[Author: Noreen Fishman]
If you’ve even dabbled in digital marketing in today’s business environment, then no doubt you’re familiar with the term SEO. SEO – or search engine optimization – is a complex and ever-changing science, but one that can offer serious rewards for those who do it right. The trouble is, most marketers don’t truly have the skillset or background to accomplish real impact with SEO. In that case, finding the right partner is critical and can go a long way toward landing you better spots in search – and more clients.
Not familiar with SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimizing your online content for a more prominent position in search results. That’s important since most people do their research online. Landing on the first page of results makes a huge difference.
The next step is actually getting people to your site from these search results. Most marketers do not have the time or the vernacular to accomplish first-page results. That’s where an agency can come into play. There are literally thousands of companies claiming to be able to assist you with SEO. Finding the right one takes time and effort – but you will be glad you did.
Why Should You Use an SEO Agency?
SEO is an extensive type of strategy that often takes quite a bit of background knowledge in order to get results. Not only that, but SEO best practices are changing constantly. At any point, search engines like Google can decide to change their ranking factors and you may find yourself in the midst of an SEO disaster overnight.
All that being said, SEO is often a timely process that takes some real expertise to get right.
If you’re a law firm that doesn’t have the bandwidth to hire an internal SEO expert or leverage your current team to meet these needs, then it may be time to hire an SEO agency.
In the end, having someone else handle your search needs may lead to a lot of saved time, resources, and even money, as now you won’t have to pay your own expert or purchase the numerous tools that are needed to find SEO success.
Questions for Potential SEO Agencies
- What experience do you have? Can you share references or loyal clients?
- How much work do you do in-house? How much do you outsource?
- Will I have a dedicated account manager and how much attention will I receive from them?
- What will you need from me? How will you let me know about those expectations?
- What specific results do you expect, and over what timeframes?*
- How are keywords chosen? Do you focus on broad phrases or aim for more targeted words, to obtain conversions?
- What other types of marketing do you do?
*Note that no agency can guarantee quantifiable results, especially as Google’s algorithm is always changing. Outcomes are going to be unique to each client, but potential vendors should be able to share some specific metrics where they can move the needle. Beware of any agency that claims they can “get you to the top” within a week or other committed time frame. That’s unlikely, and therefore not honest.
Any credible agency that’s been in business for a while and has experienced success will be happy to answer these questions to your satisfaction. Don’t be shy about pressing them if answers are vague. SEO is an area that not a lot of people understand, and the sad fact is there are companies who will try to take advantage of that. Obtaining whatever information will make you more comfortable in your decision.
Red Flags in the Process
There might be things that come up that can make you uneasy. Here are a few potential landmines – if any of these things happen, dig further in your research process or move on to the next potential agency.
- Prices that are significantly under or over-priced based on others you’ve seen in research.
- Time frame promises like “Your site will be indexed in two days!” or “Guaranteed top page ranking in one week!”.
- Over-submitting a site to search engines.
- Bad back-linking practices, such as thousands of links to your site.
- Copyright requests for SEO and metadata.
- Claiming to hold a special status or relationship with Google that can help you (for example, “knowing someone who works for Google”).
Any of these items are reasons to take another look at an agency. Some can actually hurt your search engine performance and produce the opposite of what you’re looking for. Also, beware of black hat SEO practices. Agencies that participate in black hat SEO are considered a bit shady at best, and downright criminal at worst. Their methods are considered unethical, often using loopholes discovered in programming and search algorithms to achieve better results. When sites using these methods are discovered by search engines, they are usually penalized, sometimes severely.
Choosing the right SEO agency for law firms is a tricky business! It can be a highly personal and important investment for your firm.
This post has been edited and republished from Oct. 23, 2018.