What Every Law Firm Needs to Know to Rank Highly in Search Engines for the Next 400 Years

Not too long ago, I was asked to speak to a large audience for a Tony Robbin's business seminar about search engine optimization. Unfortunately, there were a couple of problems with giving this talk:

  1. I only had 20 minutes;

  2. None of the people were technologically versed; and,

  3. The people had paid $10,000 to be there for a few days and all wanted easy strategies that would rocket their sites to the top of the search engines.

If I had about 30 days and 10 hours a day, I could teach you the most important concepts of search engine optimization. However, I can also teach you 95% of what you need to know and what will help you the most in less than 10 minutes. You also do not need to be technically versed to understand what I am about to tell you, and you certainly do not need $10,000 (but I am going to give you the $10,000 secret). Moreover, you do not need to constantly be aware of various search engine updates, pay expensive SEO companies or hire expensive technology people either.

You are going to need to understand a “mindset’ and rules that go along with effectively ranking your law firm website. This mindset is so crucial that I am going to lay it out for you in more detail than you probably need. If you understand this mindset, you will be richly rewarded. I have been, and you too will be.

Since search engines have been around, there has been one trick after another that people have used to improve their rankings. There are some I could tell you about today that would work for you for a short while, but then you would get killed and your site’s rankings would suffer (or you would stop getting traffic from Google completely).

Search engines represent billions of dollars in potential revenue for law firms and trillions of dollars for businesses all over the world. Therefore, it goes without saying that people are constantly looking for shortcuts and other ways to get high rankings and make more money. Like carnival hucksters, these people come out of the woodwork and take your hard earned money with abandon. Even big names like Findlaw have participated in these scams on lawyers and others. See Findlaw Websites Crushed By Panda 4. Findlaw, for example, created a lot of “junk content” and dubious linking schemes for law firm websites (at great expense to law firms). See a lawsuit against Findlaw here.

In my time, I have watched more businesses than I can count rise to great heights and then crumble to nothing by doing various tricks and exploiting loopholes in how Google works. This will continue, and it is not something you need to understand. What you need to understand (and what I am about to tell you) is the one constant that always has (and will) continue to work to get law firms and other businesses good SEO rankings.

Over the past several years, Google has rolled out a series of updates. They will always make updates because their number one objective is to deliver users to the best website for their needs. The only thing Google is ever targeting with its updates are (1) attempts to fool it by sending users to pages that are less than satisfactory; and, (2) sites that do not deliver value.

Lawyers and other businesses try and fool Google in a variety of ways. They hire SEO companies to do various tricks. They get tips about tricks and implement these tricks. The go-to sites like Fiverr and hire workers to do various SEO tricks. None of this stuff ever works for long. Again, I have watched this for years, and it never works.

Think about the psychology of these tricks for a moment. When someone is pulling various tricks to get high SEO rankings, they are attempting to “fool” both Google and people coming to their website. These are the “bad” and not the good actors in the world.

If someone is trying to fool Google, they are attempting to hurt Google by sending users to a site Google would not otherwise want them to go to. Google is a business and wants to send people to websites where they will have a good experience. If the user has a good experience, then they are going to be that much more likely to come back to Google, and Google will grow as a business and make more money. Google does not want to be fooled by people and when it sees them, it pushes them away and avoids them.

Think about your life. If someone out there is scheming and attempting to fool you, then you also avoid them as well. This is how it works. Also … think about the people that need to fool you. The people who need to fool you typically do so due to the fact that they do not really have much value as they want you to think that they have. When you discover they have less value than they really have, you realize that the person is insecure and unhappy, and you avoid them.

One time, a neighbor of mine suggested that we have a “joint” garage sale at my house. I said “sure” and agreed to it. My neighbor told me that she would advertise the garage sale in the newspaper and on Craigslist, and I agreed without hesitation. On the morning of the garage sale, by 6:00 a.m. there was a line of at least 50 people at my gate. I could not believe how many people had turned out. When the garage sale opened at 8:00 a.m., everyone came in and immediately became very angry. To my horror, I started hearing the following types of statements:

  • “Where are the priceless antiques?”

