How should you select an SEO company or provider for your law practice?
There is a plethora of companies out there that claim they can do great SEO and rank you really well in search results, but how do you know where you should invest your money?
I’ve been doing SEO for our trademark law firm for the last 12 years. We’ve been very successful with it, but that’s only because we found good people to work with. It’s not because I’m some personal SEO genius.
I’m going to explain how I found the folks we’re working with and talk about the agencies I’ve hired that didn’t work out.
How do you choose an SEO agency for your firm?
1. Find a company with 3-10 employees
I recommend looking for an SEO company that has between 3 and 10 employees. This is for two man reasons.
One, solo companies or two-person shops probably won’t have the bandwidth to do your SEO work while also growing their personal business. You might find that you can’t get enough output from smaller companies like this.
On the other hand, once an SEO company gets to be larger than 10 employees, everything is divided into teams. People come and go more often and you’ll experience less continuity.
Companies with 3 to 10 employees is the sweet spot. They’re usually operating with a boutique number of clients not looking to pour gasoline on the fire of their business.
I’ve personally been with SEO agencies that have over 50 employees and it was a mess. I was such a small potato that they didn’t care what was getting done. They would give me some formulaic report every month and that was it.
If you’re trying to keep things within a budget, you need to work with an SEO company that reflects and looks a lot like your law firm in the amount of people that exist there.
2. Look for a local SEO agency
Look for a local SEO agency or a company. You can find SEO specialists everywhere. As a matter of fact, our provider is in North Carolina, while we’re based in Washington DC. That’s worked fine for us, but if I were to do it again today and I didn’t have the existing relationship, I would probably look for someone locally that I could meet with and really get to know. When you get to know your providers and they get to care about you more as a human, they’re probably going do a little bit better work for you. You’re no longer just a number and a voice they talk to once a month over the phone.
If you’re living in an area where there’s a lot of local options, I would certainly start there.
3. Ask for more than one referral
You need to ask the SEO company for referrals to their current clients before you consider hiring them. You need to be able to talk to people they’ve worked with and understand if they’ve brought results to them. If nobody can talk on behalf of the SEO agency and say that they’ve done good work, that’s a huge red flag.
When my SEO company calls me and says, “Hey Josh, we have a new potential client and we’d love you to talk to them or let them know what kind of work we’ve done for you,” I will gladly get on the phone or send an email. I’m really happy about the work our company does and I want to help them out. I also know how important it is for someone who’s trying to hire an agency to hear the success that a client has had with them.
Make sure you ask for more than one referral, however. You never know if it’s their friend or family member that you first talk to, so it’s best to talk to more than one person.
4. Review their monthly tasks
Now the fourth item on our list gets into a little bit more of the nuts and bolts of what you need to look for when hiring an SEO company. You need to understand what kind of work they are going to do for you.
There are several things that SEO companies should be doing for you.
First, they should be helping to optimize your current website. This could be code improvements, recommendations on an entire new website, becoming mobile responsive, having a faster site, etc. There are all sorts of top line things that they can help you with, but then there’s also little finer details. For example, improving title tags and internal linking. Be sure to ask them for a game plan as what they see your website needs before you start working with them. Understand that they may want to charge you a fee for this kind of work, but you should be willing to spend $500 for someone to take five hours and go through your website. Even if you don’t use that firm, it’s going to be helpful for you to compare what they want to do to somebody else, and ultimately you make a better decision on who you want to hire. That’s $500 well spent.
The other thing that these SEO companies can do for you is help you produce content. They may have to hire out the writers or you may have to produce the content yourself, but they should help you with a content calendar. They can provide topic ideas and writers, and they should help you push the content out into the universe. This could mean getting a blog started on your website or finding other websites that want to accept the content from as you as a guest poster, for example. Find out what content strategy the SEO company will have both onsite for you and offsite in other people’s websites.
The third and perhaps most important is link-building. I’ve been told, believe it or not, by certain SEO companies that you can just produce content and an audience will come. If you hear that, run as fast as you can. That is a bunch of malarkey. Link-building is tough work. It’s time-consuming for SEO companies, so they often just don’t do it right. You need to understand what types of links the SEO company plans to get you and how they plan to go about getting them. Ensure that it’s white hat, meaning that they’re not doing things that are sketchy and that they’re getting you good quality links. Those are the types of links that help your site rank in Google. It’s perhaps the most important thing an SEO company can do for you. is help you acquire links.
Make sure that whatever strategy they outline for you, it should be incredibly detailed.
5. Do not sign any long-term contracts
As a lawyer, you should be reading any contract you’re signing with a SEO company, but you should definitely make sure you’re not signing a long-term deal.
A lot of SEO companies are going to pitch you with the idea that they need six months to a year to even start to scratch the surface for you. They don’t want you to just pull out after three months because the cost of acquiring a client can be substantial. I get that, but there should be no long-term contract. If you believe the SEO company is doing good work and you believe it’s going in a good direction, you will continue to pay the bill every month.
I have personally signed a six-month commitment once and I was actually able to get out of it because I was so disappointed in the work product. I was mad at myself for signing this six-month commitment and having to work my way out of it.
If you’re going to work with an SEO company and you need to sign the six-month contract because you think they’re a good agency for you, that’s fine. DO not sign a longer contract. You should never be locked in for a year with anybody like this.
If you do go with a six month contract, make sure it’s month to month after that. You do not want automatic extensions in that contract. If the company’s not willing to do that, they’re not for you. Period. Anybody that’s trying to lock you into a contract, to me that’s super sketchy that means that they’re just trying to get you. There’s plenty of other people out there that are not going to require you to lock into that kind of deal.
Again, I would try to negotiate it back to three months, then another three months, and then month to month after that. Again, if good work is being done and they’re showing you month to month that they’re doing good work, you will continue to pay and it is what it is at that point. You just have to find somebody that’s not going to try to lock you in.
6. Educate yourself
My final point comes a little after you’ve chosen an SEO company. You really need to educate yourself and understand what you’re getting every month. Your SEO company should provide you with monthly reports. If they do not, again, run the other direction. There’s no reason that you should be paying a monthly retainer and not getting a detailed monthly report on the work being done for your business. Get the monthly report and educate yourself as to what’s in there and what you’re seeing. Educate yourself as to how much time it takes to accomplish all the tasks that the SEO company told you they’re doing. You can figure out real quick what they’re charging you per hour if you have a general idea how long certain things should take.
I hope you found this episode helpful. Just remember, if you’re going to hire an SEO company for your law firm, you really need to be educated as to what you’re buying because it can be really easy for agencies to put up this magic smoke and say they’re going to do all these great things. You’ve got to have faith that they’re doing the right thing, and in six months or a year, you’re going to see results. The only way you can really have faith is to be educated.
If you have any other questions on this topic, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also always reach out to us on social media. We’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram. I respond to all the comments and questions we get. And finally, if you have an idea for a future episode, you’re running a law firm, you’re in a law practice, even if you’re an associate in a law firm and you have a question about the business side of law, send it over. We’d love to do a show about it. I’ve already done a couple of shows with questions we’ve gotten from listeners and viewers. So please keep them coming. I look forward to talking to you next time.