This is the next post in my series on lawyer website options in 2015. My last post focused on things attorneys should beware of in a web developer. I’ve also provided tips on what lawyers should be looking for in a web developer/marketing consultant. In this article I’m going to look at whether Scorpion Web Design is a good option for your law firm in 2015. After conducting research on the company, and dealing with their staff, I have to suggest that lawyers avoid Scorpion and look for another option.
I wrote my first review of Scorpion Web Design in January of 2014. At that time I reached the conclusion that the service was not a good option due to their price structure, problems in the mechanics of their websites, and their outdated approach to mobile. Unfortunately, I would have to say that these reasons for avoiding Scorpion are still present and some new issues, which I’ve learned over the last few months, strengthen the fact that lawyers should find another service in my opinion.
As with all website options in this series, I’ll be evaluating Scorpion based on cost, organic search/SEO potential, how well the company is adapting to changing web standards, as well as other considerations. Let’s start with my experience in evaluating the company.
My experience of reviewing Scorpion Web Design in 2015
My experience in reviewing Scorpion has been frustrating. When I conducted my 2014 review I was unable to get cooperation from the company even though I reached out to them for participation in the process. Roughly five months after the last review was published, a Scorpion Executive chimed in on the review through our site’s comment section and attempted to argue the merits of Scorpion’s services. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with his arguments as they ran counter to the idea that lawyers should be investing in their firm rather than spending money on it. I connected with the executive through LinkedIn and he stated that he would be assisting with the 2015 review of the company.
I emailed the executive on December 10th, 2014 to schedule a time to talk. We scheduled a call which was to be held on December 29th, 2014. To aid in the process, I sent a list of preliminary questions/talking points to the executive on December 23rd. On December 28th he emailed me and said he needed to reschedule for the following week. I emailed him back on the 29th to work out a new time and received no response. I emailed him again on January 5th of 2015 and received no response. I called the gentleman on his direct line (which I only had because it was in his email signature) on January 14th and he seemed surprised to hear from me. We scheduled a telephone call for the following day. Shortly thereafter he emailed me and cancelled again. Interestingly, he asked in his cancellation email if I could email him some of the questions I was going to ask (even though I had already done so on December 23rd). I re-forwarded my prior questions. I have not received a response even though the representative was informed during our brief phone conversation that this review would be published today.
My process of reviewing Scorpion will be based on information I have learned about the company over the last year as well as by analyzing sites featured in the company’s online gallery.
Evaluating the cost of services offered by Scorpion Web Design
I found Scorpion’s price structure to be problematic. In my last review of the company I found it troublesome that the company did not have a set price structure – I was told by the company that prices varied depending on geography. I found this troublesome as building and maintaining a quality website should cost no more for an attorney in New York than it does in a smaller town. None of the other companies I reviewed last year had this type of a pricing structure.
The exchange I had with the Scorpion executive on our blog clearly showed that this variable pricing structure was due to the fact that Scorpion also wants to manage a pay-per-click campaign for attorneys. I’ve written several posts on why attorneys should avoid pay-per-click, and why it is not good for one’s bottom line, and the Scorpion approach runs completely counter to that idea. I’m going to talk more about this issue below. The bottom line is that it appears that using Scorpion Web Design will result in your firm spending several thousand dollars a month with a substantial amount of that money funding a pay-per-click campaign. Of all the options I’ll be reviewing, Scorpion gives the least value for your money in my opinion due to their reliance on pay-per-click.
Analyzing the organic search & SEO potential of Scorpion Web Design websites
I analyzed four attorney websites found in Scorpion’s online gallery which showcases their work. My review leaves me with the opinion that Scorpion Web Design is not a good option for attorneys who wish to do well in organic search.
The first important SEO factor I analyzed when looking at these four sites was loading speed. Google considers this an important ranking factor in search and states the following in their guidelines 1:
Monitor your site’s performance and optimize load times. Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience. Fast sites increase user satisfaction and improve the overall quality of the web (especially for those users with slow Internet connections), and we hope that as webmasters improve their sites, the overall speed of the web will improve.
In measuring these site’s speed I used Google’s own Page Speed Insights tool as the standard. In other words, I went off of the word of Google itself as to whether the sites load in an adequate amount of time. Given that Scorpion holds themselves out as a “full service” option (meaning they do everything) – this shortcoming falls squarely on them. None of the four sites received a passing score.
I found several other issues in the sites I reviewed. Three of the four had meta descriptions longer than what is recommended to do well in search. The same went for the site titles. One of the site’s used underscores in its URL’s even though this is directly against what Google suggests2. Google uses it’s Webmaster Guidelines, which are readily available, to provide guidance to webmasters as to how a site should be constructed. The search engine, in turn, looks for this criteria to be followed when ranking a site in search. The Scorpion sites I reviewed, however, violate many of these guidelines.
Another key component to doing well in search is content. It is crucial that content be unique. The pages I reviewed on the various sites did little more than give general information about particular topics. These pages did not speak to specifics about the firm or its attorneys. Of the options I’m looking at in this series, I would have to say that the sites I reviewed had the least individualized content.
A disturbing part of my review is that the sites I looked at each had thousands of back links going to them. I’ve written before on why backlinks matter in search. However, meaningful links, which won’t get your site “dinged” in Google algorithm update, must be built organically. Given the extreme number of links these sites I have, I would be cautious as to what tactics/interlinking of websites Scorpion is engaging in to get these links for clients. While I don’t have specifics on these link structures, I would be concerned about the fact that Google’s algorithm updates are regularly meant to weed out sites that engage in non-organic backlink building and how Scorpion websites may be impacted in the future.
Scorpion Web Design and the changing web environment
One of the criticisms I had of Scorpion last year was that their sites were using a “.m” approach to mobile rather than a responsive design. A responsive design is Google’s preferred approach3. Of the four sites I reviewed, two were still using a “.m” domain. In other words, this was a problem a year ago and it still seems to persist. 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. Scorpion, in my opinion, is not keeping up with the changing web. This is a big issue, given that an increasing amount of attorney website traffic is coming from mobile.
Other considerations for lawyers considering Scorpion Web Design in 2015
There’s a few other things to consider about Scorpion Web Design. One is the problem of using a company that seems to want to push attorneys into a pay-per-click( PPC) campaign. The second is that Scorpion has an inherent conflict of interests in trying manage PPC.
Scorpion likely wants attorney engaging in PPC so that they can manage the campaign on behalf of the attorneys. 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 extremely expensive to begin with and using a management service such as this just 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 sometime on how attorneys should avoid PPC altogether and focus on organic search; the last thing a law firm needs is to find a way to pay more for PPC.
Scorpion managing PPC on behalf of attorneys also creates a conflict of interest. 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. Well if Scorpion is representing two attorneys in the same market, for the same keywords, then those two clients are bidding against each other and driving the price up for each other.
My opinions on whether Attorneys should use Scorpion Web Design in 2015
I simply can’t suggest the use of Scorpion Web Design by law firms. There are certainly cheaper options available and, given the level of technical problems which have not been addressed in their websites, I do not feel that the product justifies the price. The emphasis on pay-per-click represents a belief in spending, rather than investing, in regards to one’s online presence. The company’s outdated approach to mobile, which existed in my review last year, is equally worrisome. Combine this with the fact that their PPC management reflects a conflict of interest and I feel attorneys should probably look elsewhere.
1Google Webmaster Guidelines accessed at: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en#design_and_content_guidelines
2Google Webmaster Content Guidelines accessed at: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76329?hl=en
3Google Developer’s Mobile Guide accessed at: https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/mobile-seo/overview/select-config