Three years into my private law practice, the web continues to be the primary way I market my law firm. Having represented more than 500 people over the past three years, I’m starting to see both repeat business and referrals. But not everyone needs a criminal lawyer, the way they’ll eventually need a realtor, so it takes time to build out a referral base.
In order to not put all my eggs in one basket, I’ve launched a bankruptcy practice as well with separate websites and separate identities to help channel potential clients to the right information, and so that if my web presence suffers on one dimension, it won’t suffer on all dimensions.
We’ve also tried other marketing efforts, including direct mail, radio advertising, and networking. The networking can be effective, but that’s really not my strength, so I’ve not invested the kind of time and effort that I should on reaching out to other lawyers in order to develop referral channels.
All of this is to say: I spend an inordinate amount of time focused on Google (and to a lesser extent Bing and Yahoo) in watching updates.
For the past nearly 30 months, my website has been number 1 in my city for my primary keywords. But the ride has been bumpy, especially in the last year and a half. Google has made more than a half dozen important changes to its algorithms and search behavior since January, including one that is rolling out as we speak. This after a number of years in which Google implemented fewer updates than that for entire 12 month periods.
Some of the updates have been improvements. For instance, in April, Google released a penalty for over-optimization – basically spammy and keyword laden websites. Fortunately, I had moved away from keywords about a year prior, so I was not penalized, but I did see some competitors take a huge hit.
What does this mean? It means that, first of all, there is never one SEO strategy. Building a quality website takes time, and Google is trying to reward quality over quantity. And it’s trying to penalize people who take quick – and often spammy – routes to success.
If you were building a website in 2009 (as I was), then the road to the top could be swift. But if you’re building a website in 2012, it’s a much harder slog, not just because of the increased competition, but because Google is increasingly on the watch for cheap techniques.Related posts: