LexBlog’s VP of Client Development, Kevin McKeown, asked me this morning how I bring lawyers down from their SEO fixation. Thought I’d share with you what I shot to McKeown.

Lawyers addicted to SEO are like crack cocaine addicts who need to get their fix. Don’t care how, from whom, or at what price. Just give my fix. As a result they get hooked up with crack cocaine dealers dressed up as SEO consultants – not a good crowd.

Effective blogging on a legal niche propels a lawyer to the top of the Google search results. And not just on what they do and their location, ie, Palm Springs Estate Planning Lawyer, but also for terms on which thousands of people search, ie, living will, estate tax etc. No question, effective blogging gets you found on Google.

But at the end of the day, the search engines are one big yellow pages directory. If you advertised heavily in the yellow pages and your good clients came primarily from the yellow pages, by all means, pour all your marketing and business development time and money into search results. Getting to the top of Google results is like having the first 2 full page spread in the yellow pages.

But if your best clients came by word of mouth, as opposed to the yellow pages, Google is not the be all and end all. You need an effective online presence so that your prospective clients and those who influence them see you as a reliable and trusted authority in your niche. A link from the top of the search results to a web page proclaiming your accolades is not going to do it.

I’m speaking from experience. I was a plaintiff’s trial lawyer for 17 years. We spent heavily on advertising. TV, radio, yellow pages. You name it, we did it. But at the end of the year, the largest fees were generated on cases we received by word of mouth.

When I started answering injury law related questions on AOL’s message boards in 1996, there were no search engines. But injury victims and their family members saw what I was doing and spread the word across the Internet. Thousands of people, including many from my state of Wisconsin, came to my website where I archived the questions and answers. Work and notoriety as a trusted authority followed – in spades.

Don’t get me wrong. Google matters. And good blogging gets you to the top. But Google results is not the leading way the best lawyers get their best clients.

  • The best lawyers get their best work by word of mouth. Period.
  • Word of mouth is generated by being recognized as a reliable and trusted authority in one’s practice area. Offline that takes a decade or more for a good lawyer. With effective blogging, a good lawyer can do it in a year or two.
  • Forgo this and you’re acknowledging that you’ll be on the never ending rat race chasing the top results on search engines, which is like chasing the largest ad in the yellow pages.
  • Better clients come from being an authority and by word of mouth, not from search engines. Good clients are evaluating a lawyers skill, acumen, and passion as well as who is citing that lawyer on line (other bloggers & reporters).
  • An effective Internet presence through effective blogging and the innovative use of social media is achieved by very few lawyers. 99% of lawyers don’t know how to do it or are too lazy to learn how. That’s far less competition for you. Chasing SEO is something everyone of your competitors is doing.

Better clients. Less competition. Less Cost. Long lasting. What’s not to like?

Back to weaning lawyers off their fix. ;)