Podcast: Why Digital Marketing Starts with Your Website with Eric Bersano, VP of Business Development at Market My Market

EricBersano biopic

Episode 95

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Why it takes time to see results from SEO campaigns, and why it’s worthwhile to stick it out
  • Why your law firm’s website should be the hub for all your marketing activity
  • What granular web pages are and why they are crucial to rank in a competitive market
  • How the technical side of your website, such as load time, can impact your marketing
  • Why social media isn’t the answer to all of your marketing needs
  • What the biggest digital marketing mistakes that law firms make are

About Eric Bersano

Eric Bersano has been deeply involved in online legal marketing since 2006. He is the VP of Business Development at Market My Market, a digital marketing agency that helps businesses generate new clients by implementing the right systems and strategies. Depending on a law firm’s goals, Eric ensures the best marketing channel and modalities are implemented, including search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and TV and radio. His focus on the legal space gives Eric the network to utilize the most talented designers, programmers, and marketers in the country. His clients maintain very high rankings for competitive online searches at the city, state, and national levels.

Additional resources:

Law Firm Marketing Catalyst Podcast Transcript

Most law firms recognize that digital marketing is crucial to maintain market share in a competitive environment—yet many firms cling to outdated websites and marketing strategies. That’s where Eric Bersano comes in. As VP of Business Development for digital marketing agency Market My Market, Eric has worked with hundreds of law firms to refine their SEO, pay-per-click and advertising efforts. He joined the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst Podcast to talk about the importance of having a website that’s equally beautiful and functional; the most effective strategies to move up Google’s rankings; and why the best marketing campaign is a well-rounded one. Read the episode transcript here. 

Sharon: Welcome to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst Podcast. Today, my guest is Eric Bersano with Market My Market. Eric specializes in legal marketing, especially in the all-important areas of search engine optimization, pay-per-click and radio and TV advertising. I’ve known Eric for several years and have always been impressed with his ability to break log jams. When a law firm thinks it’s doing everything it should be doing, but is not getting the results it wants, they call in Eric. Eric, welcome to the program.

Eric: Sharon, thanks for having me.

Sharon: So glad to have you. I’m anxious to hear about this. We’ve talked about it before, but it’s always changing. How did you get into working with lawyers?

Eric: I’ll try to make it a short story, but I was actually on the other side, working with doctors for a while. My mom didn’t have a doctor or lawyer for a son, but I’ve worked with both now. I was working with doctors and orthopedic surgeons specifically. I had a friend who was in legal marketing, and he was telling me how great it was and that he enjoyed being a good resource to law firms. When you’re working with orthopedic surgeons, I always said I’m never going to know as much as them about surgery or the implants they’re putting in, but on the marketing side, I could become an expert and show some value to a law firm. If you change someone’s practices for the better, meaning you’re making them more profitable, they’re very happy to talk to you. It was a much more rewarding career path that I’ve stuck with for the past 15 years now.

Sharon: Did you study computers? Did you study marketing? What was your background and education?

Eric: I did advertising in school. That was my major. I also did business and marketing. I’ve always been fascinated with how to grow a company and the messaging that goes behind it. What I’ve learned working with attorneys, it’s messaging and efficiency: getting your message out in a hypercompetitive market, putting yourself in the ballgame, whether it’s on TV, radio, print or the internet. You need to get yourself in the ballgame, and once you’re there, it’s all about efficiency. How is your intake process? How quickly can you respond to people? Because in the internet age, it’s so easy to click the back button and go to the next law firm if you’re not responsive. I do marketing, but I also do consulting with firms and let them know, “Hey, I’ve worked with other firms that are really good at this and this is what they do.” Some people will take the advice and pull it in-house, and some people will say, “Well, we’re going to outsource that,” or “We’re not situated to do that yet,” but I always try to be there as a sounding board to point out inefficiencies and solutions for them. 

Sharon: There are a lot of roadblocks, as you were saying, about what comes next and making the process smooth. What does Market My Market do? What do you do in that world?