  • “Where are the 18th-century tapestries?”

  • “Where is the Bang & Olufsen entertainment system?”

  • “This does not look like an estate sale for a deceased tycoon? Where is everything?”

I was just as shocked as the people there. I was selling a few old office desks, a tattered couch, a dog pee-stained rug and some old clothing I no longer wanted. My neighbor had a similar lousy collection of old stuff to sell.

“Isn’t this great?” she asked me. “I got so many people to show up!”

I was pissed. I will never do business (of any kind) with her again. Moreover, the people who came to the garage sale and were tricked into standing in line at 6:00 a.m. will probably never come to one of my garage sales ever again either. They were pissed – and rightly so. They were misled into coming to the garage sale, and when they got there, they realized it was not what it was supposed to be. They were upset and left. I bet some people even complained to Craigslist.

While this example is about a garage sale, it is an example of the sort of “offline” tactic that Google does not want to occur: It does not want to be “tricked” into driving traffic to something that does not have a lot of value. If all of the ads on Craigslist were scams, then no one would use the site. It is the same thing with Google: If all of the search results were websites with little value and Google was tricked into sending users to them, then no one would use Google either.

Google is a giant company with thousands of PhD engineers and scientists who spend their time uncovering and penalizing every trick in the book. You cannot trick Google, and it never works for long.

If someone is trying to trick Google, they are also harming Googles’ users. Think about the line of people who were so excited to see a bunch of priceless antiques at 6:00 a.m. They lost time, they incurred expense and they were upset going somewhere that was not what it was represented to be. Google does not want its users tricked like this. If they are tricked and have a bad experience, they will not come back to the site. Instead, the users will change search engines and use Bing or something else.

Also, Google is a “gatekeeper” and part of its role is to protect its users from unsavory elements. It wants to send its users to good and not bad sites. For example, if you search for “children’s games”, it is not suddenly going to return a bunch of child porn. It wants to send users to the best sites.

What sort of site do you think delivers value to users? What does a law firm website need to do in order to have the trust of Google, please users and drive lots of traffic? Here is all you need to do:

Create content, update it frequently and get people talking about your content. That’s it (and this is never going to change). It will always be like this, and you cannot get around this system. If you know how to do this (and do it properly), you will never have to worry about Google penalties, Google updates, or other changes.

Here is how you do this:

  1. Have Awesome, Interesting and Relevant Content on Your Website.

If you are a personal injury attorney in Chicago, you need to have the most thought out, most in-depth and most interesting content on your website possible. This content should answer the questions that people seeking a personal injury attorney are interested in, and it should be good, solid content. It should be written by attorneys, and it should be something that people want to read. It should not be written in India, by an intern, or someone along those lines. As a general rule, every single article and piece of content should be at least 2,000 words.

Google has a great nose for crap content. If it sees misspellings, poor use of the English language and people do not stay on your pages long enough to read the content, then it will know it is not good. Google wants users to have a good experience and find the information they are looking for. Your website needs to have readable and interesting content on it.

Google knows if your content is good in numerous ways, and I will share with you just a few ways:

  • How long people stay on your articles before coming back to Google. This shows Google that people are actually reading your content and articles. If people just come to your article and then click back, this means they are not finding what they were looking for (kind of like the garage sale). This is not good.

  • How many people “like” your articles on Facebook, bookmarking sites and so forth and share this content. If people “like” your content and share it, then this means that there is something about your content that is providing value (we want to share stuff that we like and is good). For example, if I go to a garage sale, and it is really, really good, then I will tell others about it. If it is not good, then I will not tell my friends about it.

