one that a colleague, friend or family member has had a good experience with. This way you can get an un-varnished look at what that professional was able to do, the results they achieved and the trusted opinion of your close contacts.
You should always interview a few companies before going with one and part of that process should include asking for references. Get the names of 2 -3 or more other law firms or businesses that the SEO has done business with and call them up (with permission of course). Be specific in your questions about references as well. Don’t just ask for who the law firms are that the SEO has done work for but what they were supposed to/able to accomplish for them. That way you’ll have something to talk about and verify if the person is honest.
If the person doesn’t have a lot of references or none at all, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing but proceed with caution. Depending on how critical the work you need done is to your business, you may want to look for an agency or individual with more experience.
Much of what we do as SEO’s is dependent on variables over which we have no control. All we can do is analyze, watch for patterns and trends, use best practices and develop a strategy that has a high probability of success. Any agency or individual guaranteeing “first page rankings” or that they can guarantee you x-amount of new business within a specific time frame should be scrutinized. This isn’t to say anyone promising a positive impact is lying however be cautious of “guarantees”. Keep a level head and if something seems too good to be true, move on.
I’ve seen agencies quoting thousands of dollars for projects and others quoting in the hundreds of thousands (sometimes for the exact same work). There are legitimate reasons for these kinds of discrepancies and they largely have to do with the clientele of the agency.
For example if an agency is routinely doing work for much larger law firms for whom results mean high-dollar amounts, naturally that agency’s fees will reflect that. Conversely, if an agency is targeting smaller firms or sole practitioners, their price point will be lower.
Look for agencies that specialize in working with law firms similar in size to your own. Get quotes from 2-3 or more agencies or individuals and compare them. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples though.
I don’t want to say SEOs that don’t specialize with a particular niche (like attorneys) aren’t as good but you may have a better experience with a company that works with law firms on a regular basis. Every industry is unique and lawyers are no different. Law firms have special marketing needs and a good SEO will need to recognize that. As you shop for an agency, try and look at ones that specialize with law firms or even your specific practice area.