Eric: Market My Market is a digital advertising agency and we focus on search engine optimization. I always tell people that a well-run search engine optimization campaign is typically going to be your lowest cost for good leads, and what I mean by that is SEO is typically a set fee. Whether you’re paying $2,000 a month or $10,000 a month, that’s the set fee. If you’re getting one case a month or 20 cases a month, your fee doesn’t change. With advertising, whether you’re talking TV or pay-per-click or social media, the more you want, the more you pay, and those are sunk costs. If I’m going to pay $10,000 to Facebook this month to get cases, once that $10,000 is spent, I get no more residuals on that. Whereas with SEO, it’s really about creating assets online, creating content, creating infographics, creating a presence. If you stop with that, you still have what you built up to that point. 

Our firm, Market My Market, really concentrates on that organic side. We’ve got four members of the team that all worked in-house at law firms, so they understand how this process works from other side, what law firms are most interested in. SEO is compared—or at least I’ve made comparisons—to a used car salesman. All you need to have an SEO company is a laptop, a wi-fi connection and a phone and you can say you’re an SEO person. A lot of the history has been based on proprietary secrets or a black-box type of thing, “We can’t tell you what we’re doing.” We take the opposite approach. We develop 30, 60, 90-day programs for everybody. We let the attorney know what we’re going to onsite, what we’re going to do from an SEO perspective and all the content we’re going to write over that 90-day period. Each month we have meetings with the attorney and we go through that 30, 60, 90; here’s what we provided; here’s what we’re going to provide; here are the current results. That way they can see the activity. SEO in a competitive market can be expensive. Law firms, on more than one occasion, have said, “O.K. we’re paying you all this money. What are you doing for me each month?” We want to be able to answer that question emphatically and show the results. 

Sharon: That’s interesting. I can understand them asking that question while you’re getting set up and then not seeing results, but if they’re seeing results—to me, I’d feel like you brought me 10 cases I wouldn’t have had. It doesn’t matter to me what you’re doing, in a sense. Do you find that?

Eric: Yeah, but there’s always what I call this valley of doubt. Even the best SEO campaign with the best trial firms—because it does help if you’re working with a really good law firm that works on the PR side of things, which can have some overlay into SEO. If an attorney is getting mentioned in the newspaper, if an attorney is being mentioned in social media, that does have some trickle-down effects to SEO, but even the most effective SEO campaign takes time, and the more competitive the market, the more time. In a midsize market, you’re looking around six months. In a hypercompetitive market like Houston, New York City, Los Angeles, it could be nine months to a year. That’s the valley of doubt: “O.K., Eric, we’re paying you all this money. We’re not seeing the cases yet.” You’re not going to see cases for months because it takes time to build up that trust with Google. That’s when it’s hyper-important for the attorney to see results. “O.K., we’re tracking these 25 terms for you. When we started, you were on page 8, then you moved to page 6. Now you’re on page 4.”

Instead of them hearing the line, “Just trust me. Just give me time,” we want to open up the book and say, “This is what we’re doing for you. This is the result of what we’re doing for you,” so they can watch and track that. It doesn’t mean they’re not going to get anything within those first six months, but to the victor go all the spoils when it comes to online marketing. When you Google “personal injury attorney Los Angeles,” those top five firms are getting all the phone calls. The ones that are on page 2 and beyond, none of the phone calls. There’s an inflexion point at a certain time where the law firm starts to see and believes. That’s when they stop saying, “What’s going on, Eric?” That’s when they say, “How do we get more?” or “How do we expand?”

Sharon: In our experience—and it sounds like yours is similar—everybody says, “Sure, I’ll be patient. I understand it takes time,” but the second month when they’re putting out money—which, I understand it hurts to take out your wallet and pay somebody when you’re not seeing results. It turns to, “Well, what are you doing for me?” It’s great to be able to show they’re going up the rankings, although I’m sure everybody’s fighting to be at the top spot. 

Your firm’s website says that a law firm’s website is the core of a marketing program. I feel that way, but I often don’t hear that. Can you tell us more about that philosophy?

