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COVID-19 Update – The Coronavirus Outbreak’s Impact on Legal Marketing

In light of the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, many of our clients have been wrestling with how to address it, and how to signal their resolve to continue working through the crisis. The Search Engine Guys wanted to share a few thoughts both on what your firm should say, and how to get that message out there.

What should I say, and how?

We have many clients who have wanted to inform visitors to their websites that they are aware of the outbreak. Such a message could communicate to current and potential clients that your firm is staying on top of the most recent developments, and can direct them to specific information you want to share about your firm’s readiness to handle cases. To accomplish this, The Search Engine Guys have been implementing banner messages at the top of websites that address the concern of how your firm is responding to COVID-19. Here are a few examples:

Shorter Messages

abellawfirm.com:
Abel Law Firm's COVID-19 messaging

brunerfirm.com:
Bruner Law Firm's coronavirus message

Longer Messages

chasenboscolo.com
CHASENBOSCOLO COVID-19 banner message

holmesdiggs.com
holmes diggs sadler coronavirus long message

Additionally, some clients have developed webpages or blog posts addressing how their firms would handle cases while also practicing CDC guidelines and social distancing. Here are examples:

Maintaining Your Web Traffic and Marketing Strategy

Clients have also been asking about search traffic, primarily asking if we have seen fluctuations and if we recommend shifting their budgets. As of today, March 24, and over the past 10 days, we have not seen significant changes in search volume to our clients’ websites. Here’s a link to an article that looks at a large pool of data, including data from legal searches: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2020/03/18/covid-19-google-ads-data.

Its summary for Legal services:

“The legal industry is seeing some minor shifts on the SERP, with modest declines (under 5%) in search volume and conversion rates. Luckily, this is offset by a similar decline in the cost per click—keeping search conversions and CPAs mostly steady.”

So, while there is definitely an impulse to “scale back” right now, based purley on search traffic, the data does not currently suggest that fewer people are searching. We will monitor this closely, and if search traffic does begin to dip, here are a few options to consider:

  • If competitors spend less there is an opportunity to gain the upper hand simply by maintaining spend. This is measured in potentially increased impression share relative to what is spent for it and could lead to a lower cost per lead/case and more cases.
  • There is also an opportunity to be more strategic with where you spend. While workers are home, campaigns could be re-organized to target specific zip codes, perhaps excluding business centers and office parks, which could also lead to increased impression share in target areas. This is accomplished by shifting geotargeting.
  • There is opportunity to expand into adjacent practice areas. For example, if the concern is fewer drivers mean fewer car accidents, an expansion into workers’ compensation or nursing home cases could be worthwhile.

Regardless of what your firm has in place, or what extra measures you would like to implement, The Search Engine Guys‘ team is ready to offer the guidance and assistance you need.

Transitioning Ad Spend into Organic Search Engine Placements

This is a great opportunity to increase spend on content, link building, Google Map strategies, website development, etc. By getting aggressive on this front, you can increase your digital presence as a whole to either rise up the organic rankings faster, or expand to other practice areas that you may not be completely dominant in yet. Additional content that we can share on social media is very powerful, and we can work together to push out some valuable and creative content.

Increasing investment in the organic performance of your site right now is a savvy approach. In contrast to the immediacy of paid campaigns, organic investments historically take some months to begin returning results. That said, putting resources into natural search placements and GMB Map placements now are investments that are likely to pay handsomely when market activity returns to normal in the coming months.

Practice Area Expansion through Ad Placements

As significantly more people are under shelter in place orders, they are turning to social media and streaming devices for entertainment. This is a great opportunity to get your firm in front of this trend to reach the people that need your services the most. At the same time, our data indicate that nursing home abuse, bankruptcy, and mass tort cases are surging. We are seeing success marketing for these practice areas through the following methods:

  • Google Ads/YouTube/Display Ads – Google will still be king, even if there is a dip in traffic. You always want to have a healthy percentage of your budget dedicated to this.
  • OTT/CTV – We have the ability to run 30-second streaming ads to the majority of streaming devices out there. We have found particular success when it comes to Nursing Home Abuse and Mass Torts with this strategy. The demographic targeting is amazing when it comes to this method, and you can run a very flexible option here. Cost per thousand viewers is similar to regular TV, but the massive benefit of Connected TV (CTV) advertising is the ability to show ads only to the geographic audience you are targeting. This allows marketers the ability to advertise in ways they’ve never been able to afford in the past.
  • Social Media – All social media traffic is skyrocketing, and if you are not already advertising through this method, this is a great opportunity to begin. If you want to follow the eyes of your clientele, this is where they are. Your budget can go a long way with the amount of reach and impressions you can get per dollar spent.

If you are unsure of where to start or what to say, our marketing experts can help you.

Contact The Search Engine Guys

This unprecedented, dangerous viral outbreak effects all of us. Thousands upon thousands of people will need help procuring healthcare, fighting for protection against bankruptcy and eviction, holding their employers accountable for their on-the-job illnesses, and more. The Search Engine Guys can work with you to bring their attention to your firm. Contact us online or call (512) 394-7234 to learn more.


Legal Marketing Questions You Should Know The Answer To

When a law firm reaches a point where they need marketing, hundreds of questions come to mind. Many lawyers have no prior marketing experience or even know where to begin looking for answers. It can be overwhelming for some, but The Search Engine Guys are here to help. We’re listing some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about the major disciplines of digital marketing for lawyers including Websites, SEO, PPC, Social Media, and OTT.

Your Law Firm’s Website

Can I keep my old/current website?

