There is no shortage of search engine optimization (SEO) providers. A cursory Google search for the term “SEO services” brings up nearly 53 million results, a number big enough to make one’s head spin. Even a more specific phrase like “attorney SEO services” can easily return over 2 million results.

In all likelihood, your firm has engaged one or more of these providers in the past. Perhaps many more. Ignoring SEO is a decision that typically results in dire consequences for online visibility, but what attorney has time to spend weeks combing through search results in a quest to find the ideal optimization provider?

To make your decision-making process easier, we’ve compiled a list of five important things that lawyers should expect from their SEO providers.

  1. Honesty

This is the critical first test that your potential SEO provider must pass with flying colors before you even think about signing a contract. Everything else on this list becomes meaningless if you’re working with a dishonest company more interested in skirting the rules than playing fair and working within Google’s established guidelines.

While there are many telltale signs of a dishonest SEO provider, you need to be particularly wary of any company or contractor guaranteeing rankings. Google itself notes that no one can guarantee a #1 ranking, and any promises made to that effect are not to be trusted.

Similarly, you should run away from providers who dodge questions about their optimization techniques (or worse, engage in unacceptable “black hat” tactics), can’t explain the work their clients are actually paying for, or refuse to provide references. Any honest and reputable SEO agency should be happy to do all of these things.

Google provides a list of useful questions to ask any search engine optimizer before proceeding with their services. We encourage you to do just that.

  1. Specialization

One of the questions Google notes is, “What’s your experience in my industry?” You should absolutely inquire if your potential SEO provider has a significant history working within the legal space.

While it’s true that anyone versed in optimization techniques can provide some level of successful SEO, the particular nuances and focal points of the legal industry will be lost on generalist agencies that also service a variety of other professions. How can you trust your SEO provider to generate content for your legal website, for instance, when they have no experience working with law firms and no knowledge of the specialties you are interested in pursuing?

Optimizers familiar with the legal space will be able to provide a more specific, detailed, and understanding level of service that goes far beyond the general SEO population. Look for an agency that comprehends you, your firm, your practice areas, and your target audience.

  1. Communication

Being unable to reach a service provider is a universally frustrating experience. Fruitless attempts to speak to an actual human being are met with opposition, phone trees endlessly loop you to vacant voicemail boxes, and emails seem to disappear into a black hole of the Internet, never eliciting a response.

You should expect and demand better. Your SEO provider works for you and should act accordingly, providing you with multiple avenues to contact account managers, support staff, and frontline developers and optimizers. Can you expect a call to review your campaign every month? Is a ticket system provided so work requests don’t get lost? Do you know the names of the people working on your site? Are they reachable?

Exercise caution with any agency that refuses to get on the phone with you or that treats you like a generic number in an endless series of clients. You and your firm are unique and the level of communication provided to you should be top-notch.

  1. Reporting

SEO campaigns don’t run on autopilot. They need continual tweaks, improvements, and modifications to deal with the shifting online landscape, not to mention the plethora of algorithm changes that search engines are always implementing.

To understand how your campaign is performing and what steps are being taken to ensure its continued success, your optimization agency should provide you with detailed reports of their work and subsequent results. Even more than that, they should spend time reviewing the metrics with you and listening to your questions and concerns.

It’s easy to provide a Google Analytics report, but there are more powerful, concise reporting platforms available. A high level SEO provider will not only show you an overall snapshot of your campaign, but allow you access to tools that display your campaign’s movement on mobile and local platforms, chronological aggregate ranking charts, and even summaries of how your closest competitors are stacking up. Smart agencies can also provide call attribution data to show you which efforts garnered the most direct inquiries to your office.

You should never be in the dark about what your SEO provider is doing. If you aren’t receiving timely, informative reporting, you should look elsewhere.

  1. Results

At the end of the day, your firm is spending money to achieve a particular set of results. Your SEO provider must be able to show you concrete examples of how your campaign is achieving those results, or at least making solid headway in the right direction. Otherwise, what are you paying them for?

Not every month in SEO is going to be a complete success. The very nature of optimization includes the caveat that there will be ups and downs since the web is fluid and everchanging. However, when you take a bird’s eye look at your campaign, you should absolutely see progress being made as time goes by.

If results are not being achieved in a reasonable time period, can your provider change course and try something else? Do they have multiple avenues available in case a preliminary tactic is unsuccessful? Experimentation and adaptability are always key; don’t settle for a one trick pony.

Solutions Available

If you are struggling to find a reputable SEO provider that adheres to the principles above, we are standing by to help.

We have an established, results-driven team of online marketing experts who are well versed in the legal space, and we sport a proven track record of success.

If you’d like to hear more about what we can do to help your firm achieve its goals, one of our digital success managers will be happy to give you an honest, in-depth analysis of your website and online marketing efforts, no strings attached.