Many experienced and talented lawyers get frustrated when their website doesn't earn the organic rankings they believe their practice deserves, especially when some upstart attorney with no real-world experience is beating them out. But, before getting upset, attorneys need to flip the script and think of rankings from the perspective of the search engine's owner. Search engines do not make money from organic listings, which are free, instead, they make gobs of money from advertising. Search engines have no incentive to rank a website high in the organic area UNLESS sending the search engine user to that website builds more trust and confidence in the searcher's opinion of the search engine.

Let that sink in: A search engine's only incentive to rank a website higher on a free organic search is if that ranking makes the searcher (a firm's potential client) feel better about using that search engine in the future. The organic ranking algorithms are all about building confidence in the search engine's brand, not the law firm's.

In order to rank highly in the organic area, firms have to jump through the secret, ever-changing hoops of each search engine. These hoops are designed to get searchers to the most relevant sites for their needs and give them confidence that the search engine will do a good job for them in the future -- giving the user reason to return to that search engine for their next search and even click on the ads, which will earn the search engine money.

Any online marketing strategy for a law firm needs to keep this point at the forefront of decision making. Any maneuver, trick, strategy or technique that could be interpreted by search engines as trying to game the system may work in the short term but will ultimately fail as the algorithms evolve.

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