If your current website is built on WordPress, there is a chance you may be able to continue using it in your digital marketing strategy. WordPress is the foundation of every TSEG website build and we highly recommend using this platform to ensure your website can be as optimized as possible. Not only is this an industry standard, but we believe it can have plenty of benefits for your law firm’s online presence. The capability of creating a beautiful, custom website comes from how flexible of a platform WordPress has become. The customization here exceeds limits that other content management systems like Wix and Weebly offer – meaning your website won’t look like a clone of your competitors’ websites that use these systems. Additionally, having your website on WordPress makes managing your content and implementing SEO easier while keeping your website speed fast.

Do I really need a new website?

We hear this question from attorneys who have recently paid a lot of money for a website build with another company. It can be upsetting to hear that your investment in another company’s website needs to be cut short – but it is extremely important to know the drawbacks of having your website built by a company that focuses on the front-end (what the user sees) while neglecting the organization and structure in the back-end (what the developer sees). Though you may have found a “steal” of a price for your website, this inevitably requires the site to be repaired, which can take as many hours and as much money as it would to build a new site, or build the site from scratch. We recommend building a new website when your law firm is ready to start SEO, PPC, or any online advertising that leads users to your website to ensure that your conversion process will not be hindered by past mistakes. Lastly, you want to be certain that your web build is FAST – which is typically not the case when an attorney brings along their old website.

How do I find out what my website’s speed is?

First, it’s important to know that your website’s speed can directly impact your search engine rankings. Yes, Google uses your website’s speed as a ranking factor. Close to 50% of all online traffic is mobile – and Google has switched to favor mobile versions of webpages when indexing your website, or adding your website to be discoverable on google.com. If a user goes to your website and it loads too slow, they are likely to leave get the information they want elsewhere. Google’s search engine algorithm favors websites that load quickly and keep the user engaged for longer periods of time, as it is a sign of “good” content that gives users what they are looking for. To promote an overall better user experience, Google provides a tool to measure website speed called PageSpeed Insights. This tool scores your website when you click the “Analyze” button to show your current speed. Your average site speed over the past month will be scored against similar websites (according to Google) to show you whether your site has fast, average, or slow loading times. There is plenty of other data included in the report you can sift through to learn more about your website. There are other, more accurate, ways to find your site speed – but we won’t go into details about those. If you want a full site speed audit – feel free to contact The Search Engine Guys and we will get your speed for free along with recommendations on how to boost your score.

Your SEO Campaigns

Is SEO really necessary for success?

Short answer: YES. In recent years, the topic of SEO has been pushed to the background of digital marketing – but do NOT make the mistake of assuming its importance has dwindled. As previously mentioned, every digital marketing campaign leads to your website – but most of these are one-way campaigns that limit the information potential customers see. In 2020 however, people are accustomed to the abundance of information on the internet and reverse the roles by doing extensive research when deciding which law firm to hire; they are no longer limited to the information law firms selectively choose to advertise. Search engines, like Google, are the tools used to seek out this information. Your law firm’s search rankings not only give users access to all the information on your website, but they also provide key information like your location and customer reviews. Unfortunately, some internet users develop a subconscious filter Having a strong organic presence in search engines drastically increases the chances a user picks your law firm over others that no longer include SEO in their marketing strategies.

Why is Local SEO different than regular SEO?

Regular, or organic SEO gets your law firm’s website to rank in Google’s search results page. Optimizations done on your website increase your chances of ranking higher for your target keywords such as “personal injury lawyer.” Your placements here will be among the blue colored text links in the search results page while Local SEO gets your law firm to appear in the Google Maps section of the results page. The main difference is that Local SEO uses the geographical location of your law firm as a ranking factor. One of the main benefits of ranking in the maps section, or the “local map pack” is that these results are found right above the organic results when you search on Google; so when users search for your target keywords + a geographical modifier, like “personal injury lawyer New York,” your law firm’s website could potentially have a placement in maps AND a placement in the organic results. Ranking in maps means that the user will see your law firm before they even see the organic search results. Another benefit of Local SEO is that users can see your physical location immediately which may influence their decision to hire you if it is convenient for them. When users click on your map result, they can also see reviews that past clients have publicly posted about their experience and results after hiring your law firm. Nowadays, people consider public reviews as personal recommendations before making a purchase, making these reviews a modern take on word-of-mouth advertising. Optimizations that help you rank higher in maps are not done on your website, but instead they are done on your law firm’s GMB (Google My Business) profile. The Search Engine Guys have an in-depth guide on how to optimize GMB for law firms available for free here. If your law firm is in need of more reviews, we can help with that too – get in contact with us today to get started!

Your PPC Campaigns

What do I get out of PPC campaigns?

PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, campaigns can help you get high placements in Google’s results page for a price. PPC, or Google Ads, placements are at the top of the results page, above the maps and organic results. This top placement typically has three text ads that appear based on the user’s searched keywords or geographical location. Though these ads are considered premium placements because of the cost associated with them, there are strategies to optimize a PPC campaign so that you lower your cost while reaching the same number of users. When combined with a good SEO and Local SEO campaign, PPC can help your law firm be listed in the Google search results page three different times. When fighting for this page’s real estate, having a plan for all three types of campaigns is the best way to win. If you want to know what a PPC campaign can do for you, or if you want to make sure your PPC strategy is fully optimized, contact us to start a conversation and have all your questions answered.

Your Law Firm’s Branding

Can I afford OTT advertising?

