At Google I/O 2023, the behemoth of search unveiled some truly fundamental changes. Plus, the guys open up the mailbag and answer your questions about misbehaving Google Business Profiles, branching out into new practice areas, and all that jazz!
In what may be the most significant change to online search ever, Google announced the AI-powered SGE (Search Generated Experience) and Perspectives. Gyi and Conrad pontificate on the ins and outs of the announcement and how it could affect both traditional SEO and customer behavior. What will this mean for you, dear lawyer, and how can you be prepared? No hyperbole here: this will truly change search as we know it.
It’s mail time! The guys answer your questions, including: Dude, where’d my Google Business Profile metrics go? What kind of fruit grows on a Linktree? Speaking of trees, how does one branch out into different practice areas? And finally, how do I make the connection between my sweet billboard and online advertising?
- Google I/O and the big announcement. This was a big one with tons of Google developments you need to know now.
- The Top Level Domain (TLD) .esq is here. Do you need the .esq, as in www.Lawyer.esq?
- The Attorney At Work website survey names LHLM as one of the Top 10 Legal Podcasts! Hat tip to Joan Feldman and friends.
Special thanks to our
sponsors and .
Gyi Tsakalakis: Before we get started, we want to thank our sponsors, Lawmatics, Nota and Lawyaw. Conrad, I see that you’re wearing a collared dress shirt today which can only mean one thing. You are on the road hawking your wares on the conference circuit. Where in the world are you?
Conrad Saam: Very true. I am either in disguise if I’m wearing a collared shirt or speaking to lawyers and occasionally on the podcast. I’m at PILMMA down in New Orleans. I was at MTMP two weeks ago in Las Vegas. They are two similar although completely different cities and I personally like the dirt and the grit and the stench and the real music of New Orleans. I do love this. I’m not a city person.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Man, I miss New Orleans.
Conrad Saam: Yeah. Well, if you want to go for a walk and step in something that you’re not sure what it is and it squishes for the next a quarter mile, this is the place to do it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Good to know. And also, as you mentioned, great music, great food. Have you had any? What have you eaten recently?
Conrad Saam: Well, shrimp and grits, baby. At the risk of sounding like a tourist, if you come to Seattle, you have to eat salmon or crab. If you come to New Orleans, you have to have shrimp and grits. It just has to happen. So great food, great music. The music just makes me happy. Here it is, people just living their musical lives and it’s everywhere. I really do love this city.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Very nice. Me too. In addition to Nolan’s, what else are we talking about today?
Conrad Saam: Ho, ho, boy, so I will say this. I don’t know how many episodes I have done with you Gyi, this is the most impactful episode. We are bringing to you cutting edge news that it is, as of now, less than six days old coming out of Google. We’ve got the news. After that, we’re going to go deeper into those changes that were announced just six days ago. And then finally ding, ding, ding. We’ve got a Mailbag. We’ve got a bunch of questions from listeners that we’re going to answer. Until then, let’s make the world go round and we’ll be back with the news.
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.
Conrad Saam: You know what, Gyi? I’m sitting here in New Orleans. I feel like we could take this theme music and give it to like seven different bands and have them do their take on it and it would be amazing. That trumpet –.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I would love to hear money makes the world go round in jazz.
Conrad Saam: Wouldn’t that be good? Good times. Okay. Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. We have got a jampacked show for you today so let’s get started. First, big news coming right at you.
So, Gyi, Google AI. Sorry, I blew that. Google IO, too many –.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And AI, IO and IA. AI, OI.
Conrad Saam: It’s going to make the world go around. Google had a huge announcement six days ago at Google IO. What were they talking about? And what are we going to be talking about later on in the show?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, for folks that don’t know what Google IO is, you can just go search it but I think they do it annually. And technically it’s a developer conference but they tend to make big announcements and, oh, boy, they made some big announcements this year which we’ll dive deeper into.
Conrad Saam: So Google IO, huge announcement. Stick with the show to hear about this because this is kind of mind blowing. It’s very, very revolutionary for all of the stuff that Gyi and I have spent our lives perfecting. All right, the other questions that I’m getting lots of news coming about the tld.esq. What is a TLD, Gyi and should lawyers go flocking to buy the (00:04:01)?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So the TLD is a Top Level Domain. And for folks that don’t know what that means, it’s what your web address ends with. So, .com is a TLD, .edu, .gov. Well, recently, the .esq TLD was announced and lawyers are out there dropping serious cash to get those hot esq domains so they can rank in Google. Brilliant.
Conrad Saam: Brilliant you idiots. Don’t do this. Sorry, now I’ve offended our audience. If you have just bought a .esq, believing that it is going to be the answer to your SEO prayers, go kick yourself because you just lit some money on fire.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’ve got a bottle of snake oil to sell you.
