Halloween Podcast Series Episode 7 – The “SEO Siren” and the “Follow-Up Fumbler”

Halloween Podcast Series <span>Episode 7 &#8211; The &#8220;SEO Siren&#8221; and the &#8220;Follow-Up Fumbler&#8221;</span>

Welcome back to day seven of the monsters that affect attorneys and their law firms. We’re continuing with all marketing monsters. So far, we’ve talked about the branding barbarian, the social media serpent, and the Rip Van Winkle of referrals.

Today is the follow-up fumbler and the SEO siren. Like someone in football who fumbles the ball, dropping it on the ground and letting the other team get it, a fumbler is someone who is a screw up; they are dropping the ball and not following up. Why is this important? You may be of the opinion that when you do an initial consult with a client and they don’t hire you right then and there, they’re not coming back, so why pursue them? Why follow up with them?

This is a huge mistake. I don’t know about you, but with the coronavirus this past year, every lead is precious, and every client is precious. We never know what’s going to happen with the economic climate. It’s been a roller coaster x100, I’m sure for everyone listening. Some people have done phenomenally well, but everyone’s been really nervous about it, including clients. Do you think now is the time to have that attitude of, there’s another bus coming in five minutes? No. You’ve got to be following up with all of your potential clients, because if you don’t, you’re not going to have good conversion rates. Conversion rate means you talk to 10 viable people, and you retain five of them. I’ve spoken to many attorneys throughout the years who will speak to 100 people and get one of them. Some of the best get one out of every three people. There’s a vast difference of ability in how people convert.

What’s the point of converting? What’s the point of following up? You’ve got to realize that you spend money on marketing for each potential client, and you spend time doing initial consults; this is time that could be spent servicing other clients, doing other types of marketing, sitting and relaxing and smoking a cigar, watching a movie, or whatever it is you could be doing. But they’ve sucked up your time and energy and money only to disappear, and you don’t follow up on them. That’s like just setting money on fire. From now on, when there’s a client you don’t follow up on and they sound viable, I want you to picture hundreds of dollar bills being burned in a fire, because that’s what you’re doing and I’m being totally honest here.

Following up without spending any extra money on marketing can mean one to three or more extra clients every month, and if you’re charging anything that’s reasonable, that’s at least $1,500 if it’s a bankruptcy on the low end, $3,000 for a DUI or family law case, and maybe $5,000 for a personal injury case. You’re going to not do a case unless your third is at least $10,000, so you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. Again, you’ve spent hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, to get these people to text you, call you, email you, fill out a form, and schedule that initial consult. You better follow up.

The follow-up fumblers are the people who say they just need more leads or more phone calls. I’ve heard it all before. I’ve heard it hundreds and hundreds of times. It’s foolish. It’s very foolish. It’s like trying to bring water home and your bucket has big holes in it. I don’t care how much water you put in that bucket; it’s just going to run out. You’re going to get home and there’ll be like two drops in it. What’s the point of that? What’s the point of making money and not keeping any of it?

To give you another example, I’ve been that person many times, and there is no point. You can work for years at a time and end up no better than you were five, 10, 15, or 20 years ago. Would you like that? No. You must follow up, and there are ways to do it without hurting your positioning, and without making you look like a weak, feeble person who is chasing a potential client.

There are really sophisticated ways to do it, and I’ve talked about them before. The fumbler is an advisor you have, a marketing person, your computer guy, or even family and friends, and they’re saying, “Oh, don’t follow up, it lowers your position to do that. Don’t call them back, don’t email them back, don’t chase them because they’re not going to come anyway. If they didn’t want you the first time, they’re not going to come back.” It’s a bad mental place to be and it’s wrong thinking. I promise you, there is room in your practice to improve your follow up, and if you do, it’s going to be so cool.

There are people who will come back to you. Sometimes it takes days or weeks or even months in certain practice areas, but they’ll come back to you and you’ll be surprised. They’ll say, “I was thinking and thinking and thinking, and I finally decided I need your help. Let’s do it.” They’ll say you called them the other day, emailed them the other day, or they got your card in the mail (or whatever it was), and they decided to do it. Then, you get that case when you otherwise wouldn’t. If you don’t follow up, you’re at the mercy of the latest person they see on AVVO. They see an advertisement for the type of law that you do, they go with that person, and you think, “Why the hell did they go with them? I spent so much time with this person, what’s wrong with them?” That person’s not a good lawyer.

It may be because they’re the last person they saw and that you didn’t follow up. Don’t fumble this one. It is incredibly important. I can’t state it enough. If we didn’t follow up with our attorneys, we would have starved to death a long time ago, and if any of you’ve seen my picture, I’m not starving physically (as Dan Kennedy once told me as a joke, which I took pretty well). Please follow up. Don’t let this monster eat your business and cause you to lose out. It’s a big mistake.

Now we’re going to move on to the SEO siren. If you remember, the Iliad, the Odyssey, Homer; he went on this great journey, and at one point, he knew he was sailing into waters where there were these beautiful women that would sing and lure the sailors to their death. They would make them steer their ships towards the rocks, they would crash upon the rocks, and I don’t know if the sirens would devour them or what would happen, but they were beautiful women who would lure sailors with their song. Homer actually had his crew members tie him to the mast and blindfold him (and I don’t know if they plugged his ears), and he told them that whatever he says, don’t let him go towards the sirens, and he struggled and struggled with all his might. He couldn’t control himself, and he went towards the sirens.

