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Our guest for this episode of Ecoffee with Experts is Doug Bradley. Doug is the President and Founder of Everest Legal marketing, a full service agency with expertise in SEO and online marketing for law firms. During the interview with Matt Fraser, Doug spoke at length about how he set up and scaled his agency business. The interesting part was when Doug laid out the methods to deal with legal marketing challenges.
AI is a great tool to pay attention to if we are interested in scaling, but it must be applied carefully.
Hello everyone, it’s Matt Fraser here with digital web solutions with this week’s episode of E coffee with experts. Thank you so much for being here. On today’s show, I have with me, Doug Bradley. Now Doug is the president and founder of Everest legal marketing, an attorney SEO and online marketing agency located in Southern California, serving law firms nationwide and specializing in website design, content creation, blogging, and optimization for law firms across the United States. He is also the founder of legal directories such as legallistings.us and personalinjurylaw.gru, which helps connect people to local attorneys. When not working on digital marketing for law firms, Doug enjoys attending car shows and auto racing events near his home in Southern California, as well as imbibing in the occasional craft beer or a sip of good scotch. So Doug, thanks so much for being here.
Thank you for having me. I appreciate being invited.
Hey, no problem. You have had an interesting journey so far. Who was Doug as a school kid?
I wasn’t an outstanding student as a school kid. I did okay in grade school and high school. I wouldn’t say I was ahead of the class. There was nothing particularly outstanding in terms of grades or capability. I was a little bit of a class clown. But it was very average for the most part. Even through college, I was just pretty decent. My downfall was having too much of a sense of humor with the teachers and other students.
It’s always good to have a sense of humor. When you look at Dave Chappelle, he’s done quite well, having a sense of humor. So yeah, I think that’s a negative. Did you always have entrepreneurial aspirations?
I think I’ve always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was young, I wanted my own money. I wanted to control the things I could buy and the decisions I could make. The first thing I did that was kind of entrepreneurial was I bought a stencil kit of numbers and I went around the neighborhood and repainted the address on people’s curbs for them. Where we live they have the numbers painted on the curb, so the fire department or police can see the number. And oftentimes they fade, and they look really bad. And they chip off. And so I said, Well, let me just buy a $5 stencil kit and a couple of rattle cans and go across the neighborhood. And so that’s what I started doing. And that was kind of my first taste of having my own money to spend, so to speak. And the moment I could get my work permit at 15 and a half, I went and got a job. For most of my life, I’ve had at least two jobs, sometimes three. And it hasn’t been until the last probably eight years or so that I’ve only had one job.
And that’s running Everest?
That’s running my company, and before that, I always wanted multiple revenue streams.
So what led up to starting Everest Legal Marketing? You just mentioned you do some things previous to launching this agency? What did you do, and how has that contributed to your ability to run your agency now?
Good question. I got started in advertising, selling Yellow Page ads in the phone book. I didn’t even know that was an actual industry or a business until someone recruited me. And once the recession hit, the bottom fell out of that industry. I was recruited to a major online legal directory and I started to understand legal marketing. While I was at that company, I learned the company was very large. I was selling websites and search engine optimization services to law firms and the execution of it was pretty poor. We would sell these very expensive websites with very expensive monthly service fees. And typically, three to six months after implementation, the client would be talking to me or calling me and saying; “Hey, I haven’t gotten much off of this, or I don’t see anybody taking effort on my campaign”. And so oftentimes, I would be in the background helping their campaign along, which was not my job as a sales rep. But if I didn’t do that, then I would lose the sale and stop paying and get a chargeback. So I had to teach myself just out of sheer survival, how to do this. And that’s where I started to learn it. I’ve always been the type of person who likes to learn how things work. And this was just one of those instances where I had to understand what was working and what wasn’t, and make it work for my clients.
So what year did you start?
I had started working with a couple of clients, just on a one-off basis, as early as 2010, but it was kind of just a side income. And then I got more serious about it. Shortly thereafter, I believe in about 2013 or so 2014 ish, when I decided this is the only thing I want to do, and decided to leave my corporate job at the time and go off on my own.
What was that like?
