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The best things in life are free. And, surprisingly, when it comes to internet marketing for law firms, this is very true. But, just because so much SEO is basically free if you can do it yourself, you surely shouldn't abuse those free sources of marketing to the point where Google suspends your law firm from the internet.
For many, it will come as a surprise that there is a large number of lawyers that are gaming these free internet marketing resources. One in particular, Google's business pages, is among the most often abused free SEO tools available, and one that can easily be turned off by Google if a business is discovered violating their rules. It's also one that small firms should not be ignoring because it works and can really level the playing field.
If you are unaware of what constitutes SEO abuse, or how to take advantage of the free SEO resources available, you can get a few tips below.
The practice of gaming Google search results by using the Google business map listing you can get for free is no longer a big secret. That's partly because it is perhaps one of the most effective SEO practices that has been abused time and time again by lawyers and law firms. Thanks to the Google maps listing, the search process now has a more localized element that helps the smallest players compete with the biggest.
Many firms abuse the process by using multiple addresses across a state or region in order to appear in more Google maps search results. And while there isn't anything necessarily unethical about having multiple offices, or even virtual offices, set up across a state, if clients are led to believe that it is your own office rather than a virtual one, that might be an ethical issue. Also, as one marketing pro noted, it could also lead to getting sent a tax bill from every city where a firm has a virtual office set up, or getting suspended from managing your own business's Google account.
Ever wonder why search results for law firms will often return websites with names like "John Doe, a Charlotte Raleigh Durham Greensboro North Carolina DUI Lawyer"? (Note: If you're not in North Carolina, your results are likely to be localized to you.) But the idea is that search engines are optimized to find webpages with titles and content that contain as many of the relevant search terms as possible.
However, because search engines use automated processes, it has become common to game those processes by stuffing keywords into the places that those processes actually look at and care about. It's less about the number of times the keyword shows up and more about where it shows up and the relevant content around it. For example, if one of those localized keywords in your page title matches your practice's address (or at least one of them), you'll likely rank higher in a search for attorneys in that locale, even if the searcher didn't enter a geographic location in their search.
Websites like Google and Yelp allow people to post reviews of your law firm. Anyone can do it. And the words that people use can actually really help your law firm's search results on the major search engines.
Unfortunately, many lawyers and law firms have a tendency to attempt to skew the results by buying reviews, or posting fake reviews. Gaming review sites is a big risk, not just due to search engines and review sites taking action, but also due to the ethical implications of posting or asking others to post fabricated reviews.
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