Whether we like it or not, is all publicity technically good publicity? Gyi Tsakalakis & Conrad Saam apply their marketing perspectives to the McCloskeys, the gun-wielding attorney couple whose aggressions toward Black Lives Matter protesters led to national media attention. Later in the podcast, Gyi & Conrad shift gears to discuss Google’s coming ad policy changes and what they might mean for lawyers.
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Controversy, Link Building, & Google’s Changing Clickbait Policies
Conrad Saam: All right, everyone. Welcome to my very first intro to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing with Conrad Saam and Gyi Tsakalakis. We are recording this right after July 4th. There is a lot going on the news and we’re going to get right to it because as we promised from the beginning, Gyi, this is going to be a highly tactical event every single time we record.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yes, Conrad. Today is the day that you encourage everybody to go out and buy a gun.
Conrad Saam: You keep going where we’re going to drop subscribers at the very beginning. We have to drop subscribers like they have to get at least five minutes in before we scare them away.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And with that roll the music. Let’s dive in to this episode of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. Teaching you how to promote, market and make fat stacks for your legal practice here on Legal Talk Network.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Welcome to this episode of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. Before we dive into to today’s exciting topics, let’s have a word from our sponsor.
We would like to thank Alert Communications for sponsoring this episode. If any law firm is looking for a call,1 intake or retainer services available 24/7 365, just call 866-827-5568.
Conrad, back to all of these topics that are going on, where do you want to start?
Conrad Saam: I think we start and I and I don’t want to focus specifically on this being a really bad idea. I want to focus on Google’s response to this and how things have run through the way Google’s thinking about this specific incident and reviews. But we’re going to talk about Mark and Patricia McCloskey and I don’t want to drag them through the mud again because it’s been done very well online, but Gyi, can you just give a quick background of who these two are?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I actually didn’t know their names until you had mentioned them. But they’re plaintiffs’ lawyers. Where are they located?
Conrad Saam: St. Louis.
Gyi Tsakalakis: St. Louis plaintiff lawyers who were defending their home.
Conrad Saam: Defending their home from protesters and unfortunately for them, the optics on this look extremely bad. The AR-15, I’m not a gun guy so maybe it’s not an AR-15. Let’s call it scary gun and a little tiny silver gun. Two things happened out of this. I mean all of the gun people that I know made fun of the way they were actually criticized the way they were handling their weapons; and two, they were kind of threatening people. They also went so far as to they were the ones who filed the police report, right, the initial police report on this and so, what has happened here has been a pretty, pretty severe backlash online. I think this brings up a whole bunch of questions. But what I want to key in here because none of this should be news to anyone unless you’ve been living under a rock. If you’re at least listening to this podcast, you know what we’re talking about.
The interesting thing for me, Gyi, is when we’ve seen some of this behavior in the past, we’ve seen a lot of kind of — I don’t want to use the word “online vigilantism” but there has been a lot of —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Twitter mob.
Conrad Saam: Twitter mob? I will call it review mob like there have been a lot of —
Gyi Tsakalakis: GMB mob?
Conrad Saam: The GMB mob, right? And there’s been a lot of companies who have seen their reviews, their online profiles, just absolutely destroyed and that’s not been the case with McCloskey’s. I’ve been watching this in terms of how Google is responding to this. If you look up the McCloskey Law Center in St. Louis, Missouri right now, there are but two Google reviews.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Are you stoking the GMB mob right now as we speak?
Conrad Saam: I don’t want to say — because here’s the thing. This is this very difficult question for companies like Google. How do you go about thinking about, is it okay to write a review of a business of a law firm you know nothing about other than the fact that they were the two idiots standing in front of their house, threatening people with guns?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right, well and fortunately for Google because of Section 230 protections, it’s not really their problem.
Conrad Saam: So, Section 230 makes it not Google’s problem and yet the quality of like if you think about whether or not that reflects whether they’re good lawyers, probably not. It certainly doesn’t reflect their clients and so I’ve been fascinated to watch as the reviews came in and piled on and piled on and piled on and then they disappeared.
Gyi Tsakalakis: On the McCloskey’s page?
Conrad Saam: On the McCloskey’s page. There are but —
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, they were getting reviews.
Conrad Saam: Oh yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Okay. I think we need to make that clear for the audience because it sounded like you were saying they didn’t have any reviews.