A very scary thing? Yeah, going off on my own, if anybody’s ever done it, it’s very scary. My wife and I had a home, we had a baby on the way. And it was a very scary proposition to leave the comfort of, at the time, a nice cushy corporate gig. But ultimately, I decided if I wanted to be where I wanted to be if wanted to get where I wanted to go, it wasn’t with a business selling something for someone else and making someone else or a corporation wealthy, it was in my work.
Was it scary because of the unknown or did you have a certain amount of income saved up as a buffer, or did you have a certain amount of clients, or was it just you jumped two feet forward, and I’ll figure it out?
I’m not the type of person to jump headfirst and wonder if there’s water in the pool later. So I learned a lot about business structure, and how to segue from corporate to private business ownership. I put a lot of the components into place before I decided it was time to cut the corporate ties. I would spend some time setting up some of my websites. I would spend time writing content for websites. I would spend time in my off-hours, sometimes I would wake up at 5 am, work on some client work, and then start my nine to five. And then after I quit for the day, I would go back to finish up my client work. And so by the time I was ready to leave, I had already had my business account set up, my merchant services, set up my tax ID, and my business license. I already had all of that foundational business stuff set up. So when I started doing the work, I could focus on actually gaining clients and working for them rather than making mistakes first along the way.
Did you specialize in legal marketing because of your experience in getting hired by that company?
Yes, 100%. I’ve always been attracted to the law. And some lawyers have suggested you should be a lawyer, you can still become a lawyer. And I don’t want to be a lawyer, but I’m attracted to the law and how it works. And the competitive nature of search engine optimization just drew me in as a way to express my competitive nature, as well as work with really competitive individuals.
So how did you position yourself with not being a lawyer, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But how did you position yourself as a legal marketing expert, did help to have the background of the company that you worked for? Did you position yourself by writing blog posts about legal marketing based on your experiences in your job? How did that come about?
Great question. I knew that if I tried to leverage my background in sales for a legal marketing company, it wouldn’t get me very far doing it on my own, because lawyers would perceive me as just being a good salesperson. So what I did, instead of kind of going back to what I did to lay the foundation, I bought a website that was expired, that was local to my region, called the Inland Empire lawyers.com. And I just started building what I call a micro directory, just a small directory of local lawyers in my region that I could easily call or travel to their office or go to lunch or dinner with. And I started optimizing the hell out of that directory. Writing content, putting up business profiles, and then marketing that as a local marketing platform for attorneys. And eventually, that directory still, to this day, outranks pretty much every major legal directory for most of the searches we’re targeting. If you search the attorneys who are listed on that directory, their profile outranks some of the highest authority legal directories in the country, just because of relative relevancy and quality of content. And so once I have that position as a pawn on my chessboard, I could now bring that to market and say, Here’s my capability. I’m not just a salesperson. This is what I can do professionally for you.
That is so smart. You positioned yourself by showing what you can do and bringing value to the market before asking for anything.
I lucked out with the domain. It was a domain that another local marketing company had let expire. I found out that it was expiring when it expired and went to auction. I was standing by and just bidding on the price of the domain. And I think I bought it for 150 bucks. And it’s made me some multiples over that.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure. So what are some of the pros and cons of specialising as a legal marketing Agency? I’ll start with the pros. What are some of the pros of being a legal marketing Agency?
Sure. Well, I think anybody who specializes in anything will tell you, the focus is I think, the best part of doing one thing and doing it very well. You can get the feel and the temperature of an industry if you’re immersed in that one industry. And for lawyers who often work with other professionals, who are either legal vendors or marketing agencies, typically want people who are experienced in legal marketing. And since I was good at it, and I was gaining all of this experience, I decided early on, that this would be what I specialize in, because I’m good at it. My Network was attorneys or other types of vendors, and I knew what good looks like when it came to legal marketing and trying to translate that over to other industries is difficult. It just doesn’t work the same way. Taking the principles of legal marketing and applying that to a veterinarian or a mom-and-pop automotive repair shop is not anywhere near the same.
No, not at all. If those are some of the pros, what are some of the cons then?