Eric: One of the things I hear from attorneys all the time is “We don’t need SEO because we get lots of referrals.” I believe to this day, even though I’m an online marketer, that the best cases are going to come from referrals, but there is a huge swath of cases that can be gathered from SEO and the website, the hub of their marketing. If you get a hundred referrals, how many of those referrals do you think will Google you? Probably 98 of them will Google you. Number one, they’re going to Google you just to find your contact information. Now, if they get to your website and it looks outdated, if they get to your website and they don’t see the practice area—let’s say you’re a mass tort attorney and you’re doing IVC filters or talcum powder. If all they see is car crash information, they might go, “Oh, the person who referred me to this firm, they don’t even do what I need them to do.” That’s where I tell people, “You’ve got to have really strong messaging on your homepage. Someone needs to get to that homepage and understand what type of law firm you are.” You’ll never know how many referrals were directed to you that never contacted you. That’s an unknowable. 

It’s really putting your best foot forward online, creating a beautiful space for people. Believe it or not, even in the legal world, packaging matters. I worked for a technical company once that provided energy storage for all types of different products. One of them was to a company, Mattel, who made toys. Mattel engineers told us that 50 percent of the cost of the toy goes into the packaging, because what’s important is when that child or mother is walking down the aisle, what’s going to grab attention? It’s the exact same thing for attorneys. When somebody gets to your website, they are making a snap judgment about what type of lawyer you are. Are you quality? Are you experienced? What’s your personality? Are you the lawyer in blue jeans or are you suited and booted? That’s going to resonate with different audiences, but I always tell attorneys to go with who you are. If you’re the lawyer in blue jeans, that’s the image you should project because that’s who you are.

Sharon: I want to emphasize that this pertains to—I know you tend to work with personal injury, employment liability and maybe plaintiff, but what you’re saying applies to all law firm marketing. All marketing in general, but all law firm marketing.

Eric: Yeah, that’s a good point. We don’t work with a lot of B2B attorneys because if you’re a $100 million company, you know 20 attorneys already. But that first impression is still important. If you want to have a client that’s going to spend a half a million dollars with you and your website looks like your son-in-law put it together, that’s not going to work. You need to project this good image. I used to make this comparison with attorneys: say you’ve got $80,000 worth of furniture in your lobby, but your website is $1,500 and it’s dated by 12 years. You would never want that type of image in your office. You would never have somebody come in and sit on a crate and have a stool as a coffee table. That image needs to be projected online. More and more today, I see law firms doing that.

Sharon: That’s a really good point. It’s a good comparison. Think about all the times you walk into a beautiful lobby, but then there’s so much resistance: “What do you mean it’s going to cost me $5,000 to redo this or that?” That’s a very good point about how you want the website to reflect the polish of your lobby

Eric: It’s your digital office, and way, way more people are going to see your digital office than your actual office, especially these days.

Sharon: Yes, absolutely. Maybe not business to business, but very few people go to an office today to go visit their lawyer. Maybe they do it the first time and that’s it.

Eric: Right.

Sharon: I’m sure that a lot of law firms you talk with, whether you meet somebody at a networking event or however they got to you—I’m thinking about networking events where lawyers will say, “Oh, we have it all sewn up. We have an SEO person and we do billboards. We don’t need you. What could you tell me?” What do you say to that? Do you say, “O.K., fine. Here’s my card”?

Eric: We have the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Do no harm. Most people I run into, there’s some help they could use. It could be better messaging on their website; it could be more efficiencies in their processes. The luxury that attorneys have is their product is highly profitable. For the most part, it’s low overhead. Compare an attorney’s office to a restaurant. They say the profit of a restaurant is somewhere between six and 11 percent, where an attorney who’s working on criminal defense or personal injury or family law, they’ve got their office overhead and their time. You can afford to be inefficient, but time is running out. Attorneys listening to this know there are trial attorneys and then there are attorneys that market. The attorneys that market are going to gobble up the cases and then they’re going to refer them to you, and you’re going to do all the work. 

