Attorney discovering SEOThis post is a quick break from my series on the current state of law firm marketing. I wanted to take a minute and address why many law firm websites get little to no organic traffic. The reason is simple – such attorneys need a new website. In spite of this, many attorneys feel attached to their current site. These lawyers feel that they have a great site and they just “need someone to do the SEO on it.” This stems from a misunderstanding about what search engine optimization is. This post is going to address the fact that real SEO, not the spam pushed by snake oil salesmen promising to get you “to the top of Google,” will typically require a new website.

I wanted to address this issue because of several phone calls I’ve received recently from law firms inquiring about our services. Given the struggling state of the legal profession, an increasing number of attorneys are feeling the need to improve their web presence. Many attorneys, therefore, call us and ask if we will “do the SEO” on their website. Well, as I explained in my article on what is and what is not SEO, legitimate search engine optimization involves developing and implementing a quality content strategy and making sure a website is in compliance with Google’s webmaster guidelines. This means that if your site’s content is problematic, and your not it compliance with Google’s guidelines, then you need new content and a site redesign; in other words, you need a completely new website (after the content and the design there’s nothing left).

If you’re struggling to gain traction on the web then, chances are, your current site design and content will not be part of the solution. A big part of SEO takes place when your site is built. When constructing your website you need to ask your developer questions related to how they will make your content relevant and how they will comply with Google’s webmaster guidelines (which can be found here). Matt Cutts discussed this issue in this video:

I totally understand that it can be frustrating to realize that you spent money on a website that wasn’t built correctly and has inadequate content. Trying to “fix” the problem, however, is simply throwing good money after bad and you might as well be doing this:

dollar bill on fire

Assuming that you don’t like to set money on fire, I wouldn’t suggest that you try to fix a website that was handled poorly from the get-go. This is true even if you think the site is cool.

How do you know if you need a new website? The answer is simple. Are you doing well in search (measured by your overall organic traffic)? If the answer is “no” then you have problems with either your site’s design, architecture, or content. I will say that it’s very rare that someone is only struggling in one of these areas – they typically struggle in all three. The reason they struggle in all three is that, if the site were built by someone who legitimately understood SEO, everything would have been handled correctly from the beginning.

For more insight on how your site should be designed, and how your content should be structured, download our free Attorney SEO Starter Guide.

The sooner you get started with a correct strategy then the sooner you start seeing the benefits. What’s your opinion as to why many attorneys throw good money at a bad investment? Chime in through the comment form below.