OTT advertising campaigns are executed on video streaming platforms like Hulu, YouTube TV, SlingTV, and more. For those unfamiliar, these services are the same as cable or satellite TV except the programming is broadcasted through the internet (read more about OTT here). One of the most common misconceptions about OTT advertising is that it is just as costly and just as much of a hit or miss as traditional TV advertising. This is not true. Ads that run on traditional TV have a high price and are shown on predetermined networks and times to everyone and anyone watching. Though this mass-scale media will likely reach hundreds of thousands of viewers, it lacks the advanced targeting options offered by OTT platforms. Newer technologies are able to provide these OTT platforms with data about individual viewers such as their demographics, interests, and behavior. This data collection is then used by the platform’s algorithms to determine the most opportune moment to show your law firm’s ad to a viewer. Since the viewer is able to tune into a program any time they want, your ad will be shown when they are most attentively watching their television, computer, or smartphone. The viewer is also more likely to be interested in your ad because their profile has data that matches your perfect target audience. This hyper-focused targeting ensures your ad is only shown when the circumstances point to a higher conversion or retention rate based on what your ad’s objective is, instead of showing the ad to every single person tuned in. As a result, your ad is more likely to generate a lead for your law firm as well as reduce your ad spend compared to traditional tv advertising. Curious to see what OTT can do for you? Contact us today to learn more.

What can I get out of using social media?

Social Media is the best way to engage with people on the internet. However, for an average user, it can be mundane to follow a law firm because of the serious and sensitive nature of the field. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer advertising platforms for your law firm to put its name where people are spending their free time every day, whether they follow your account or not. Just like OTT, social media platforms collect data on every user that is then used to help advertisers reach their target audience. Demographic data such as income, zip code, education level, and age can all help your ads be shown to the right people. Combined with geographical data, law firms are able to replicate a local traditional billboard, print, or television ad campaign at a fraction of the cost. Have you ran a branded campaign for your law firm yet? You may be surprised at how quickly you can generate legal leads. Start your first campaign with The Search Engine Guys by clicking here.


2020 Trends and What to Expect

SEO is Trickier, but Strong

Legal SEO in 2020 is all about optimizing smarter. As technology evolves, Google’s algorithm keeps getting more advanced and digital marketers have to do their best to keep up. Google claims that its goal is to give internet-users the best results possible when they look something up on Google, and your law firm’s online presence needs to revolve its digital marketing campaigns around this fact. To help you start the year off right, we’ve broken down the most commonly discussed developments on the web regarding Legal Search Marketing in 2020.

Relevance & Authority

One of the most recent Google algorithm updates makes use of new technologies to pick up contextual cues in search queries that help deliver better results. The update was nicknamed BERT. This will mostly be noticed in searches where the query is typed in a conversational manner, rather than just keywords. This transition to a more conversational standard of search processing is representative of the increase in voice-enabled devices.

Google provides this example of a search query and the results that it would produce before and after BERT. The main difference is that Google can now use the word “to” in the search query to show results where the travel destination is the United States instead of Brazil.

For law firms, this means your website should have high quality content on its homepage and practice area pages, as well as any blogs written and published on the site. Sticking with last year’s “EAT” guidelines, your site should have multiple pages or posts with content that was written with the intent of building the site’s expertise, authority, and trust. This engaging content provides great value to your website’s visitors; it can span from educating readers on a legal topic to your law firm’s experience and past results.

Writing “high quality content” is an early step to ranking in search engines, but your website’s content will rank higher when other domains start linking to it. Backlinks also continue to play an important part in SEO. Managing a healthy backlink profile, on top of providing a higher standard of content, may help your law firm’s website rank higher – but the click rate could decrease…

Zero-Click Searches

The addition of the knowledge graph created a highly coveted ranking spot that lawyers strive to obtain. The rich search result displays important information that Google crawled from your website. Searchers with high intent no longer have to click on your website to get your phone number, location, or hours – they can just access it within Google’s search results page.

The featured snippet, on the other hand, takes Google’s crawling a step further by providing more detailed information from your website. Entire sentences, bulleted lists, and even videos from your site can be shown within the Google results page. The searcher can sometimes get all the information they need from the featured snippet, but it typically serves as an extended preview of a webpage full of content relevant to their search.

Zero-click searches are faster routes to conversions. When your website is optimized correctly, it will appear in all Google result types for your target keywords. This means that a user could search “car accident lawyer near me” and see your law firm listed organically, in the featured snippet, in the maps, and in the knowledge graph. Each of these placements is an invitation for the user to engage your law firm, even without ending up on your website.

Branding and Video

People love video. Producing videos for your law firm that create an emotional connection with people is one of the most effective legal branding strategies today. The best part is that your videos can be used across all digital channels and formats. Adding your videos to your website can increase the amount of time a user stays on your website, learning about your law firm. Social Media Ads that use video drive 40% more engagement than plain text. Running lead generation ads on OTT and CTV can be huge for Mass Tort campaigns.

Using the same videos across your digital campaigns helps your target market’s retention rate. Branding the videos and getting thousands of impressions will increase local awareness of your law firm’s brand. When people in your target market consider hiring a lawyer, they are likely to search the firms they have seen advertisements for. Investing in your branding now can produce long term results. Below is a glimpse at some of the top queries for one of our clients, most of which are branded terms.

 

Get Started Today

It’s never too late to turn your digital marketing strategy around. The Search Engine Guys are legal marketing experts that are here to help your law firm grow and meet your goals. Whether you have questions about an SEO development, or how to run your first video ad campaign, Schedule your private 30-minute phone consultation to determine whether TSEG can help your law firm’s digital marketing in the coming year.


OTT: Untapped Opportunity for Legal Marketing

Cutting the Cord

The digital advertising world is evolving at light speed. “Do you still have cable?” – chances are that you have been asked this question at least once in the last five years. It’s apparent that nowadays people are more prone to cut the cord and get their entertainment from streaming it over the internet.

