This is the next post in my Website Options for Law Firms series. I’ve previously discussed whether attorneys should build their own websites or hire a developer and have provided tips for lawyers who will be hiring a developer to build their firm’s website.
In this Scorpion Web Design review, I will be discussing whether attorneys should utilize Scorpion’s services to manage their web presence.
After researching the company, dealing with staff, and talking to lawyers who have hired them, I suggest that lawyers choose an option that allows them to own their web assets and gives them more bang for their buck.
I’ll be evaluating Scorpion based on cost, SEO potential, how well the company adapts to changing web standards, and other considerations. Let’s start with my experience in evaluating the company.
My experience in evaluating Scorpion Web Design as a law firm’s website option
Scorpion is a California-based company that caters to several industries, including the legal world. Their website states that they provide website, account management, and digital marketing services.
While preparing this review, there were varying instances where I was in contact with their VP of Business Development and their CRO; both failed to have a meeting with me to discuss their services.
However, I was able to ask the VP a few questions about pricing over the phone, which he then gave me a vague response (more on pricing below).
In addition to reaching out to Scorpion, I ran a series of tests involving several sites they feature in the “Success Stories” section of their website. I made sure I used sites from different practice areas to get a good sample base in distinct parts of the country. After running these tests, I feel I’m in a good position to evaluate their services.
EVALUATING THE COST OF SCORPION WEB DESIGN
As mentioned above, the VP I spoke with give me some vague information regarding pricing. He indicated that pricing varied depending on the location and specific niche that a lawyer is in.
In my opinion, the level of work that goes into a twenty-five-page criminal defense site for a small-town lawyer should be no different than the level of work for a twenty-five-page criminal defense site in New York. However, this pricing makes more sense in terms of a marketing budget where location does play a role in competitive SEO and PPC markets.
I would hope that their locational pricing variance isn’t based on the idea that attorneys in larger locales can simply afford to pay more.
Following more research, I found that some Scorpion websites can go for anywhere up to $20,000 to $25,000, but I couldn’t find further details. They also offer more affordable website designs based on templates to cut the costs that a custom website requires.
During my research, I did find multiple articles that described Scorpion’s service as pricey.
Evaluating the SEO potential of Scorpion Web Design
I engaged in a comprehensive analysis of several different sites built by Scorpion. The number of issues I found led me to the finding that the company is not a good option if you want to do well in search.
But before I discuss their quality of SEO services, let me start by saying that it seems that they prioritize paid advertising over SEO.
All three of the sites I looked at had low page loading scores, along with a large number of technical errors, when tested through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. These low scores mean that Google sees these sites as potentially loading slowly and returning a poor user experience. Below is an example of a site designed by Scorpion.
Given the increasing importance that Google is placing on site speed, this is a big negative in terms of SEO potential. Site speed falls squarely on the shoulders of the developer, so this is a strike against Scorpion.
I found several other issues, from an SEO standpoint, that raised concerns. All of the sites I looked at had incorrectly formatted meta descriptions. Other issues included poorly formatted URLs, poorly formatted page titles, and the use of Flash on the sites (which is increasingly falling out of favor with search engines).
Perhaps the biggest red flag was that I saw a lack of individualized content on the sites. This seems to be a big problem with many of Scorpion’s competitors too. When it comes to doing well with SEO, having good content and user experience are arguably the most critical factors.
I performed some Google searches for attorneys in the practice areas of the sites I examined. I also narrowed the searches by location. Two of the websites didn’t show up on Google’s first three pages for any of my searches. The third site did show up on the first page for two of my searches but not for the other three.
These search results, combined with the above issues, lead to me not being able to recommend Scorpion on the SEO front.
SCORPION’S EMPHASIS ON PPC
One other thing you should consider before using Scorpion is that they seem to want to push attorneys into a pay-per-click( PPC) campaign. The biggest con to PPC is that it isn’t as sustainable as SEO is. Although paid ads do have their place in the law marketing world, they’re not a long-term solution to getting leads in a cost-effective manner. As soon as you stop paying for ads, your leads will stop coming in, unlike SEO, where the results you gain will last much longer without continuous spending.
Scorpion has an inherent conflict of interest in trying to manage PPC. Since PPC works on a bidding system, the person willing to pay more for a particular keyword will be placed higher in the paid search results. So if Scorpion represents two attorneys in the same market, for the same keywords, then those clients are bidding against each other and driving the price up for both parties.
Scorpion likely wants attorneys engaging in PPC so they can manage the campaigns. These systems usually work on a percentage. Say Scorpion charges 15 percent for PPC management. This would mean that a $100 marketing budget would have $15 going to Scorpion as a “management fee” with the remaining $85 going to adds. PPC is naturally extremely expensive, and using a management service such as this raises the cost even more. Say, for example, an average PPC campaign costs $25 per click. If you manage your own PPC, then $1,000 would get you 40 clicks. Paying 15 percent to Scorpion, however, means you would only receive 34 clicks and raises your effective cost to $29.41 per click.
I’ve been writing for some time on how attorneys should focus less on PPC and more on organic search. And the last thing a law firm needs is to find a way to pay more for PPC.
EVALUATING HOW WELL SCORPION WEB DESIGN IS SUITED TO A CHANGING WEB ENVIRONMENT
The web is continually changing, and more and more internet traffic is coming from mobile smartphones. If you wish to do well in search, then focusing on how your site does on mobile is just as important — if not more — than desktop. As of 2020, there are over 270 million mobile internet users in the US, and this number is only expected to keep growing.
Years ago, when I first reviewed Scorpion’s services, all of the websites I looked at did render well on a mobile device but did so using an “m.” version of the domain. Also, one of the websites I looked at was still using Flash. Flash content is difficult for search engines to index and does not play well with mobile devices.
After revisiting these issues in 2020, it appears these problems no longer exist. And Scorpion has since adapted to the web’s changing environment.
Another thing you should consider before using Scorpion is that you don’t own your website. This is also a big downside to hiring their other competitors like Justia.
If you decide to work with another marketing agency in the future, switching your hosting to another provider will most likely be a pain.
SHOULD ATTORNEYS UTILIZE SCORPION WEB DESIGN FOR THEIR WEB PRESENCE?
I simply can’t recommend Scorpion to attorneys as their best-value option. But I can say they’re a reputable company that is continuing to grow and not going anywhere soon. After all, they wouldn’t be around if they couldn’t get results. They have made improvements over the years to help their clients stay above water in the competitive marketing and web development worlds.
There are certainly cheaper options available that give lawyers a bigger bang for their buck. I do not feel that the product justifies the price, especially considering their emphasis on pay-per-click represents a belief in spending, rather than investing, in regards to one’s online presence. Combine this with the fact that their PPC management reflects a conflict of interest; I feel attorneys should probably look elsewhere.
Have you hired Scorpion Web Design for your web marketing needs? Please tell us about your experience in the comment section below.