Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital if you want your website to be found by the right clients. But SEO can be difficult to understand to those who don’t specialize in online marketing. In this episode of The Un-Billable Hour, host Christopher Anderson talks to Seth Price about the four main components of SEO including high quality content, authoritative links, correct coding, and local. They also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of taking on a website redesign and identify the differences between good and bad links.
Seth Price is a founding partner of Price Benowitz LLP as well as the founder and CEO of BluShark Digital.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Answer1, Solo Practice University, Scorpion, and Lawclerk.
The Un-Billable Hour
Decoding Search Engine Optimization
Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable. Welcome to this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast. This is where you will get the information you need from expert guests and host Christopher Anderson, here on Legal Talk Network.
Christopher T. Anderson: Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast helping attorneys achieve more success. We are glad you can listen today on the Legal Talk Network.
Today’s episode is about marketing and more specifically about looking at the online world as a place to get found, in fact the title of the show today is “Online: Lost or Found’ and my guest is Seth Price. Seth is a partner at Price Benowitz, which is a Washington, DC law firm that represents people, but he’s also the founder of BluShark Digital, an SEO business that helps law firms stand out from their competition on the web.
And of course, I am your, host Christopher Anderson. I am an attorney with a singular passion for helping other lawyers be more successful with their law firm businesses. I am dedicated to helping lawyers across the country to achieve success as they define it.
In the Un-Billable Hour each month we explore an area important to help you, grow your revenues, get back more of your time and/or get more professional satisfaction from your business. The Un-Billable Hour is dedicated to helping lawyers achieve freedom through their businesses and our guests help you learn more about how to make your law firm business work for you, instead of the other way around.
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LAWCLERK, where attorneys hire freelance lawyers. There are no sign-up or monthly fees. Only pay the flat fee price you set. Increase your profits, not your overhead. Learn more at HYPERLINK “www.lawclerk.legal” www.lawclerk.legal. And today’s episode of The Un-Billable Hour is “Online: Lost or Found” and my guest today is Seth Price.
As I mentioned earlier, Seth is a Partner at Price Benowitz LLP, a Washington, DC law firm that helps people with personal injury claims, medical malpractice, criminal cases, whistleblower, and more. Seth has also founded BluShark Digital, an SEO, that’s Search Engine Optimization business that looks at law firm marketing in a way to help law firms stand out from the crowd.
Seth, welcome to The Un-Billable Hour.
Seth Price: Thank you so much. Great to be here.
Christopher T. Anderson: Oh, it’s great to have you. Now, first of all, my introduction as usual, it’s a tradition on this show was ridiculously brief because I just feel my guests are better at introducing themselves than I am. So, can you just tell our listeners a little bit more about BluShark and what it does to help law firms?
Seth Price: Sure. Well, I will take a step back. Essentially BluShark Digital was the byproduct of something that I started 10 years ago. 10 years ago I launched a law firm with a College Law School friend who is just a great, great litigator, loves being in the courtroom and he and I decided to divide and conquer. And I focused on marketing and management, he focused on the legal prowess and scaling the lawyers at our firm.
So, over the last 10 years we developed digital team. I stopped going to lawyer conferences and started geeking out on the inner workings of digital marketing specifically SEO and how to get websites to rank. About two-and-a-half years ago we took our in-house team that has helped scale us from 2 to 30 lawyers over the better part of a decade and basically took that group and spun it into its own digital agency and hence BluShark Digital was born and we now have 60 clients around the country, almost all consumer-facing law firms, the things that Price Benowitz does, from personal injury, medical malpractice, criminal defense, family law, trusts and estates, immigration, and basically our job is to take the website.
Everybody should have a website at this point, but the website is just sort of starting point, and the idea is how do we take that website and get it to compete well against everybody else who’s fighting for those eyeballs, and BluShark Digital’s mission is to really take the knowledge that’s inside each of the lawyers noggins and make sure that Google sees the excellence that is there and promotes those websites, so that they really have a chance of getting the clicks, the calls and that traffic which convert to revenue.
Christopher T. Anderson: Now I am going to presume like from the way you just described this that your in-house team as you described them was actually successful at doing this for your law firm, is that right?