The cons of specialization are missed opportunities. You’re going to give up working on profitable projects to be the specialists that people go to, for your industry. I have given those things up, and I’ve passed on projects before because people will come to me and say, “I’ve seen what you’ve done in the legal industry. Can you do that for my business”? I might reconsider if they backed up a dump truck full of money and dumped it on my driveway. But every single time I’ve said, “I just want to do this one thing. I want to be known as one of the experts in this field of specialization. And so, as a consequence, I ended up leaving money on the table for other industries. And I have to be okay with that. And I think anybody who specializes has to be okay with that.
And that makes a lot of sense, because there’s such a vast amount of knowledge that you have to have to step into an industry. Whether it’s law or veterinarians, or car dealers or auto repair, like we both know, it’s impossible to know, to be a plumber marketer, car dealer marketer, or an auto repair marketer is it’s impossible.
Sure. It’s the same toolbox with different tools. Everybody knows what it takes to do search engine optimization in the SEO industry. But I wouldn’t know the first thing about getting a plumber to page one of Google for competitive search phrases because I’m not immersed in that industry. And what I find is that the jack of all trades marketing agencies sometimes are effective, but more times than not, they’re typically not, or they typically make mistakes. When I see a jack of all trades marketer marketing a lawyer, it’s very easy to spot the very blatant mistakes that no legal SEO person would ever make.
You develop this directory, which is a very smart idea and getting that expired domain. How did you get your first client? Did you send a direct sales letter? Did you connect them on LinkedIn? Was it a referral? What was your marketing plan for growing that besides the directory that you developed, which was very smart?
I went back to some of the clients I had previously, in? y professional job. Again, I didn’t want to try and sell them on trusting me just to do something. I wanted to show them. Look, you’ve worked with me in the past.; And you trusted me in the past. And this is what I’ve built. Why don’t you let me do some of your marketing? And honestly, it just blossomed from there. And I can still remember the day that I got my first client. I had been working so hard on this during my off-hours, spending probably 20 or 30 hours a week, just in my part-time and days off working on this. The day I got my actual first client, I cried. And it was a very emotional day for me because I had put all this ton of work into this business that hadn’t yielded any revenue whatsoever. And then finally, I got a client, who I still remember, unfortunately, he’s passed away. But I still remember to this day, that he trusted me enough to work with me. And from that, I built out a referral base. And then the directory as it grew, started to get more attention. Started to rank much higher. And it just kind of, I wouldn’t say a snowball, but it certainly started to gather some attention. And then as we started to work with other clients, people from outside of the area would see what we’ve done in our local area with attorneys that are local to me. And now I’m being hired, I mean, I have clients in Georgia, Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Chicago, New York, Florida, all across the US.
Did you have to change the market like for state laws? I know there are federal laws, but did you have to learn about state law a bit to operate in those markets?
I think it helps to understand local bar rules. And you do have to know what is acceptable in certain states outside of California because California has its own set of rules for lawyer marketing and what you can and can’t say and how you can phrase things. Even something as small as the word specializing or specialty. You know, with lawyers, you can’t say that you specialize in something in the state of California unless you are Cal-bar certified as a specialist in this area of law. But in other states, you can say I specialize in Defense without actually having a specialty certification. And just another small nuance about legal marketing, even down to how you phrase you know, we want to hear about your case. Some clients have told me don’t say case we want to hear about your matter because it’s not a case until they retain me, and I don’t want them to be inferred that I’m taking their case because it’s not a case until essentially, we agree that you have a case. Even small nuances like that. There are things that you learn along the way. There is no instruction for this. There’s no playbook for legal marketing. But there are rules in other states that don’t apply across borders.
And the only way you learn is by engaging with clients and figuring that out?
Yeah. And other, learning by going to the State Bar website and downloading the rules and ethics of advertising, you can look at that on most state bar websites. It’s no hidden information, but it’s certainly something you have to be aware of.
Okay. So Doug, how do you differentiate your legal marketing firm from other legal marketing firms?
Oh, that’s a really good question. The way that Everest Legal Marketing is differentiated from other legal marketing businesses is one: the owner does the work. When I bring on a new client, I do the auditing of their current website. I’m looking at what their current assets are. And I have a team surrounding me to help me do these things. But I’m the one who’s doing this work because it’s so critical to my future success that every single client needs to be ushered under our umbrella very carefully and very strategically. And so we, we work as a team, but we work very much so with me looking at the strategy of the campaign, what drives the client, what types of content we produce, what types of profiles we go after, what es of mentions we make. And then the other thing is that we do have a small arsenal of brands that we own that help market our clients, such as the directory that I mentioned before. Empire lawyers also own a handful of other websites that help market our clients.