Conrad Saam: No, they were pilloried and then it’s disappeared. I’m curious —
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, Google’s filtering them?
Conrad Saam: Google is filtering.
Gyi Tsakalakis: How do they even do that?
Conrad Saam: Well, so, do you have experience, Gyi, with large volumes of reviews getting them taken off of Google?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Like proactively trying to get them taken off?
Conrad Saam: Yeah or like a one-off even. But let’s walk through.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah.
Conrad Saam: Let’s walk through this simple situation. You’ve got a one-off review for a client, have you had success and what are the steps you go through to pull that down?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, so are we being Google specific or are we talking about any review platform?
Conrad Saam: Let’s start with Google and then we’ll go to — and I think your point is clear here. The different review platforms have different policies, very widespread policies. Let’s start with Google but I want you to walk through. You have a client who gets a negative review, what can you do and have you done in the past to have that pulled down?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, we’re going to walk through the nature of the negative review, right? We might ask our client, “Hey is this a real review here?” “Yeah, it is. “Okay, so that’s going to take us down one path.”
Conrad Saam: Right. But the answer is never, “Yeah, it really is.” It’s either crazy person or —
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, I don’t know. — it’s opposing counsel.
Conrad Saam: Right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s the spouse of my client. So then the question becomes like, okay, still, even in that context on Google, if you have a hunch that it’s actually a real review, maybe not a client, Google is pretty, in my view of all of the different policies, pretty generous, it’s just experience with the firm, right? I know that’s not the exact language, what’s the exact language from the guideline?
Conrad Saam: I don’t know. I have to pull it up.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’ll pull it up. You talk, I’ll pull it up.
Conrad Saam: Your point here is that each of these directories has explicit language about what is permitted and what is not permitted. And Yelps language is very, very different from Google’s, which is very, very different from — I’ll speak from my personal experience with OVOs. I don’t have the language in front of me, but for example, OVO wants to make sure you’re an actual client, right? Google has a very different perspective. If you are interacting with a law firm, you don’t necessarily have to be a client but you can just be interacting with a law firm and that’s good enough. From that perspective, you have a really, really helpful front desk person or a really, really horrible front desk person, that’s enough to leave a review, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I pulled it up here, you can search for map users, contributed content policy if you want to read the whole thing but I’ll just pull off some pertinent parts. Contributions must be based on real experiences and information. That’s it.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, that is pretty broad.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s very broad.
Conrad Saam: That’s broader than Yelp even.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Deliberately fake content, copied or stolen photos, off-topic reviews, defamatory language, personal tax and unnecessary or incorrect content are all in violation of our policy. So, that’s the thing is you’ve got to pick one of these policy violations if you’re going to go the direction of trying to have Google take it down, you’ve got to name a policy violation, try to articulate, couch it in terms of the policy violation.
Conrad Saam: Right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And good luck.
Conrad Saam: So that’s my next thing, especially with like that’s a very, very broad description specifically for Google. Your level of success in pulling stuff down?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Low.
Conrad Saam: Okay, and is that by — I would fall into that category as well. It’s very low. I have one exception and I think my exception is very similar to the McCloskey’s. Google is very aware of when an individual listing just gets bombarded and when there are political components to this that are not related to the actual practice of law or whatever that small business does. The one client I have where we have removed hundreds, if not thousands is a heavily-involved political client and they’re just attacked from a political perspective on a regular basis and so, Google’s got them kind of sequestered off and so they have a very small number of actual reviews but they do have a different policy. But in general, the ability to pull stuff down specifically from Google is fairly difficult.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The other one that I think can have some success with is, if you can identify a pattern of fake reviews, so same profiles leaving reviews all over different law firm websites and it’s an obvious pattern of fake, those I think they’re getting — they’re not great at it, it’s really because the issue is, is that what is Google? They’re a technology company. They want to solve this with math and so a lot of these reviews, unless you can really show a pattern, you need to get it in front of a human being to look at it and Google doesn’t — it’s not built for that.
Conrad Saam: One of the things, Gyi, that I’ve — Jason Brown has been talking about this.
Talking about Google becoming much more active at pulling reviews down and much kind of transforming more into a Yelp model on the review side as opposed to what’s much more kind of Wild West. And that’s been over the last month, I think.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, you know, not to get philosophical here, but to get philosophical, I think there’s going to be a question of where that line of moderation, what the accountability is, is there going to be — how is Section 230 going to be interpreted, are there going to be changes to Section 230? Yeah because you know, if people — we leave this stuff and so how much credence do you put into online reviews, Conrad?
