I was contacted this week by a criminal defense attorney. He was asking why his site was receiving less traffic and on a “downward trend” (his words). In October of 2013 his site received 661 visits, then in November 653 visits, December 472 visits, and in January it is projected to get 440 hits or so. His main objective was to find out how he could improve his website’s visibility in google search. I was delighted that he reached out to me, as I’ve ethically generated millions and millions of dollars from Google search and already have criminal defense attorneys as clients.
Anyone in my industry understands that a lot has changed in search towards the end of 2013, including 2 major Google algorithm changes. I’ve also personally noticed that pages with larger pieces of content have been rewarded. I do not necessarily count words but a page with 2,500 words will perform better than a page with 1 word, or 50 words, or 100 words- I don’t think there is a specific cut off but obviously the larger and more informative the content is, the better it might perform in search (of course there are 1,000 other factors as well).
Anyways I glance at the attorney’s website on my phone and the first thing I see is some mobile website redirect. Ugh. Strike #1. Almost 50% of local searches are now done by mobile devices. I also predict in 2014 the search engines will need to start penalizing websites that are unusable. Maybe they already are. If your website can not be used via a mobile device, it is, in fact, unusable. I personally surf from an 8 core processor machine with 32GB ram, a solid state hard drive and a 27” monitor, but plenty of my friends only use the Internet from their iPhone. If they just get some mobile website with a name and phone #, what good is that? As I’ve said 1000x now, Google wants to connect people with what they are looking for. If someone wants to know why they should hire this attorney for their DWI and they arrive at the site to see no explanation, just a phone #, then they’re going to hit back and go somewhere else.
Next I visit this attorney’s site on my computer. The site looks great cosmetically, and is easy to use. Wonderful. But where is the blog? I go looking for the blog and there is not one. There is no content being added. Strike #2. This is pretty much what sinks the ship right here. Of course, if this were a small town or he was not in a competitive niche, his website would be totally fine. The local optimization aspect of it was not terrible, and it probably shows up ok in many random searches, but without the ability to add content on a regular basis, his search results will have to rely on luck and other volatile variables.
Next I check out the site to see if a blog can be added. I am going through the site and discover it is a FindLaw website. Strike #3. I am on the phone with my buddy Jesse and tell him I am going to start crying if I come across another one of these sites. If you don’t understand this just grab a coffee and google “FindLaw blogs an embarrassment” “FindLaw douchetastic” or “why FindLaw websites perform poorly”. I have absolutely NO interest in redesigning people’s sites. I do not want to work on their site, and as of 2014 I will not work on the sites. All one of these sites does is prevent me from helping people create content effectively.
So anyways, the attorney has been emailing me telling me how much he values my thoughts and that he can not wait to hear them. So here it goes, I send him my reply, letting him down as gently as I can while at the same time trying to keep it short and sweet.
You need content. Fresh, ongoing, content for the site.
You need to get rid of the findlaw site. This is a prerequisite to the content. Without going into details, there are just many things about it that are broke. It looks fine cosmetically but to compete you’ll need a simple, responsive, wordpress site with a blog – this would be the starting point.
I go on to tell him that I can not make the site for him but could possibly send him to someone who does build these sites if he is interested, and if he’d like a more detailed explanation of why having new and fresh content is so important and directly affects his position in Google search that he can read my about my page which thoroughly explains the importance of content creation.
Also I inform him that he can make his own content, and if he needs help I offer this service to attorneys like himself and that it is all laid out in the link above, but if he has the time to do it, he doesn’t even need me.
Side note: My next article is regarding a business that is thriving in search due to their content, so stay tuned. I will post a link to it here when I put it up.
Anyways, this person goes on to send me a nasty-gram, which I’ll break down:
“I was looking for input as to how I could improve my position on Google searches”
Right. So I took time out of my day to tell him precisely how to accomplish this.
“Almost all lawyers in my area use me as the benchmark of how I market myself online.”