Seth Price: Correct. We have sort of dominated our DC metro whether it be criminal personal injury, trust and estates, and said, hey, we are doing this for ourselves, we have created quite a nut, we have a decent-sized team, we could take this team that right now is just a cost center we can turn it into a team that helps people everywhere, and one of the things that I love about it, it was sort of a selfish move at first because as you know with a marketing team in-house, if any — whether it’s a single person or whether it’s a few people, the issue is that you get somebody, and I did this over the first eight years in my practice. I would take somebody, I train them, I would show them what they needed to succeed and then they would move on and they get an offer for gobs of money and leave, and I said, hey, I don’t want that to happen.
So, by creating BluShark Digital we are able to keep and retain talent and so it’s worked really well both for the firm but as well as our clients because it’s consistency and the work that we will talk about during this podcast and SEO, it’s not easy, it takes a lot of attention to detail and that having the same team over time is a huge advantage.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, though I got to tell you, you just killed my whole — I was just about to set you up but how altruistic that once you found a way to make it work for your law firm, you are willing to share it with the world but you just pointed out, there was actually a way to really be able to keep top talent and to really continue your growth as well as your law firm’s growth while also helping out other law firms.
Seth Price: Yes, it certainly was — it was certainly an internal reason but I love this stuff, it’s a passion play, you sort of you do what you love to do and I love this part. So the fact that I can focus more of my day not just on our firm but on clients around the country, really drives me and it’s been a great ride.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, and so, let’s get into the wheeze just a little bit. So, you mentioned that SEO is a big part of it, and it’s a lot about what I want to talk about here and it’s kind of funny because if any of my listeners are like I am and we are out in the world, a lot of people are saying you, SEO, it’s gotten to be a lot harder, it’s dead, really content is King, but you really stay on top of SEO, but before we go like further as to why or why it’s still relevant, let’s make sure everybody understands what it is, we hear it a lot, what does SEO mean to you and how should our listeners understand what Search Engine Optimization is?
Seth Price: Sure, and I will even take a further step back to clarify. There are three components. There’s paid search, which is generally the ads, the top that you see that have a little ad next to it and those used to be three there now four. There’s now a three pack that sometimes includes an ad but sometimes not, and that usually comes in coordination with the map for local search and then there are the searches below that.
So, SEO has definitely gotten harder. So, SEO is the art of optimizing for the non- paid component, meaning the non-ads. The ads are something that’s an option we hold separate topic and we provide that but that in competitive markets those ads are getting more-and-more expensive and harder to compete. And harder to get a decent ROI, as well as in certain markets or certain practice areas where you are dealing with revenue-based clients versus contingency, very often the smarter money is not clicking on the ads but looking for the organic search and there’s some stats on that.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s intuitive, it makes intuitive sense, like I know — when I search I know that the ads that are being served up to me someone has paid to put those in front of me and at least I feel that the Google search results on the left are more relevant, right, or more — like they came up because it was closer to what I was looking for, that’s how it feels — is that —
Seth Price: That’s the idea behind it. So, there’s certain number of people like my parents that are going to click on whatever is at the top, but when you are looking at most of the more rational players, I see this for instance in criminal defense generally better cases are coming via the organic search than in the top with the ads. I think that something like SSDI is something where people just click on whatever is at the top and with rare exceptions and there are exceptions to everything, the Smarter Money and SSDI would be to do a paid campaign, whereas in things like criminal or trusts and estates you are able to get a return on investment from organic once you are ranking that pays dividends over time, you almost built a foundation rather than sort of a spigot at the moment you stop paying, it disappears.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, that does make sense. So, you were — before I interrupt it so rudely, you were about to break down SEO into you said four components that people need to think about.
Seth Price: Right, so within SEO now that we’re talking about SEO specifically and this is the organic search, there are four main areas, and this is one of those things that there aren’t a lot of secrets in this.
Google has told us what they’re focused on, the algorithm is very complicated, but there are four basic areas that are easy to say just complicated to implement. One is the content, which you referred to before, high quality content, content is king, is that sort of a saying, but it’s more true now than ever.
So, high quality content, authoritative links, Google still wants to know who trusts you and the trust currency is link equity. So that if CNN links to you that means somebody who is authoritative is linking to you. If a mom and pop blog that has no visitors and no followers links to you, doesn’t do you as much good. So, authoritative links and Google said the essence of SEO comes down to content and links.
The other components are the technical or on-page components of SEO, which is, it’s great to have a website but have you optimized your title tags, your meta descriptions.
Do you have the site coded in a way that the page loads quickly and that the Googlebot can get through effectively? So just like you want a consumer to come and see a pull-down menu to get to the information they want, you want Google to be able to see that from their end.