Conrad Saam: Well, I would say I think —
Gyi Tsakalakis: As a consumer.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, yeah. No, that’s where I’m going with this. I think you and I are probably at the tip of the iceberg. I need a better analogy here. In terms of our level of cynicism. I can tell you this. The terrible CRM system we currently use for the agency, they look amazing with their reviews online. Hundreds and hundreds of — and I can tell you this is, if this CRM system were a car, it wouldn’t have a driving — it wouldn’t have wheels or a transmission. It is so bad, no one would ever possibly have used this thing and left it a three-star review. And so, the reviews are increasingly questionable and I’ve been thinking this for a while, it’d be fascinating when Google — I mean, Amazon does a really good job of saying, “This a verified buyer,” they actually bought the pencil, the book, whatever, the skateboard; a lot harder for Google to actually get to that level.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What’s a lawyer to do, Conrad, what’s a lawyer to do?
Conrad Saam: Well, I know this guy who once told me you can’t SEO your way out of being a bad lawyer.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right, well how about let’s also, you know what also I thought you were going to go with this whole McCloskey thing is what about this notion of any publicity is good publicity, right? So do your gun owner friends, are they more inclined to be like, “Yeah, McCloskey’s!”
Conrad Saam: Well, okay, so this, we can go down this path and we can use guns or we can use masks or any of these are metaphors for the same thing. I happen to be in Seattle. I’ve been in here since 2001. I am so pinkie snowflake left-leaning liberal.
Gyi Tsakalakis: This episode is brought to you by the autonomous zone.
Conrad Saam: Well it’s gone, the chop zone is gone, yeah, anyway. But you need to think about who you appeal to. We can tell you about guns in a less kind of threatening way. I use Julie Tolek as an example all the time of a lawyer who personally doesn’t appeal to me because she is big on the Second Amendment and guns scare the crap out of me, right? It’s not a thing I’m into. From a pure do I relate I relate to Julie as someone if I was just looking at her from the outside, does that relate to me? No. But does it really help position her for people who that is an important thing, who really believe in that and the answer to that is 100% yes. So the question and I’m going to use — if we’re going to move from guns to masks here, although we can use the McCloskey’s as an example. Does this actually hinder or help their cause? And we can get into the link building side of this as well. But —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, did you do any backlink analysis on this?
Conrad Saam: I have not.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s what you should have done.
Conrad Saam: I’m going to do that while we’re talking because if that would be a really, really fascinating thing to look at. Gyi, while I run this, I’m going to literally run this in real time. Can you talk about backlinks and all publicity is good publicity?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, so essentially for our listeners who know the SEO game, links to your websites are like votes for your website but not all links to your website are created equally. So my view for a local business, hyper relevant local links like you know — so think local city newspaper, schools, maybe if you’re a PI lawyer, you’re thinking rehabilitation centers because you’re also a tangential service provider for people that have been injured, those kind of businesses links from those places for a local perspective, really, really powerful in helping your pages appear in search engine results. That’s not to say that a link from, say, CNN or a link from some major news site, those are valuable as well, features is a slightly different thing. What we’re driving at here is, did this PR even though — so if you didn’t identify with it and you’re like these people are — shouldn’t be doing this and are not whatever your opinion is —
Conrad Saam: You’re so nice the way you talk.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Thanks, I guess. In any event, what kind of online PR did this generate in the context of links because we’ve seen this. This is probably a whole episode we could talk about but lawyers who have done massive link building campaigns that, to the public or to the uninitiated, look like “well why would they do that” and then you go look and it’s like, “Oh, look what that did to their link profile.” This is the thing like the best SEO is invisible. You talk to these folks that have done these SEO link building, link bait type of things and it generates news. You can tell your story of OVO in any event. That’s what we’re wondering is did this event, this incident generate backlinks? What’s the result?