I don’t know what to think at this point.
“I was looking to improve my marketing, not abandon my current achievements and start from scratch with a virtually unknown product.”
At this point it becomes obvious the guy has never heard of WordPress before, which is basically 20% of the Internet.
“Your assessment was useless. There is no specific guidance whatsoever…”
Ok, so having a clean site deign that works on all devices and has fresh content on it covering search terms and getting crawled often by Google is a useless assessment. Please, tell me more.
“Please don’t bother explaining. The fact that you missed all of the above in your evaluation tells me all I need to know. I wish you luck in your blogging.”
Okay buddy. Does he really think that after he called me for advice and sends me this nasty email I am going to spend more of my time “explaining” to him that the sky is blue? As for luck in my blogging, I don’t need that. I have brought in millions of dollars with organic search, and what I do has absolutely nothing to do with luck.
When I reach out to a professional, it is because I trust them. If I don’t like what they have to say, I might go get a second opinion… But this is like me having a terrible toothache, and feeling pain in my tooth when I drink cold water, then finding a reputable dentist and calling him, making an appointment, going to his office, getting an X-ray done, and when he visibly sees the big cavity in my tooth, telling me I need a filling. At that point I can stand up and say “my teeth are awesome and the benchmark for all teeth, you don’t know what you are doing, good luck with that filling stuff” and go stomping out of his practice. Do you think the dentist is going to lose any sleep over this? No. Do you the tooth is going to remain causing pain? Yes.
I had a call out to FindLaw. After going through 2 people and a 10 minute phone conversation of a rep telling me I am interrupting his candy bar, I did find out that you CAN put a blog on a FindLaw hosted website, and that they charge $3,600 per year for this service. The rep “aka SEO guru” then told me that I’d be better off hosting it elsewhere.
Hello palm, meet face.
Some people just don’t get it. I can’t help everyone, nor will I help everyone. Even if this guy comes back to me in a few months or offers some sort of apology there is no way I would ever do business with him. I am fairly loaded down with work right now, and besides, I will only help people who understand what they are getting and appreciate the massive value that it brings them.
UPDATE May 29, 2014:
Since publishing this article January 15, 2014, several interesting things have taken place:
- One of my clients is an attorney in a very competitive niche. I set him up with a responsive WordPress site just after this article was published and we started whipping up informative, unique content on a regular basis. The site gets an average of 30 hits per day at the moment. It has resulted in him getting businesses and has been a fantastic ROI for him, and we’re only 4mos in to the project. We are having success way ahead of schedule.
- Panda 4.0 was released a few days ago. Sites with low quality content have been punished. I just looked up the attorney that sent me this nasty-gram and I can’t find his site anywhere for the terms that he is targeting.
- In March I put together a post: Why websites that are not mobile friendly should be penalized. Hopefully this breaks it down enough for the non-SEO guru to understand.
- I discuss how an attorney can create content here.
UPDATE June 1, 2014:
Rumors about that many FindLaw websites have been smacked down by Panda 4.0. I haven’t had time to research this yet.
UPDATE June 4, 2014:
Today Google announced websites that redirect people to a mobile website will receive a special warning viewable to people using mobile search. This will greatly reduce traffic to websites that were using these awful mobile websites in an effort to provide people with a quality user experience instead of a frustrating experience. Read all about this new development here.
UPDATE August 22, 2014:
Google’s Pigeon algorithm change was recently released, changing the results for local search, including DUI attorneys. Businesses and professionals who have neglected creating content and organic results have been experiencing a loss in traffic.
Final Update March 19, 2015:
This was a fun post to look back on. Things have changed quite a bit since I wrote this up. I now do SEO for some of the largest personal injury firms around. This guy’s website is gone off to page 2 or something and he now lists personal injury on it. Pshh, yeah right. April 21 2015 Google will finally be penalizing crummy sites like this. I am not going to update this post any longer.