So, a well-coded site is the third component and the fourth is the local component, which doesn’t affect the straight organic but the 3-Pack, which is really important right now, because the four ads at the top have pushed organic down. So, when the 3-Pack is shown, getting in that is really, really important and the 3-Pack is a combination of traditional SEO; the content links and the coding as well as this fourth component which is the local, which is sort of the consumer or the business sees it as Google My Business, that’s the current form that Google is showing it.
But that the currency for traditional SEO is the link equity coming in whereas in local, you’re looking at citations, that’s the name, address, and phone number, sometimes referred to as the app and making sure that those are consistent across the web and listed in all the relevant places.
And the reason that that area can get complicated is that people move offices, they switch phone numbers, they change the name of the firm if a partner leaves. All of those things can be confusing to Google, and when Google is confused, that’s bad for ranking.
Christopher T. Anderson: That’s not a good thing.
Seth Price: Exactly. So, our job is to go through and sanitize all that and say, look, partners are going to leave, phone numbers may change, hopefully not and locations certainly change. All of that can be dealt with but if left without any help can be very detrimental to local search.
So, when those four things are placed and done properly and rolling in the same direction, that’s when you can see really good results through SEO.
Christopher T. Anderson: Great. So, SEO breaks down as you just said to content, which is king, inbound links, we will talk a little bit more about that in a moment, the technical aspects of your website and things to keep your local consistence with Google as you said doesn’t get confused.
I’m talking with Seth Price of BluShark Digital on the Un-Billable Hour. We’re going to take a break here to hear from our sponsors and when we come back, we’re going to go into each one of those four fundamental parts of Search Engine Optimization and learn more about them.
We’ll be back in just a moment.
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Christopher T. Anderson: This is Christopher Anderson with the Un-Billable Hour and I am speaking with Seth Price of BluShark Digital about Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Before the break, we talked about the four fundamental components of good SEO, content being one of the most important and in-bound links being those two content links being the fundamental, the most important.
But also the technical aspects of your website and the important of local to be in what Seth was talking about as the 3-Pack, which we are going to learn more about here in just a second. But so, Seth, if you don’t mind, let’s start from the top and take them one at a time.
We talked a little bit about why content is important but like what does — first of all, let’s just talk about what does content mean and how has it become more important over time?
Seth Price: Basically, Google is trying to give people the best answer to the question asked. So, if somebody is looking for a criminal attorney or an immigration attorney or a family law attorney, they have a lot of choices and content is one of the main ways that you can differentiate yourself from the other people out there.
So, the first thing is, you want something that’s well-written. Google is getting more-and-more sophisticated as far as what the quality of content is. They have a number of patents that are registered that allow them to help determine through their bots, what is the quality of content.
They can now tell if somebody was a native English speaker when they’re writing. And so, the days of getting really cheap content done overseas is long gone, not only is it a bad experience for the user, who’s reading broken English but Google can now tell the difference, so that’s a no-no.
So, then the question is how do you —
Christopher T. Anderson: So — but I want to get really clear on one thing there. Does that mean that the Oxford comma is back?
Seth Price: That is something that Google doesn’t tell us exactly what they’re reading or not reading, but they are reading how many syllables words are, how complex the sentences are.
Christopher T. Anderson: Right.
Seth Price: So, right now, though the latest thing I saw yesterday was, is it one or two spaces after a period, I wouldn’t stress about that too much.
Christopher T. Anderson: Right.
Seth Price: But what I would stress about is the words on the page, and a comma is not going to kill you one way or the other, but having something that makes sense if a user is reading it and having a good experience, there’s a good chance the Googlebot will as well.
And that Google is getting better and better at understanding what is good writing, to a point that’s scary.
Christopher T. Anderson: Wow.
Seth Price: And so, the writing becomes really, really important.
Christopher T. Anderson: Is there a sweet spot? I mean, is it like 10th grade level, I mean because I can imagine there’s also too sophisticated, right? If I start to speak right my website as in Shakespearean Sonnet, it’s probably Google’s not going to like that either.
Seth Price: Right. I think that the newspapers do a pretty good job of figuring that out.
Christopher T. Anderson: Okay.
Seth Price: There are a number of different schools of thought on that. I think for us, it’s what would be the best answer to the question, so if you get too technical, you’re going to lose people, if you go too basic or not well-written, that’s not right as well, and then there’s a layer on top.