How do you, for instance, let’s say there’s a lawyer who specializes in a certain area? And then there’s another lawyer who wants to hire you in the same area in the same speciality? Do you turn them away for a conflict of interest? Or how do you handle that?
Yeah, we don’t want to conflict ourselves out. And so my rule of thumb, because most attorneys, even though a lot of them are adversarial, meet at bar events, go to local bar events, and often know each other. And I don’t want to burn any bridges with any of my clients. So, you know, frequently, unless the attorneys are okay with it, usually, we’re exclusive to one attorney who does one thing in a specific city. If another client comes along, and they do three different types of practice, we might take on that client. And there’s been times where we’ve gone to our current client and said, Hey, so and so wants to work with us. We don’t want to conflict out. Are you okay with this or not? And there’s been a couple of instances where the client said, No, I don’t want you to take that client. They’re a direct competitor. And in that case, unfortunately, we’ve had to turn away the business. But I’d rather retain that one client and make sure they understand that I’m on their side and I’m working for them. And I don’t want just to sell every competitor under the roof and compete with them.
Yeah, because that doesn’t make sense. So then, is it a matter of like expanding the business to different geographical areas across the nation?
I think some people and people have pointed this out to me before that eventually you’re going to run out of places where you can sell one attorney in one. But there are 100 different practice areas, and every major city at least has at least a handful of those attorneys operating in them. So I’ve I haven’t encountered any type of an opportunity problem in that sense yet. And if I did, there’s always another city we could go and try to market to or another attorney we could try and market to
So even though you’re limiting yourself, let’s be frank, the biggest thing to do is to focus on that industry. As you said, turn other things away because otherwise, you have to learn all about another industry, which is time-consuming.
I’d rather turn away and lose some business if that means making a raving lunatic fan of my service. Most of my clients can pick up their cell phone and call me directly, and they can text me. When they email me, I get back to them, usually within minutes, sometimes hours, and occasionally, within 24 hours, but they’re always getting direct access to me. And if there’s a problem, there’s only one throat to choke, and that’s mine.
Okay, how do you deal with that pressure?
I’m okay with it. So far, it’s been fine for my size of the agency. And we are dealing with it a lot of the time based on the setup of the campaign and setting expectations, and here’s what we do, here’s what we don’t do. And we’ve developed a rhythm now to where, when we onboard a client, they know what we’re doing. And they can call us and ask us questions, if they have questions.
So, in your experience, based on that, what are some of the effective channels or strategies for doing legal marketing for law firms?
What we find with legal marketing, is that a wide approach to marketing is generally a good thing. Now, our agency specializes and focuses mostly on website development, content, content marketing, and authority building for attorneys. And we find that SEO still typically drives the most engaged client. We find that even on all of our analytics, most legal marketers will probably tell you, the people who convert the best, the people who stay on the websites the longest, typically come from organic channels or legal directories. Legal directories bring a very well-qualified client. And when we see campaigns, at least, again, just talking about the legal industry, when we see campaigns for social media, when we see campaigns on Pay Per Click, we do see traffic coming in. Still, we don’t see near the amount of engagement on the website nor conversions. Usually, it’s multiples lower than a successful SEO campaign.
Okay, so SEO is probably the best channel to focus on in your experience?
In my opinion, when somebody needs a lawyer, they don’t go to Facebook. They typically go to Google. And they may respond to the ads, but most of the time, we’re finding that users still go to local and organic zones of Google to look for a lawyer because they want to research the person they’re hiring.
So in other words, include in not only organic search but also local search, in the map packs and listings?
100%. And I’m not discounting paid advertising, but it’s something that it’s a different animal. And again, I’m just relying on our expertise, which is local and SEO types of traffic.
Okay. So did you predominantly learn about SEO as a result of your work on the online directories?