Conrad Saam: It’s really good snake oil too. This happened, I want to say, six years ago when dot law came out. If you want to learn more –.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The law.pro.
Conrad Saam: There’s all sorts of garbage. If you want to learn more about how you have been swindled, there’s an article we’ll put in the show notes called The .law Sales Conspiracy.
.law was marketed by essentially artificially inflating changing a domain of a law firm I believe it was in Florida. They changed the domain to a .law and then showcased all of the Google analytics results that happened when they did that. What they failed to mention is that concurrently in making that change, they did a massive website redesign. They added a ton of content and they did massive link building and they used that claim and all that work and the improvement in the results to claim that it was all about .law. So you have been swindled.
All right. And finally moving on to the more positives, your very own Lunch Hour Legal Marketing was featured as a top 10 podcast by the listeners of Attorney at Work. Thank you, Joan Feldman. That was nice. That made me feel good. Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Always nice to make a list and this particular list, as Conrad mentioned, was compiled by actual feedback from readers at Attorney at Work and so, grateful to all of those who gave a nod to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. We appreciate you and we appreciate being appreciated.
Conrad Saam: And bluntly, like the group that was out there including Strict Scrutiny which is produced by Crooked Media, for me to be included with a group and a podcast that’s produced by Crooked, it’s like getting asked by Kenny G to come up and play along stage. There, I’m trying to go with the jazz theme a little bit further. No, but seriously, and I would do want to make a shout out. We’ve talked about production value and the production value of this podcast. I have listened to Crooked Media’s Pod Save the World for a very, very long time. It is extremely well produced. I also listen to The Atlantic that also does podcasts and when you listen to both of them, you can realize just how much work goes into great post production.
The Atlantic’s post production is frankly kind of nonexistent. It’s garbage and we here are — and when you compare to the work done by Crooked, it’s very, very clear. We’re super lucky to have Legal Talk Network producing this and you guys as listeners are super lucky to have them producing this because they make us sound better. So huge thanks to Legal Talk Network and you are a lot that has to do with us getting on the Top 10 podcast list.
When we come back, we are going to blow your minds with Google’s most recent announcement.
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Conrad Saam: All right, Gyi. I’ve set you up to blow everyone’s mind as they’re listening. Google’s announcement at Google IO, not Google AI. Google. IO. What was it and why are we so excited about it?
Gyi Tsakalakis: A lot of announcements but we’re going to focus on two today. The first is SGE which is Search Generative Experience and the second is Perspectives. So, SGE, if you didn’t catch the announcement, essentially Google is going to be adding generative AI results into the search results. And they’ve got some videos on the Google IO website that you can check out for examples but as Conrad mentioned the biggest change in the search interface in a long time. Over the years, they’ve layered in universal results. You’ve had local, you’ve got video results and images. This is a game changer. This is a big step towards their ultimate goal of becoming the Star Trek computer. They’re not in the wild .
So if you’re vigorously looking for SGE results on your phone right now as you listen to this, you won’t see them. You got to go sign up for the wait list at Google Labs. We’ll try to drop a link in the show notes to get on that wait list. But yeah Conrad, what are your early thoughts? You think that SGE is the game changer that it is heralded to be?
Conrad Saam: Well, there are a couple of things that are really fascinating and you should go watch those videos because it’s hard to explain. It’s amazing when you see it. When ChatGPT hit the airwaves, hit reality.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The tubes.
Conrad Saam: There was a lot of conversation about like, is this going to change SEO. And so all the SEOs are all excited about ChatGPT and all of you have been writing content all this time. I’ve been excited about that. I think here, at Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, we talked about this possibly heralding and changing consumer behavior, right? And the example that we have used was you’re no longer looking for divorce lawyer near me. You are looking for things like, how do I talk to my two teenage boys about our upcoming divorce? They are very concerned about whether going to spend their holidays. One of my kids is autistic, what should I do? Can you help me write some talking points so I can talk to them?
That is a change in behavior that we talked about may be happening. And so lo and behold, the change in behavior is going to be brought to you by Google because that’s exactly what they are trying to do. The gender of experience really talks about your next searches can be conditioned based on what your previous search was, right? So you can start drilling deeper into a subject and asking more and more questions and so it is not a single search that then returns a result. It is more of a conversation and the results are coming back as AI generation.
The other thing that I found really fascinating about this Gyi and I think that systematically, this is going to come out when we talk about Perspectives as well. Google is citing their sources for this. This is where this becomes really, really fascinating and legal. My belief is they’re pushing back against this self-reinforcing echo chamber that is the web, right? So like, for example I’m a bleeding heart liberal so I read CNN and so all the news that I get, all the content that I get is self-fulfilling because the Google knows I like the bleeding heart liberal snowflake content, right? And I don’t see the other side. And I think what they’re trying to do in citing those sources is encouraging people to dig deeper into why you’re getting the information back that you are as they push back against that kind of echo chamber perspective.