Conrad Saam: If you were a very, very cynical person, you could say they did this on purpose for a pure SEO benefit, right? I am looking at this, their backlink profile just absolutely exploded. Prior to the incident, they had a paltry and by the way, this is much more complex and what I’m going to display this as but just work with me on this. They had to paltry 20 different domains that pointed back to their site, which pretty much gets you nowhere. Within a week, they have added 6x to that and by the way, they’re not my client, they’re probably not your client if you didn’t know who they were so, we’ll disavow any knowledge of this or any planning, although some of it — even I would not go through creative to push this as a tactic because don’t let the SEO tail wag the dog but from a pure link building perspective, this was a genius move.
If I’m the McCloskey’s or their SEO agency or advertising agency, the thing that I would do at this point in time, I would be working really hard to keep and again, do not let the SEO tail wag the dog, very important. But I would be working very, very hard to keep this story in the news and I would have something on my website, a video, we call this anchor content, something that exists nowhere else that, say, the local press is going to link to. I’m just going to free associate here. If I am the McCloskey’s, this is what I do, this is what I pull and I’m assuming that these are really good people, so let’s just make that assumption. Maybe I’m not right about that, but let’s just say they are. I go out of my way to embrace someone from the local black lives matter movement. I sit down with them on video and we have a conversation about what transpired and I put that on my website. I don’t throw that on YouTube, I put that on my website.
That may be a very hard conversation to have. It may be raw, blah blah blah, we prep for it. We make sure we don’t come across as crazy white supremacists, et cetera, —
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, don’t bring the guns.
Conrad Saam: Don’t bring the guns to this talk. But you have a piece of content that is very raw, very real, very relevant and very newsworthy and frankly, very link-
worthy for people to link back to your site and I would stoke that like mad. Again, you cannot let SEO dive to everything that you’re doing but that’s the kind of thing that a really, really good SEO agency would be thinking about. And with that let’s take a break.
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And we are back from the break and Conrad is teaching us how to stoke people’s link building fires by sitting down with guns.
Conrad Saam: If I had a job, if I didn’t run an agency, if I actually had a job, the creativity required to be really successful in link building and the PR on the outreach around that, that is really fun. It’s unusual, it’s out of the box, it’s responsive. You need a great spokesman. You need to be, if you’re a law firm, you have to be really quick on your feet like it’s a good trial lawyer type of skill, super, super fun.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It works. Now, this will be the other interesting thing and again maybe we do a follow-up at some point. Did any of those links do anything?
Conrad Saam: Yeah. The beauty would be if we had access to McCloskey’s GA account, to see whether —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Search counsel, because the other thing, the other piece of this, which now we’re going to get really nerdy is I think back to Eric Schmidt’s famous words that brand sorts out the cesspool and if you really go deep on that, the fact that people are searching on their name plus permutations of lawyer or whatever it is, that’s brand signaling to Google and I bet you, and this is another argument for keeping that story in the news, is that those searches are actually helping the McCloskey’s visibility both in local and in traditional results. That’s my hunch. We see this with TV advertisers that when people are searching on your name and your firm names, call it a popularity signal, and I know that there are people that will hear that and be like, “This can’t be right. This isn’t how it works.” I’m persuaded. I’m converted. I think that those brand signals with the click-through rates, these signals that Google can extrapolate from those kinds of searches, they play a role.
Conrad Saam: They absolutely play a role and so let’s go back to the theory of why this happens. If you are looking for a pair of sneakers and Google knows that and they know this because they’ve got more data than you can imagine, they know that lots of people when they’re talking about sneakers, are looking for Nikes and researching Nikes and reading about Nikes. “Well, Nikes must be good sneaker.” It thematically makes sense in terms of the way they think about these things. A very fascinating concept to think about does the perspective, does the biased, does the negativity or positivity around, I mean it could be Nike sucks and how does that implicate from an SEO perspective.
The other thing, Gyi, just because you mentioned this and so those of you who are listening who happen to be heavy TV offline radio billboard type advertisers, you should absolutely, if you’re running Google Ads, AB test whether or not including your brand or not within the headline or within the copy of the ad has an impact because the answer is it has an impact. What that impact is, it depends on frankly, how aggressively you are on your advertising. But when people recognize a thing, even if they’ve never worked with you before but they’ve recognized for the people, Morgan & Morgan, Morgan & Morgan, trip, trip, trip, trip, trip, they are more likely to click on that and when they’re more likely to click on especially when they see that — and they’re more likely to click on it because that that brand is contained within the ad. When you do that on the advertising side — sorry, we’re going down a tangent here but you mentioned brand, I think it’s important. When they click more frequently because of the brand, your quality score goes up, your economics improve and it is a great unfair advantage for those of you who do run offline branded campaigns because it drives the economics of PPC in your favor.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Interesting stuff there.
