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Do law firms worry needlessly about SEO?

SEOIt may by viewed as blasphemy to raise this question. Legal marketing companies may disparage LexBlog and I for my seemingly discounting SEO.

But I am serious. This morning Lydia Bednerik (@lydiabednerik), Marketing Director at Oakland law firm Wendel Rosen, shared on Facebook a post about black hat SEO techniques still working. To her credit, Bednerik implied she’d continue with her content strategies and not head down the black hat route.

In response, I shared that I don’t think it’s worthwhile for good lawyers and good firms who get their work via relationships and strong word of mouth reputations to get overly worried about SEO.

I am talking about SEO as to searches like San Francisco IP lawyer or Oakland estate planning lawyer. SEO as to searches on particular subjects, terms, and phrases within IP and estate planning? That’s different, you’ll want your content to rank. And it will if your content is worthwhile, engaging, and published on a good platform.

Bednerik’s right to believe in content. It’s a means of showing passion, expertise, and care. It’s also a path to relationships with those you engage in the content itself and meet among the wake of folks who follow you.

Admittedly there will be law firms who rightfully emphasis SEO. They would skew more to “personal plight, I need a lawyer now” practices. Personal injury, family law, real estate, bankruptcy, workers compensation, and other similar practices. Coming up high in search for Oakland Workers Compensation will generate calls.

Know that high search rankings is not the only way lawyers with “personal plight” practices generate work. Many get their work by a strong word of mouth reputation and relationships. These lawyers got plenty of work without advertising before the Internet and now that the net permeates our lives, they do it without SEO. The firms network through the net for reputation and relationships.

For lawyers and law firms who get their work via reputation and relationships chasing SEO can be expensive, a waste of time, and counterproductive.

Heck, there are law firms who put blogs inside their website because they or their website marketing company want to perform high in search and generate greater traffic to their website. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot when a blog is all about engagement and establishing authority. When was the last time you saw a law blog in a website cited in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times? How often do blog posts in websites get engaged and shared?

Rather than consuming your time and money on SEO and web traffic, why not teach and empower your lawyers to network through the net? If it’s relationships and reputation that brung you to the dance, why not build relationships and enhance your reputation by using the Internet wisely.

Don’t get me wrong, LexBlog values search. The blogs on our network do very well on search. But it’s not because our successful lawyers place search first, it’s because they do those things that result in good rankings.