If you have been through the process of evaluating and choosing search engine optimization (SEO) and website design vendors, you have probably been surprised by the variety of prices and options you were provided. It is very difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons and often leads to considerable confusion.
Similar to other types of businesses that compete, legal SEO professionals have various business models. Entrepreneur Magazine states in an article that the SEO business is 80 percent scam and unscrupulous vendors can do far more harm than good. Some vendors strive for quantity and add as many competing clients as possible in a market area. Others seek potential future opportunities by providing low pricing. They anticipate that law firms will purchase other services they provide, e.g. directories, books, legal research, etc. Many of them do initial search engine optimization work, but do not work on the sites’ search engine optimization on an ongoing basis. They also try to fit their clients into their predesigned box of services in order to keep their costs down.
Other providers are small and do not, or are not able to, invest in the resources needed to develop a significant search engine optimization campaign or design. As a result, they have low overhead and provide low prices, but they can not deliver consistent results.
Other companies provide a high level of service and they staff their companies with professional designers, SEO professionals, content writers, social media developers and writers and experienced project managers. Some vendors see value in establishing long term relationships with clients and work to combine high quality services with high quality results by selectively choosing the right partners (law firms) to support. The vendor and the law firm work together to grow and prosper. Obviously, the vendors that provide the highest quality services are going to require higher investment levels.
Law firm SEO and website design vendors who elect to take on as many clients as possible in a competitive market area tend to offer lower prices. Their workforce is typically made up of 75%+ salespeople. Large quotas influence their sales and support approach. For example, assume that a firm takes on 15 clients in a competitive marketplace and they charge their clients an average of $2,000 per month for Search Engine Optimization and Web marketing. First, if they are servicing fifteen competing clients in one market area, which client takes priority? Is it the client investing the most in during a given month? That is an important question and one that should be asked when evaluating vendors. Regardless, it allows these vendors the ability to offer very low pricing due to their cost leadership strategies and unlimited number of clients they will obtain in a city. Often, law firms will fall prey to low price offers and, later, learn that they have lost their investment.
An unethical strategy that some vendors use to obtain clients is to low-ball their pricing. They come in with a very competitive price, influence the prospective client to move forward, and then raise prices several months after the contract is signed. They may even require hidden fees after a firm has made an agreement with their company. The best way to prevent finding yourself in these situations is to talk with the vendor’s references. Consultwebs has a list of our law firm clients on our website and we always recommend that prospective clients speak with them about our customer service, commitment and strategies before choosing us.
As mentioned above, some small vendors are able to offer competitive pricing because they have very low overhead. While they can offer very personalized attention to a limited number of clients, they generally have a difficult time providing sufficient resources and expertise to accomplish dominant search visibility in competitive market areas. A vendor must be well structured, experienced and have considerable expertise in order to offer the components that contribute to high rankings such as high quality legal content, proper meta data, strategic and relevant link exchanges, continuous awareness of competition, attentive and immediate customer support, up-to-date of the search engine environment and changes, etc. Maintaining a professional design and SEO team and achieving results is challenging enough to manage with a large number of high quality professionals. It is virtually impossible to manage with a small staff.
While I have touched on companies that offer very low investments for website design and SEO, there are also companies that require extremely large, unreasonable investments, yet they provide mediocre results. Their goal is to pacify their clients as long as possible while receiving payments. Fortunately, it is quite easy to determine if a website is ranking and obtaining clients and law firms catch on, but, unfortunately, they have spent a lot of money and have to virtually start over.
How does a law firm determine which Web SEO and design vendor to choose? I encourage you to watch Dale Tincher’s video, How to Choose or Evaluate an SEO Provider. Law firm marketing expert, Larry Bodine, J.D. stated, “Spend 10 minutes on this video and save yourself thousands of dollars”. Dale discusses important criteria that your law firm should consider when determining why one company’s investment levels are higher than another. The deciding factor should be based on the results that will be accomplished from your Web campaign. Dale encourages you to talk with the law firms currently working with the vendor and let them tell you their results and ROI. If a high percentage of the competitively priced vendor’s clients are not experiencing positive results, you should move on.