Because optimizing a legal directory, is very similar to optimizing an attorney’s website. You’re doing the same types of strategies and implementing the same types of authority building as you would a with a lawyer’s website. When you’re building a directory, it’s different, but at the same time, most of the things are the same that you’re doing.
So what are some of the tools, for instance, for optimizing pages that you would recommend to someone?
I think surfer SEO has been one of the best tools to come out in the last few years. Yeah, that’s been a great asset to our company. A couple of other things. Just at the bare minimum, something that’s free is Google itself. Typing something that you want to rank for into a Google search bar, looking at the recommended searches, looking at it when the results populate, looking at the people who also searched for zones. That’s a free way to figure out what type of content to design to rank for.
It’s interesting because you are not the first person or the first agency to talk about how valuable Surfer SEO has been to them, and it keeps coming up so I think it is something people should look for into.
It is a growing tool, and even though it’s new they keep adding on features. I am not an investor and I don’t have any relationship with them, but just from what they have been able to accomplish in the last few years, it’s a very good asset for any Agency, regardless of the Industry.
Are there any other tools for off-page SEO that are your favourites?
Yes. We do use a ton of tools as most Agencies do. HRefs is one of our most popular off-site report card building tools. We use SEM ]Rush for diagnostic, rank tracking, and reporting. Those tools are invaluable to be able to diagnose problems and also look at competitors.
Have you started using AI yet, for example, Jasper.AI or AI content creation tools yet for developing content?
We are paying attention to that industry. We haven’t started using any AI-generated content or any AI tools, but it doesn’t mean that we won’t in the future. If we are looking to scale, I think AI is the smartest tool to pay attention to, but it must be implemented carefully. I don’t think for Legal industry there will be a success, at least at this point. I may look at this in ten years and cringe at these words, but I don’t think AI is going to be a good source for legal content for the foreseeable future. We work with writers who are either JDs or only write legal content. And they are the best resource for high-quality content at the moment. I know AI is improving as we speak and maybe someday that will change. From what I have seen from AI-generated content at least for legal content, there is no competition for a human writer who understands the legal industry.
Do you think it can be used to create an outline for the writer to then fill in the pieces?
I think AI will be leveraged in ways we haven’t even imagined yet for legal marketing. I am a little bit of a cautious adaptor, but I don’t want to ignore something if it will give us or our clients a competitive advantage.
You mentioned that content creation was one of the most important things. What is your process for creating content and coming up with content Ideas so you can prepare a content calendar so that a lawyer can have content to publish and share
That is where I specifically rely on my team a lot for content creation. Because SEO is so dependent on the content we have a saying; “content is king but authority is queen”. My team knows how to shape a top-of-funnel search for a lawyer very well. And how to get to those types of searches that will lead someone in and then to a blog or an article on another website and lead them to our client. It is as much science as it is art. We have to understand our clients, what type of clients they are looking for and we need to understand the type of client they are not looking for almost as good as we do the ones they are. We do not want to burden our clients with nuisance calls and so we have to understand our client’s industry which is another benefit of specialization. Our process is: What type of clients do our clients want and what are the type of things that concern them?. What is the type of things that lead them to look for a lawyer? We go in and reverse engineer that process. What are the types of things that someone searches for at the moment they have a legal problem or right at the moment they know they need a lawyer?
Do you create content for the top of the funnel, middle funnel, and bottom-funnel to steer prospects?
Yes. we do. We create content for all stages of our client’s journey to get to their client. If you got arrested last night on a DUI, you are going to search DUI lawyer in whatever city you are in. There is a way to market to that person who knows they need a lawyer. To the person that got arrested for a DUI but knows they can’t afford a DUI lawyer they may search; How much does a DUI lawyer cost? It is a different approach but we are still trying to gather that person into our realm which is our client’s website.
In that same funnel if someone searching for a DUI lawyer in Atlanta and someone searching for a DUI lawyer in Chicago are the principles the same that you can repurpose the work you do as an agency so you don’t have to reinvent the funnel, therefore, make it easier to get the work done?
