A lot of the solicitors who I meet are very fond of search engine marketing. And why not! After all, who doesn’t want more visitors to their website and more client enquiries whilst they sleep? Who doesn’t want a potential client who is ready and waiting to instruct a solicitor at that very minute, finding their website by typing in a search term that is relevant to the provision of their service, such as ‘Commercial Solicitor Reading’, or ‘Conveyancing Solicitor Dorchester’, liking what they see and then clicking the ‘contact us’ form? What is not to like about that?
I made an important point in that first paragraph that might not have jumped out at you so it is worth repeating. A client who chooses to go to the internet and type in a search term or phrase that is related to your services is a far better client than one who is reading a newspaper and sees your advertisement. The first one has chosen to go off to find you so is highly motivated to do so. The second one you are interrupting whilst they are reading a magazine or a newspaper such that even if they do need a solicitor at that moment in time, your advertisement needs to be compelling enough that they stop what they are doing, rip out the advertisement and place it somewhere to remember to call you the following day. The chances of success are naturally lower.
So search engine marketing for solicitors is good. Just to confirm the point, search engine marketing is being featured in the left hand side of the search results in Google (which in October 2011 was quoted by Hitwise as having 91% of the UK search market), usually below the first three search results which are paid search results (Google Adwords or Pay Per Click).
So I am sure you will agree that search engine marketing is very good. But whilst I meet a lot of solicitors who tell me that they love search engine marketing, and how they employ a search engine marketing company to market their website for them, most are wrong. When I dig a little deeper and ask how much they pay for their search engine marketing services, they often provide a figure of between £50 to £250 per month. Let me assure you, as someone who has spent and is constantly spending my own money on search engine marketing, at that price you are not buying search engine marketing services. At that price you are paying someone who is playing at website marketing; playing with your money I might add.
I reviewed someone’s website the other day and was amazed to find that the title tags in the code all said more or less the same thing. What was worse that the description tags and keyword tags, were simply not there. The company that he had ‘paid’ to do search engine marketing for him had not bothered to add the description tags. Now bearing in mind these are important to Google to work out what the page is all about, and important to your potential clients because the description is what is displayed in the Google search results. If you look at the image below, you can see the first three search results by companies who have not managed to get to the top of Google for the search term ‘Solicitors Marketing’. The first two free search engine marketing results are for my business. The first entry is my blog (1) and this appears slightly differently in the search results, so look at my second listing (2) so that I can show you what I mean about the title tag and description tags being important. The title tag is displayed in the search engine result and then the description tag from my website appears below this. So the title tag and description tag are actually your sales pitch to make someone click through from Google onto your website. It is therefore absolutely vital that the title tag and description tag are relevant to the search results and that they sell the visitor to click on your search results and see what you have to say on your website.
So for my client not to have any description tag whatsoever means that Google has a much harder job trying to assess what he does for a living, so it does not even list his website in any of the results. I know this because I analysed his traffic. I explained that the company he was using did not know what they were doing so he went off to speak with them. Guess what, they told him the description and keyword tags were ‘hidden in the code’ but the next day they all appeared, as if by magic (just like Mr Ben used to…). I explained to my client that if they were hidden from the code and I could not see them, Google couldn’t either. They were clearly misleading him! Once again, however, he was paying them a nominal sum for search engine marketing services and you absolutely get what you pay for with search engine marketing.
Look, I am not trying to sell you any search engine marketing services as I do not provide them. I just want you to understand that if you are paying anything from £50- 250 you are not buying search engine marketing.
It costs over £1,000 per month because, just like your services, to do it well it takes a lot of hours every month. Once a search engine marketing company has taken over your website, the first job they will do is to rewrite your title and description tags. After that (on site changes account for roughly 40% of your search engine marketing results), it is all about building high quality links back to your website. Finding and obtaining these results takes time and effort, but it is vital if you want to be found by more people on Google. In addition to this, Google is always changing the rules. Recently, in its Google Panda Update it has discounted many links if they use the same link copy. For example, if I had 300 links back to one page on my website using the link copy of ‘Solicitors Marketing’ from article websites, the Panda update will now largely ignore them and if that was all I was relying on my website would drop down Google’s free listings. I am covering this in detail with my Marketing4Solicitors members in next month’s printed newsletter which they receive as part of their membership fee as I know some of their websites will have been effected. If you haven’t yet joined and you need instant and in depth help in all aspects of generating new client instructions, this is what Marketing4Solicitors will do for you. When you join you will instantly be given access to the online Private Zone where you can login and view training videos, marketing precedents and 14 online Blueprints showing you how to write advertisements, how to do search engine marketing, how to do pay per click advertising, much more and a monthly members call in to me for specific help on their marketing challenges and much more – Click to read more:>>.
So to stay at the top of Google takes a lot of time and effort. It takes hours every month. Even if your search engine marketing company is using a junior staff member at £50 per hour, there is not a lot they can do in one to five hours. If they are more experienced, just like you their hourly rate rises. As in anything in life, you always do get what you pay for. I wanted you to understand this so you are not relying on someone to do your search engine marketing who is simply not up to the task.
If you want it done well, you need to pay for it. If you are paying well for it, you can demand results and those results will easily cover the investment in the search engine marketing company in more paid instructions for you.
Author: Nick Jervis