And so the question that was going to come up for legal is as people dive into sources, are you one of those sources? How is Google determining what sources they pick? Is it going to be links? Like we really don’t know. Right now, we really don’t know what they’re going to be turning for to drive the content that is AI generated based on queries and this is man, if you are, if you want to be an expert in SEO for legal and you don’t know anything, now is the time to jump in because nobody knows how this works right now.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I think my couple of thoughts, it seems to me from the examples that I saw and from the photo, I don’t have access to the SGE. I’m not in the lab yet, I’m on the wait list so a disclaimer. But the examples that I’ve seen I think this is what I’m probably concluding thus far. Again, very early.
The first thing and I think Conrad’s right on point with the, it’s really important to understand how the generative experience what they’re sourcing and how are they getting this information. And I’ve done, we’ve been doing a lot of testing on like both ChatGPT and barred and a couple other generative AI tools and asking questions like, give me a list of the top 10 car accident lawyers in Chicago and tell me where you got the sources from. And interestingly, a lot of them have been traditional directories. It’s been Super Lawyers, Avvo, Forbes Advisor, Yelp.
But to Conrad’s point, the lawyers that they list for those queries tend not to be, in some instances, they’re not the same lawyers that show up in local tax and they’re not the same that are ranking in just traditional SEO which obviously it’s just kind of stating the obvious here, the generative AI is pulling from a different corpus and using a different way of understanding the user’s intent on the prompt than a traditional search. Now, one thing that I’ll also observe is that it looks like Google is doing both. So if you’re an SEO or you’re a lawyer that relies on organic traffic, I don’t think this is like apocalyptic. You’re still seeing links in the results. You’re still seeing — it’s like a, I would call it a hybrid experience as the way that I’ve been thinking about it.
But the other thing that are really good point that Conrad made, I think people should be thinking about is, it’s definitely going to impact user behavior.
And I would say this though, it’s totally new in terms of the interface and it’s totally new in terms of like the experience that we’re going to have but remember, Google has been influencing user behavior with autosuggest and people also aske and related searches and all this stuff already. I think this is another layer of that and I think it’s a more extreme layer and degree. But anyway, I just say that because this is what’s coming next folks. You’re going to see Facebook ads, talking about SGE optimization for law firms and we’re going to get you to the top of the generative results and all that trash and that noise is coming and the fundamentals to me still remain the same.
I mean look, you should have been in the directories already. You should be working on building citations and major data sources, major legal directories. I’m not saying you need to pay for listing, I’m not saying you need to pay for ads, you should already be publishing information. We talked about this before but like I think we’re going to see, we’re going to, this will be a good dovetail into perspectives. But, you know, remember legal in the search quality rater guidelines, legal is a YMYL, your money your life category, right?
So Google is particularly concerned about the results. They don’t want people in theory, we talked about fake reviews. In theory, they don’t want people relying on bad information for important things like making legal hires. And so, short version is that experience, authority, trust, these eat signals focus on that. Make sure your content talks about — we talked about blogging. If you’ve been just like buying content and publishing under admin on a WordPress login or under your firm’s brand and not you as the author, I think that content is in trouble. Google wants to surface contact written by known experts on their field. So make sure you’ve got that in your by lines.
I mean, Conrad, you had alluded to, is this the return of authorship. I think there’s some validity to that.
Conrad Saam: Question for you. We’re going to come back to authorship when we talk about Perspectives because I think that’s really, this is really fascinating to me. But I want to ask you a question on behalf of our listeners, you said YMYL. Google has said that they are not going to extend SGE to YMYL topics, right? And so the question that I would posit to you is, is this just Gyi and Conrad henny penny the sky is falling with SEO because Google’s never going to bring SGE to legal. What do you think?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I’m think that that’s not true. Look, all this Google IO stuff, it’s PR, right? It’s just like the PR that would say talk about on web spam and all those stuff and I don’t begrudge them at all. I mean this is tough stuff and there’s all sorts of that are publicly traded company. There’s all sorts of stuff to navigate here. My view is this is where Google wants to go. The market is going to force them to go — we saw what happened when they botched the Bard launch.
Conrad Saam: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: They know — and competition is good. You know, I’m cheering for a little competition. I’m cheering for Bing. I’m cheering for Altman and I think that forcing Google’s hand on some of the stuff is going to be a healthy thing. I think we’re going to get better results. That being said, like to think — right now, Google is showing trash for YMYL results. So this idea that like they only show the most amazing stuff and they’re so concerned. Okay, Google, if that’s so true, why are old fashioned spam SEO tactics still working in YMYL? Why do, why are there uncountable numbers of fake reviews for legal local business lookups, right? If you care about YMYL so much, you got a whole bunch of problems to deal with before SGE. In fact, you know, maybe a little bit naïvely and optimistically maybe SGE can clean up some of those trash.