To answer your question and be completely transparent, there is some layover from one region to another. Someone who needs a DUI lawyer in one region will have the same concern as someone who needs a DUI lawyer in another region. Sometimes the way people search it might be to search a DUI lawyer in California versus a DWI lawyer in Texas, driving while intoxicated rather than driving under the influence. So again going back to that nuance, you will want to understand those geographic differences. Some studies suggest East Coast searches more with the word attorney versus the West Coast which searches more using the word Lawyer. We try to cover all the bases for our clients at all times. We never repurpose content ever, ever. That is like our golden rule, we are never going to take content that we produce for one client and repurpose it for another. But there are some similarities when searching for a personal injury lawyer or a business lawyer. Regionally and Statewide since laws and people are different you might tailor those things differently towards that region.
I find directories rank very well for various reasons. So a DUI lawyer again in Atlanta, not that everybody is getting that in Atlanta, do you find that for instance, you own a directory, and your directory is number one and the client come to you and says; “Hey we want to be number one with you”. You hire an Attorney in Atlanta but like, that’s not going to happen I’ll make you number two. Forgive me if it’s a dumb question I was just like…
It’s not a dumb question but it is a concern that doesn’t happen as much as you might think. Most people who look at our directory and see how we rank, that is a proof point as to our capability rather than seeing us as a competitor. If they want to see us as a competitor, that’s great. Unfortunately, if they don’t choose a vendor that is at least as capable as us, then they won’t compete very well with us. But what I find with the legal directories is that it is very hard to outrank legal directories and some of the big names that are household names in legal SEO, Find Law, Super Lawyers, and Justia, those are the three most visible legal directories in the US. We also compete against YELP, which is very visible. That is four positions on the average SERP that will be taken up by directories. Essentially we have to create content that is more engaging and more authoritative than those directories. Often those are going to be controlling a lot of the real estate on page one of Google. Now we either have to go into some local opportunities or we have to beat the hell out of the big players.
And considering how strong they are that must be a very big challenge?
It is. It’s very challenging but that is also why a lot of lawyers want to hire someone who just doesn’t do SEO to rank on page one is difficult for lawyers to outrank a hundred million dollar companies or YELP which is more like a billion-dollar company, you have to be lethally precise with your execution.
I noticed you said there is a difference between the quality of clients that come from organic SEO or local Seo and paid, but when the listing of a website in the SERP, the search engine result page, is that competitive and the competitor have it that strong, does it make sense to recommend to an Attorney to come up with a good people ad strategy in the meantime to get the leads and the exposure rather than waiting more time? In my experience, I have seen it takes time and more time than a Google ad campaign.it could take months to get the website ranked and the investment of content and whatever. In your experience does it make sense to supplement creating a piece of content and driving traffic to it, even if it is an informative piece of content, and re-targeting people with a paid Facebook ad while waiting for SEO to work?
Yes. I recommend it to new clients and this is a part of the onboarding process in setting the right expectations with any website in a competitive field. It is going to take some time to rank for a wide variety of search phrases in addition to the ones you are targeting. I never tell a lawyer that they shouldn’t do paid advertising. Our agency does not do paid advertising. We don’t do any pay-per-click or social media ad campaigns. Not because we don’t want to but we want our clients to hire an expert in that. We want them to hire a very good pay-per-click vendor and let us do the SEO. It works very well because they bring in that PPC firm we can work and collaborate nicely. I will always tell a client, that if you need business right now you need to do paid advertising. You need to do local service ads and traditional PPC. You need to do social media ads. You need to do something to get people in the door today because SEO is tomorrow’s endeavor.
So not only do you specialize in legal marketing but you specialize in legal SEO?
Content and authority building. We will write the content and work with the client to get the best content on their website and we go out to make that content authoritative.
I asked you about creating content, but what approach do you take to keyword research to find and keep search terms? Are there any favorite tools that you have? it’s very swamped out there and I am just curious what your thoughts are on that?
The tools that we use the most are the ones that I mentioned before, HRefs, and SEM Rush. Those are great tools, Google keyword finder is like going into the scores and asking for the cheat sheet. We have done it so many times and even per region that the same type of key phrases and words are repeatedly coming up on the reports.Frequentlys it will reveal something new or something clever or something that is coming up more often. For instance SEO in the last few years, people are searching near me and have started to be influential in SEO. So not just searching for personal Injury lawyers but personal injury lawyers near me. You have to see the progress of what happening to understand the influence of just that phrase change.
