Mariano tells the story of how we went from law school to founding his legal marketing agency and helping law firms get listed on the first page of search results in Google in their local markets.
In an easy to follow conversation, our hosts and guest, cover topics that explore the most common mistakes law firms make on their websites, the importance of keyword research, URL architecture and why you should do SEO as if you don’t know what SEO is.
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Liel: [00:00:00] Jim Adler and Associates, the Rodriguez law group, Levin Papantonio. What do all this law firm share in common? Is that somewhere they rank Position 1 in the organic search results on Google. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media and this is in-camera podcast where we cover legal search engine optimization as no one does.
Liel: [00:00:53] Welcome to In Camera private legal marketing conversations. I’m as always delighted to introduce Grace. Grace, how are you today?
Grace: [00:01:01] Good. How are you, Liel?
Liel: [00:01:02] I’m doing great, Grace. And I’m super excited because we’re about to have our first conversation on our second season and it’s going to be about On-Site SEO. And for these special location we are having as a guest someone who I think is done a great, great, great, great job in helping law firms actually succeed in SEO as a whole. And so with that being said, Grace, let me introduce Mariano Rodriguez, who is co-founder and SEO expert at Law Rank. OK. And for those of you who have heard of Law rank, well, you know that they’re an amazing legal marketing agency. But for those who don’t, it’s very simple. They founded this agency with one goal in mind to get attorneys on Google’s first page. And so Grace where can our listeners find more about Law Rank?
Grace: [00:01:48] So, of course, you can always find out more about law rank and Mariano and his expertise by visiting lawrank.com.
Liel: [00:01:57] Excellent. So, Mariano, welcome to In Camera and thank you for joining us for a conversation on on-site SEO.
Mariano: [00:02:03] Liel, Grace, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. It’s great to be here.
Liel: [00:02:07] Excellent. Mariano, we’re so glad to have you here and Mariano, I must say, like I have to ask, because you have a very unique story, right? You went to UCLA School of Law, but then ended up founding legal marketing agency. How did that happen?
Mariano: [00:02:22] Well, it’s a really funny story. So the way it happened is a lot of times this stuff happens with family. So my brother was a he went to Georgetown Law and he was a D.A. in Riverside County for many years and he decided to go into private practice. Now, I had experience in the past and building websites and working in design agencies. So while I was at UCLA Law, he called me. He’s like, hey, I’m leaving the D.A.’s office. Well, you might create a website for me. And this was in 2013, summer 2013. And I said, sure, I’ll make your website. I went on, we you made him a quick Web site, looked nice, whatever. And that I was spending that summer in New York City and I got interested in SEO. I thought, well, you know, why is it that when you Google something, something comes up and something doesn’t like what’s the rationale like? How does that work? And I just find it fascinating. I found it fascinating. Next thing you know, I sort of work on SEO and my wife, the co-founder, Maria. She’ll tell you to this day, she was so annoyed because we’re a New York City. It was a beautiful summer. And all I wanted to do was sit in an apartment and literally just look at a computer. And she didn’t know what I was doing. She’s like, what are you doing? I’m like, this thing that’s, you know, is like, why does Google put one thing over another? How does it work? It was just fascinating to me. So I started researching it and I just got really into it. You know, I started with the way a lot of people do with MOZ, that beginners guide to SEO, Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin moved into Neil Patel and more advanced strategies. But that’s what happened. I started doing it and I think I got I got a little lucky. I’m going to be honest. I got a little lucky because it was 2013. It was around the time that Google is really cutting down and really stomping out bad habits. The truth is, people ask me, it’s like, oh, you were doing white hat SEO. And I’m like, honestly, I had no idea. I just did SEO in a very natural way. The way you would do it if you didn’t know about SEO. And I tell people a lot of times I’m like, look, if you’re doing a CEO for yourself, the best thing you can do sometimes is not do it like an SEO specialist. In fact, I you know, because you pick up a lot of bad habits when you start getting very SEO-e. So what I tell people is get away from that and just focus on caring about the user. So, you know, I just may try to make a good website. You know, my brother would write the content. I would build links. I mean, there was no automation. I didn’t know what any of that was. I didn’t know what black hat. I would just build a link like one at a time. I mean, it was painful, but I was like, I guess it’s how you build the link. And, you know, when it comes to like anchor text, I never built like Los Angeles criminal defense attorney as I had no idea. That’s what he… He’s a criminal defence in Los Angeles. I had no idea. So I would just build the link naturally with natural anchor text. And next thing you know, in a very short amount of time, the website took off and it just really took off. And it was interesting because again, I think I got lucky because it was it it was a unique time where Google is trying to reward certain behaviors. And I was doing that not because I knew. I was doing it only because I didn’t know. And it was funny how Google picked up on that. It was like, oh, you’re doing it the right way. It was like because I don’t know what I’m doing. And then it just, you know, just built from there. And then I got, you know, the next client that I got actually found us through his results, through my brother’s results. And he called me out of the blue and he was like, hey, you do a SEO for this client? And I’m like, Yeah, how’d you find me? And he’s like, I researched you online. And then I was like, oh, wait, this could be a business. And then next thing you know, we started growing from there, just from word of mouth and referrals and people talking to people say, who does your SEO? And by the time I graduated UCLA law, we were doing so well that it didn’t make sense to leave it to go study law, to be a lawyer. Well, I probably just end up doing a deal for myself all day anyways. So I was like, well, you know what, let’s just keep going with this. And, you know, fast forward five years and it’s just going really, really well.
Grace: [00:05:52] That’s so fantastic.
Liel: [00:05:55] And you know, it kind of resonates very well, Grace, because everyone that we know, right. That does SEO, they just have this passion about it. It’s not just something that I do because it helped them succeed professionally. They actually genuinely feel passionate about the topic. And by the challenge that it represents to always have to, you know, be one step ahead of the rest. And he’s just kind of like you need the right mindset to be able to do it well and would successfully. And so thank you so much for sharing that with us Mariano. The other thing I really like about what you’re saying here is about really kind of like, well, you know, the way I succeeded at doing SEO is by just doing it as a user, like thinking of myself as a user. How would I go about it? Right. Even even though it was 2013 and there was already that shift in mindset, it was moving away from being something completely technical to something more user focused. We’re now still and we’re actually even more so in an era where Google wants 100 percent everything to be user centred. And I think we’re going to dive into that further as we go along with this conversation. So Gramce, why don’t you why don’t you take us away with some of the questions that we’ve prepared here for Mariano?
Grace: [00:07:08] So this actually kind of, I think, leads us perfectly into our topic questions. Right. And I have to pull out a tag line that you said, because I love doing that. Don’t be SEO-e like that is perfect, right? Don’t be SEO-e, guys. Why? Because it’s about the user. It’s about the user intent and the user’s requirements. Right. And that’s what Mariano did. So our first question is, what are some of the most common mistakes or errors that you see on law firm Web sites?
Mariano: [00:07:38] Yeah. You know, we see quite a few, but some of the most common ones we see is a Web site that is all about commercial intent. And by that, I mean, let’s take a PI lawyer, for example, OK? You take a Web site and they want a home page and they want their practice area pages. So Los Angeles, car accident Attorney, Los Angeles Motorcycle accident Attorney, Los Angeles Pedestrian accident Attorney. And that’s great. We get it. That’s what you want to drive revenue to your business. That means commercial intent. So somebody’s looking for that is looking to hire an attorney. The fact of the matter is, is that that’s not what drives traffic to the site. So to really… Let me explain this a little bit deeper, because it’s really important for attorneys to understand if they’re going to build their own Web site. When you’re doing a Web site for the purpose of ranking and getting leads from organic SEO, you’re entering what I call a symbiotic relationship with Google. Google has one goal in mind. They want to sell Ads, basically Google Ads. That’s all they care about. They want to sell ads, but the way they sell ads is by giving the users what they want, which is answering the questions. Usually it means giving information, how to tie a tie, you know, how to cook a steak, whatever that is. So here’s the symbiotic relationship. If you give Google information that makes the users happy, the users will go to Google and click on ads. And that’s what Google wants. And that’s where a lot of attorneys misunderstand the relationship. They just want commercial intent, focused content. But Google’s response to that is, look, if you just want leads, use Google ads. But if you want us to give you traffic, give us information, then answers that user’s questions. And that way we can sell more ad space via Google ads.