  • How influential the people are sharing your content. If someone that is very influential on Facebook, Google+ and other sites is sharing your content, this is a good sign. Google really, really tries to understand everything. If this person only shares really good content that other influential people share, then this is going to impact how your content is ranked.

  • How many important, respected websites link to a given article you write. I will talk more about linking later in this article; however, if the sites linking to your article are important (in your area, nationally, or in other areas) this will make your article more likely to rank highly.

  • If the language is how people (i.e. Americans) talk. Google can tell the difference between American English and Indian English, for example. If you are having cheap content written overseas, this is going to affect your negatively. Your content needs to be solid and well written. If there are a lot of errors in it (grammatical, typos, etc.), Google is going to believe that not a lot of thought went into it and will not want to send a lot of traffic to your articles.

  • If the article has images that people seem to like and share. People like pictures. Google wants to entertain users visually and this helps. Also, if people are sharing images, that is a good sign as well.

  • The quality (i.e. type) of the people reading your articles. Are these the sort of people that would be expected to read your articles? You cannot pay people in China, for example, to click through and spend a lot of time reading your content (Google knows who they are and that you are scamming them).

  • How many comments your article is getting (if you have a comment feature on your site). Solid, thought-provoking content can spark a debate, and Google likes its users to be provoked by new ideas.

  • The quality of the people leaving comments. You cannot pay a bunch of people overseas to leave comments. If you are an attorney in a small town in Nebraska, and all of the comments about your article about DUI law in Nebraska are coming from people in New York, then Google is going to know you are scamming them.

This is a general idea of things that Google is looking for. You cannot trick Google into believing that you have good content if you do not. Whatever you try to make Google think your content is good when it is not – rest assured Google is way ahead of you.

See the following articles for more information:

  1. Update Content Frequently

You need to have content updating at least once a week. That means a solid 2,000-word article about something related to what you do each week without fail.

The reason for this is simple: Google wants to send people to active sites with “live” people behind them that are current. Law firms that have current content are “on the move” and “fresh” and are more likely to provide good content than those who do not have current content.

This needs to be part of your “day-to-day” routine if you want to drive business on the Internet. It is extremely important and something that is crucial for getting rankings over the long term. You cannot avoid it. I cannot tell you how many law firms and others I have seen start this process and then stop it. It needs to be consistent. Do this right and Google will support you with business for the rest of your career. Pound out an article on a Sunday afternoon, or do one first thing Monday morning. You need to do this.

  1. The Right People Talking About You

If people are talking about you, this means that people like your website and are talking about it (on Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites). But they have to be the right people, and it has to make sense.

Attorneys are notorious for wanting to cut corners, figure out angles and get users to their sites without having to do all of the work necessary to rank a website. You cannot pay people to link to your website, for example. This is a huge no, no.

If you are doing bankruptcy law in Chicago, and you write a bunch of articles for the local bankruptcy attorneys’ group, and they go on their website, and you do the same thing with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, that will help you. If other bankruptcy attorneys (members of these groups) are linking to you, that will help you. If national legal newspapers are writing about you, that will help you.

You need to get people mentioning your name, doing searches for you (specifically) on the Internet and get known. This is a public relations sort of task, but it is also much more than that. It is a call for you to get out there, write, speak and make a name for yourself. Take any opportunity you can to make a name for yourself. Google calculates and measures everything, and the more people mentioning your name online, the more people linking to your site, the more people searching for your name, the more important Google knows you are and the more likely it is to send users to you. After all … if you are popular, and everyone searches for you and clicks on your website in a certain geographic area, you must be doing something right.

See the following for more information:


Search engine updates do not matter to you. All you need to do is consistently create good content that is interesting and that people will want to read. You also need to get out there and get people talking about you and searching for your name (in a positive way). This is all you will ever need to know about SEO. It is the sort of thing people have been doing for hundreds of years (writing, speaking and getting out there) to get known. The rules are the same today, and my guess is this will not change for the next 400 years either.

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