So, if you go back a few years, you would basically layer in the anchor text you were looking for. So, if you’re looking for an immigration lawyer you would want your geography and the immigration lawyer up to a density of 5%, that is no longer the case.
But at the same time, having it, let’s say once per paragraph is really useful. So it’s balancing. You don’t want it to be spammy, but you do want it to reflect what you want to be found for. So, it’s sort of a balancing act between making sure that Google has a clear understanding on what you want that content found for, while at the same time, not making it unreadable or awkward because you’re over-emphasizing the term you want Google to find you for.
Christopher T. Anderson: Okay, very cool. So, the aspects of the writing and the quality of the writing has become more important. What else about content should people be focusing on?
Seth Price: I would say the idea that you want to make sure that there’s a minimum length for your pages. Our philosophy is a 500-word page is a minimum that we would like to see and that Google has different penalties or algorithmic filters for content that’s too short.
So, if you have a website with 200-word pages throughout that’s not a good idea. Having an occasional 200-word page for an FAQ, not going to kill you, but you want to make sure that the level of writing is sophisticated enough that you’re answering the questions that the length is such that you’re not getting filtered for thin content.
And really, you’re trying to give some value so that there are two reasons that people come to the website. One, they land there, they click on the phone number, they never read anything, great. You love that, but at the same time, a certain percentage of people are going to read that content, and Google is now reading it as well at some level, and you need to make sure that you’re doing the best possible job to answer the question the person is asking.
Christopher T. Anderson: Great. Now, I’ve heard also before we let the content topic go, I’ve heard also about being able to provide readers a path through what you’re writing. So, what I’ve heard it called the secondary reader path or using headlines and that kind of thing, is that still important or is that gone by the wayside?
Seth Price: No, I mean, like everything from the descriptions in the code through how a user comes through the site, so when a Googlebot crawls the site they are trying to figure out where content is, so that if you are a trusted estates lawyer and you have one page on probate, okay, but if you can go from the probate page to ten different sub-pages on different sub-issues of probate, and then from each of those sub-pages over-time to sub-pages, you create an entire library or a silo of information.
So, when Google is trying to say, hey, whose authoritative on Washington State probate? Google is able to say, hey, these guys don’t just have a page on it like everybody else, they have an entire library of information, and when you have that that’s one way to show to Google we are an authority in this space, we have a lot of information, it’s well-organized, people can find it both when they’re clicking through as well as when the Googlebot comes through to read the site.
Christopher T. Anderson: Cool. And how does like, you’ve seen more sites with non text on the video, audio, pictures, how does that play into the importance of content and how Google rates content?
Seth Price: Well, two things. I guess, look, big fan of video and pictures can be very, very useful and Google is getting better and better, and at some point very soon if they don’t have it already they will be reading the content in the video. However, for our purposes where you have spot-on content we want to make sure that while we have beautiful pictures that we are letting Google see the content as quickly as possible and so it’s a balancing test between a beautiful homepage with a great cityscape, but also not burying the content so far because we want Google to be able to see it and so you’re balancing having the aesthetic piece while at the same time not ignoring the fact that you need that rich content in order to be found for the terms you want to be found for.
Christopher T. Anderson: Okay, well that makes total sense. Okay, so we talked about content, you said there were four fundamentals. Content was very important one. Another one that you said was really important was good and you used the word authoritative links, what are the links that you’re talking about and what are good links versus bad links?
Seth Price: Great. Okay. This threshold question is good links versus bad links, there are bad links, you don’t want links from bad neighborhoods. Going back a number of years you could get lots of links coming from overseas from Russia or Southeast Asia, there were really spammy properties, but we’re able to game the system.
Google has gotten sophisticated enough that they know where those bad neighborhoods are and you want to stay away from them. Google has said that if you aren’t currently penalized and you can tell that through the search console. If you aren’t already penalized then you don’t really — it’s not a main focus, but our goal is to clean up the bad links and then add fundamental good links, so what are good links? Links from media properties, links from EDU’s, from universities, links from people in your community that show that you are a player in your community. From an authority point of view the links from universities and the news sites or anything like that is going to be much more authoritative and help move the needle the links from the area other local businesses are going to help Google see that you are part of that local ecosystem and so we look to do a blend of those, you want everything to be natural, you don’t want to buy links, you don’t want to do anything that’s a scheme like I linked you, you link back to me. All of that is bad.