Mariano: [00:09:14] So it’s important to kind of understand the ecosystem you’re dealing with. It’s it’s symbiotic. So it’s a cookie. You’ll give me the traffic for free, but I’ve got to give you what you want, which is information. So that’s what the big mistake I see a lot of attorneys make when they do their own Web site is, it’s a Web site that doesn’t focus on the user at all. It’s not providing any value in terms of information. It’s just literally commercial intent. And we’ve had clients who get annoyed with the information we try to put out there. And they just want to focus on the lead generating pages. I’m like, yeah. We’re not going to rank those pages unless we build that domain authority by giving Google what it wants, which is information that makes the user happy. That’s Issue 1. The second issue I see all the time and this is really, really huge. So for anyone listening, please take note. You have to make the content for the target audience. When you make a Web site as a personal injury lawyer, criminal defense attorney, family law attorney, you’ve got to stop and think what is the average reading level in the US? It’s ninth grade. That is the average reading level. So when you write content, you have to take it and you have to make it palatable for your audience. So what are some tools you can use? There’s one called Hemingway app. OK. So I’m gonna give you the tools. I’m just gonna tell you what it is. I’m to tell you how to do it. Go to Hemingway app and you plug the content in there. And that will tell you the grade level the content is at. If it’s not ninth or tenth. Right. It’s too complicated. I mean, we had an attorney write this amazing guy about criminal defense. He sent it to us. We plugged it to Hemingway. It was grade fifteen. So you would have to be like a junior in college to understand this. And we told them and we said, look, who is this for? Is this for your peers? Is this for the judge? If it is great, let’s wait for them to get accused of a crime. They’ll call you. But if it’s for the masses, they’re never going to read it. And Google’s not going to promote it. Why? Because even if Google ranks it well, users are not going to go to it. They’re going to have low dwell time because it could be confused by it. They can’t follow it. They’re going to click off. So Google’s going to say, well, you know what? Users don’t like it. So we don’t like it. So we’re gonna demote it. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a space for scholarly articles. If you want to write scholarly articles, you won’t impress your peers. You want to press the judge. You want to impress, you know, whoever. But if you want to make a Web site for the masses, which is what we’re talking about, right. In general, we talk about personal injury, family law and criminal defense in general. There’s also bankruptcy, immigration. But still, it’s the same idea. You want to make sure the content is written for the target audience and the target audience is read it about grade 9, grade 10. Especially when you talk about legal concepts. Those are two huge mistakes. The third one we see, there’s just so many. I mean, I could go on for hours about this. But the third one we see is people don’t read online. They scan. When you write content, you have to break it down. You have to you know, a paragraph in a book is about five sentences. A paragraph online should be no more than two, three sentences, Max. You really got to break it up a lot and use a lot of headings. Why? Because we all do that right when we go when I just the other night, I was Googling how to do something. And I just scanned quickly to get to what I wanted. I didn’t want to read the whole thing. I wanted to get what I wanted. And I wanted to move on with my life. So you got to break up the content. You’ve got to. And then the other component to readability is the length of the sentence. One mistake we see a lot, attorneys will write publish on their Web site. You should, if you want to know how many characters should be in a sentence, about 70. And these things are very technical, but they really matter because I see Web sites where the sentence runs from one end of the screen to the other.
Mariano: [00:12:45] And I’m like, I can’t follow this. Like, I need a ruler to, like, put it so I can follow along because they make it impossible. So these are things that if you look at a well-designed Web site, it’ll be part of it. But it’s something that even if you make your own Web site, you’ve got to look at this because you want to make it user friendly, you know, just focus on that. The next mistake we see is just keyword stuffing, just jamming the keyword over and over and over like that just doesn’t work. It’s a horrible experience. You know, when people ask me what should it be like? I tell them simple, be Wikipedia. Look at Wikipedia. Every page they write, they couldn’t care less about SEO. They just make it a good experience. The next mistake we see no interlinking. You’ve got to inter-linked. That’s the whole point of the internet. It’s all linked, you know. So people write these long articles, especially attorneys, and they reference things. And it’s a goal. Where did you get that from? They’re like, well, you know, this is… Link to it! You’ve got to link to it. You know, you would never turn in a motion to the court without citing the cases, you always cite when you as an attorney, when you submit a motion to the court, it’s the same concept. This is citation Google, links to Google is citation. And Larry Page and Sergey Brin, they built this whole model of the idea of a good college paper is cited and peer reviewed. That’s a citation. So they said, well, what’s a citation on the Internet? It’s a link. That’s the whole idea behind the links. It’s a citation to vote in favor of your project. So you want to link to others that are high quality and you always want to link your sources and you want to link in your site back to other pages that are relevant. Right. It should all it should all connect, you know. So those are some of the top, top, top mistakes we see. I mean, there’s so many mistakes, but those are some of the top ones. And I think an attorney could easily control who’s interested in doing their own site. Right. I guess the other mistake we see a lot and this is more big picture, but is this OK, let’s say you’re a Los Angeles car accident Attorney. Well, if you’re going to do a page on Los Angeles, car accident Attorney, you’ve got to start by researching what’s already there. We’re dealing with sophisticated markets. This isn’t 2008, where like Google still trying to figure it all out. Google has a lot of data. Now they know what works and what doesn’t. So one of the mistakes I see a lot is that people will do, attorneys will do an article. And I’m like, but did you research the market before doing this? And they’re like, no, I just wrote an article. Article? No, you got to understand what’s already ranking.
Mariano: [00:15:05] Right. And then once you know that, you got to do it better, because know we see people just write content. And then another thing we see a lot, too, especially when attorneys are handling it, is they write very thin content. You know, they’ll write. I mean, we got an attorney who wrote a page on domestic violence. It was 300 words, 300 words. I’m like, that’s all you could think of for domestic violence. Three hundred words. I mean, they literally have I mean, I went to law school. I mean, they have textbooks on these subjects. You know what I mean? But he could do and he was like, yeah, you’re right. I’m like, well. I mean, 300 words doesn’t help the user at all. You know, so. And also, I guess the next mistake we see is the attorney doesn’t take this time to understand what the user is looking for. And that comes with research, right. You got to put the time in to understand what are people looking for. So if I’ve been, if I’m going to do an article on domestic violence, you know, with a commercial intent, I still got to answer the questions that people are probably asking or considering as they’re researching this. They’ve been charged with a crime and they want to know or car accident or anything. Right. I mean, divorce, whatever it is. So those are some of the probably the biggest mistakes that I see people making that they can control. Does that make sense?
Liel: [00:16:15] Absolutely, Mariano. I think you’re giving us so much valuable information here. And I really like where you’re leading us at with mentioning that, you know, you need to research and select how and what are you gonna be writing about. Right. And so why don’t you tell us a little bit more about keyword research. How do you how do you decide which topics and what role those selecting keywords have to do in the way that you actually put together this content?
Mariano: [00:16:44] Well, yeah, and that’s a great question. We basically use semrush. I mean, when it comes to keyword research, the tool that we’re gonna use in that it’s pretty much an industry standard is semrush. And you know, there’s another one that you can check out, too. It’s free. And I had it here. Let me hold on a second. Let me pull it up, because the name is kind of weird, but I want to make sure that the that the readers have it. There’s a website called Soovle. And if you go to Soovle.com, it basically aggregates data from all the top search engines and web sites like Wikipedia answers.Com, Google, Amazon, and you can put in a term like car accidents. It’ll show you what’s being asked and all these different websites for something like car accidents, it’s actually very helpful. Now, that’s it and that you can use for free. So if you’re listening to this and you don’t want this in semrush, you can use Soovle, soovle.com. However, if you’re gonna put some money into it, we recommend semrush. It’s a great tool to really give you some insight as to what kind of keywords you should be, including in the content of what kind of keywords are more likely to drive traffic, because sometimes you’d be amazed at how just changing the keyword even a little bit really impacts the amount of traffic the keyword is going to be able to get. And then the other thing we do which ties into keyword research is LSI, which is latent semantic indexing. It gets complicated, but in a nutshell. Think of it like this with LSI. Google expects a page to have related terms to understand what the page is about. So, for example, if you write about Apple, are you writing about Apple, the fruit or Apple, the computer company? Well, if you look at the entities on the page, you’ll get a sense of youth services, apple and tree and soil. And, you know, Granny Smith, it’s probably apple the fruit. But if it’s like Apple, laptop, you know, Steve Jobs, it’s Apple, the computer. So there’s a tool called LSI graph and it’s just LSI graph dot com that we recommend. It’s again, it’s free. They have an upgraded version available. But you can also use that because that will help you find concepts that are going to be related to which you are writing about and that we can’t understand… You know, we really stress the importance of that because we’ve been doing this for a long time. So, you know, when you sit for a long time, you kind of forget that there’s all this nuance to it, you know, and that attorneys will tell you that, you know, I mean, I went to law school. That’s like they do it for a long time. They forget there’s so much nuance. You know, there’s a lot of nuance to what we do when we’re producing content. And we always try to start with semush and LSI graph and look at those two things and how they line up and say, OK, what are the key words and concepts we should be including in this to make sure that we’re going to be really covering the topic.