According to Leichtman Research Group, cable and satellite TV viewership is plummeting at a rate of more than three million video subscribers per year. Meanwhile, America’s streaming TV audience is mushrooming exponentially as it rushes into the void created by an estimated 63 million cord-cutters.

We are witnessing the migration of scheduled TV programming to personalized, on-demand channels. Today’s TV viewers aren’t restricted by the TV Guide channel to see what programs are on the air. They don’t need to setup their DVRs and TiVos to record the next episode. Instead, they have the power to navigate the same content in a way that fits their busy schedules so they can binge-watch whatever they want, whenever they want.

Parks Associates estimates that 85% of Millennials already subscribe to at least one OTT video service. OTT (over-the-top) services include popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube TV, and Amazon Prime Video to name a few. All of these services offer pricing options that are extremely difficult for Cable and Satellite TV to compete with. More specifically, OTT does not force customers to pay for bundles that include channels that they have no interest watching – it’s just one price for all-access.

Number of OTT Video Service Subscriptions

Furthermore, Forbes claims that 70% of American households now subscribe to at least one streaming service. That’s over 225 million Americans! Additionally, many advertising researchers such as AdWeek and SmartyAds project that this trend will continue for well over the next five years.

OTT and Legal Marketing

What exactly is OTT and CTV advertising and what does it have to do with legal marketing for law firms?

Until recently, most small and mid-sized legal practices didn’t possess the budget required to advertise on networks like CBS, NBC, ABC, FoxNews, CNN, ESPN etc. That has changed. Today, Internet-Connected TVs (CTV) and OTT platforms provide new opportunities for any firm to stream its advertising locally on major networks. Most importantly, the hyper-local precision capabilities of geo-targeted OTT Advertising makes it one of the most powerful emerging platforms available to legal marketers today.

Streaming services like AppleTV+, Roku, ChromeCast, and internet-connected Smart TVs are able to serve predominantly non-skippable, targeted ads to just about any geographic, demographic, or psychographic audience imaginable. The possibilities are truly astonishing. Below are some of the targeting options available through several OTT and CTV providers.

Demographic Targeting

Allows your law firm’s ads to target gender, age, language, education level, income, and more.

Geographic Targeting

Allows your law firm to serve ads based on the viewer’s location, increasing local relevancy.

Behavioral Targeting

Allows your law firm’s advertising to target relevant interests and online browsing.

Time-of-Day Targeting

Allows your law firm to show ads when your audience is most active to increase response.

Contextual Targeting

Allows your law firm to target viewers watching content directly relevant to your campaign, maximizing results.

Technographic Targeting

Allows your law firm ads to be served based on device, connection speed, and operating system to better suit ad creatives.

Start Your Law Firm’s First OTT Campaign

Competition for the top cases is fierce and continues to increase. If your law firm is searching for more effective ways to reach particular areas of the country, OTT Advertising offers a previously unparalleled opportunity for legal marketers who absolutely insist on growth.

For lawyers that believe in the power of video to reach the clients they serve, OTT Advertising opportunities are financially accessible and highly effective. The Search Engine Guys manage emerging digital growth strategies for an exclusive group of the most ambitious legal marketers throughout the United States.

Schedule your private 30-minute phone consultation to determine whether OTT/CTV Advertising is an opportunity your firm can leverage in the coming year.


Local Service Ads for Lawyers

What are Local Service Ads?

Local Service Ads are beginning to expand into new verticals and markets, so lawyers don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of this new form of advertising. LSAs help you connect with people who search on Google for the services you offer. Your ads will show up for customers in your area, and you only pay if a customer contacts you directly through the ad. This means you can focus on real results for your business.

Local Service Ads are currently available for law firms in select locations and practice areas. While Google still has a limited offering on this platform for law firms, we believe it will expand in the near future. It is currently being offered to Estate Lawyers and Immigration Lawyers in Houston and San Diego. These ads appear at the top of the search results (above Google Ads, Google Maps 3-pack, and organic search results) on both desktop and mobile. The ads display the company name, review rating, city, phone number, and hours of operation.

What else should I know about Local Service Ads?

Placement

LSAs appear at the top of the search results (above Google Ads, Google Maps 3-pack, and organic search results) on both desktop and mobile. They contain important information including reviews and contact information for 3 potential local companies with a link to view a full business profile.

Cost

The law firm pays a flat fee for each call instead of each click, giving them greater control over their advertising costs and allowing them to pay only when they generate a lead.

Vetting

Google performs various background checks on a business before their LSA ads can be active. For lawyers to use Local Service Ads, they must complete a business background check. Google will also verify proper licensing and insurance coverage. The ads will feature a “Google Screened” badge if the business is verified.

Google Guarantee

For many licensed providers (not law firms), Google is putting a “Google Guarantee” enhancement on the ad. Google guarantees satisfaction with services rendered, up to $2000.

Reviews

Local Service Ads feature client reviews directly in the ad. We believe it may be possible that that reviews impact the ranking of Local Service Ads. Regardless if they do or don’t, it will be important to have positive reviews for your business since they are shown front and center.

Interaction

LSAs allow a potential customer to connect directly to a business. A prospect can reach out to the business directly through the ad with click-to-call functionality and web based email forms. Google will charge the business for delivering a lead when contact is made.

Detailed Business Profile

Whenever you click on a Local Service Ad, the user will be taken to a business profile page that contains additional information about the company and encourages them to call or make contact. This is all done directly on Google and businesses are only charged when there is contact between a potential client and the firm, not just when someone is looking through the business profile.

How are LSAs different from Google Ads and Google My Business?

