Backlinks – A Must Have In Any Successful SEO Program

If you research the backlinks of some of the pages at the top of Google search engine results pages (SERPs) for the most competitive keywords in the financial industry you will find that they all have thousands and thousands of backlinks from Google Display ads. At least that we found while researching top keyword placements for a Financial Services industry keyword term a couple years ago. This led us to believe that Google might take into account the very same backlinks they have always publicly said they do not take into account: their own ads. Display ads, to be specific.

So, the top notch Paid Advertising Team at Sundown Marketing Group decided to test out this theory. Our team chose one of our clients who had not yet had much SEO work done to their website. They felt this client would be the perfect candidate because at the time they would not allow us to add any content to their website, thereby giving us a blank canvas to work with.

 

The team created the display campaign, created copy, headlines, descriptions, images and links. They focused on the keyword “car accident attorney” and then let it collect data for three months – June, July, and August of 2019. The team hypothesized that a small display ad budget of $500 would create a small increase in organic traffic, in part due to the backlinks that are generated in the ads. They believed this would happen due to the evidence seen in an Ahrefs backlink report that showed a significant amount of display ads for the top organically placed websites.

Results:

The display campaign produced some traffic, but a near 90% bounce rate, and no form submissions.

But this was to be expected; display ads are more for branding than traffic. So, what happened to the organic placement of the website for “car accident attorney”? Was it impacted?

During the first month website placement for “car accident attorney” cruised up slowly from about 35 to 25. The following two months it was erratic, going up and down but on average the site was shown at the 25 spot. It seems to have helped slightly.

What about the overall organic traffic?

There seemed to be an initial spike in traffic, but nothing too significant overall. You could say there’s more stability in the few weeks after the initial spike comes down.

Overall users were down almost 3% during the time of having the display ads. However, almost every one of the other measurements were up: overall sessions, pages per session, average session duration, even more contact form submissions resulted from the organic traffic during this time.

Those are all very good things, but it can’t be logically correlated to the display ads.

At least one thing is sure – a $500/month budget won’t make a real difference in your organic traffic. But it may help you rank better organically for the keywords you are targeting. Again, evidence seems to suggest that the larger the budget the more organic traffic you’ll get as an indirect result.

At Sundown Marketing Group we are constantly searching for the most effective way to best position our clients online and trying to uncover cutting-edge marketing/SEO ideas. If you’re a small to mid-sized law firm we can help you grow your business. Contact Sundown Marketing Group today at (800) 864-1764 or contact us online at Sundown Marketing Group to schedule a free consultation!

Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

At Sundown Marketing Group, we have helped law firms market themselves for over 15 years. From big markets to small markets, there has always been one constant; law firms with a well thought out marketing plan, get more cases than firms that do not have a plan. In the days of the yellow pages, firms with the best positions in the most books typically received the most calls and often secured the most clients. We have moved on from those days, but the concepts remain the same.  Get your name and your message in front of as many people as you can while sticking to a specific budget. In today’s world of sensational, in your face, advertising your marketing message must be concise, clear and visible.   Whether it is radio, billboards, TV or the internet you have just a few seconds to get someone’s attention and sell yourself.

With that in mind, we have come up with 10 tips you can implement today to help your firm achieve its marketing goals and dominate your competition.

  1. Decide who will oversee your marketing program and who will have the final decision about all things marketing. Although getting input from other members of the firm is important, the decision on how to proceed should be kept to as small a group as possible. Often, as the group gets larger, less gets done. Paralysis by analysis really comes into play here.
  1. Decide what type of cases your firm wants to attract and prioritize them. This may seem unnecessary, since the firm may practice in several areas, but it just isn’t worth advertising for some types of cases (i.e. real estate closings). This type of work usually comes through relationships or referrals. If your budget is limited, you should mention all your practice areas on your website but save your advertising dollars for the types of cases that require name and brand recognition. Examples of these would be car accidents, criminal defense or divorce cases. There are always case types that are more profitable than others, so you should prioritize them.
  1. Create a budget and stick to it. Marketing of any kind carries a burden of uncertainty. Have a budget that the firm can afford, even if there was a zero return on the money. That is not likely to happen with the right plan, but it should take pressure off the firm. Also, stay away from every “new” idea that comes along. We see this a lot. Stick with the proven methods but give them time to work. Jumping from one plan to another wastes a lot of time and money.
  1. Determine your “total” current investment on marketing. If you have a person at the firm dedicated to marketing efforts, what is their true cost? What is their cost in hourly pay, benefits, education etc.? You must then add in the amount you are spending on marketing outside of your internal human cost (i.e. Google Ads, Facebook Advertising). This will be your actual marketing investment. You then need to determine if your marketing person is as effective as someone who specializes in law firm marketing. In the long run, it may be less expensive to pay an agency, whose job it is to work for you, as opposed to paying an employee to do a similar job.
  1. Know your competition. If everyone in your area is spending $5,000 per month to market their firm and you are spending $500 per month, your program won’t get the same results. Your law firm is your biggest investment, bigger than the stock market or a new car, so invest in it regularly and wisely.
  1. Decide on firm involvement. Determine how much of the firm’s marketing is going to be done internally (dedicated person or people) or externally (agency), or a combination of the two. The first step is to build the best website in your area. This is your calling card and your initial impression on prospective clients. The next step is to get that website found. Digital marketing can be the hardest marketing to do, because the rules are always changing. But it is also an area where you can work with someone else to complement your efforts, with the least amount of time taken away from the firm.
  1. A digital presence is the cornerstone of any business. Everyone has a website, but to really stand out, you should be covering as many of the digital bases as possible, website, video, social media, reviews, internal client referrals and paid ads.
  1. Be consistent. That is the hardest thing for firms that handle their own marketing. A successful program, in the eyes of Google, will have a website that is content rich, has fast load speeds, few errors, proper tagging, quality back links, videos, social media links and the website is updated with new content on a regular basis. Consistency also comes in the form of social media updates on firm activities, community involvement and helpful information for the public.
  1. Build your brand. Be consistent with your firm’s message. Create a steady stream of branding opportunities and stick with them. If you have a tag line, use it on everything. Some of the most successful marketers, in any business, have a great tag line; you should too.
  1. Build up your reviews and testimonials. For most prospective clients, reviews are one of the primary deciding factors when it comes to hiring a lawyer. Facebook, Google and legal directories are all great places to show people how good you are. Don’t be afraid to ask a happy client for a review. You can count on the fact that your competition is doing it.