Conrad Saam: Okay. All right. So YMYL not applicable in Gyi’s opinion for SGE. I don’t disagree with you. I think it is, it is very –.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And maybe in the short term. Maybe in the short term we won’t. Just remember, this is all very early. We feel compelled to talk about these. Folks — we’ll talk about it in the Mailbag. People want to know. But the general public doesn’t have access to this stuff yet and maybe in the first six months’ year, Google is like got some kind of crazy filter but we talked about this little bit in preparation but the nuance of distinguishing between a YMYL search and a non-YMYL search, come on. I think a human being, I think the quality rater struggle with making those distinctions. There’s all sorts of life legal searches that may not be lawyer lookups. Lawyer lookups might be easy. That might be clearly YMYL but there’s all searches that it’s like there’s nuance there.
And so, I just don’t think they’re going to have the filter on for anything that includes something related to a life quasi-legal search. You’re just not going to get generative results. I just don’t see that happening.
Conrad Saam: So, before we move on on this, my guess is the people who start working on SGE optimization, and I think you and I will be putting our brains together to think about what that looks like, we need to understand how AI works and it is really based on these LLM models, large language models and understanding. This turns into understanding which large language models are actually driving the AI and what you can do in order to have coverage and quality within those large language models. The reason with that was there’s actually two different large language models that Google is drawing on for SGE. So, I mean, this gets massively, massively complicated.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, and I get it. I think the short version of the initial research is get the sources from your prompts.
Conrad Saam: That’s right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: When you’re asking top 10 car accident lawyers, how did you compile this list? List your sources, all that kind of jazz.
Conrad Saam: But that’s teeing into Bard and ChatGPT. That’s giving you the source over that but this is really fundamentally different. They’re going to actually show the sources, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’ll source it.
Conrad Saam: They’re showing the sources in the interface.
Gyi Tsakalakis: They’re showing the sources. And so, in some — this is one of the comments that was made for some of the SEO folks that have access is like they’re like it feels like a dynamic featured snippet. That’s kind of what it feels like. And so, featured snippets, many of them still show the sources but to your point earlier, it’s like it’s a dynamic one. So, you can click into it, you can add additional context to the prompt, whatever you want. I don’t know if that’s going to be a query or prompt but whatever it is. And so, in that sense, it’s still to me anyway, this kind of works back to full circle. It’s kind of a hybrid thing. You’re still going to have traditional SEO stuff going on but I’d really lean into understanding the sources that are being drawn upon which we’ll get to when we start talking about Perspectives now is this expertise stuff like you’ve got to become the known expert for what you’re talking about. That’s the real trick.
Conrad Saam: Okay. So, I want to pass this question to you. We talked about (00:22:19) author Perspectives, the way to identify to Google that you are an expert and you wrote the thing, right? It used to be just tying content to a Google+ profile, right? And all of you who have your Google+ profile still somewhere, maybe this will come back but I think this comes back differently. In fact, I suspect it may not have ever gone away even with the death of Google+. Google was still looking at the expertise of the individual author even though they no longer were using (00:22:46) author and showing the picture of the author in the search results. I think that never went away, the tracking signal. That’s never been validated but I suspect that remains the case. It’s just going to come to the bigger forefront.
Before we go further on this author concept, can you talk about Perspectives? That’s Perspectives with a capital P for our listeners who can’t see our show notes. Talking about Perspectives, what is it and why are we talking about it, Gyi?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, so Perspectives, it’s going to be a filter and we’ll put a link in the show notes but you’re going to see videos, images and posts from a variety of different experts on social media sites, forum sites. You know, it’s funny, we’ve been pooh-poohing third-party publishing and forums and question and answer sites like Avvo and stuff and get ready for them to re-emerge totally because that’s where these Perspectives filter is going to populate. And so, you know, we’ve talked in the past about Google’s concern about how like, “Oh, people are going to TikTok to look for local restaurants and whatnot, to get some kind of influencer’s perspective that they follow.” Well, Google doesn’t want to be out of that game. And so, in my view this is kind of their response to that, is to be like, “All right, let’s bring all of these expertise perspectives into the search results with this Perspectives filter.”
And again, if you’re talking about how do you get Google to know that you’re an expert on something, like it’s going to be answering questions on Q&A sites and forums, it’s going to be publishing on social. And so, I think we’re going to start to see that — I mean I know we’re going to start to see that in the results as well. And so, it won’t be surprising to see Attorney Tom TikToks and the Law by Mike TikTok videos because they do have such a following. They are engaged with it so widely, commented on and shared. I think that those are — you’re going to start to see that. And so I think it behooves you to start being like, “Hey, look, I’ve got to demonstrate my expertise across platforms,” which again, it’s like we’re talking about this in this context as Perspectives thing but fundamentally that’s not different than what we talked about in traditional SEO, right?