What I tell people is there are going to be some ways to squeeze efficiencies out of what you do. Think about just five percent of everything: five percent more leads, five percent more of the calls that convert—that’s your intake process— five percent more reviews online. This has a compounding effect on your business. Five percent more cases in an entire year could be the difference between profit and loss, a good year or an amazing year. Attorneys do have this luxury of having a really high-profit-margin business, but if they don’t squeeze the efficiencies out of it, they’re never going to get the full benefit.

Sharon: I can see how that would make one complacent, if you say, “I’m making a lot of money and my profit margin’s really high. What do I care about an extra three percent?” I know they do, but I’m saying that you have to be motivated to move when you’re in a situation like that.

Eric: Right.

Sharon: Also on your website, I was intrigued to read about granular web pages. Can you tell us more about them?  

Eric: Yeah. This is sometimes a difficult conversation when I’m trying to work with a law firm. I’m going to use an extreme example. Most people know Orange County, California, but Orange County consists of, I don’t know, eight or nine different cities. There’s Huntington Beach; there’s Newport Beach; there’s Irvine; there’s Santa Ana. 

Well, if you’re going to create a web presence online, Google is going to try and serve me, the potential client, with the best result possible for that search. If I search Orange County, it’s going to look for people who are marketing Orange County. If I search in Santa Ana or Huntington Beach, they’re going to provide a completely different search. This granular marketing model is if you want cases in Newport Beach, we want to create a hub within your website that focuses just on Newport Beach. If you want Santa Ana, we want to create a marketing hub. That means all the content, all the references, the office location, is all related to that. 

Think about it like a McDonald’s. If I type in McDonald’s—I’m in San Diego—it’s not going to show me the McDonald’s home office, wherever that is. It’s going to show me the closest McDonald’s to me because Google’s trying to give me a better search experience. That’s the exact same thing lawyers have to do. Let’s say I’m talking to an attorney for the first time and there are three cities around him where they want to pull cases from. I tell them, “You have to do a specific marketing granular campaign for each of those cities.” A lot of times there’s pushback, like, “Why do I need three different pages on divorce or family law or criminal defense or PI?” It’s because you need to provide a better search experience to your potential client.

Sharon: I think it’s easy to forget when a website is such a herculean task to put together. You think about the digital office, the entry page, but you forget that people may not land on that page based on what they’re searching for. They have to have the whole story on each page.

Eric: Right. Most people will only visit two or three pages at most. You’ve got to be able to tell your story and hit your key selling points on almost every page.

Sharon: I know this is not on the questions I sent you in advance, but tell us about the importance of the lawyer’s biography and what your recommendations are. I don’t like to put a long list of “they specialize in these 40 things,” because how do you specialize in 40 things? What are your recommendations for a lawyer’s bio on a website?

Eric: The general consumer basically has a mental checklist they’re going through. I’m not teaching anybody anything new here. They want to see experience, but they also want to see specific experience. If I was hurt at work, they want to look at your case results and say, “Oh yes, they’ve done some worker’s compensation or a slip and fall case or they’ve handled an aviation case before.” It’s not just experience—and years count. If you’ve got five years and all your competitors have 25 years, that’s going to affect you, but they want to see that specific experience. 

The other thing they’re looking for is some indication of trust. Some of those might be a 10.0 Avvo rating. Most people don’t know what a Martindale AV rating is—I didn’t until I started working with lawyers—but have that on there and explain it. It’s not like they’re going to go in and read what a Super Lawyer is or what an AV rating means, but they’re doing this mental checklist. I would not overwhelm people. If your website covers too much, it’s called clutter. This is way back from the days of newspaper print. White space is very powerful. Make sure you have your logos from FindLaw and Avvo and all those places on there, but don’t slam everything in there. You’re not earning more points; you’re distracting, and that could be turning some people off.

Sharon: Maybe your technique has changed, but I always envision when you come into a law firm and they say, “Oh, we’re doing all this stuff,” and they are already doing it, but you peak behind the curtains or dig deep and look more at the analytics. How do you start if somebody’s doing something already, if they’re doing a lot?