Mariano: [00:19:26] And that, you know, there was a great example I was reading about to give an example. And it’s not related to law, but it kind of answers the question where if you look up like how to get rid of acne or how to get rid of pimples, what people are looking for is like how to get rid of pimples fast. There’s a Joan by name of Ryan Stewart who’s amazing. He’s one of the thought leaders in SEO. And I don’t mind plugging him because he really is amazing.
Mariano: [00:19:50] And he talks about that. He says the intent there isn’t. If you Google how to get rid of acne, what people are searching for is how to get rid of acne fast. So if your article doesn’t address the concept of like how to get rid of it fast, it’s not going to rank as well because of what Google really, what people, users want to know is how do I get rid of this pimple right away, not just how do I get rid of it, like down the line. So that’s where, you know, the research, the keyword research, the LSI, and also looking at the competition comes in hand is to understand what are people looking for based on what’s there, what’s ranking. Because sometimes that doesn’t always line up with what we think people want. And that’s that’s really, that’s really important. You know, it’s very easy to think, oh, well, I’m in awe right about this because this is what I think people want to know. It’s like no research. Research the keyword to really understand based on the competition was already ranking to understand what people really want to know about. Does that make sense?
Liel: [00:20:43] Absolutely. Mariano. And Grace. You know, what I do want to mention here something. Because I think that kind of going back to your Wikipedia example, right? Take Wikipedia as an example and write the way and explain the way, the things, the way that they’re been doing it and also going back to keep the user in the center of everything. And I do think Grace and the way we practice it in our agency is part of our keyword research, is actually talking to the clients of the law firm and finding out exactly how are they talking to Google? What are they writing in Google? How are they searching things in Google? Because ultimately, those are the people that you want to connect with. Right. And so the more you understand them and the more you take your research outside of just the virtual world into the real world, you’re probably going to be more likely to find out information that’s going to help you better connect with your prospect audience. And a lot of what you’re saying here, Mariano resonates very well with that. So it’s well, first of all, thank you so much for sharing so many valuable tools, some of them free. And I think we’re all going to be checking them out. It’s great.
Mariano: [00:21:55] You know, you made a great point, too. And and and I love what you said because we’ve actually done that. We talked to the attorney. We say, look, on this topic, what comes up? You know, you’ve been doing this 20 years. What comes up all the time when people come in to talk to you about this issue in that generic sense of the word? What questions you get a lot. And we, you know, we get that feedback and we realize that’s important because that’s something that sometimes, you know, is hard to find. Unless you you’re an attorney meeting with a client one on one and they’re asking these questions and you realize I’m getting the same question over and over and over again. And can we incorporate that into what we’re doing?
Grace: [00:22:34] Yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. I mean, it’s all about the user, right? It’s the user’s intent, what they’re looking for. And that has a lot to do with the research that we do as the content creator, as the SEO expert, et cetera, et cetera. Right. So I feel like that kind of brings us to the next topic. And it’s really kind of general for a lot of people that may or may not understand what it even means. So I’m going to kind of throw it at you and you can explain what it is and why it’s important. OK. So can you explain what featured snippets are and why they matter?
Mariano: [00:23:09] Yeah. The featured snippet is something that Google does. It’s kind of controversial because people, some people say, look, it takes away from traffic to a site, you know. So basically, it tries to answer the question for you at the very top of the page. It’s great. Don’t get me wrong. As a user, it’s fantastic. I use it. I love it. But I can see the frustration from our world. You know, as marketing agencies. Because you kind of feel like, oh, wait a second. It’s like I didn’t even get a chance to get them to my site and get the benefit of that. But it’s something that’s very powerful to have a featured snippet and it’s something that everybody should try to do. One of things to think about when you’re doing a feature snippet is how to set it up. One of things we’ve noticed with the featured snippet is, a lot of time Google’s going to favorite people that try to answer that question or have that term in bold right above it and then have like an outline of points. And for some reason, Google really seems to favor that approach. It’s something that people have kind of caught on to over the years, that if you have if you answer the question, you bold the question, and then you have supporting points directly underneath, like with bullet points, you’re much more likely to capture that featured snippet and it’s, I mean, it’s great. It’s great to have. But like I said, it is a little bit controversial because people feel like, well, you know, it’s sometimes what happens, people see that and they skip the site altogether because like what I needed.
Liel: [00:24:34] Mariano, you said at the beginning of the conversation, Google’s goal is to sell ads. And the longer they keep them on the search results page, the better for them. They’re they’re not leaving their ecosystem. Right. And so I think that’s one, a little bit unspoken trend is that every time more so we’re gonna see Google allowing users to complete more and more and more transactions from the search results page rather than directing the Web site. But what I what I do think that you’re saying that it’s very valuable is that most of times your features snippets are going to show up, but you also link to your site. Right. And so if somebody is interested to finding out more about the source for reading more about it, then it’s a good anchor that, you know, can also serve kind of as a bait. Maybe somebody would have skipped through your listing, but because of the snippet that they now feel that this is relevant. I want to read more about these guys. And so with that in mind, please tell us if we should have calls to actions in every single block post or how should we go about it, as law firms.
Mariano: [00:25:37] I’ll differentiate, OK. So we have as most law firm sites are going to have the home page, right? You’re going to have practice three pages which go into different practices and going to the blog posts. Now what we try to do what we recommend is to make the blog post informative, make it informational. Answer the questions, really go in depth. And there’s nothing wrong with having a call to action on blog posts.
Mariano: [00:26:02] But what we found is that if you just create a great experience for the user in the blog posts and you really answer the question you write, it’s well-written, it’s well spaced out, it’s easy to scan. They’ll go, they’ll take the next step. You can have the call to action. But to me, if the information’s great, well laid out, easy to read, easy to follow. It gets them excited about you. And then they go to the about us and they go to your home page and they want to call, you know. We absolutely encourage the call to action in the practice area pages. Right. Those are pages where there’s a commercial intent already, you know, domestic violence lawyer, car accident lawyer. But on the blog posts, you can do it. We’re not saying don’t do it. We’re just saying, remember, what is the intent of the blog? Usually with a blog, you’re thinking about developing content that answers questions. It doesn’t have a direct commercial intent. It’s a secondary purpose. It’s really informational intent. And it’s about growing the site. It’s about growing the traffic. It’s about growing the authority of the project so you can do it. But again, be careful, because I kind of feel like if I’m looking for affirmation and you hit me with a lot of advertisment, it’s a little bit of a turnoff. As a user, personally, as a user, you know, I’m not saying don’t have it, but just try to tone it down depending on what page you’re talking about.
Mariano: [00:27:19] If it’s at the home page, go crazy. I mean, it’s the whole. Pages usually like, you know, our brand who we are. Call us, we’re amazing. Look at all these awards, you know, all the money we won. But when I’m reading a blog post about a topic, you know, like how long I have to sue after a car accident. You know, you talk about such a limitation, then you’re hitting me with call me now. Call me now. Call me now. And we’ve seen this, you know, we see it with attorney sites. We see it sometimes with our writers when they start with us. And they don’t really understand how to write for this audience. So they get really SEO-e and they you know, every other paragraph is like and we can help you call us now free consultation. It’s like, okay, take it easy. Take it easy. They get it. You mean like just you know, so. Yeah. You know, the call to actions that we call the CTAs are great, but just be, you know, really be careful as to where you’re using them. And think about when if a user’s on that page, what are they doing at that moment you and if it’s more informational based, maybe tone it down a little bit.
Liel: [00:28:11] Thank you so much for differentiating that in giving us a little bit of an orientation here as to what belongs where. So that’s great. Grace, what’s what’s next here?
Grace: [00:28:21] So let’s get into what I like to nerd out on. And I think all three of us do the technical optimization stuff. Yay! So my first question on the technical optimization of on-site SEO is about site architecture. OK. So can you maybe explain just a little bit about site architecture and why it’s important here?