I mean, people debate about the signaling value of social media links and no follows and all this Jazz but at the end of the day, Google is not saying we’re just trying to organize websites for 10 blue links. We’re trying to organize the world’s information, meaning we’re going to take in expertise from all of these different sources and pull it into search results. And so, anyway, consider a portfolio strategy, diversify your efforts. It’s just like — I keep saying this idea of like the lines between the real world and the web are blurring. And so, being on social platforms is no different than speaking engagements, right? It’s an opportunity for you to display your expertise and so, the more places you’re doing that that’s getting real-time feedback essentially from the audience by likes, shares, comments, embeds, answers on questions and answers, like that’s the stuff that I think is likely to rise to the surface on this Perspectives filter.
Conrad Saam: So, I have a slightly different take on Perspectives and it’s built off of a couple of quotes as well as the use of the word perspectives. I’m going to read a quote from the Google News Product Manager Itamar Snir when they announced Perspectives and we’ll drill further into it about this author. And the quote was, “We built features to help you evaluate the information you come across online while expanding the range,” my emphasis here, “of helpful information you can find.”
And so, when I read this, my read was one of the things Google is pushing back against is this kind of thought bubble, this echo chamber of people agreeing with what you think about and showing you information that you want to read because you already believe it. Thank you, Fox News, right? And so, my read on this was they’re actually trying to showcase, and it’s interesting that this came from the Google News product manager, they’re trying to showcase a wider variety of Perspectives on a given issue based on the leanings, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be political, but based on kind of diversity of Perspectives on an individual issue. And so, that was kind of my read on the Perspectives.
And then, they went deeper about this author. So, they’re showcasing in these SGE results where the results are coming from, why were you seeing this result and they’re going into it, and we’re coming back to the Perspectives and the authorship. They’re going into snippets about who this person is, not just the content and why it was ranked, but like who wrote it and why Google has used that person and where that person is coming from. So, I find this an attempt by Google to help or at least provide more context for where the results are coming from for the reader. That was kind of my take on that.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, I think you’re projecting way too much personally. I don’t think Google’s going to be, if you’re a conservative, if you’ve got conservative signals in your search history, they’re going to start showing you more progressive content. I don’t think that’s going on at all. I think this is traditional popularity signals. This is going to be followers, like counts, engagements. Could it happen, that what you’re talking about in many instances? Like, sure. And again, I think that’s great and it’s an optimistic worldview but look, I think it’s much more about — you know, I’m looking at the announcement from the person who posts on the keyword blog and it’s popularity. Like, you’re right on this. They want to give more prominence to the creators, right?
Conrad Saam: Sure.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And I think there’s an interesting philosophical thing here, right? Because the creators are now going to have the same arguments and issues with Google that the publishers did. So, this is the double-edged sword of the Google ecosystem, right? So, Google scrapes your content and puts a little snippet to help people find your content. As a publisher you’re like, “Hooray, I got traffic from Google. So, someone was searching for something.” Then Google started doing snippets and it’s like, “Oh, no hooray because no one’s actually clicking through to my site because they’re getting their answer in the result.”
Now it’s interesting because the creators, they’re at the very least like their persona, their expertise and who they are, their identity is going to be part of showing up on Google, right? So, you’re going to see that person. I think that’s great. However, if you’re consuming this expertise in the result, are people going to be clicking through and engaging with your content on the native platform from where Google pulled that content? Are they going — to use the legal example, if you publish something on an Avvo question and answer site, Avvo has its own engagement stuff with upvotes and stuff built into them like just like a lot of these forum sites are and will people click through or will they just get their answer?
And so this is the kind of that double edged sword of like, look, it’s Google’s world, like it or not. I don’t think anytime soon we’re seeing people talked about, “Oh, Bing stealing market share with ChatGPT.” Like, I was like, I spit out my water when people were saying that to me. And I’m like, come on. And by the way, I also love — the thing I loved about how Google does this very subtly. Everybody’s talking about how, like, “Oh, Google’s behind the game on AI.” No, they’re not. They’ve been doing this longer than all these companies have. They just haven’t released it at the same velocity. And they botched some of their PR stuff but don’t worry about Google, they’re just fine but I do think this perspective thing is going to be interesting in terms of, like, will creators think this is a boon because, oh, people are actually looking for something perspective, adding the filter and clicking through and subscribing and following that creator.
Conrad Saam: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Or are they just consuming it and writing the results and then you get some visibility for your brand, but people aren’t really engaging with it there. I don’t know, that’s kind of TBD.
Conrad Saam: So a lot to talk about, a lot that Gyi and I don’t know right now. We will be talking a lot more about SGE as we get our grubby little hands on the beta. We will share that information with you, dear reader. When we return after the break, we’re going to open up the mail and answer some questions directly from you, our dear listener.