Eric: The most common thing I see is that an attorney understands what they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to provide good content. They’re supposed to have some nice calls to action. To use another analogy, it’s like they’ve got this V8 engine, but all the linkage to the wheels is weak and it’s not providing any power to the wheels. Let’s say you’re creating two blogs a week, you’ve got a granular page on every one of your practice areas, but the technical parts of your website are faulty. Google has what’s now called Core Web Vitals, which is a new part of their algorithm, and what they call User Experience or UX. What that means is they’re looking at how can I interact with their website? How quickly does that website load, specifically on a mobile phone, because over 80 percent of all searches are now mobile. Let’s say you’ve got this beautiful page and all this content, but it takes eight seconds to load. I’m not going to wait eight seconds; I’m going to hit back and I’m going to go to the next result. That’s the simplest technical thing I can point out, because everybody’s had that experience before where the site won’t load. 

There are so many different technical things, like how easy the website is to navigate. Another good one that seems apparent after people learn about it—let’s say I have a car accident page and you have a car accident page. If people spend 25 percent more time on my car accident page than yours, Google is going to see that as a good indicator for a better page, and that’s going to help me move up the rankings. So, we’ll look for those key indicators. What’s keeping them on the page? Is it an FAQ section? Is it a video? Is it an image that’s captivating? All these little things add up, and you’ve got to check all these boxes. When you get towards the top of page one on Google, the competition gets really fierce. You’ve got to look for all those little efficiencies to get better rankings.

Sharon: As you were talking, Eric, I know your market is really plaintiff firms as we talked about, but everything you’re talking about in terms of SEO could apply to any defense firm that’s doing an SEO program. It’s not whether you’re a trial lawyer; it’s what are the keywords, how are you doing it? At what point do you cross over and say, “Have you considered billboards?” Not for a Latham, but for another firm?

Eric: I think traditional advertising is good when used effectively. I also think with technology today, everything can be tracked. You mentioned before about how I would talk to somebody and they’d say, “Oh, we’re all good.” Well, I’ll say, “Do you know where all your cases are coming from? Let’s say you’ve got a listing on FindLaw. Do you have a tracking number for that?” We put different tracking numbers on a Google My Business account than we do on the website, so I can tell you if somebody found you organically or if they found you through your Google My Business. 

If you want to run bus bench ads, have a tracking number. If you want to do TD ads or radio, have specific tracking numbers. A firm that’s got a decent marketing budget can do a lot of different things, but you still want to put your dollars towards what’s providing you better cases. Let’s say that billboards are driving only a couple of phone calls, but every phone call is a great case, and let’s say that your Google My Business account is driving a ton of information or a ton of leads, but they’re very low-quality. Now, you can really decide where you want to pour your marketing dollars. I never try to convince somebody not to do something; I just try to convince them to track what they’re doing so they can use their dollars in the most effective way possible.

Sharon: Have you seen law firms be more open to the idea of radio and TV advertising and billboards? It seems like I see a lot more lawyer billboards around.

Eric: Yeah, there are two things. In the mass tort world, TV is still a great medium; the same with radio. Social media and digital are slowly going to start taking that over, though. We’re already seeing it today. The problem is the platforms aren’t suited to it. For example, you could run a $10,000 a week campaign for mass torts and be very successful. With TV right now, or if you’re going to try to do some digital advertising, the benchmark is around $100K. If you don’t have that budget and you don’t want to be a guinea pig for this new media, I wouldn’t suggest that. 

But when it comes to billboards—I tell people this all the time now—there’s no secret that Morgan and Morgan is one of the largest law firms in the country. What I hear all the time is people in Morgan and Morgan’s market feel like they’re losing clients to Morgan and Morgan because people know their name. They see their billboards; they see their social media. There is something to be said for branding yourself. Maybe that billboard doesn’t get you a bunch of phone calls, but there’s recognition when they do a Google search and see your website; they see your Google My Business. “Oh, I remember that attorney. I saw that attorney’s billboard. That person must be a high-quality, successful attorney.” That, in our world, is called attribution. How do you attribute where exactly that client came from? Did they first do a Google search, and then see a billboard, and then see a banner ad that was retargeting, and then see you on social media? They contacted you through social media, but they hit all these other buttons along the way. So, the most successful campaigns will be well-rounded.