You also don’t want to like, say, oh I’m going to link build today and build a thousand links today and then nothing for two years; you don’t want to see spikes, what you want to see is a natural gradation where links are coming and as you build those links and Google continues to crawl that you continue to advance, you don’t want to do something that looks like you’re trying to manipulate the search engine.
Christopher T. Anderson: So it sounds like what you’re saying is basically, when I get links to my website, when one of our listeners gets links to their website the little bit of the person or the website that’s linking to you comes with it, right? So if it’s CNN or PBS or NPR radio or whatever, the fact that it’s an authoritative news source comes with the link and lends some of its credibility, and conversely, if it’s coming from a less credible source then you could get damaged or at least not helped.
Seth Price: Right. So, yes. Basically Google’s — just like we were talking about with content. Google is going to say, hey, we have 15 different people doing family law in Spokane, how are we supposed to determine who comes first and who doesn’t? And if they say, well, this person has been on CNN and they were quoted in The Wall Street Journal, that’s something that’s showing there’s an outside authoritative source that’s trusting or liking this, and it goes further down.
It’s a combination of volume as well as quality, and quality right now is trumping volume so it is better to have a few high quality links than gazillion very low quality links. They may not do you much good. I think the exception to the lower authoritative links are things that are local, and if you can demonstrate local, in interaction with the other businesses in the community that is another trust symbol.
Because remember, Google is looking at this from a million feet up and they’re trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not real. You are doing or our job as an agency is to take that law firm who may have amazing lawyers who are really, really good at what they do and demonstrate to Google through the content in the authoritative links that this firm knows what they’re talking about and can answer the question being asked and that pushes you further up, and that’s the entire sort of process that we go through in doing SEO.
Christopher T. Anderson: Okay, so I just want to cover one more topic on that before we move on to the other two fundamentals. But you mentioned a term while you were talking about it, called Link Building. You said, you don’t want to go spend a whole day link building, but it does beg the question of, all right, I’ve built a website, I’ve got my law firm, how do I get people to link to me? I mean, what do I do?
Seth Price: Right. So you can spend hours and hours link building, that’s not a bad thing. What you don’t want to do is have things spike, you don’t want to be — you have no links for two years and then all of a sudden you get a bunch and then you don’t get any for a while more.
You want it to come naturally over time because that would show that you’re not trying to manipulate everything, it’s that A, I was on the news this time and I – the local Chamber of Commerce links to me and the Better Business Bureau, so what do you do?
I think what you look internally, what you could first do a search for your name in quotes, for example, to see where you already are online, something we do with all of our clients is look to see what media they’ve already gotten because very often, people have already been in the press. And it’s not a 100%, there are certain periodicals that never link like I rarely, rarely see links from the Washington Post.
But CNN and The Wall Street Journal are pretty good about giving a link if you’ve been quoted. So first — and it also could be local periodicals, a local gazette can be another place but looking to see where are you online, you also may find associations, different organizations that have directories whether it’s a legal organization or something that you’re doing in the nonprofit sector in your spare time.
Any place that you or your firm name is listed is an opportunity that’s already there to find link equity and get a link back to you. Then, once you’ve sort of exhausted what’s already out there, then the idea is how can you do things that will generate that excitement to get people to want to link to you.
And so, if you’re already doing a community service project, that’s great, but how much cooler would it be if you bring a few other businesses into the mix since they are working with you and you can bring those, and all of a sudden, what you’re doing offline, which is the homerun, if you can take your offline work and get that to be seen by Google through online links, that’s the homerun.
Christopher T. Anderson: Excellent. All right. So we’ve been talking here with Seth Price about Search Engine Optimization, and about what the four fundamentals of search optimization are, which are Content, Links, Technical, and Local. We’ve gone deep into content and links.
We’re going to take a break here and when we come back, we’re going to be talking about the technical SEO aspects, and also what it takes to do good local; but first, we’re going to hear from our sponsors.
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Christopher Anderson: And this is Christopher Anderson with The Un-Billable Hour. I am talking with Seth Price of Price Benowitz and also of BluShark Digital. We have been talking about Search Engine Optimization and about the four fundamentals; Content, Links, Technical and Local. And now it’s time to ask some more questions and learn a little bit about technical. We have learned about how important content is and how important good links are and how to watch out for bad links.