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Gyi Tsakalakis: And we’re back. So if you’re a regular Lunch Hour Legal Marketing listener, you know how much Conrad and I just adore listener feedback and we regularly put out requests for topics and questions and hit us up with your whatever you want to know. And so we’re super grateful when people respond and Herman Law, PA recently reached out on Instagram. Yep, Lunch Hour Legal Marketing is on Instagram, in case you didn’t know. And Herman Law, PA asks, “Hey guys, following up on your episode about Google biz profile. We noticed that a certain owner feature has been removed. Google used to show you how many views and clicks each of our company updates receive but now none of that info is shown anywhere. Any insight?”
So I’m going to pause there. If you’re logged in as an owner on a Google Business profile and you do a search for your firm or your business name, you should see a little administrative panel that shows some search console data for actually, I mean, technically, I uses Google Business Profile data. I also search consoles in there. But you also see these administrative things like you can edit and it’ll show clicks and things like that. If you don’t see that, one of three things has happened.
One, you accidentally didn’t log into the browser that you’re in as an owner, right? So you’re logged into something else problem. Okay, you’re not going to see it. Two, maybe you are logged in, but something happened and your Google account is no longer the owner. And in fact, we’ve seen hackers trying to steal ownership of Google Business Profiles from businesses. That’s a problem. And so I would go check to make sure go log into your Google Business Profile dashboard and make sure you’re still an owner there.
And three is, yes, Google Business profiles are super buggy and so you might just be dealing with an intermittent bug. In fact, we’ll try to follow-up with you to see if this issue is resolved for you but usually it’s one of those three things. I can tell you. We just checked before the show. Google is for a verified logged in business owner. You should be seeing the information that’s missing right now. I just checked for a couple handful of firms in our company and that information is still there, so it’s not actually been formally removed.
Continuing, also, topic suggestion to explain all of this. Linktree business popping up and best practices for that. Anyway, keep up the great work and witty banter, loyal listener, Herman Law, PA. Well, thank you, Herman Law. On Linktree. So these link bio tools really gained popularity because of Instagram, because Instagram does not allow you to drop links pluses and minuses. And by the way, if you’re publishing from a third-party publishing tool to Instagram and you’re dropping links, that’s super irrelevant.
Nobody can click on those links. No one’s writing the links down. No one’s copying and pasting them. So let’s just stop doing that. So what’s the alternative? You have the link in bio. And so link in bio tools like Linktree allow you to feature links.
Most of the major news publishers, just publishers in general, have some form of this. And so what it means for you as a lawyer is like, say, let’s say you have an Instagram handle, and you have a podcast, and you have a website, and you have a blog, and you have a YouTube channel. Instead of dropping those links in Instagram, you add them to your link bio. And so when someone clicks on the link in your bio information on Instagram, they have options to either go to your podcast. You can also do it for individual pages and posts. So if you want to hide — a lot of the news publishers they’ll be like, they’ll do a post and then they’ll say, if you want to read more about this, click the link in the bio. And then the link in the bio will populate a bunch of their recent articles and you just look for the one that you were looking for. You click on it and it will take you through.
So that’s what that’s all about. I mean, best practice for me is it’s really about highlighting what you want to have highlighted there, right? So I think video content, if you’re on YouTube, I think getting people back to your podcast. I’ve seen some lawyers do an email grab there like if you want to actually sign up for our updates, I think that can be pretty cool but what it really is, is instead of having links in the actual posts, it’s a place to use links on sites like Instagram. That’s that. Thanks again.
Conrad Saam: That’s that. Thanks again.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Appreciate it. Appreciate the feedback.
Conrad Saam: Next question, Gyi. And I’m going to do this listener a favor because I don’t want to share where you’re strategically going and you have a very unique name. We’re not going to use your name here. I’ll ask the question anyway. One issue we’re struggling with is getting leads from our website that are heavy in one area, for example, medical malpractice. But we want more leads in other practice areas, too. Boy, Gyi have you heard of this question yet this week? Because I get this every single day. Very common question and a difficult answer, right? What advice you all have for law firms, now we know this person is in the south because they said you all, have for law firms looking to diversify their lead types from their websites. We don’t want to turn off the spigot for med mal necessarily, but it also isn’t feasible for all law firms to spend all day screening med mal leads and on med mal leads. In particular, what’s the best and nicest way to quickly decline a lead we know isn’t a case without being dismissive and the potential client leaving a bad review?
Okay, so first, Gyi, how do we go beyond that one thing that Google knows as well for?
Gyi Tsakalakis: This is such a great and complicated. I mean, we could do a whole segment on this. But in my view, the short answer is you’ve got to start publishing. You’re talking about SEO here. We’re talking about Google. You got to start publishing on that topic. And so, for example, we talked about this with Darren Shaw, maybe it’s a totally different site. Maybe you have using a practitioner profile and Google business profiles for that other category.