It’s important to mention that Local Service Ads are separate from Google Ads and Google My Business, although there are some correlations. A Local Service Ad and a Google Ads Campaign can run at the same time but they don’t depend on each other. Their budgets are independent of each other and one campaign can run while the other one is paused. Local Services has a separate dashboard, so you don’t manage the campaign through Google Ads. With that being said, a Google Ads account is required for Local Services but it’s only for billing purposes.

A Local Service Ad is normally associated with a GMB listing, but it isn’t required. However, when it is connected to GMB it will feature reviews from the business listing which can attract potential customers.

How do Law Firms Start Using Local Service Ads?

If you are not currently a law firm in the LSA test markets, there are some steps you can take now that will improve your existing online presence and better prepare for utilizing LSAs when they do become available.

The first priority is to generate more positive reviews. Google is providing three law firms with the top spots on Google SERPs through Local Service Ads. The businesses with the most and/or highest reviews are likely to get the most action.

The second priority is to optimize your Google My Business listing. If you haven’t already, make sure your business listing is verified. Once that is done, you need to fill it out with relevant information. The current LSAs are pulling business information, reviews, and photos from the firm’s Google My Business listing.

Finally, you will want to ensure that the intake process for your business is organized and dependable. Since you will be paying per lead, you will want to have 100% confidence that your phones will be answered by a person in a timely manner. The person answering the phone should be able to qualify the lead, schedule consultations, and discuss what the intake process is going to be like for the client.

By gaining positive reviews, optimizing our Google My Business listing, and organizing your intake process, you will be prepared to take advantage of Local Service Ads as they become available for your practice area in your market. We are staying on top of this new advertising platform and will notify our clients as it expands. Contact us today If you would like more information or would like help preparing for Local Service Ads now!


November 2019 Local Search Update – What Is It and What Can You Do?

Google announced this week that their algorithm was updated to include “Neural Matching” in local search results. This update began around November 7th and Google officially announced the update on December 2nd. You can read more on it here. Google is calling this the “Nov. 2019 Local Search Update”.

What is “Neural Matching”?

“Neural matching” in Google’s own words is “an AI-based system Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts. It’s like a super-synonym system.”

What this means is that when someone searches for a specific term, Google is going to try to return search results that could be related to what you’re thinking and not necessarily results that match your term directly.

A good example would be someone searches “sue a bar for over serving a customer”. Google knows that this person is trying to learn more about Dram Shop Liability laws and will give them results related to that.

How Is This Affecting Search Results? 

This update is affecting small and local businesses’ search results and Google Maps rankings. We have seen crazy fluctuations with clients losing and gaining map rankings for dozens of terms in a single day.

These charts illustrates what this looks like. The black is the amount of top 3 maps rankings this business had on a given day.

ranking fluctuations

ranking fluctuations

According to other experts in the SEO field, this kind of fluctuation is affecting all kinds of industries and markets.

So What is There To Do?

According to Google, “The use of neural matching in local search doesn’t require any changes on behalf of businesses.” and they go on to tell businesses to continue using best practices.

Google in the past has made drastic updates like this and then rolled them back to stop the fluctuations. Someone on Twitter asked Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liason, if the fluctuations would stop, and he did not give a definitive answer.

So our best advice right now is to continue using best practices when it comes to your on-site SEO, updating LocalBusiness schema, post to GMB and make sure you update your photos on your GMB listing when you get new photos! As more information comes out about this update we will update on our blog.

If you are interested in receiving a Local Search Audit of where you stand in your market, please feel free to contact us to get started!


How much money are you losing due to slow website speed?

How much money are you losing due to slow website speed?

by Chris Massaro

Most business owners are just becoming aware of the importance a quick loading website has on your online presence, yet many don’t know just how vital it is. We hear the question all the time: “How much money am I losing due to slow website speed?” The answer, unfortunately, is much more than you think.

Just think of it this way: how do you feel when you visit a poorly-performing website? Are you willing to wait around while a slow site loads? Are you less than impressed when elements fail to appear? If you are, you’re not alone. According to recent surveys, nearly 90% of customers say they are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience. More than 75% of people reported leaving a slow-loading website for a competitor’s site.

To improve the user’s browser experience, Google has reportedly made site speed a factor when it comes to ranking websites. This means that a slow website may no longer show up at all for those valuable keywords that your business relies on.

Calculate Your Losses

So, is there a way to calculate how much business you could be losing due to a slow website? To find the cost, use this formula:

(Monthly Traffic * Est. Visitor Loss) * Conversion Rate = Est. Conversion Loss

Let’s say, for example, you convert 5% of your traffic, your traffic is 10,000, and you’re losing 10% of your visitors:

(10,000 * 0.10) * 0.05 = 50

If 20% of your website conversions become cases and the average case is worth $10,000, then:

(Conversions * Case Rate) * Average Case Value = Est. Speed Cost

(50 * 0.20) * 10,000 = $100,000

Cost due to slow website = $100,000 per month

 

The Money-Draining Culprits

So, now that you know how much money you might be losing due to slow site speed, how do find out what’s causing it, and more importantly, how do you fix it? First, make sure that the company that manages and hosts your site performs a site speed test to identify any issues that might be slowing it down.

Your provider will likely run a basic site speed and maybe more detailed load time tests. We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of the most important reasons your site is loading slowly.

JavaScript and CSS are both code that help your website stay engaging and stand out from other websites. A website without these will be restricted to basic functionality and a lackluster appearance. If the code is left without optimization, it can unfortunately cause delays in your site’s load time.