Sharon: You say attribution; I always call it chipping the paint off the walls. You don’t want somebody to click past and say, “I’ve never heard of them.” That’s where public relations can come in, in our opinion. You have that credibility of, “Oh yeah, I read about them,” hopefully something positive. You have to warm people up, and they have to see you in different places. Sometimes it concerns me because it seems like—we grew up through traditional marketing and advertising in terms of strategy. Not that people ignore that today, but it seems so easy, especially for millennials, younger people, to skip all the foundation and go right to online, digital, pay-per-click, SEO, and not have a foundation. Do you ever see anything like that, or is that just my concern?

Eric: Like you, a lot of this new media is stuff that I—it took me forever to get on Instagram. But as the population gets older, those millennials or 20-year-olds now are going to be potential estate planning clients; they will be potential criminal defense clients; they’re going to be potential PI clients. I always ask people, “Where do you think your audience is? JUUL, which was a mass tort; it was the e-cigarette. It was predominantly a younger audience that was using JUUL. That’s a perfect campaign for Facebook, Instagram. If we’re talking about an estate planning website, where is that? That’s going to be an older audience. Where is that older audience going to be? There are probably certain TV shows. There are going to be certain places to place banner ads to capture them. You want to try to hit people where they’re at. 

The other big thing with legal especially, is it’s not always the end person who we need to market to. For personal injury, the person could be in the hospital or, in some cases, deceased. So, you’re really looking for family members. The same thing with criminal defense. I work with attorneys that are in college towns where it’s typically the parents that are calling on behalf of the student. Every campaign is a little bit different, and you need to tease out who the true audience is that you’re trying to reach and then create the campaign around that person.

Sharon: So, you’re seeing social media grow as a part of this. Do you see it, not taking over, but taking a much larger percentage than it is now? Is it something that people should jump on the bandwagon now, as opposed to waiting until their competitors are spending $100,000 a week, a month?

Eric: Social media’s good for two things right now. One is branding. You can inexpensively brand, and you can hyper-target. You can target a zip code; you can target your city, your state. The other thing it’s good for is awareness campaigns. What I mean by that—I’ll use mass tort because that’s the easiest to explain—let’s say I’ve taken Zantac my whole life and I also have stomach cancer. I may not have put that together, but if I see an ad saying Zantac causes cancer, I might go, “Wow! I took a lot of Zantac and I have stomach cancer. I’m going to call this attorney.” That’s an awareness campaign, just like TV is an awareness medium. 

Now, Google and pay-per-click are for people who are actively searching. If I’m going out to buy a new pair of running shoes, I’m going to type in “running shoes near me.” I’m actively looking for that. The same thing will happen if I’m looking for a car accident or a medical malpractice lawyer. I’m going to do those searches. Social media is not a good medium for that, because now you’re just throwing a dart at a huge wall and trying to hit somebody maybe in the process of looking for an attorney. It’s almost impossible to target somebody who was recently in a car accident because that could be any of us. Social media is still an emerging medium for legal, but it is very good when you know your exact audience: again, somebody who took Zantac, or now we’ve got wildfires again. We know where the wildfires are. We know exactly the geography where people are affected, and that’s a good medium for a social media campaign.

Sharon: SEO, what you’re talking about, is effective, but it’s also very complex. This is not something you want to try yourself at home because you’d never have time to practice law, but is there a place you would recommend that a law firm or a lawyer start? 

Eric: Not to be self-promotional here, but if you visit the Market My Market blog, we give away tons and tons of free information. One of our most trafficked blogs—it gets 100+ visitors a month—is the top 125 directories to list your firm in, and we just give it away. These are things we perform for our clients, but the reason we’re in business is because real SEO is a lot of hard work. It is very time intensive. Every I has to be dotted and T has to be crossed, but we give away tons and tons of information.  We tell people, “Hey, here are the best practices. Here’s how to do A, B and C.” If the attorney has time to do that on their own while their building up their law firm, great. If you’ve got more time than clients, I always suggest somebody go in and try to handle their own marketing. You can do a lot with just your time, but at a certain point, if you’re trying to get competitive in a competitive market, like Los Angeles in a competitive area like personal injury, you’re going to need a team behind you. 