So Seth, when we are talking about technical, what is it that we are talking about? What do we have to do technically on our websites to make sure that they are good for the Googlebots?
Seth Price: Right. So very often people come to us and say hey, I spent a bunch of money on the website, it looks beautiful, but it’s not working. And the biggest issue that I see is people are ignoring that while WordPress is user-friendly and we recommend WordPress highly and we have all of our websites on WordPress and we love WP Engine as a host, staying away from people like GoDaddy; not that I don’t love GoDaddy for registration, but getting a high quality host is a big deal. The whole point is not to ignore what’s going on behind the beautiful photos.
So if you have a gorgeous site, but it takes forever to load, that’s really annoying; especially if you are on mobile. With more than 50% on mobile these days, if you don’t have a site that loads quickly, people are gone and on to the next place and Google knows that.
So Google is rewarding people that have faster loading websites and it’s actually disadvantageous if your website does not load quickly. So we focus on load time.
We also are constantly looking at what are the other things that give us an advantage? There are other aspects — on the page, there are on-page aspects of the site which are the title tags and the meta descriptions. They have been around forever, shouldn’t be ignored.
There was a friend of mine, very wealthy lawyer, who spent like $100,000 on this really crappy WordPress site and this group that were supposedly experts had the name of the firm as the title tag on every page. And the title tag is a place where you are allowed to tell Google, hey Google, this is what this page is about. You don’t want to give up those characters.
With the limited number of characters you can say exactly the words you want Google to be matching with your page, and to give that up, Google knows your firm is that website, that’s obvious, but what’s not obvious is that this page is for a specific type of law, at a specific location and you want to be able to say loud and proud that’s there.
So not forgetting about title tags and meta descriptions, making sure the site loads quickly, and now, there are a number of other things that you can use through something called Schema; HYPERLINK “http://www.schema.org” schema.org allows you the opportunity to markup your site and allow Google to see things that are going on.
So whether you want to be able to use a location markup or whether you want them to be able to say hey, this is a review on this page, all of those are really important. We can do an entire podcast on Schema, but suffice it to say, I tell everybody, make sure that it’s not being ignored by your webmaster, because if it is, you are giving up a huge opportunity.
Christopher Anderson: So these are kind of like breadcrumbs for the bots, for the bots to sort of say hey —
Seth Price: Yes, Google is saying here is language that will allow us to understand more about what’s going on on your site and if you are ignoring it, you are giving up an opportunity.
Christopher Anderson: Okay, fantastic. So that would be something that just sort of a person picking up Wix or one of these sort of template websites won’t know to do and could really miss out on that huge part.
Seth Price: And there’s nothing wrong with the Wix to start. I started with a $50 a month templated site, and added, and added, and added until I was spending $500 a month with this guy, and he basically called me up and said, hey, you have graduated, you need to move on because you need more than our platform can produce.
So if you are in a B2B space and you want to take your money and buy season tickets and/or take people out to lunch and dinner and you are like I want to minimize my cost, you can get a beautiful website on a Wix. It’s just not going to compete with the people who are optimizing and crushing it with a WordPress site with all the different things you can do with it.
Christopher Anderson: So which brings us to that question that is, when that time comes, when someone is looking at it and saying listen, we need to step up to the next level. I want to ask this question in two ways; first of all, what are the benefits of going for a redesign, but also because I have seen this like really hurt people, what are some of the pitfalls of going for a redesign that people should watch out for?
Seth Price: Well, I would say on the benefits, they are twofold. One is websites are almost like iPhones. By the time you buy one, the next shiny, flashy one is coming out and you want that. So websites need to be updated on a regular basis, if never as often as you want it to be, but it shouldn’t be something that’s just left for years. We fall in love with it because we kind of like it, but the world keeps moving and you want to make sure you have the coolest looking site that can keep up with everybody else, so that’s one.
On the other side of that I would say when you are looking at what do I do next, the issue that I see a lot of the time and it’s really tough, because the average lawyer doesn’t know the difference, is that company who is taking it over to redesign it, are they taking advantage of any of the things we have been talking about.
If somebody is going to be your new web provider and they are doing SEO but they don’t build content and they don’t create links, to me that’s not doing SEO and there are plenty of people out there that do that.
So it’s a lot of hard work, but the question is how many pages of fresh content are you getting a month, how many links, and not that you should get a numeric number, like I will get this many because one link from CNN is worth more than 50 random crappy links, but if no links are being built and no content is being created, I can tell you the needle is generally not being moved.