SEO, unfortunately, can be this. It may be right for you; it may not be. What is the lure of SEO, the first page of Google, the sweet song of being number one for “Dallas DWI lawyer”, or number one for “Los Angeles Auto Accident Attorney”, or number one for “Orlando Business Law Attorney”? This is the siren song that so many attorneys are called towards, thinking that if they can just get there, the practice is going to be wonderful and they’re going to get all this business. I’ve been there.

Years ago, I ran a site called myduiattorney.org and we provided DUI leads nationwide. I was obsessed with getting to be number one in the nation for “DUI attorney” and “DUI lawyer.” By the way, I got there for a very short time. I worked my ass off and SEOed the heck out of the site, and I got higher and higher in the rankings. I remember I was on a trip and checking my phone like five times a day. I was number three, then number two, and finally I got to be number one.

Guess what? Crickets. We got, I don’t know, eight to 10 more visitors to the site a day with that positioning, but no business, and no calls. Nothing. It didn’t work. I learned then that this false siren song of SEO was no good. It ended up being a great thing because I developed my whole dandelion keyword theory, which is about long-tail keywords, which is how people really search. You may have heard this before, but people don’t just put in “DUI attorney,” but they may put in “Pulled over in Alameda, blew a 0.20, will I go to jail.” If it’s family law, they might type in, “Is it true the wife always gets custody of the kids?” If it’s estate planning, they might type in, “Brother wants to cut me out of their will. What can I do?”

These are the things that people actually search because these are the questions in their mind. They’re called long-tail keywords. The keyword or the question keywords is another way we refer to them. The short keywords that everyone thinks of like “San Francisco criminal defense lawyer” are shopping keywords that someone might search for after they know they want a particular type of attorney and they are shopping for one. Guess which keywords are the most expensive? Those keywords.

Guess which keywords everyone’s gunning for with 100 hands grabbing for that last brownie? Those keywords. Guess which keywords are the absolute hardest to rank for and only come at the very end when your site is incredibly strong? Those keywords. Guess which keywords everyone ignores, and which are the real money-makers and which intercept potential clients a lot earlier on in their decision-making process? The question keywords, those long-tail ones.

If you show up for those and you don’t go after the vanity keywords and you don’t fall prey to the SEO siren song of getting to the top of Google, then you’re going to do far better and get far more clients. This is a very expensive, dangerous monster that can eat up months, years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. It never stops eating, this monster. It’ll eat up everything you have and then some. All your time, all your energy, all your resources. Be aware of the SEO siren. Make sure that it’s done right. There are many other calls of the SEO siren, like keyword stuffing, which is having a lot of keywords on your page. There are all kinds of tricks.

I want you to realize one other thing, which is that Google’s algorithm represents hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue for their company. Do you think there’s going to be an easy way to game their algorithm that other people don’t know about? Do you think there’s a hole that they will leave open for people like you to game their system and get to the top when other people are trying to do the same thing? Seriously? It’s like trying to break into Fort Knox with a nail file and a piece of chewing gum. Do you think that Google’s going to leave this multi-billion-dollar asset unprotected without a myriad of defenses and complexity? No, they’re not.

Don’t play that game. Don’t try to scam them. Don’t try to do a black hat. Don’t try to do these amateurish little tricks because they’ll just slap you and say “Get out of here. We have plenty of other sites that are doing the right thing. We call the shots.” If you don’t do it, they just kick you to the curb in two seconds. You’re not even a fly on their back. You’re like a bacterium on top of a fly on top of their back. They don’t even know you exist and they could care less. They will de-index you and get rid of you if you push hard enough. This is not a siren song you want to listen to. The fate is certain death, so make sure you do things right. Make sure you get the right advice and please be careful. This may be one of the most dangerous monsters out there. Thank you.

Richard Jacobs

About Richard Jacobs

My name is Richard Jacobs, and I've discovered quite a bit about the plight of solo practitioners and small, 2-5 attorney firms like yours these past 12 years.

I've come to understand the unique challenges in marketing ethically and effectively that attorneys face because I have:

  • Helped over 180 attorneys author their own practice area book and become the 'implied expert' in their practice area
  • Helped hundreds of attorneys successfully navigate Google's search algorithm changes, growing their websites from 2 potential clients calling a month to 4+ calls per DAY for some clients.
  • Interviewed and promoted over 507 attorneys nationwide, in practice areas such as:
  • DUI / DWI
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Defense
  • Bankruptcy
  • Auto Accidents
  • Social Security Disability
  • Slip & Falls (Premises Liability)
  • Real Estate
  • Estate Planning / Probate
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Expungements / Post Conviction Relief

Before you decide to invest in your marketing, it makes sense to first request your complimentary, custom, no obligation video website review.

Richard is the author of 6 books published on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.com

Richard is available for speaking engagements on direct marketing for attorneys and has recently spoken at the following legal conferences:

  • PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association)
  • Las Vegas DUI Summit – Private event for DUI attorneys
  • New York Boutique Lawyers Association
  • Perry Marshall & Associates Marketing Academy (Marina Del Rey, CA)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)