Mariano: [00:28:43] I mean, it’s actually really important. The Site architecture goes into the user experience. I mean, that’s why it’s so critical, because the way you set up your site, the way you silo pages, the way pages are nested into one another, all ties in with the weight that we because, you know, we always talk about the user. But at the end of the day, we’re users. You know, everybody listening to this is a user. We all use the Internet. And, you know, when I you know, sometimes when we get too caught up in SEO, I think to myself, well, what do we like? What do I like when I go on a website? Well, I want the architecture to be very clean, very clear. I wanted to kind of help me in my navigation process and everything to kind of be together. And that’s one of the things that we say when we talk about site architecture. What we typically try to do is we think about it like, okay, we got the home page, right? That’s the hub. And then around the hub, we’re going to have the practice area pages, the contact us page, you know, the media page, and then we’re gonna have a blog. And the blog is going to be kind of a separate hub with clearly defined categories in. Our rationale for that is just to have everything very clear, like, you know, where you are in the site at all times. There’s no confusion. A very clean, very simple you are l structure because this goes into site architecture, right? This goes and this also goes into it. It goes into SEO, but it also goes into user experience, you know, have keywords and have words and that you are all that makes sense so you always know where you are on the Web site. You’re not lost. And none of that’s ever happened to you guys. You’re on a Web site and you’re like lost, why am I on this site or even worse, you’re trying to find a page you were on. But you can’t get back to it logically. Like, how do we get back to that page? Where’s that page I was on? You know, you’re going to your browser history. Well, that’s the real just a site architecture is to kind of, you know, make a site that would make sense for the user. And if it makes sense for the user, what’s going to happen is they’re going to stay on the site longer. You know, like when I’m on Wikipedia, whatever happened, you go to Wikipedia, you start researching one thing. Next thing you know, you’re on a complete different topic. It’s been like seven hours. The sun went down. You know, I got to feed the kids. It’s like, oh, I got to… I got… You know. And that’s because it’s well made. Everything is connected. The architecture is very clean, very easily laid out. Everything is interlinked. So there’s a lot of nuance, to site architecture. But what we typically say it’s just you’ve got to make it with the user in mind. You got to make it with yourself in mind. So you’ve got to, you know, forget about SEO, just, you know, really think, OK, I’ve got to have got a home page. I had to have the practice areas siloed in a way that makes sense. So it’s all tied together. You know, if I’m going to have blogs, I want to have a blog that area siloed off so that it all makes sense and just really keep it clear and easy to use if you’re going to have practice area pages. How did those pages tie into one another? You know, one thing that we always tell attorneys if they’re going to do it for themselves is to say, look, if you’re gonna have a practice or a page like a like a topic like let’s let’s talk about for criminal defense attorneys, like theft crimes. Well, theft crimes is a broad topic, right? It’s going to have a lot of sub topics. Right. Petty theft, shoplifting, you know, burglary, robbery. And then how do you silo those pages underneath the main page? Right. Same thing for car accidents. If you’re car accident turn your P.I. lawyer, you can have car accidents, but then you got a bunch of pages under that to support the main page. You can have the hub and the spokes. So what would go under that car accident statistics? How long you have to sue? All these concepts. So. site architecture really boils down to understanding. You know, it really requires you to kind of take a second, not even a second, but take some time to think about what you’re trying to do. You know, if you’re a P.I. lawyer, how are you going to set up criminal defense attorney, family law and really lay it out so that when you’re on the side, you always know where you are and utilizing breadcrumbs so you can always go back to where you. And the the thing is with breadcrumbs that they don’t work, right. Typically, if you don’t set up the silo correctly to begin with. Right. Because the breadcrumbs are going to follow the silo, you set ups of your silo. For example, I’ll give an example and we see a lot to simplify this a little bit is we see flat sites. So it became this idea that like if everything’s flat, it’s all net to the home page. Better for SEO. Great. But for the user, it’s very confusing. If there’s no, if you go to sites like Wikipedia or Amazon or whatever, you notice, it’s all siloed in a way that it’s very easy to like go from point A to point Z. And you know exactly how to get back. That’s to me, when we talk about side architecture, that’s kind of what we’re talking about is like how to set it up so that you can go from point A to point B to point C and go backwards, you know. But if it’s flat, sometimes it’s like, well, how… And by flat I mean that like every page is like rolls right up to the whole page, you know. And I’ve seen people do that. But we don’t we don’t typically recommend that. We say, you know, try to section it off in a way that helps the user. Another thing about site architecture. That we tell attorneys we see this mistake a lot and I pull this off, I’m going beyond the scope of the question. But I think it’s important to touch on this is adding dates to blog posts. You know, we tell people, look. There’s nothing wrong with adding dates if your content is, for example, news driven, the kind of content that’s going to impact that’s going to be impacted by the date. If the date matters to the content. Right. So if you’re going to do news articles or events or, you know, literally like something about your firm, that is where the date is relevant. But if that’s not relevant, what you want to talk about, your site architecture, especially for the blog post, is get rid of the dates because the dates really… It’s dating the content. So it’s sending a signal to Google enter the user. Because if I’m looking for information as a user and I go to a blog post that has great info, but it’s from like September of like 2012 right away, I’m suspect I’m like it’s kind of old or if it’s really relevant anymore, let me find something newer. But really, the information that a lot of attorneys are putting out there is not dependent on the date. It’s information that stands the test of time. So there’s no there’s no reason to date it. So that’s another thing that we see a lot with site architecture where, you know, and that’s, you know, you got to get into the permalink. So there’s assume you’re using WordPress, but you’ve got to go into the permalink and change the permalink. It’s a little bit more complicated, but it’s worth the time and the investment to learn how to do it because it does pay off huge, because if you’re not doing content that the date matters, you want to make evergreen content. Usually for attorneys, it’s going to be evergreen, right? So those are some of the things we see at the very basic level of site architecture is just taking the time to set it up. Having the silos, having things roll up into it. Another great thing about having the proper set architecture, it gives you so many opportunities to really expand not only the content but your geographical reach. Right. Because if you practice in a city, one of the great, one of the things that we recommend to say, if you practice in Los Angeles, if you practice in Los Angeles, there’s so many small cities around Los Angeles that you could target with great content silos. So, for example, you could say, you know, personal injury lawyer. So you could say, well, I’m in L.A., but let me target El Monte. Then you say, oh, El Monte, what’s that as a small city in L.A.? But it still has a couple hundred thousand people talking about L.A, every small city has a couple hundred thousand people. And then you create a silo for El Monte. So you have the El Monte page with the car accident page and the pedestrian accident page and the wrongful death page. And all of the sudden you talk and leads and calls out of El Monte because you create this amazing site. And the reason it works is because you created a silo which works because you have the right site architecture. So it all ties back into how you set that infrastructure up, which allows you to grow the project beyond the original scope.
Liel: [00:35:58] Great. Excellent. And just going back to a blog post and dating them. Right. Because if you are doing so in one thing that I’ve seen a lot of people do, and it actually works very well is if you’ve created some great content, just updated and with the update, change, change, change the dates for the most current revision that you’ve made on your content. I mean, that’s a lot of great blog post that’s been existing forever. They just get updated every so often and they’ve been defending the ranking very well because of that practice.
Liel: [00:36:31] That’s actually really, really good, Grace. Where should we go next? I mean, this, these answers Mariano and I must say, they’re so rich and full of information that I think. Grace, I already have two pages of notes for the takeaways.
Grace: [00:36:48] Oh, I know. And he’s actually answering a couple of the different sections in advance, which is great. And so the next question I have, it has to do with site architecture and technical optimization. It’s how often do you think we should do technical optimizations, you know, do crawl the site to identify errors, things of that nature.
Mariano: [00:37:08] Weekly. Weekly. Yeah. I mean, we use our Ahrefs. So full disclosure, we love Ahrefs for this. There’s also screaming frog which allows you to put in the URL. Now Screaming frog for people listening that want to do their own SEO and don’t want to spend a lot of money that’s free. Ahrefs is as a paid service. But with Ahrefs you put it in and it’s gonna give you the most important things that you need to fix. 301 errors, 404 errors, especially 404 errors. I mean, we just talked to somebody the other day and their website had, you know, fifty 404 errors on a website of… Yeah. Right. I mean it. I mean, it was like, whoa, like. Oh, like what happened like that somebody. I mean, you know, somebody hate you. Did somebody do this to you because? Because remember, a 404 error is basically to a user basically just says, I don’t care about my website. I mean, that’s how I feel when I’m on a Web site and I see a 404 error. It’s like somebody say, nah, I don’t care. It’s like, no, it’s I clean this up, you know, and it’s an awful experience. It’s an awful signal to Google. And it basically what it tells Google is, hey, I don’t really keep up my site.