How have you seen SEO change since you started in the last ten years?
SEO, the one thing I love about it and the one thing I hate about it is that it changes so frequently. For anyone who does SEO, the things that are considered strategic and industry standard one year might be considered spammy and black hat the next year. That bar moves back and forth quite often. The principles are; having a website that is constructed technically well, having good content that is engaging to users, and building authority to the website. I think those things seem to be the constant and those are the things that should be constant. Those are the websites that should be the winners on Google and any other search engine. Those are websites that should win the page one ranking.
When you say build authority, How do you build authority for a client’s law firm in any specific area? Does it mean building numerous amount of high-quality backlinks? Does it mean establishing them as an expert in their field by using lead magnets like free reports?
My definition of building authority or the way it works in my brain is proving to Google you deserve to rank on page one. Frequently backlinks are still a part of it. Getting links from high-quality legal directories, and high-quality business citations. Being included on things like podcasts. Also even just being mentioned in news outlets. Some data suggest that even being mentioned without a link back to your website can be valuable if you are mentioned in a major news outlet or on a blog that nobody linked to you but they mentioned your brand or entity name. Some reports show that to be beneficial. Featuring the content on other legal and relevant websites to your practice and your business. All of those tried and true strategies are still as long as they are not abused. And that is a fuzzy grey line sometimes.
Would you say there is a difference in the quality of a backlink for legal marketing versus plumber marketing or is it just a different targeting?
Yes and I guess this is my bias because I work in legal marketing. It is way more difficult to get a backlink from a relevant source, not just legal, but something like a city or government agency or a government entity or something of that source. It is very difficult to get a lawyer. We get them for our lawyers and our clients. But as a plumber, you probably will not get that type of exposure from a government entity or a law school or be mentioned as a legal citation, a white paper, or some legal analysis. Those types of outlets are very difficult to penetrate. They raise visibility and they raise awareness, they raise branding and they raise the benefits and the outcome of SEO.
You mentioned that the thing about Google that you love about SEO is that it is always changing. The thing you don’t like about SEO is it is always changing. How do you keep up with the changes? What resource do you use to stay current with changes that Google makes, being the predominant search engine as well as the industry?
The industry journals, search engine journals, and similar types of journals are excellent resources. I follow experts on Twitter often they are the ones who are seeing the impact of something first. As much as I don’t like Twitter for some things, for this it is a great purpose I can see the pulse of the industry through the lens of the SEO experts who are asking the community; Are you seeing this? Have you seen that? You can see something change in real-time.
Are there any specific people you are thinking of off the top of your head you can mention?
Sure.Hands down Dr.Marie Haynes. She is one of the most authoritative people I can think of off the top of my head. Anyone who follows me on Twitter has an SEO list of people that I follow and you can just click to follow that SEO list. It is not exhaustive and I add to it all the time. Many people who work at the different SEO tools will often Tweet about trends that they are seeing. For all of these things, I stay tuned, to make sure that I am understanding changes that are happening in real-time and trends that all of these entities are seeing develop.
How do you evaluate what balance to measure the SEO performance?
That’s a good question. It’s like how long is a piece of string? It is a great question and it’s something I can talk about for ten minutes. Usually what we look for are month over month and year over year metrics. Are we getting more traffic from organic channels than we were getting prior? How long people are staying on the site? How deep are people going to the site? What pages are people visiting the most? And how many people are ending in some sort of conversion? Those are the things that we are trying to measure the most out of our client’s website
Do you try to work with the paid campaign, and paid advertising agencies, and do you supervise them to make sure they are using proper UTM parameters so segment the traffic, otherwise that could get messy if they are not doing that?
Yes. Anybody that we work with, any third-party vendor, we follow their protocols. Some are different than others and if they are asking us to set up UTM codes we are obliging in any way because we want that to be successful. Again it goes back to we want success for our clients. And I don’t care if a client comes through the door, through a paid campaign, social media, or SEO, my job is to make sure to maximize the benefit to our client. If it is a paid campaign we want it to work very smoothly for the vender. We want it to work seamlessly for our clients. And no matter what is happening we are always trying to make that collaboration work well.