We’ve got over 20 people at our company, and we’ve got our own in-house content writers because we want to be able to control the quality and the pricing of our content. We don’t want that to be outsourced. We’ve got our own SEO team in-house. We’ve got our own developers that are trying to squeak efficiency out of the website. But if somebody wants to get tools like Semrush, which is an SEO tool; it’s like $40 or $50 a month that will give analytics of your website. Ahrefs.com is another tool you can use. They will basically tell you a lot of the problems you need to fix with your website. You might be able to fix some of those on your own, or you might hire a computer programmer at $100 an hour to do some fixes here and there. There’s a lot you can do on your own without a company like ours. 

Sharon: If a law firm is contemplating a redo of their website, do they need to build the SEO in from the get-go? I’m not trying to knock anybody else, but an SEO company might come in and say, “We can add it on top of what you have.” How do you suggest somebody go about that?

Eric: There are two things, and I’ll use the analogy of buying a home. If you’ve got a home that was built in the 60s and it’s got good bones, then you can work with it. If we look at that website or that house and the electricity’s gone, it’s got lead pipes and there’s termite damage, sometimes it’s better to flatten that and start anew. 

There are only two ways to get Google’s attention. One is the onsite. That is how well your website is designed, both technically and in the content on there. Is it original content? Is it informative? Does it answer the questions that people are asking Google? That’s one of two really big places to impress Google. So, you’ve got to take your website seriously, and it’s not just aesthetics. Aesthetics are great, but it’s your conversion methods on there; it’s making things easy to navigate; giving people plenty of opportunity to reach out to you when they want to. 

The other thing is the SEO. That’s the offsite. That’s the high-quality and relevant links you can build into the website. You’ve got offsite and onsite, and those two things need to be dialed in. If somebody comes to us with a decent website, we’ll say, “Hey, we’re going to make a couple of minor tweaks. We’re going to increase the load speed and we’re going to give you better calls to action and then we’re done.” Some of them we have to say, “This website is almost offensive. We need to start over. Let’s get you something that’s more modern.” Again, this is your first impression from people that are contacting you.

Sharon: What are the biggest mistakes, the top two or three mistakes, you see law firms make when it comes to their marketing overall or their online marketing? What do you see?

Eric: I feel a lot of people try to trick Google as opposed to working with them. Google’s very explicit: we want high-quality content. Some people take that as “just throw as much against the wall and see what works.” One of the most competitive terms out there is “car accident lawyer.” Obviously, eight car accident lawyer pages are better than one, right? No. You don’t want any pages on your website that compete with each other. So, you might have a car accident lawyer page. That’s for people who are searching for “car accident lawyer.” But then you might have pages on “Should I negotiate with my insurance company after a car accident? What are the five steps after a car accident?” These are all car accident terms, but you only have one page that’s really focused on that one car accident lawyer search. 

The other common mistake I see is people building a beautiful website, uploading lots of amazing photos, having really good content, but when you look at the core web vitals of the website, you find out it takes eight seconds to load; you see their navigation is broken. Sometimes the desktop version is amazing, but the mobile version is un-usable. Again, when I talk about dotting I’s and crossing T’s, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of things that need to be looked at in order to make that seamless experience happen.

Sharon: Being effective in professional services marketing is educating people. You’re showing people, “Hey, I don’t want to do that.” This is a science; it’s an art. 

Eric: It’s exactly that. I used to use that term all the time. This is part art, part science, because you’ve got to have the art. People have to see the packaging. They have to be impressed by it. You don’t want to turn them off by that. You also have the science part. You’ve got to have that technical piece and marry those together.

Sharon: That takes so much experience. The art is the experience of knowing, “O.K., this is going to work, or this might not work.” It takes experience, and I know you have a lot of experience. Eric, I want to thank you so much for being here today. We’re going to have to have you back again in a year for a completely different conversation.

Eric: Absolutely. Thank you, Sharon, I appreciate the opportunity.

Sharon: I was so glad to have you, thanks.

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