Mariano: [00:38:10] So if you don’t keep up with the site, Google’s not gonna want to send users there. Remember, that’s what it’s all about, right? Google has to build trust with you and say, hey, okay, I’ll send users to you because you provide good info that people like your site. It’s easy to navigate. If you don’t do that. Google’s gonna be like, I don’t want to send people to your house anymore because they’re gonna get there. And, you know, they’re gonna see like, you know, I mean, the house is messy. There’s like, you know, there’s dead bodies on the floor. Who knows? They just don’t want to do it anymore. So when we tell people this, you know, those audits can be automated, but you should be running them very, very frequently, you know? You know, we do it once a week for all our clients because we feel like, you know, we don’t want to let it go on too long. You know, if there’s a problem and what some of the errors we really focus on is going be 404 errors, obviously, that’s where pages missing, broken links because again, that really ties into the user experience. I think we’ve all experienced that. We’re on a Web site. We read something that’s great and answers the question perfectly and it’s got a link to the resource or to where they got the information from. We click on it.. Ah! Broken link. So it’s like, well, there goes our research. Right? It’s very frustrating for the user. You know, 301 errors, they’re important. I mean, they’re not as critical, but it’s still something that there’s no, you know, a three or one error basically sends latency, because you click on it and then it takes you somewhere and it’s got to redirect you. And that latency is not good for the user experience. So it’s good to fix this as well. Those are some of the more important ones that we would say. You know, you really got to keep on top of and to look at on a regular basis. Obviously missing meta descriptions, very easy. It happens all the time. You know, you upload content, you forget or you’ve got someone on your team doing it. They forget. Meta descriptions are important. You know, it kind of gives the user a preview of what the content is about and why they should go on it or not. The title tags, I mean, we see that missing title times. I mean, it’s catastrophic. Right. To have missing title tags. Sometimes, you know, the work pristine you’re working with or sometimes whatever theme you’re working with doesn’t include the H-check property.
Mariano: [00:40:07] You know, the H checks were critical, you know, and we’ve seen a page that was missing an H tag go from like the third page literally to the first page overnight just because we’ve put in the H1 tag because it wasn’t there. So those those things really do matter. So what we tell people is use screaming frog, it’s free. It’ll I think it’ll crawl to 200 pages for free. And usually that should be enough. If not, go to our reps. I think it’s the cheapest kind is 80 bucks a month. It’s well worth it. I mean, I mean, Ahrefs is that one tool that I can’t live without. If I didn’t have Ahrefs, I would just quit. I’m done. I’m out of business because Ahrefs to me is something that people ask me, how often do you use it? It’s multiple times every single day. I mean, is there one go-to tool for me. I love everything about Ahrefs. So, you know, they got this great site audit tool that automates query for you. It gives you the errors. It tells you where to go to fix it. So it’s kind of a no brainer.
Liel: [00:40:56] Thank you so much for that very thorough guide as to what to be looking out whenever you’re searching for technical optimizations to be performed on your Web site. That’s really cool. And with that, Mariano, can you explain a little bit what’s structural data. Right. It’s become such a hot topic over the past few years. And so why should we care about it? And how should we implemented it?
Mariano: [00:41:22] Well, structured data is great. I mean, it gives Google insight into your site. It helps it understand the information. Right. And there’s a lot of benefits, too, like the review snippet. You see the stars all the time at the bottom of the page. But it also helps for local SEO. Right? The local schema, actually, attorneys should be using the attorney schema. That’s the one that we recommend. But at the end of the day, you’re just structuring the data for Google and saying, here you go, Google, here’s the data and it gives them you know, more insight. Now, is it you know… Is it huge? Not necessarily. Here’s what we tell people, ok? When we’re talking with the legal sector, we’re talking about a game of inches. OK. That’s the truth. The truth is that when you’re talking about SEO for attorneys, it’s a game of inches, because everybody on the first page, you know, usually has done everything right. So it really boils down to doing it right and then doing it better. So to us, legal schema or just schema, structured data in general is something that is foundational. We do it because everyone’s doing it. And because there’s such little margin for error in our world, we say, you know, we want to make sure we get all these basics.
Mariano: [00:42:33] And quite frankly, you know, with WordPress, it’s so easy to do. Right. There’s so many plugins for structured data. There’s no reason to not do it now. When you get into more advanced structure data in terms of the Web site. Right. The Web site can structure data in terms of the content of that. That’s a little bit more complicated, really, that you’ll need a developer for that. But a lot of times the themes you get come with that already built in. Right. So that’s not that hard. But when we’re talking about like schema for local SEO, you definitely want to get that in there. You know, and again, is it make or break? No. But at the end of the day, you want to have it because everyone else that’s ranking well, will. And what I tell people is, again, we should see competition to see what kind of schema they’re using. Right. You could Google it is Google structured data testing tool? You can Google that and it’ll give you the testing tool. You can plug in the top competitors and you can see how they’re doing their structured data.
Mariano: [00:43:23] You can just copy and paste it from there and just tweak it. I mean, there’s no copyright on structured data. So what we always tell people is, you know, look at the end of the day if you’re looking to do this yourself. Start with the people ranking. Start with the top three, four, five competitors and see how they’re doing their structured data. Usually what you see, there’s a pattern. It’s the people at the top are all kind of doing the same thing. Right. And that’s why they’re at the top. So they’re all kind of look, they’re all looking at each other. They’re all keeping an eye on each other. So use that. And I’m saying this, I promise to not overcomplicate structured data, because I think people hear structured data and they panic and they’re like, oh, my God, it’s way too technical. It doesn’t have to be that technical. I mean, it is technical, but we can make it less technical. But just look at what competitors are doing using Google, copying and pasting. And if you have WordPress, use the right plugin when there’s so many for structured data and they will literally guide you and tell you like what to fill in so that it’ll populate correctly on your site.
Liel: [00:44:15] Love it. It’s such a good take on structured data.
Grace: [00:44:19] And it’s awesome. I mean, the structured data, the back end is such a huge part of what the user experience is going to be. And so that actually brings us perfectly to the next topic. Right. The user experience and speed. So how important is speed?
Mariano: [00:44:37] It’s a controversial topic. You know, there’s people that say it’s critical, some people say they’ve tested it. They haven’t seen results that really indicate that speed is critical. We, what we believe is that speed is one of those sort of rank brain big factors that kind of tie into the overall user experience that Google is going to look at. You know, obviously, Google has flat out said the two key components are content and links. They’ve said that, you know, one of the engineers years ago in an interview with Rand Fishkin from Moz just flat out said it, speed matters. You know, our take on speed is simple. It’s that because we’re playing in a game where the competition is so tight and Google a lot of times I think has to decide between Web sites that are so similar. You know, there’s such there’s nuance between the two sites you took, you look at any hypercompetitive market for like personal injury and you look at the top two or three sites, you know, you’re going to see that all the errors are fakes.
Mariano: [00:45:29] You’re going to see great content. You go see great links, you’re going to see so many similarities. So to me, our attitude on speed is simple as you’re making a better user experience so that in the aggregate, maybe in a week or two it won’t matter. But in the aggregate, you’re making a better site for human beings. And you know, the way Google’s going to measure this, right, with dwell time, you know, people going to your site, people visiting, people go to different pages. At the end of the day, if you focus on these little things, even though it might not be huge, it’s going to matter now. There’s let me there’s a caveat to site speed, which I want to address. And there’s a URL you can use. Let me give you guys that you are all for your users. It’s a Web page. So you go to webpagetest.org and you enter the url. That’s going to give you what’s called a time to first byte. So TTFB. Supposedly that will help rankings if you lower the time to first byte. Now, before anybody panics, there’s nothing you have to do that technically you have to get good hosting. The hosting that we use for our clients is WordPress engine. We love WordPress engine and some people love site ground. Some people love flywheel, but we love WordPress engine and WordPress engine, you know, we recommend you get the CDN and the content delivery network. It’s an extra 10 bucks a month. But the thing that supposedly does actually impact rankings or can affect ranking is the TTFB time to first byte just the time it takes the user to get the first byte of data from your Web site. And that should be three tenths of a second. I mean, it should be very, very fast. But again, there’s something you really have to do to worry about that. Just go to webpagetest.org and check out your site. And if you have a bad TTFB, consider moving your site to a different hosting. It’s worth it, you know, because at the end of the day, if you’re trying to compete in the legal SEO space, these things are small, but they add up in the aggregate. And look, let’s be honest, nobody likes a slow site.
