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Search Engine Optimization: If it sounds too good to be true

With the increase in the number of lawyers investing in marketing has come the proliferation of companies offering too-good-to-be-true results. We previously discussed pesky membership groups, lists, directories, and accompanying badges. Today we are going to talk about companies selling search engine optimization (SEO).

What is SEO?

Basically, SEO is doing or including those things on a website that increases its chances of appearing high on the list of search results generated by search engines, from structure to content, from seen to behind-the-scenes. In other words, it is helping your site appear near the top of Google (or other search engine) search results. I’m going to use “Google” when referring to these companies, but this discussion applies equally to all of them.

Here's the catch – Google doesn’t tell anyone what they need to do to rank highly on searches.

Google doesn’t want companies gaming the system. Google’s goal is to do its dead-level best to give its users the websites that most likely meet their needs based on the search that they entered, not the sites that have figured out how to trick their algorithms. Suffice it to say, artificial intelligence (AI) plays a tremendous role in these algorithms, and they are constantly changing. It’s also fair to say they work pretty well.

We know that content is important and becomes more so with the advancements in AI. We also know that web traffic (visitors) is important, as is how long someone stays on the visited website. These are good measures of whether a site is providing its visitors with what they want.

The statistics on your website’s performance are relatively easy to find.

Search engine results are obvious (though not really). So, companies have taken advantage of this information to formulate sales pitches. “We can increase your website visitors 100%,” say some, though the percentages may vary. You hire them. The number of website visits that your dashboard shows increases. “Wow,” you think. Turns out that the company has created many virtual “users” and they generate “visits” to your site. They appear to deliver what they promise. Google has gotten pretty good at detecting these “bot” visits and, of course, you haven’t increased the number of potential clients visiting your site. Even if the number of actual visitors that you have increases, if they aren’t potential clients…

The real measure of success for your website’s performance is whether the number of potential clients that you receive is increasing. And that takes time and work. It means ensuring that your website has fresh content that people want and that they find engaging. Yes, knowing what Google is looking for is important. But there is a lot more to maximizing your website’s performance than blindly driving numbers.


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