Conrad Saam: Oh, that’s clever.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Remember, it all comes back to the categories, right? So the tighter your site is about a specific topic, the more opportunity I believe you have to rank but you can’t rank for everything, right? And so Google wants to show sites. So you’re a med mal lawyer, you want to break into like car accidents. We have two options, right? You add a car accident section to your website. Now you’re diluting the subject matter of your site. You start a micro site. You can do a practitioner page with a category dedicated to car accidents but this is tricky stuff. I don’t have a great answer for it right. On the screening stuff. That’s another whole area.
Conrad Saam: Well, let’s get that in a second. You gave three ideas there. And I think the reality is you need to understand your competitive context, your site’s overall authority, and whether or not you can pull this off. So in some cases, you are forthepople.com. You have an absolutely rock star backlink profile. You can add stuff and start ranking for it tomorrow. But that’s not the same answer for every law firm, right? And so just throwing more content on is going to cannibalize if you’re performing really well somewhere. For most law firms, it is going to cannibalize those efforts of where you’re being successful because you are diluting the concentration of what you’re talking about. Which is exactly why Darren Shaw and I don’t agree with this approach generally from an SEO perspective. But was like, listen, for local, we can actually have just a very, very tight, tight, tight site with not a lot of links pointing to it, but because it’s so tight on a content, it can actually rank, right? I don’t love that for a whole variety of SEO reasons, but it works.
And so the reality is if you’re performing well in one thing, but you’re moving into a competitive market, when you want to go into something else, it’s going to hurt unless you have that absolutely rock star backlink profile.
There are other things that you can do to try and enhance that. So, you’re building links to the specific pages of the new practice area that you want to push. Those can be internal links, there could be external links or things you can do. But this is not a, for most firms, this is not a quick fix. Unless you are absolutely crushing, and Gyi, I’d be curious at your perspective on this, unless you are absolutely crushing it in your market from a site authority and by site authority, I mean links perspective. Would you from a theory perspective agree with that?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, for theory wise I would. I think the other thing too is like you and I, Conrad, as we always disclose, we love organic search. That’s what we cut our teeth on. That’s what we’ve been doing. The other thing here is you can buy it. Buy the other categories. If you’re happy with what’s going on with your primary category and we’re talking short term and you don’t want to invest in a new site and you don’t want to dilute the topical authority of your existing site, go sign up for some LSAs and some other categories. Go buy, do some pay per click in other categories. Do some social media buys in other categories.
But that’s the trick with organic, right? It’s just you don’t have the same kind of control over it and I’m always like be careful because the broader you go, the more you potentially dilute and to Conrad’s point, unless you’re Morgan & Morgan or one of these other big firms, you can see, we’ve seen it happen where it’s like, hey, we want to add a practice area, right? It’s like all of a sudden now you’re not ranking for — what happened to our rankings over here for these other categories we used to rank for.
Conrad Saam: And the problem is, and this is so self-reinforcing, it drives me crazy. You’ve had the success here and you think all I need to do to go and have success elsewhere is just replicate what I’m currently doing, right? We’re ranking for X. I’m just going to add Y. Because you’ve had success — it’s the same thing with people on the — I had this conversation not that long ago. People on the outskirts of a city will kill it in local and they’re like, great, I’m going to go into downtown Dallas and I’m going to kill it too. No you’re not. You’re not. You’re just not. It’s not that simplistic.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And the other problem is it’s also reinforced because these SEO agencies and your director of marketing is happy to be like, yeah, we’ll sell you more content. We’ll sell you more locations. How many times — I mean, I can’t tell you how many Instagram ads I see for like the guide to be able to open more offices for Google business profiles and I’m like, I can’t wait for them to get burned and then be like, you told me that all I had to do is open up this virtual office and follow your guide and I’m just going to rank and it’s like, this is the problem, right? There are consequences for every change you make to your website.
Conrad Saam: Would you like to name the people who are recommending that Gyi, or are you going to be polite?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I do not. I would not.
Conrad Saam: You are wuss. All right, moving on. Thomas Armitage asks us connecting the offline and online experience. You see a lot of local SMBs especially in legal still running billboards, radio, TV, business after hours with a local chamber. Cool. Does it work? Maybe. But connecting it to the online experience for greater impact, greater recall, and making sure those efforts are tracked, that’s where you can figure out what’s really working or not. How do we track, how do we tie offline and online, Gyi?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So first, and thank you, Tom, for this comment. Tom’s with Smith.AI, by the way, and really sharp marketer. So first I’m going to start with — I’m going to channel my best Conrad and use words that I’ve been trying not to use because Conrad has-been beating them up so badly, dark social.