Mariano: [00:47:26] I mean, it’s just I mean, at the end of the day, nobody likes a slow site. So I don’t think you got to get crazy with it. I think you just try to make a nice site. I think you should add images to your content. I don’t think you know, I know sometimes people will strip a site down to increase the speed. I don’t know if that’s the best approach necessarily, especially now that technology’s gotten so much better.
Mariano: [00:47:45] I mean, we’ve got 5G everywhere, you know, and, you know, the Internet at home speeds are gigabyte. So. But I would say still take the time to optimize the site, optimize the images. You know what I mean? Be smart about it. I’m not saying decrease the quality of the page and strip it down to just a ton of text because nobody wants that. But at the same time, just if you’re gonna put an image, optimize the image, you know, there’s so many great plugins for that. I mean, one of them that we use a short pixel, they’re smush if you’re using WordPress it’s all free. You can optimize the images, make the page better with images and make it more interactive, but still focus on the user experience in terms of speed.
Grace: [00:48:23] That’s perfect. And I want to pull out just a little bit of the terms that you were using, the content delivery network or the CDN. That is a way for people to serve up the information or content from a dedicated network, right?
Mariano: [00:48:37] Correct, exactly. So it’s beautiful about CDN is that they’re going to replicate your site over file servers all over the world. And when somebody goes to your site, it’s going to serve them the site from the place closest to them. And that’ll make a difference. That will make a difference. I mean, you know, if you’re an attorney, you’re probably practicing locally. So but still, it’s a smart thing to have. You know, it it really at this point, from a cost perspective, I mean, we’re talking about maybe 10 bucks a month. That’s kind of a no brainer.
Grace: [00:49:04] Yeah, it definitely is. So I think we covered quite a bit about how important, you know, the UX is for on site SEO. So I want to ask you specifically about heat maps and can you give me a little bit of information on heat maps? Because I know I’ve seen them. I see dots and shows you where people are on your Web site and certain things like that. But can you give me just a little bit about it? And do you use heat maps? Where can I look for heat maps, things like that?
Mariano: [00:49:30] Absolutely. So there’s two providers that we recommend that we work with in the past. There’s crazy egg which is owned by Neil Patel, who’s kind of, you know, people call the godfather of SEO. I mean, the guy’s really well known in the SEO world. If you want to get into SEO, if you’re an attorney. Look up, Neil Patel. Just read everything he’s ever written. It’s worth it, I promise. The second thing we use is called hotjar. Hotjar is a little bit more involved. I think it’s a paid service. I don’t know if they offer a free service, but it’s great because not only do they do heat maps, they do video recording. So they’ll record how users are interacting with your page. Here’s what we tell people about heat maps. It gets kind of technical. Heat Maps are really good for landing pages, in our opinion, to understand how people are interacting with the commercial intent page, especially if you’re running PPC, for organic SEO; I think heat maps are good because they’re gonna give you insight into how far down on the page people are getting. And what we found consistently is that people rarely make it past halfway down, which is important for an attorney to keep in mind if you’re going to do their own Web site to make sure you frontload what matters. You know, a lot of times you want to save the best for last. Don’t do that. They’re never going to see it. They’re not going to get there. You know, the average attention span on the Internet is like five seconds or something ridiculous. It’s probably even less than that, now with tik tok and all this stuff. So, you know, what we tell people is whatever you want them to know. Tell them upfront, because if you don’t hook them right away, they’re not going to make it to the bottom. Then even if you hook them, they probably still won’t make it to the bottom, because at the end of the day, that’s just not how we operate online. So heat maps come in handy to kind of help us understand how users are interacting. Now, where heat maps can be really important is if people aren’t making it down past like the fold, like the first.
Mariano: [00:51:14] I mean, in other words, if you have a situation where the map is really hot right at top and then it gets like ice cold right away because that’s how it heat maps work. It shows you. It goes from red to blue. That’s kind of a little bit of a red flag. I mean, users should be scrolling a little bit. You know, I know this is big fear of scrolling. But you want to look at the heat maps and ask yourself, OK, how far down on the page are my users getting? And if it’s not far at all, that’s a little bit of a red flag. I mean, you want to make sure they’re scrolling a little bit I mean, there should be some hook or some reason for them to kind of want to keep going. If they’re not moving at all, that’s a red flag. And again, you know, our advice to people on the way we try to make our Web sites is lead with the most important things first and assume they won’t scroll or if they do scroll, it’s gonna be very little, you know, and you’ve got to hook them right away. And that’s what we say. A heat map really comes in handy.
Grace: [00:52:07] No, most definitely. And I appreciate the thorough explanation because I know I’ve seen them. And sometimes you’re like, OK, what does that really mean? And but you gave perfect information. If you… These are flags that we need to look for. If we see the heat maps are showing us above the fold or in the top half or top third of the content, rather. So let’s move on to essentially our last two topics. And this one is about measuring results. OK. So in your opinion, how do you feel law firms measure results for their SEO investment. How should they do it?
Mariano: [00:52:42] It’s such it’s such an important question. I mean, it’s really, because that’s really what it all boils down to. Right. What we always tell people is we want the attorney to have the tools to always be able to look at certain things. So what we have for our clients is we have an agency analytics dashboard for them that has all the relevant components to their project. OK. Number two, we provide what’s called pro-rank tracker. And this is something that you can get for yourself if you’re an attorney, you want to track your rankings in an easy place. Pro-rank tracker a great tool. I think it’s you know, it’s not free but it’s worth the investment.
Mariano: [00:53:17] But we tell people to look at a couple things. OK, you know, look at your rankings for the commercial 10 keywords. You know, look at that, because that’s going to give you insight into your ability to capture the kind of leads that you’re looking for. Number one, you’ve got to look at the traffic. You know, I know some people say all the traffic is, you know, it’s BS. It can be faked, can be this can be that. Well, of course. I mean, you know, I mean, if you’ve got a marketing company that is like sending you fake traffic to spike that number, then, I mean, you hired the wrong company. I mean, I don’t want to tell you I mean, go into your Google Analytics, then look at the source of the traffic. I mean, any Web site that has taken off in traffic is going to have international traffic. There’s no way around that. But at the end of the day, the bulk of your traffic should be coming in from you, kind of your local area. Because most attorneys practice locally. I mean, there’s exceptions, right, of your mass torts. You’re practicing nationwide. But most attorneys are practicing locally or at least that silo. Let’s say you’re a huge firm like Morgan and Morgan practicing all over the country. The silo for, you know, Philadelphia should be mainly Philadelphia. Does that make sense? So I guess my point is, you know, you want to look at the rankings, but you want to look at the traffic. You want to see the growth in those, OK? You also want to look at the link building. Now, this is important because we talk about links. We’re not talking about links. We’re talking about referring domains. And I want to make sure that your listeners understand the difference. Because it’s really important we get this question a lot. People say, well, what are you talking about? Referring domain? I hear it’s called link building. No. Let’s talk let’s talk about a Web site called Justia. Justia is a legal directory site that we should all know it’s huge. However, they can link back to you because there a directory 10000 times. So if you have Justia linking to you 10000 times, you have 10000 backlinks. It doesn’t mean anything because Google after while stops giving you credit, they’re like, OK, we get it. Justia likes you. What matters is the referring domains. And if Justia links to you 10000 times, you know what? You got one or referring domain. That’s not going to cut it. You look at any competitive industry, any competitive thing, like a personal injury law in any big market. And those Web sites have up to, you know, a thousand referring domains. Right. At least what gets captured by Ahrefs.