When a browser makes a request to download your site, it must load every JS/CSS file before the site can be shown, or be rendered. For this reason, it’s recommended to combine external CSS files when possible. Switching to inline JS and CSS can also help some websites. However, many have seen the best results deferring JS until the rest of the webpage is viewable.

A CDN allows you to host your website on a network of physically spread out servers, diminishing the time it takes for distant visitors to load your site. By using just one main server for all your traffic, you are adding unnecessary load time to your website.

You can also load some of your websites code, like jQuery, on a CDN just like you would with other media. Popular solutions like Cloudflare will work for the majority of websites.

Your database holds all the information needed for your site to work. The files in your database can vary from logs to plugins or theme files and folders that can accumulate over time. This excess, or “overhead,” can cause database queries to increase load time. If the overhead goes unoptimized too long, your visitors could start experiencing server time-out errors.

Server maintenance is an important factor to keeping your site at top speed. This is something your website managing/hosting company should do regularly, as it only takes access to the phpMyAdmin tool to start optimizing your tables.

A “cache” of your website is a copy that has been downloaded to your web browser, so that the next time a user visits your website, the browser re-loads the cache instead of having to download the entire website again. The cache stays on the browser for a short time and is forced to reload after any changes have been made to your site.Plugins are a common method of adding caching to websites, and some web hosts offer the service as well.

As cameras continue to get better, image and video files will continue to get larger. Hosting high resolution images and video on your site can make it look more clean-cut, but it could also be slowing down your site. Luckily there are many ways you can optimize your images via compression.

Some plugins for your site help you compress images that are delaying your load speed. There’s also free online tools like TinyJPG that accomplish the same thing. Compressing video files is more complicated and not recommended. For this reason, hosting them externally on sites like Vimeo or YouTube are commonly the most efficient solutions.

Code can get messy. The more code a browser has to load, the longer it takes for your website to be viewable. If your website’s code is too messy or contains unnecessary characters and line breaks, your load time will likely be slower.To combat this, you must clean up, or “minify,” your code by removing unnecessary elements. On a WordPress site, there are plugins like Autoptimize and WP Super Minify that will minify your code as well as inlining and optimizing some CSS and JS files.

Long loading times, timing out, and 404 errors can be signs of some missing files in your WordPress installation.Recovering these files means having to track down which ones are missing – which can take a lot of time. It’s usually simpler to revert your site to a previous version or a backup that had all files intact.

Plugins, while helpful in most cases, can occasionally slow your website down or cause it to malfunction. It only takes a few oversized plugins to have an impact on site speed. Removing unused plugins is the best practice for this scenario.

 

Turbocharge Your Website

If you’re ready to get your site up to speed, contact The Search Engine Guys today. Our web designers have the expertise to boost your site’s speed so you can retain more of your income. Contact us at (512) 394-7234 or online to get off to the races.


How Much Should I Be Paying for SEO? And Where Does Your SEO Fee Go?

How much Should I be paying for SEO?

By Jack Turner

When it comes search engine optimization (SEO) services, it can be helpful to understand what goes into a balanced, well thought out campaign before deciding how much to spend on it. Gauging how much to invest in SEO is not quite as cut and dry as calculating your PPC spend. There are several factors that you should think about when determining your SEO investment.

There is a notion out there that Organic traffic is “free” (aka not paid for through an ad), so many people ask exactly where their SEO fee they are paying monthly for is going. Although you are not paying for traffic directly, there are costs that go into making sure your site shows up on the first page of Google. It takes time, tools and content.

costs of SEO inforgraphic

When deciding how much you should be paying for SEO. Ask yourself, and your digital marketing company, the following questions:

How competitive is my market?

Market competition has two factors: your business’s target keywords and what city are you in. Going for the #1 spot as a snow cone shop in Fargo, ND is going to have much less competition than attempting to rank for “personal injury lawyer” in Los Angeles. More competition = higher spend.

Analyzing competitors’ sites is a great way to quickly check the market competition. Simply search your top keywords and get the URLs of the sites that are consistently showing up for these keywords. There are dozens of free online tools to check their backlink profiles, and also just clicking through their sites will give you a good idea of how much money they are pouring into their online presence.

If your competition is strong, you need to be stronger.

How quickly do I want to move up the rankings?

Different businesses have different timelines. As an SEO professional, I always tell my clients to be patient, as changes on your site can take months to get picked up by search engines. However, you can move up the rankings quicker if you invest more time/money into the site.

A company that is more seasonal like a landscaper might have a set timeline to get up in the rankings. If it is November and they want to be on the first page for their main keywords by May, they will want to spend more aggressively in the months of November-February to make sure the effects of the SEO boost their website’s rankings in time for the busy season.

SEO involves a mix of several strategies to build your site’s authority and standing in Google’s eyes (I will go into these later). An agency can “speed up” your climb on Google with a higher budget because it allows for two things:

  1. The ability to spend more time on your site. A lot of SEO work is time spent analyzing your site and coming up with strategies to beat out competing businesses/websites. A lot of SEO companies will even charge hourly for their work.
  2. It provides your SEO team more resources to build content for the site, build out local citations, and pay for various other services that increase your site’s credibility.

A knowledgeable SEO agency will be able to tell you exactly what they will analyze on your website and will have a robust plan for improving your site’s important SEO metrics.

What is the condition of my current site?

If a site is already built for SEO, or the site has a healthy backlink profile already, you may have an easier time climbing up the rankings. There are several tools that will give you a quick indication of your site’s SEO health. Website Grader is one of my favorites, especially to show SEO beginners. Of course, an SEO professional is better suited to analyze and explain your site’s health to you, as it is not always so black and white.