Conrad Saam: Let’s move away from masks and guns and controversy and let’s talk about the policy change that Google is rolling out on the 15th of this month. This is a Google Ads policy change that when I read it, really looked to have legal directly implicated. What they really talk about is it’s called the clickbait change or clickbait policy and what they’re really talking about is are you inducing people to click on an ad because of an imminent fear or stoking fears around medical issues, violence issues, going to jail issues and it’s really written like it has the legal industry really directly in its sights. Have you have you filled any questions on this, Gyi?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah and this is one that I think we should actually read. It actually does speak specifically to law.
Conrad Saam: You pull that up while I talk through this. I’ve connected with Google through our Google Premier partnership program around this and my contact there, and we talked about it like really, “Hey, it feels like you’re targeting every single one of my clients here.” And she said, “It’s really more around being deceptive and making sure that people are not being kind of coerced into clicking.” Having said that, as Gyi mentioned before, Google does things algorithmically.
When you’re dealing with people going to jail, personal injury, divorce, threat of harm, you’re automatically dealing with things that have a distinct emotive reaction and so I think it’s possible that on the 15th as the Google algorithms kind of settle out, we may see a bunch of carnage in the PPC world with ads being disapproved.
I don’t think that is impossible, although, at least from the people at Google that I’ve talked to, is certainly not their intent.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Here’s part of the policy. It’s the just for P folks that want to follow up and this is the updates to the misrepresentation policy, July 2020. Part of it is the following is not allowed: Ads that use negative life events such as death, accidents, illness, arrests or bankruptcy to induce fear, guilt or other strong negative emotions to pressure the viewer to take immediate action. Again, we won’t know until because there’s another aspect of this I want to talk about, which actually is the enforcement aspect but from a technical policy violation in terms of how you interpret this, most lawyers are helping people with negative life events. Then the question is, does the ad induce fear, guilt or other strong negative emotions.
Let’s just work through some examples. Car accident.
Conrad Saam: I would argue that there’s fear in all of these situations.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. But does the ad induce fear? That’s the question. Does the ad induce the fear?
Conrad Saam: Call me or go to jail, right? That would probably be a bit far.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Let’s try to walk through a couple examples and I’ll get your opinion on each of these. First one is car accident and then the ad is don’t lose your rights, call us now. That sounds like negative life event plus inducement of fear, right?
Conrad Saam: Right. Or the insurance industry is going to take advantage of you.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. Here’s one, call us to talk about bankruptcy or your kids won’t be able to eat.
Conrad Saam: Fear.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That one’s trying the guilt one but fear also, sure, you should be fearful and guilty. I think that there’s plenty of examples that we could go through where we see ads right now of lawyers that are doing this. They’re using fear and negative life events in their advertising. Now, let’s flip it on its head. Car accident, sleep better at night knowing that we’re handling your case. Negative life event but no fear, relieving fear.
Conrad Saam: As you kind of go through these examples, Gyi, it feels to me — we know that fear, sex, like there are things that sell constantly.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What?
Conrad Saam: I know, we’re not going to go into sex here. But there are things that trigger effectiveness of advertising period. Whether you like that or not, just accept it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: They’re called emotions.
Conrad Saam: Fear is one of the strongest emotions to work on. It feels to me, Gyi, as I read this and as you kind of throw out those theoretical examples, the most effective advertising here is going to be those ads that push as close to that policy violation as they possibly can without getting flagged.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So then, that becomes the question now and this is the other thing that we dealt with this because Google has other policies about advertising and health-related information and that kind of stuff and I’d be curious to hear your — I know we’ve talked about this before but my experience has been until more recently maybe, historically over the last 10 years or at least since the policy’s been that way, there’s been very little enforcement. In fact, the only time that it gets enforced is when a competitor goes and tries to report you. The same way like the legal ethics stuff goes. It’s like consumers aren’t actually complaining, it’s your competitions reporting you to Google and then what’s the enforcement mechanism there.