Christopher Anderson: Right. That makes total sense. All right, so we have talked about content, we have talked about links, and we have talked about technical. The fourth aspect that you said was one of the fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization or SEO was local and you mentioned a 3-Pack. So what is local and why does it matter?
Seth Price: Well, it matters because this is your opportunity and especially if you are in a hypercompetitive market and you are slightly outside of town, this is your opportunity to compete.
So in the old days if you typed an injury lawyer, the biggest, baddest player in Los Angeles that had the most resources would have a website that would be seen nationally. And that’s not a great user experience because the average person needs a lawyer closer to home.
So Google has put a lot of emphasis into local. Even if you don’t type in the city you are in, Google knows generally where you are searching from. Even if you have signed out of Google, they know where the IP address is and they will try to give you relevant search results.
So the 3-Pack is this opportunity, it’s directly generally below the ads, above the organic, where they are giving three lawyers the opportunity to say hey, we are close to where you are and we have what you need and that for that reason it’s really, really important. If you can get yourself on the 3-Pack, especially if it’s being shown; meaning if it’s not shown, the organic becomes more important, but the 3-Pack is essentially this amalgamation of the organic that we have just been speaking about for all this time and these extra local data points which include the NAP, Name, Address and Phone Number being around the web in relevant places.
So it’s not a link, but it’s your Name, Address and Phone Number that Google is reading and saying, we see that Better Business is showing you here and this directory is showing you here and that you are in those relevant places.
So first is to make sure that is done, but then on a secondary level, once you have done that, those local links I talked about before, showing while it’s not comparable to a national news outlet, they are demonstrating to Google that you are relevant in the community. And again, what we are trying to basically say to Google is we are the relevant search result for what somebody is looking for, and if you can get that to be seen by Google, then Google My Business, your profile is shown as one of the three people in the 3-Pack, that is really powerful.
Christopher Anderson: And to be clear, from the way you are explaining this, that these aren’t for sale, you have got to get noticed by the content of your website and the links to local businesses, like it’s got to come from real organic places, not — there’s no way to buy your way onto the 3-Pack?
Seth Price: Ironically, they are now making it possible. In some markets they are allowing a sale of the top. They add an extra spot above it, but for the 3 that are left, yes. So Google is always, like they need stock prices to go up and selling that much more, it’s frustrating, but it is something that while there are occasionally opportunities to buy a spot there, the 3 that don’t have an ad next to them are based on the things that we are talking about here and that if you do these different pieces, that is the formula to get there.
Most of this interaction comes through the Google My Business console. So you can add pictures. You can now add a 30-second video. You can add posts that disappear weekly. You can add a long description of your law firm. And then what Google generally does is they roll them out and they are not necessarily ranking factors moment one, but Google is trying to figure out how to make their Google My Business as sticky as possible.
And so my feeling is whenever Google gives you an opportunity, you don’t want to ignore it. They for a long time have given you the opportunity to get pictures taken by an outside photographer that match the street view up with a continuation into your office. Is this going to per se get you to rank more, maybe not, but if somebody is trying to decide am I going to you or not and you have a beautiful office, why not show it off.
Christopher Anderson: Show it off, yeah, indeed. Fantastic. So that’s how local is also really important.
So we are talking with Seth Price. We have talked about Search Engine Optimization and the four key components of Search Engine Optimization; Content, content being king; Links, inbound links to your website; Technical, making sure your website performs well for the Googlebots; and Local, making sure you are locally relevant, and man, we could go on. I mean I have found this incredibly educating, but unfortunately we are out of time.
And this wraps up this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the Law Practice Advisory Podcast. Our guest today again has been Seth Price. He is a Partner at Price Benowitz LLP in Washington DC and also a Founder of BluShark Digital, a national SEO company helping and focusing on law firms.
His website is BluShark Digital and that’s HYPERLINK “http://www.blusharkdigital.com” blusharkdigital.com. And you could reach him by email if you want to learn anything more from Seth, that’s HYPERLINK “[email protected]” [email protected].
Seth, thanks so much for being on the program.
Seth Price: Thank you so much for having me.
Christopher Anderson: You are welcome. And this of course is Christopher Anderson and I look forward to seeing you next month with another great guest as we learn more about topics that help us build a law firm business that works for you.
Remember, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com or on iTunes. Thanks for joining us and we will see you again soon.
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