Mariano: [00:55:18] So we always tell you, look at your referring domains. Your marketing company should be able to provide that to you. So the traffic, the rankings, the referring domains. Those are all really important. But then we also say, you know. Your call volume. You know, we install call reel with all our clients so they can easily track their their call volume. And look at the calls that are being generated from your GMB, your Google My Business listing, OK, because at the day that is going to give you great insight into how the project is going. Another thing is obviously the return on investment. The reason why return on investments tricky is because return on investment is harder. It’s easier to measure, if you like, family law or criminal defense. It’s harder to measure if your P.I. So for P.I., we say, look, think about the average profit from a case and use that as an ROI measuring. How many cases are you signing? But more importantly, what we tell people is you got a benchmark. And that’s the thing that happens a lot. People don’t benchmark. So we say, OK, well, where were you a year ago? We’ve been working together for a year. Where were yo a year ago? You know, how many calls are you getting? How much traffic was your site getting? Where were you ranking? How many leads were you getting per month? These are all things that you’ve got to keep in mind. So when we talk about how to measure the SEO results, our attitude is we want to measure it as a whole. So it’s not simple, but if you do it, but if you put the time into it, you have the right tools. It’s worth it because then you really get a sense of the value of it to you. Right. And it’s case by case. It’s case by case. I mean, there’s some attorneys that, you know, to them, a SEO is is kind of a turn off because they feel like it’s a long term investment, it’s brand building, they don’t care they just want leads, they just want leads. So it’s OK do Facebook, do Google ads. Forget the organic SEO. But other attorneys are really into their brand like, no, I want to build my brand. I want my brand to be a known quantity in the market. And that’s you know, that’s another factor that ties in to a SEO results. Right? You know, to what extent? Because, you know, if that does, if you place no value in your brand and growing your brand, which some attorneys really don’t. Then it’s going to be hard to justify the cost of SEO. Right? Although, you know, the link building the content. This and that. And people say just put the money, to Google Ads and make me a nice landing page. Leave it at that. Fair enough. So that’s what we tell people. You know, measuring SEO results. Look at the rankings. Look at the traffic. Look at the amount of content being produced. Look at the amount of phone calls and look at the amount of cases you’re signing. You know, look at it. Look at it all. It’s all part of the funnel. Right. So, you know, to look at one without the other is so misguided is so misleading because it’s like, well, how do you know how these things are lining up? You’ve got to put it all together to make sure that’s really working for you. And at the end of the day, after a certain amount of time, that you should be making more than you’re spending. But you’ve got to track it to know whether you’re making more than you’re spending. So I hope that helps.
Grace: [00:58:00] It does, actually.
Liel: [00:58:01] And I do have a question here for Mariano.
Liel: [00:58:04] So Mariano and I’m I’m curious to see, because the whole conversation has been leading to one statement all along, is that, you know, SEO depends on many different circumstances and there is no one predefined formula that’s going to work for every single case and… I wanted to take your opinion on how those, the overall brand awareness that exists for someone who’s getting fresh into SEO is going to impact on their SEO results. Let me just rephrase that to you. So if you’re starting fresh, you have done anything before to build your brand against someone who has been on TV, who has billboards all over the city. And then one day realized, oh, you know, I haven’t been up to date with the digital marketing part of the strategy and then starts doing SEO, would you see different results? Can they expect for things to work differently between one or another or anyone has a chance at SEO no matter how big their brand is or isn’t?
Mariano: [00:59:13] I mean, they know the known quantities can have a huge leg up. No doubt about it. No doubt about it. I mean, it’s just it’s one of those things. I mean, because if you’re a huge brand, directly or indirectly, you’re going to have a presence online. That’s a thing. I mean, if you’re a big brand and you’re doing billboards and commercials and you’re, you know, you’re a known quantity, what usually happens is that people start Googling you. And they start Googling your brand and you’re getting all these brand searches so that the second you turn around and do SEO, it’s kind of like throwing, you know, fuel on a flame. I mean, it just takes off because the flame’s already burning. You just don’t gas on it. Right. Whereas if you’re an unknown quantity and you’re creating yourself online, it takes a long time for Google to kind of trust you and say, well, who are you? Why should I trust you or not? Of course it can be done. It’s done every day. But if we’re comparing apples to oranges. No, absolutely. You know, if you have the budget to have developed an off line brand, that’s gonna go a long way to help you in developing your online presence. Because again, what’s happening probably is that people are already Googling your brand. And that’s a huge trust signal to Google. People because, you know what Google say, what’s the solution of spam? Brands! That’s a solution to spam. Right. I mean, that’s how you get rid of spam, because, you know, when you have a brand, as we all know and as any attorney listeners this knows, you have something to protect. So when you have something to protect, you know, you’re going to be more cautious in your approach.
Mariano: [01:00:38] But when you’re just you know, you made up a, you know, company, you know, what’s the name of your firm? Los Angeles personal injury attorneys. Really? That’s the name of your firm. You don’t have a brand. You just have an SEO play. Right. That’s your name of your business? Los Angeles personal injury attorneys. That’s the name of your business. Really? It’s like, yeah, that’s what I named it. Well, you named it that because you want to rank higher in the local pact and you’re trying to get an SEO benefit, but you’re not really committed to that. Put your name on it. You know, make it the Tom Smith firm and then all the sudden it’s different. It changes right? And that’s what we’ve noticed. And going back to what I said before about whether or not you want to organic SEO. We’ve noticed that when people are acting on behalf of somebody else’s brand, they just don’t care. It’s somebody else’s name on it. But when it’s your name, you care, right? We care about our names. And that’s what a brand is all about, is like that brand that you want to protect and nurture.
Mariano: [01:01:23] So when you have a huge offline component, you’ve got the bus ads, right. You’re a PI lawyer, you’ve got the billboard, you got the commercials, you’re in magazines. And people are going online and searching you. Yeah. I mean, Google says, hey, you know, you’re a known quantity. Now you’re a SEO’s coming up and you’re doing all these things on the SEO side. Well, hey, you know, we trust you. Let’s rank you well. Let’s put you out there in front of viewers because they’re already looking for you anyway. So our position is, this is gonna make the user happy. Let’s put you out there. And I believe it also ties into entity association. You know, they can associate one with the other very easily. Right. So if the brand is already there and then you start doing this, the SEO in conjunction with it, it’s very easy for them to line it up. And with a high degree of confidence, say this means this. The Smith firm means personal injury lawyer in you know, I don’t know, you know, Dallas, Texas. So then they just line it up and then boom, it takes off.
Liel: [01:02:20] Excellent. Thank you so much. Thank you for answering that.
Grace: [01:02:23] That’s awesome. So I think we can wrap it up now. You gave quite a bit of really great information, you know. So I want to ask you what your kind of, your key takeaway is on this. You know what tips you might have specifically for law firms that are managing their websites in-house? What are three things that they can do that will make an impact on their own site SEO?
Mariano: [01:02:44] Absolutely. I’m glad you asked, because I was gonna ask if I could chime in and say one thing I forgot to mention that I really want to mention. Number one, this may sound really simple and really silly, but I promise you this should have a big impact, especially in the amount of leads you get. Focus on your about us page. You know, the second page that has most traffick after whatever page they land on is your about us page. Now, you know, the reason I specifies because if they’re laying on your about us page is they’re probably already looking for you. So that’s different. But if they land on a page and they like what they see, they’re gonna go to about us. How do I know? Because that’s what we all do. But not only that, but we have the supporting data. We have all the data from our clients and from ourselves to say, oh, that’s what people do. They go to the about us, spend time on the about us page, make it look nice, add information, make yourself at, update the pictures, whatever you know you can do to make it a better page. And we strongly recommend that’s one of those pages that really does matter and it’s often ignored. People like on my bio page, I hate that. I don’t want to talk about myself. We get it. Nobody does it. For the most part, it’s pretty awkward to sit there and basically brag about yourself. But, you know, take the time, invest a time in your about us page. Really, really important. Number one. Number two, remove low quality pages. You know, if you’re trying to do this on your own, you should Google Analytics. It’s free. And you can go in there and you can look at the user metrics per page. It’s actually very easy to do. It’s not that hard. And you want to remove those pages that just aren’t getting any traffic. They’re just kind of dead weight. There’s really no value. Don’t just cut them. Obviously, if that if it’s good information, it might not get a lot of hits. But if it’s you know, if it doesn’t get any traffic and information is really just kind of dated or just not good info, cut it or update it, make it better. Right. Those are two things that I would say to do that, you know, you can have measurable impact, not only amount of leads, but the amount of traffic you’re getting. The way Google perceives your site. You know, Google gets burdened by sites with a lot of pages that aren’t very good and aren’t very good for the user. But number three, the biggest takeaway I can tell people is you know when we talk to attorneys every day. We say, just think about what you would like. You know, as you’re making this content, as you’re developing the site. Really put yourself in the shoes of the user. You know, you go, you know, we don’t have to, you know, think about it. It’s not that complicated in the sense that we go online every day. All of us do. So what do you like when you go online? What do you like a Web page to look like? What do you like the content to read like? You know, don’t overcomplicate it. Just, you know, make it about the user. And when I say make it about the user, make it about yourself, you know, do you like this? I mean, I’ve literally asked attorneys, do you like your website? Do you like this article you wrote? And they’re like, no, not really. It’s like, well, why would anybody else? I mean, if you didn’t like it, why would somebody else, especially someone who’s not a lawyer and they’re like, yeah, you’re right. That’s a good point. There’s so many free tools out there. I’ve named a couple. You know, Hemingway app is a great one. Semrush is a great writing tool. But at the end of the day, there’s so many free tools out there that you can use to make your content better, you know, for the masses. So, you know, that’s it. And just stay focused on the user. If you stay focused on the user, you’re gonna be in decent shape. You know, that’s the best advice I can give you.