So when I think of dark social, I don’t only think of like what we mean by dark social, but I mean holes in quantitative attribution models generally speaking, and where it plays into this offline stuff is this. To Tom’s point, you put a billboard up and yeah, sure, you can put a tracking number up there, right? Guess what? Nobody’s driving down the road in Chicago seeing your tracking number, memorizing it or typing it while they’re driving. Very few people are doing that.
Now, if you’re doing a brand number, right? You put a brand like 2-2-2-22-22 Glenn Lerner that someone might memorize, right? And if it’s a dedicated branded tracking number in the ad, that might be a way to track. I don’t recommend that, though. Anyway, my point here, this long-winded way of channeling Conrad is don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about the tracking, focus on the overall lift.
Sure. Can you track brand queries in search console? Yes. If more people are searching on your name or your firm name, great. Can you try to use QR codes for tracking? Sure. But don’t lose the forest for the trees. Marketing people, like myself included, have been beating this attribution drum, direct response attribution drum for so long that we’ve forgotten that traditional marketing that is not as good at tracking, brand building, brand affinity, all this other fuzzier stuff works really, really well. And so it’s a balance. I’m not saying throw attribution out and you can try some of these things. You can try to put dedicated tracking numbers in offline creative. You can try to use QR codes for tracking. You should be keeping an eye on branded search traffic, both paid search, brand and search and as well as organic brand search. But don’t conclude that because you’re not seeing a huge uptick in brand queries and conversions from organic brand in your attribution data that someone hasn’t been driving past your billboard every day, calls you up one day and says hey, family member was in a car accident. How did you hear about us? I have no idea. I’ve been watching your billboards, I did a search, I clicked one of your ads, I’ve been following you on social media. I don’t know.
So anyway, put the qualitative question in your forms and put the qualitative question in your intake process. But I’m very convinced that we have gotten way too myopic about attribution.
Conrad Saam: 100%. I mean absolutely 100%. And I think what you need to realize, and this is different for — every different firm lives on a different reality of the spectrum. You have direct response and you have brand awareness affinity. Direct response basically says I got hit by a truck, I need to hire a lawyer, I do not have a starting point and I’m going to query, click, call and hire, right? That is direct response. They have no idea who you are.
On the flip side, you have what I will call at the very end, other end of the stream. You have brand affinity. I like this lawyer. I have no idea what they do but boy oh boy do I like them and I see them all the time. Every firm lives on and every client, every new prospect sits somewhere on that spectrum. The reality is in a multi touch attribution reality where you have somewhere level of brand affinity and brand awareness, there’s no way to build brand affinity with a single touch, right? The brand affinity is repeated exposure over time in a positive sense. And so you can’t measure that down, you can’t pinpoint that client down to that one individual channel. It just does not work like that.
Having said that, on the other end of the spectrum, if it is direct response, if it is a direct response experience and it’s the web, you actually can measure that and it can be not the web too. It could be directly from radio, right? You can actually measure direct response and you need to because otherwise when you ask people how they found you, Google or the internet, well that doesn’t work. That is a completely, completely useless answer for you to evaluate how your direct response marketing efforts are working. And so this dual source attribution modeling where you are both automatically generating the last touch that had them get in touch with your firm, that will accurately, fairly accurately measure direct response, especially where direct response is online. But the other stuff you do have to ask and in many cases the only way to build a real deep understanding of how your marketing is working where you live in a brand affinity or a brand awareness model, offline advertising, et cetera, is to ask that question and then go over the results. Open ended questions about how did you hear about us, right?
And it’s very difficult to draw the pretty MBA pie graph by doing that, but you start to really grok what’s actually working for you, what is moving the needle. The other part of this, all of this is very, very true. One plus one plus one equals seven in this. Your offline advertising is going to make your pay per click work better. Your SEO experience is going to make your radio work better. It is a one plus one plus one equals seven, which, unfortunately, because I love the small entrepreneurial, aggressive, scrappy people, makes it an easier venue for those firms that are playing in multiple channels. All right. I’ll get off that soapbox.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, I think that’s right. Again, I think for me, it’s like if I was going to put in a couple of marketing buzzwords, be data informed not data driven, right? All these people are like, I’m cutting everything if I can’t attribute a case to it. And I’m like, you’re cutting off your nose despite your face and I hate quoting him, but it’s Gary Vay. What’s the ROI on your mom, right? You can’t measure the ROI on your mom, but guess what? You’re not making any return without your mom, right? And as we’re coming just past Mother’s Day here. Anyway, be data informed not data myopic.
Conrad Saam: All right with that, leaving us with what’s the ROI on your mom. Once our legal marketing out, we will be back in two weeks with more information. Hopefully, within two weeks, Gyi and/or Conrad both gotten our grubby little hands on Google’s SGE and we will have more to share with you about what we’ve learned.