When auditing a new client’s site, an SEO professional might simply recommend that the business build a new site. This can be for several reasons:

  1. Cost – Building a new site might be cheaper than doing SEO for several months. Sometimes sites need a refresh. If you have had several web developers and companies working on your site it can become a mess. It can cost months of SEO to fix all of these issues. Instead, it may be more cost effective to build a site from scratch that has SEO in mind from the start. Plus, you’ll end up with a brand new, modern website.
  2. Bad Backlinks – Many SEO Agencies will, or at least used to, use poor backlinking strategies that can leave your site vulnerable. They build tons of bad backlinks using strategies that may have worked in the past but are now harmful to your site. Google has cracked down on many common link building strategies, causing numerous sites to be penalized. In this situation, it may be a good idea to change URLs and start over with a clean slate. It’s possible to keep your current site’s appearance and simply change the URL. Moz and Ahrefs are good web tools to quickly check your backlink profile.

If your site is suffering from SEO problems, our team can help you determine their cause and take action to fix the issues.

What are my current rankings?

Your current rankings can also play a big factor in deciding how much budget to allocate to SEO. If you are not ranking in the top 50 for any of your major terms, this is a sign that extensive SEO work needs to be done to get to the first page.

The amount of effort and time to get up the rankings raises exponentially as the site climbs up the rankings. Going from position 50 to position 12 can be as difficult as going from position 12 to 7. This is because as you go up the rankings, your surrounding competition is getting tougher, so it requires more work to outrank them. Think of a sports team going through the playoffs and each round getting more and more difficult to win.

Where exactly is my SEO fee going?

So you are spending more money on SEO to see expedited results, but what exactly are you paying for? Many people associate SEO with the service that provides you with “free” organic traffic. While you may not be paying per click, there are a lot of costs associated with SEO to ensure you are in a position to get these clicks. These SEO expenses include:

  1. Labor/Time – This is probably the largest cost associated with SEO if you decide to go through an agency. Time has to be spent looking through keyword rankings, creating content plans, analyzing data and reporting. Even if you decide to try and take on SEO in house, you will either be spending your valuable time to learn SEO, taking away the time of another one of your employee’s to learn it, or you will end up hiring another employee to manage it. No matter what you will be spending money on labor for your SEO efforts, so it would be advisable to hire an SEO professional who is trained and has done this kind of work for dozens of other sites.
  2. Content – Great SEO takes great content. We recommend adding new content to your website on a continuous basis to keep the site fresh and show Google that the site is being updated. Whether you write the content in-house or outsource it, this will cost you money and/or time.
  3. Backlink/Citation Building – Building out business citations and doing outreach to build backlinks can be one of the most costly, recurring monthly expenses for SEO. There are many online services which build out citations for you, however, they all have a monthly cost to maintain them. You can build out citations yourself, but again this costs time. Many online directories charge a monthly fee, especially for premium directories that generate a lot of traffic, such as Avvo for attorneys.
  4. SEO Tools and Resources – There are plenty of great free online resources for SEO, but you do get what you (don’t) pay for. SEO Agencies rely on paid tools to get great insight to improve their strategies. Moz, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Keyword tracking programs, Website crawlers, review monitoring programs, and reporting programs are just a few examples of the tools used by SEO agencies and businesses to create and implement their SEO strategies. All of these tools can become quite costly if you are only paying for them for one site. That is why SEO agencies are very cost effective, as they can spread out the cost of these tools across all of their clients.

It can be hard to quantify how much doing all of this on your own would cost you. An SEO agency, however, understands what is needed to plan an effective SEO strategy and put it into place. We can help you determine how much all of this would cost for your business.

Get a Quote on SEO Services

Many of the big online SEO services and even some smaller SEO agencies will give you a menu of services and their prices and you pick and choose what you want. This system works fine and makes their job easier, however, it is more beneficial for you to speak with an agency that will give you a custom quote on services. This allows them to build you an SEO package that fits your needs and leaves out items that you may not. This means you are only paying for what benefits you.

Contact The Search Engine Guys today if you are interested in receiving a custom quote on SEO or a website build. We can walk you through the SEO process and explain exactly what you should be paying for. Call us at (512) 394-7234 or reach out to us online.


Google is Still King (and Will Be for The Foreseeable Future)

When choosing to market online, Google and YouTube are essential channels you need to be on. Google is dominant, but just how dominant? And are they losing dominance? Some data shows that online ad revenue is being split more than it ever has, but when it comes to Organic Search, online advertising and video, there’s no getting around Google.

Google’s Rise

Google was not the first search engine to be created. Some of the first search engines became public around 1993 and the Google as we know it wasn’t officially launched until 1998. Yahoo, AskJeeves (now Ask.com) and MSN all came out with Search engines before Google.

So why, over two decades later, is Google the most dominant search engine, and one of the most powerful companies in the entire world? Because they did it better. There’s a lot of factors you can go into, but in the end, Google gave searchers the seamless user experience they wanted when making searches. People were getting the results they expected when they searched on Google. This all goes back to their algorithm and PageRank, but I will spare you those details for now. All you need to know is Google did search engines better and still does.

After 21 years of dominance, it stands to reason that Google would encounter fierce competition to take some of Google’s enormous search engine market piece of the pie, but no one has come close. 

Google’s Competition for Search

According to StatCounter, as of September 2019, Google had a 88.37 percent share of the United State’s search market. This includes Google Search, Google Image Search, Google Maps and YouTube. The rest of the 11.63 percent market share is split mainly between Bing (6.07%), Yahoo! (3.94%) and DuckDuckGo (1.28%). Since 2009, Google has gained almost 10 percent of the search market share in the United States.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Search Engine Market Share

Google has seen this rise in use, while also facing stiffer competition. Microsoft’s Bing launched in 2009 and DuckDuckGo is rising in popularity lately. DuckDuckGo promises to not collect user data, which is appealing to a number of people who are wary of Google’s data collection methods. While the sentiment is nice, it is difficult to create a great user experience without data.