If you need help with any of these ideas, call our office today. We provide a no cost marketing analysis and can get you headed on the right track in no time. Contact the experienced legal marketing team at Sundown Legal Marketing at (800) 649-1764 or through our website contact form.

How to Maximize SEO ROI

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has evolved from a mysterious buzz phrase that savvy business owners used to seek out to be cutting-edge results, to an everyday effort used by most website owners. Today it has been formulated into a-la-carte programs offered by all sorts of marketing agencies (both reputable and not-so reputable), but how do you know what you are paying for and whether it is returning an acceptable Return on Investment (ROI)?

Your SEO program should be aligned with your business goals. You may have received a negative review that you want to push down in search results, you may have competition that you want to outrank, or you may just be a law firm owner who wants more clients. Whatever your goals are for your SEO program, they should be identified from the beginning so you can define success.

A typical law firm’s goal for a website is to rank on the first page for a specific set of keywords that produce a high volume of searches. For example, “personal injury attorney” or “criminal defense attorney”. Ranking highly for these keyword phrases will be difficult because they are so generic and because the sites that typically rank at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for these keyword phrases are often nationally recognized legal directories like findlaw.com or lawyers.com. Still, if you do your best to at least improve your rankings for that keyword, say from the fourth page (position 35) to the second page (position 15), it is likely that you will also improve for other keywords even more significantly. For example, “personal injury attorney in Mobile, AL” or “criminal defense attorney in my area”.

If no business goals are clearly defined the default goal is to increase overall organic traffic. This is a good goal to have because it also produces good return on investment since organic traffic often turns into conversions. These people may watch a video, call the firm, fill out a form, ask a question, etc.

Still, it is beneficial to have clear goals so that you can target your traffic increases for one lucrative segment of your prospective clients. Sometimes an agency will make recommendations on which keywords to target based on current rankings of the website. At Sundown Legal Marketing, we do this for our clients through the use of a tool called SEMRush. This process is outlined in our article on “Striking Distance Keywords”.

Once keywords are identified, and SEO work has been done to the website, you are ready to start reviewing results. Any improvement in ranking has value even if it is just an incremental change (i.e. moving from page 4, position 38, to page 2, position 12). However, value is in the eye of the beholder, so how much you should pay per keyword at this stage is difficult to say.

However, once the keywords move into the top 10, or page 1, then you can very easily place a dollar value on the keyword because you can compare it to the cost of purchasing a Google ad for that keyword.

To calculate the value of a keyword, look up the average volume for that keyword by utilizing a third party tool (we use SEMRush), then multiply that by a typical Click Through Rate (CTR) of 2%, then multiply that by the average cost of that keyword according to the Google Keyword Planner. So if SEMRush says the keyword receives 2,900 monthly visits, and the Keyword Planner says your keyword costs $5/click, and you factor an industry standard 2% CTR, then a keyword that is showing your website organically in the top 10 spots could be worth up to $290 per month. You could take a little bit of value off each position as it goes down. For example, $290 for position 1; $260 for position 2, and so on.

This is all just to put a value on a keyword. Doing things like this help us determine the return on investment of our SEO programs. It is essentially the method that paid search managers use and it is a way to help you understand where your money is going when you have a Digital Marketing campaign.

At Sundown Legal Marketing we like to take the smoke and mirrors out of our campaigns and be as transparent as we can. If you are unhappy with the service your current marketing agency is providing, or feel that they are not returning an acceptable ROI, please call us for a free initial consultation! Our team of legal marketing experts is ready to help you craft an internet marketing campaign for your law firm. We can be reached at (800) 864-1764 or through our website contact form.