Liel: [01:05:50] Mariano, thank you so much for joining us on this great conversation on on site SEO. One thing I loved about it so much, Grace, is that we’re being shared here so much actionable and kind of do it yourself tips that could help basically anyone at all levels listening. And so, Mariano, thank you so much for making this an approachable conversation on a topic that is so complex. Right. So it’s been a pleasure having you. And we’re looking forward to welcoming you again sometime soon.
Mariano: [01:06:18] Grace, Liel, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. I hope this is helpful because I think a lot of attorneys can handle this on their own if they have the right tools and they have the right guidance. So hopefully this was helpful to your listeners and I thank you both for putting this together. I think it was great. Thank you.
Grace: [01:06:32] Thank you so much again.
Liel: [01:06:42] Grace, what a great conversation with Mariano, right?
Grace: [01:06:45] That was so awesome.
Liel: [01:06:47] I think was great because the entire conversation felt like list of actionable takeaways.
Liel: [01:06:55] There was so much value there and so many tips that it’s a little bit hard now to boil it down to two or three main takeaways. What do you think?
Grace: [01:07:05] Especially because he gave us three takeaways already. So now we’re going to give you guys almost 10. It’s awesome. Makes me very happy, especially as you and I both got to kind of geek out a little with him on all this stuff.
Liel: [01:07:18] It was great. Grace. Yes. And so let me start with what I think it was one of the most obvious ones. And it got mentioned throughout the conversation so many times. Is the biggest one of them all.
Liel: [01:07:32] Keep your users in mind. Everything you do comes down to what’s going to matter for them. How are they going to experience it? How are they going to be looking for information? And I want to pick your brain. What do you think about that?
Grace: [01:07:50] So, you know, I think you and I have probably mentioned this a lot of times throughout all of our conversations. It’s all about the user. Right. Google does everything for the user. And your Web site also needs to be for the user. Why? Because you have to think about yourself even. Right. Look inward. When you go to a Web site, when you go to a page, when you go to Google to search for something, doesn’t it kind of piss you off a little bit? If it’s the wrong content being served up, if it’s not truly personalized to you. You have to think about it the same exact way as a law firm. I mean, you think about it as yourself, as the user. What kind of experience do you want for you? What kind of experience are you providing to your prospective clients, to your even your current clients? Right. How many times are we talking about the experience for the user?
Liel: [01:08:40] Absolutely Grace. One thing I really like about the way Mariano presented Google back to us, it’s the place where people get when they want to find answers to their questions. And so make sure that your content is written in a way that you’re constantly answering questions. Right. And another thing is, you want to be conversational in the way that you answer the questions. So leave all that legal jargon out of the picture. OK. They’re no law students, they want it to be conversational, but at the same time, it needs to be precise and concise. And so you want to be effective in your writing. What do you think Grace.
Grace: [01:09:19] Right. I mean, he’d even mentioned the Hemingway app, right. For the readers level. The average reader’s level is at a ninth grade level, as he mentioned. And you need to pass it through there because. Are you writing for someone? Are you writing for yourself? Who are you writing for? It’s for the user. You want them to actually read the content? You’re not writing a legal brief. This is answering questions that I need an answer to right now.
Liel: [01:09:43] Yeah. Absolutely, Grace. So now let’s go to something a little bit more on the technical side. You know, people think how hard building up the SEO strategy and right it is. But people also forget that they already have a whole list of best practice repertoire from where to learn and up to a certain extent, sometimes seven copy. Like if you’re if you’re about to embark on an SEO your project will start by researching who’s already on page number one in your local market and see what are they doing and why is it working? What do you think?
Grace: [01:10:24] That’s right. I mean, look at your competitors, right? Look at their Web sites. Look at what they have. This is what you need to do. Don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Right. I mean, this is why people will do the same thing over and over again, because it was done right. If they’re number one. Copy, copy, copy, copy.
Liel: [01:10:41] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you can from your keyword research all the way down to finding out what are the most visited pages from your competitors. And just look at those and really find inspiration in that and understand why is it that people are visiting those pages, how the content’s been structured so you can actually help yourself by creating content that is already going to be relevant to your local market? Another example that Mariano gave for when you actually should be looking at your competitors is when implementing schema markup on your Web site. Right. You can actually look at the schema markup of your competitors with free schema checker tools from Google and just see whether you can actually take parts of it, introduce it in your own Web site or just use a plug in. Right. There are so many resources out there. There’s so many ways to get creative. I think Grace both you and I believe that lawyers are already way too busy to entertain themselves with the complexities of doing SEO at a professional level. But I think what Mariano here helped us understand is that if you really have the time and want to learn, you can certainly do a lot of these things and implement them on yourself. And so I think for those who are in that page wanting to take on them some of these tasks, I think they found just on this episode, some great valuable insights.
Grace: [01:12:20] Exactly. And don’t, I mean, Mariano himself. Right. And that what he said he was going to go to law school and be a lawyer. And then he realized, I love SEO and love everything about it. Why don’t I just open my own business and do this because this is what I love.
Liel: [01:12:33] Yeah. Agreed. Now, Grace, what what would you make our final take away?
Grace: [01:12:40] So I feel like the final takeaway in bringing this kind of home and you tell me if I’m right or wrong, but I feel that it’s all about the story.
Grace: [01:12:49] Right. And where’s that story? The story is on the about us page.
Liel: [01:12:54] About us page.
Grace: [01:12:54] That’s right. So Mariano mentioned that a few times. Right. And he said, you know, people leave that aside of a last minute thing. Don’t do that. I mean, you and I were just talking about it. Not that long ago about how, you know, they just throw it at you and say, here you write my about us page, right?
Liel: [01:13:11] Yeah. Yeah. Happens all the time. Happens all the time. And I mean what Mariano says is right. I mean, people sometimes just feel awkward and uncomfortable talking and kind of like bragging about themselves. But it’s really not about that. Right. It’s about telling your vision, telling your story, explaining people. Why is it that you do what you do, why you’re passionate about it? Right. Because when people perceive that and see themselves reflected in some way or another in the story that you’re telling them, then there are going to be more likely to find and see the lawyer that they want in your law firm.
Grace: [01:13:48] We’re all looking for a connection. Right. We need a connection. And that connection is to the person that’s going to represent us in one of the worst times of our life, possibly. Right. So tell your story. And you know, and this is a no B.S. conversation, guys. So I’m going to say something that might hurt your feelings a little, but get over it. Tell your story to your own horn. Say what you do and why. Why you do it. You mean you became a lawyer for a reason. And 99.9% of the time I found it because most of these people that tell their story, there’s such a huge rich backstory as to why they became a lawyer. Tell it.
Liel: [01:14:26] Another thing I’d like to just add there, telling your story is a great opportunity to talk about your accomplishments as a lawyer. And that’s great. It’s a great place for you to mention that. But it’s also a great place to also show your more personal side. About us page is a good place to balance those things out. And so I certainly encourage people not only to think about how are they going to talk about how the team came together in all of the record settlements that they’ve managed to achieve over the past few years. People want to know also, you know, who are those humans making up the law firm team?
Grace: [01:15:07] Oh, yeah. The best bios I’ve ever seen are ones that include hobbies and interests. You know why? Because now I feel connected to you. If I’m a reader or a hiker or a biker, whatever I am and I read that about you, I feel like we have a connection, a little closer connection than if I see someone else that doesn’t necessarily. And again, it’s not just about interest, having the same kind of interests. But that’s a component. Right. We’re people. We’d like to connect and we’d like to be social and the about us page is the opportunity to tell them who you are. Like you said, I couldn’t have said it better. It gives you personality. Talk about who you are and what you like. Not wrong with that.
Liel: [01:15:43] Absolutely, Grace. Grace, well, I think that we’re going to wrap up our conversation on own site SEO. It’s our first conversation on the second season, and I’m excited for what’s coming up next.
Liel: [01:15:56] So our listeners will have to join us next week for another conversation on at In Camera podcast. Thank you very much for joining us.
Grace: [01:16:04] Thank you.
Liel: [01:16:07] If you like our show, make sure you subscribe, tell your co-workers, leave us a review and send us your questions to email@example.com. We’ll see you next week.