Conrad Saam: Here’s the other one on here that I don’t know how they enforce. One of the questions, and part of this policy is you can’t use pictures of real accidents. How do you know if it’s a real accident? That seems unenforceable.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah and I’m also, as we said it from when we’re talking about reviews, Google wants to solve these issues with AI and it’s like, “Huh?” We’ll see. TBD, we’ll have to check back into this after we start seeing whether or not ads are getting flagged and accounts getting suspended but I think for the lawyers that are out there that are spending money on Google ads, I would talk to your agency or if you’re doing it yourself or your in-house team, have a conversation about being prepared with creative that doesn’t stoke fears, guilt or negative emotions.
You’re going to have to have some creative sets prepared that are doing the opposite, relieving fear, making less stress, we’re here to help you sleep better at night.
Conrad Saam: You can set this up now. You can set this up preemptively as an AB. In an abundance of caution, your agency should be coming to you with like, “Hey, this is coming out.” In order to make sure that you’re not negatively impacted by this, let’s say you have a very simplistic agency, they’re just running a single ad for an ad group, blah blah blah, that may or may not trip these filters. Gyi and I have just told you, we have no idea if they can enforce this. In an abundance of caution, you have a B ad that is very, very touchy, feely, happy, lack of fear, reassuring, love, kittens, I don’t know. That doesn’t work by the way.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s niche.
Conrad Saam: Kitten lawyers. You can have this set up. If you’re AI gets struck, your B runs and you’re not kind of left flapping in the wind.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, well, it’d be interesting too and maybe you know because if you’re super special relationship —
Conrad Saam: Super special.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Are they going to flag, are they going to disapprove ads or are they going to suspend accounts?
Conrad Saam: I don’t know. Great question.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I saw it with the other policy violations where it was like and it’s a little bit different. If you’ve got health information on your site and you’re doing ads and they get flagged, those accounts are getting suspended but I think the response there from Google is going to be something like, “Well you can’t really parse it out from the ad itself,” but the same reasoning can apply to a landing page. If you’re driving somebody do — it’s not just the ad, it could be the landing page.
Conrad Saam: No, but this is click, it is specifically called clickbait policy.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It is and it says specifically ads, we’ll see.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, so here’s the thing, Gyi, I’m going to add that question so I’m doing a webinar with Sherry from Google next week and I’ll add that to the question because is it at the ad level or is it at the campaign level? My gut tells me this is at the ad level.
Gyi Tsakalakis: We should have sherry come on Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
Conrad Saam: We should. I will ask her. I will invite her to join us and we can talk about this.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Let her listen to this episode first and then she can decide.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, she’s like I don’t want to talk about guns.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I don’t want to talk to you jerks.
Conrad Saam: White supremacist lawyers. We’ll see how this happens. I think one or two things are going to happen. Either this is going to be a big yawn and this is going to be a waste of the last 10 minutes of your life for having listened to me and Gyi talk about it or there could be a really, really big shake-up that comes out next week or by the time you’re listening to this, you’ll be like, “Hey, what’s going on?”
Couple other things, Gyi, in the Google world that have come out. We’ve seen a lot of testing of new interface and ads showing up specifically around legal and specifically around local. The knowledge panel ads, so the knowledge panel ads
came out in 2017. Can you kind of talk about what those knowledge panel ads a little bit?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, it’s ads showing up in — what’s a knowledge panel first of all?
Conrad Saam: The knowledge panel shows up on the right side, specifically if you were to do like a branded search for Coca-Cola or Bill Smith Law Firm, the knowledge panel shows up on the right side. It has all sorts of information about your firm. It is driven by your Google My Business profile.
Gyi Tsakalakis: In fact, if you just go do a search on your name, assuming you have not necessarily even, but usually if you’ve claimed your Google My Business profile, you’ll get a nice rich knowledge panel with your images, reviews, address, hours, phone.
Conrad Saam: And if you don’t, and you have an agency, but that’s a different conversation.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yes, that is. So, there are ads starting show up here in this area.
Conrad Saam: And the key here that happened in 2017 is you could put an ad on someone else’s knowledge panel. I could, for example, put a Mockingbird ad on Gyi’s attorney sync knowledge panel that says —
Gyi Tsakalakis: “For cheaper, better, smarter.”
Conrad Saam: Better, cheaper, we outsource everything to Uzbekistan so you don’t have to pay as much.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Is that where the good works coming from, it was Uzbekistan?
Conrad Saam: All the good work is Uzbekistan.