So with the type of content you are creating, do you ever create evergreen content that is top of the funnel that can be used in a paid social campaign to drive people further down the funnel?
Sure. I think creating evergreen content for SEO is an excellent strategy. The longer that something last, generally the more links it will attract. The higher it is going to rank in Google as long as it is relevant to whatever ]that article is trying to get visibility for. For example, laws change all the time, so if we have a page about pedestrian laws or bicycle laws, we want to make sure that the content is changing as the state’s law changes. So long as we keep on top of those things and it stays relevant and timely, there is huge value in those types of evergreen content pieces.
You don’t have to share this, but what are the most important SEO ranking factors for lawyers in your opinion?
You are looking for my tricks now! The secret to it is not so secret. When it comes to ranking factors there is an endless supply of things that you can read through reputable sources that talk about specifics. These things are specific. Backlinks are specific. Make sure you have this specific. I know I am being a little ambiguous. It goes back to the three pillars are; technical construction of the website, high-quality content, and good authority. Those are the three things that will influence rankings and search engines more than most anything else. Whether you have a website builder that you use for WordPress, that might influence rankings. Whether your ping speed is faster than your competitor, that might somewhat influence your ranking. But the things that move the needle are always going to go back to, the technology of the website, and if it is constructed properly, high-quality content and authority. As long as I have been in the industry those are the things that are driving people to page one. It becomes a thing of a show game to make sure you are managing those things in priority. Other things influence rankings but it always goes back to those three things.
Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate it. Doug what would you say is your greatest marketing success story?
I will give you the one I know for sure is my greatest and I won’t say it is my biggest client or that my client got the biggest case because those things are like table stakes. I love getting big clients but I don’t prioritize their things over others. There are things that we do for them and we have things that we do for other clients. I had a client who does a very unique area of law. This is so unique that most other lawyers don’t know the ins and outs of this law. It’s called partition referee and receivership work. My client was so convinced that nobody would go to the internet for this type of work that he didn’t want me to do an SEO campaign and content for that area of law. He wanted me to focus on something different that he was marketing for. Luckily for him, I have some professional experience in that area of law, so I knew that unique niche industry.S0 I told him didn’t know if it would benefit him as I couldn’t prove nor did I have any clients who did this because only a handful of people did it, but let’s see what happens. So we built some content and some authority for the content. We made sure it was high-quality content and without giving anything away it changed his perspective on search engine optimization and who the people were that were searching. he was getting people who were Judges searching because they often hire those professionals and other Attorneys. He didn’t think anybody would search but now it has become a very significant part of his business. I have been working with him now for five or six years. I think that one of the biggest success stories is finding something that someone would say; “nobody is ever going to do x” and then showing them; “oh wow there are quite a few people who do x.
What is your favorite food? Rapid-fire questions.
Rapid fire. I would say smoked meats
You mention you like to go to car shows. Do you have a favorite car?
I am all about modern muscle. Anything fast, anything that is a sports car, I am all about it.
What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie? That is a tough question. I will alter the question a little bit. Many of my favorite movies are done by a couple of directors. Christopher Nolan is one of the directors at the top of the list. Most of the stuff that he has done I have seen and I just appreciate his work. So anything in that category.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
An early bird more so that a night owl. I like to get things done early.
Your favorite book?
My favorite book? One of the books that I read recently and I referenced it often and use it in conversations- The Coddling of the American mind- Greg Lukianoff and forgetting the name of the other authors on it. Great book if you like to read non-fiction.
It’s written by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.
Yes, Johathan Haidt.
Interesting. Thanks for mentioning it. I will have to take a look at it. If people want to find out more about you where would they go?
You could go to my website everestlegalmarketing.com from there you can follow me on FaceBook or follow our company on Facebook or Twitter. Those are the social media outlets that we use. If anybody wants to follow what we publish on my website, I write those articles on our website so we don’t accumulate a huge amount of content on everestlegalmarketing.com. What we do write is what I would like to think is very well informed. It’s very detailed and informational about the things we write about.
I want to thank you very much for being on the show today. Its been a pleasure speaking with you and having you and thanks for taking the time out of your day to do so.
Thank you Matt. I appreciate the platform and thanks for talking with me.
No problem, You have a great day.
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