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Choosing SEO Providers: What to Look Out For

A lot of our recent blog posts have dealt with issues in black hat search engine optimization (SEO). This has not been a mistake. It’s an unfortunate reality that many attorneys and law firms who are looking to start marketing their firm online are often bombarded with options that sound too good to be true. They are too good to be true, but the temptation to take what seems like the quick and easy way is heavy. Hearing about some of the things that can happen if you take this “quick and easy road” to SEO success can be helpful.

New Article Shares SEO Horror Stories

Horror drawing of a forest, with skulls and ruins
Image credit: LuckyFrame

Unlike the law, SEO moves fast and develops quickly. Print books are often embarrassingly out-of-date by the time they hit the shelves. As a result, blogs and internet publications are where SEO news and best practices get shared. One of the top sources for this is Search Engine Land (SEL).

A new article was posted on SEL by guest author and established SEO pro Patrick Stox. In it, he described the horror stories in SEO that he’s seen in recent years. While search engines have developed and forced search engine optimization to adopt more reputable practices, Stox deplores how black hat SEO techniques are still pervasive. The shady individuals and companies that use them are holding back the legitimacy of the entire industry.

What to Look Out For

The whole article is worth a read, especially if you’re considering breaking into the world of online marketing with your law firm. But you’re an attorney without that kind of time, so here’s a quick synopsis of what to look out for:

  • Fully understand the contract you sign with an SEO provider. This includes the jargon. For example, if you sign a contract that allows your SEO provider to use a proprietary CMS system and then things go sour, you might not be able to export any of that content, leaving you with nothing.
  • SEO firms don’t have “ins” with Google. Remember, a search engine’s business model relies on giving its users the most relevant and important results. Bias would hurt their business model, costing them money.
  • Breaking up with an SEO company can be ugly. They have a vested interest in making your new SEO group look bad, to try to get you back. Unfortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this, from deleting all of the links they built to rolling back a website – pulling an archived version of the site from before any work was done.

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg in the article. From threats of lawsuits to some intricate redirecting work, some SEO marketers get pretty creative. Even if it is just anecdotal, having an idea of what can happen and what to look out for can help you find the SEO provider that you need for your law firm’s website.