All of the data says one thing, Google Search is here for the long haul, and if your business wants to be prominent on the web, then you need to be seen on Google.

Google’s Competition for Online Advertising Dollars

As mentioned earlier, there is more competition now  for marketer’s online advertising dollars than ever before. Facebook, SnapChat, Pinterest, Amazon and Twitter are all competing for Ad dollars and they are taking market share. This has led to Google’s ad revenue growth to slow, but it is still growing. Google Ad revenue in Q1 2019 was up 15 percent YoY and in Q1 2018 their ad revenue grew 24 percent YoY. 

So is Google going to see a decline in dominance? Eventually yes, but it shouldn’t dilute how important Google is for an Online marketing campaign. More and more advertising dollars are being shifted to digital marketing from traditional media every year. In 2018, $108 BB was spent on digital advertising in the United States. By the year 2023, it is projected that this amount will go up almost 100 percent to over $200 BB. 2019 is projected to be the first year where digital advertising spend outweighs the ad spend on traditional media (Billboards, TV, Outdoor etc.) in the U.S.. As the world becomes more digital, it’s natural that advertisers will look to diversify where they spend their money online so they aren’t as dependent on Google. However, it is unlikely that the power of Google, and what it can do for a brand online, is diminished.

Be Seen on YouTube

Google owned YouTube dominates the video search market. 95 percent of internet users are serviced by YouTube. If a company wants to be seen, they need to have a presence on YouTube.

YouTube is Responsible for 37 percent of All Mobile Internet Traffic. People sharing interesting videos and topics is what drives traffic to the site. That’s why it is so important your company is uploading unique content to their YouTube channel and website.

Market to the Masses

The great and mighty Google and YouTube are here to stay. Their products are an integral part of an internet user’s daily life. From using Gmail, watching YouTube videos to getting directions on Google Maps and much more, an individual could get their entire online experience only using Google products. Marketing on these platforms is more important than ever and their importance is not waning. 

If you are looking to run a SEO or PPC campaign to be seen on Google Search, or if you are interested in building a brand on YouTube, contact The Search Engine Guys. We help law firms and small local businesses take advantage of these platforms.

 


Social Media Ads – Where Law Firm Ad Spend is Shifting

What Used to Work

Lawyer advertising trends shifted away from billboards, print, radio, and television ads a very long time ago. Although law firms continue to include these mediums in their marketing strategies, it should be clear that nowadays marketing budgets are increasingly invested in digital advertising more than older, traditional methods. In fact, 2019 is on track to be the first year where digital ads will reign as king over offline ads. But this isn’t news. Online ad spend has been increasing for years now and law firm marketing has already adapted to advertising on the internet. Banner ads, Google ads and Facebook ads probably make up a large portion of your marketing spend right now; but have you taken a moment to wonder if you’re really getting the most out of your ad dollars?

The Theory of Attention Economics

Though online ads are the way to go; advertising on the internet isn’t enough. The internet is a huge space, with seemingly infinite content. You have to know where your potential clients are spending their time to break through to them. “In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients.” This theory by social scientist, Herbert A. Simon, perfectly captures the problem that marketing in the legal industry is facing. 

New Buying Process

Are you capturing the right attention? And are you capturing enough of it? These questions should be driving the development of your marketing strategy. If this is the first time you’ve asked yourself these questions – allow us to shed some light on your next campaign.

Daily time spent on social networking

The above graphic is a great representation of how people spend their time online. The trend is that social media is consuming more and more attention. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn are among the biggest platforms where people spend close to two hours a day, on average, browsing content. Perhaps more importantly, users tend to share content with their friends and followers which can cause certain images or videos to go viral. This is the modern iteration of word-of-mouth marketing, and the thrill of discovering viral content continues to bring users back to these social platforms in search for more. Spending time on social media therefore extends past the core function of socializing online with friends and family to a broader avenue for entertainment where brands, and law firms, can capitalize by advertising their message to thousands or even millions of people. 

Leveraging The Multi-Platform Approach

Again, your current marketing budget is probably already invested into some of these social ad platforms. So how do you know whether you’re doing it in the most efficient manner? The answer is data. One thing The Search Engine Guys has claimed since the start is that we are a data-driven firm. The way we approach social media ads and manage campaigns that produce results is by running ads on as many platforms as we can within our client’s budget. Casting a wide digital net to start off a major campaign gives you the opportunity to collect data on the ads we run. Running split tests with different creatives, ad copy, and media types returns information about the audience that the ad was served to that can help refine the ad’s set up and consequently its future performance. A small budget on various social ad platforms may not generate leads immediately, but the data that comes back is valuable nonetheless. Week after week, we monitor an ad’s performance and make any necessary adjustments to better serve the ad to an audience that is more likely to engage and ultimately convert into a case for your law firm. Take a look at some more data about today’s social media giants from online measurement company, SimilarWeb, below. 

social media usage

Mass Torts, Mass Returns

Going after mass tort cases has never been easier. Running a multi-platform campaign on social media ad networks can increase your case volume with the smallest cost-per-acquisition numbers you can achieve online. Whether you’re trying to maximize your cases with a definitive budget, or if you’re pursuing a mass tort with massive return and a limitless budget: multiplatform is the way to go. Some example numbers are below. We invite you to contact TSEG today to talk about your law firm’s objectives and how to best leverage social media advertising.

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