No, but like that’s the kind of thing that lawyers get super — you guys get mad about people bidding on your names. Think about those showing up in the knowledge panel. Whether or not this rolls out wide is a very different question.
The other one, Gyi, that I’ve seen. I don’t know if you’ve seen this also, have you seen that people also search for? I haven’t seen it a legal but I’ve seen it elsewhere.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I haven’t seen it legal yet.
Conrad Saam: But we’ve seen it outside of that. If you’re looking for Domino’s Pizza, you might also get whatever there — Pagliacci’s or whatever it might be.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Pagliacci’s?
Conrad Saam: You’ve got to come to Seattle to eat Pagliacci’s. It’s the only good pizza on the west coast.
Like the people also is basically — and you were talking about brand earlier, the people also search for can really — it essentially says, I know all these different businesses are law firms and these are the brands that are well-known and that becomes a really, really fascinating way to look at things.
The final thing is on that if you click through on those local results, we’ve seen a couple and this was specifically a legal example where there’s a carousel at the bottom of that page of the big map at the bottom of that page with a rotating list of law firms. Local became really a fight over the three pack and now they’ve kind of gone the complete opposite and by the way, this hasn’t rolled out everywhere and it may not roll out at all but the example I saw, it had something like 20 or 30 different law firms rotating at the bottom of the screen and as you rolled over it, the Google My Business knowledge panel style information came out. There’s a lot of stuff that we saw as kind of tests but I don’t know that anything is going to roll out. It looks like they’re trying to come up with another way to frankly monetize a bit more.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No.
Conrad Saam: I said it. That knowledge panel, that carousel had ads showing up in it. Morgan & Morgan all over the place.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I think one of the lessons here I think too is: Number one is don’t go chasing tasks. We talked about this cutting-edge stuff. We stay on top of it. We think it’s interesting. Some of them might turn into an opportunity. I do think this is a good reason to use something like we Moz’s stat tool because it tracks rich results and so if you target queries, if you are a universe of searches that are locally relevant and practice area relevant to you are showing some of these features, you should be all over it. But if they don’t, if you’re not seeing them, then this is more of like, “Hey, keep them in the back of your mind,” start thinking about maybe if you have a special relationship with Google like Conrad does, you call up your Google person and ask about these things, but for the most part this is not — I think sometimes people hear these shiny new things and then they go and like, “Oh, we got to go do this,” and it’s like if it’s not showing up for your relevant queries, it’s not really worth your time.
Conrad Saam: Let’s wrap this with what Gyi is really talking about here. Know the math. Know what’s driving things for you, have insight, access, ownership of the math because things may change, things may not change. The Google Ads policy may completely blow your advertising campaign up. It may help it, it may hurt it, we don’t know. You need to have ownership access of things like how much am I spending? How many people are contacting me?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Your account.
Conrad Saam: Your account.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I love this argument that, “Oh no, this is our proprietary account.”
Conrad Saam: Gyi, can you come up with three, two or one reasons for a law firm to be like, “Hey, I don’t want to have access with my data.” I’ll give you a dollar. I’ll send you a Pagliacci’s Pizza.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s going to be a hard one. I don’t have access to mine — what’s a good reason for not having access to the accounts through which I’m spending my own money? Look, at some at some level, it’s like if you’re getting some kind of deal out of it I guess, so like if the lead generators like we’re going to front the ad cost but it’s going to be on our ad accounts, just paying for leads, maybe that’s an argument?
Conrad Saam: Okay.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’m stretching. I’m trying.
Conrad Saam: Here’s the answer. It’s your money. It’s your account. It’s your campaign. It’s your law firm. Own it. And with that, we’re going to wrap. We’ll connect with you next month but we’re going to call this a wrap.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Thank you as always, listeners, for tuning in to this episode of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. If you’re not currently a subscriber, please do go subscribe to Apple Podcasts or Google Play or all these other various podcast tools and as always, we encourage you and invite you to leave a review, positive or negative, as long as it’s real and if you’re interested in participating whether you have topics, suggestions or you’d like to be a guest, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We love hearing from you. Until next time, from Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
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Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s where I miss Kelly, because Kelly was down for singing.
Conrad Saam: I don’t drink enough ever in my life to sing.
Gyi Tsakalakis: All right, let’s get serious here.
Conrad Saam: I will practice in the shower. Let’s not put that in the episode.
Gyi Tsakalakis: All right.