He didn’t see it coming. It all started when Max saw an ad for cheap SEO services, with promises of Page 1 Google rankings. As a general practice attorney trying to break into high-demand and hyper-competitive family law, Max had little time for SEO.
So, when Max’s law firm featured on Page 1 for his targeted keywords after a month, he was thrilled — except the victory didn’t produce any real results. Unknown to Max, the agency used an array of rogue tactics to deliver a rapid boost in rankings. Under pressure to keep its prices low, the agency ignored search engine guidelines and best practices.
This disappointing experience led Max to reject the legitimacy of SEO altogether and throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you’ve previously explored SEO but remain skeptical of its claims, we reveal how you can fight back and get actual results — without hype or gimmicks.
The Dangers of Low-Cost SEO Services for Lawyers
When it comes to SEO for lawyers, there’s a distinct difference between good and bad SEO. The first focuses on sustainable, long-term growth. The second utilizes unethical means and “Black Hat” tactics to ascend the search engine rankings ladder quickly.
If you’re thinking of investing in cheap SEO services, consider these nine risks before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Ignoring Mobile-First Indexing Best Practices
In 2016, Google launched its mobile-first indexing initiative. The term “mobile-first indexing” refers to Google’s policy of ranking pages based on their mobile rather than desktop versions. Google made a significant shift in its search engine operations when it transitioned towards prioritizing mobile content over desktop. This change made mobile versions of sites the primary source for ranking signals, structuring data, and snippets displayed on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Why did Google make the switch? It was a response to the growing trend of more people using devices with smaller screens. Google implemented these measures to enable users to experience improved performance when searching via phones, tablets, or iPads.
Low-cost SEO agencies often hem and haw when you ask for concrete plans to deliver strong mobile-first rankings for your law firm. The bottom line? Ignoring mobile-first can have a negative impact on brand trust and revenue growth.
2. Neglecting to Address Technical SEO Barriers to Revenue Growth
Because the technical aspects of SEO change so often, low-cost SEO services often rely on antiquated technical SEO strategies that do little to move the needle for your law firm.
Run — if your SEO agency does any of these four (4) things:
- Creating new pages without a plan to redirect old URLs. This could cost you up to millions in revenue, based on the size of your firm.
- Failing to keep you informed of algorithm changes. In 2023, updates will be rolling out faster and in closer succession to each other. SEO agencies with no contingencies for handling negative impacts from Google algorithm updates can damage your hard-earned reputation.
- Failing to offer real solutions to challenges that affect your rankings, such as the limitations of GTM (Google Tag Manager) integration with GA4 (Google Analytics 4)
- Offering no recommendations for improving page speed.
Technical SEO can be a game-changer — but second-rate SEO agencies often focus on quick results and lack the highly technical expertise to deliver sustainable growth.
3. Offering No Core Plan for Increasing Revenue
With low-cost SEO agencies, there’s a high chance you’ll lose when it comes to generating revenue.
Cheap SEO is all about short-term results and quick wins. You’ll get a surge of traffic from Google, but that traffic will be short-lived. Worse, the lead quality will be poor, so you’ll receive little-to-no value from your investment. Monetizing it effectively will be next to impossible.
Low-cost agencies often neglect to offer these services in a basic SEO package:
- Comprehensive site audits
- Thorough SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis
- Local SEO optimization
- Metadata analysis & optimization
As a result, you’re left in the dust while your competitors leverage powerful opportunities to attract and retain high-paying clients.
4. Engaging in Low-Quality Link Building Practices
Link building remains one of the top two criteria in Google’s page ranking algorithm. Interestingly, 41% of marketers consider link building the most challenging part of SEO.
Low-cost SEO agencies often engage in link schemes that cause your website to be penalized by search engines.
When it comes to link building, it’s critical to focus on quality links from authoritative websites related to your practice area. Cheap SEO agencies often utilize shady link schemes that drive away valuable leads or worse — outsource link building to cheap offshore agencies that damage your brand.
5. Using Fake Reviews to Beat the Google Algorithm
Positive reviews are the holy grail of revenue growth — 80% of consumers say they prefer to do business with brands with 4, 4.5, and 5 star reviews. This has (unsurprisingly) led to an increase in fake reviews.
In November 2022, Google filed a lawsuit against an agency named G Verifier. The company delivered first-page rankings by extorting business owners for cash and posting fake reviews on client sites.
On January 3, 2023, GeekWire published an article about Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit against a Seattle-area plastic surgery practice for using illegal tactics to uphold the company’s online image. The lawsuit alleges that Allure Esthetic and its owner Dr. Javad Sajan silenced their patients with non-disclosure agreements from 2017 to 2019, requiring more than 10,000 individuals not to spread any reviews under four stars that may “damage the reputation” of Allure.
Patients experienced a gross violation of their fundamental right to privacy, which the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act works hard to uphold. The lawsuit also claims Allure and Sajan tried bribing patients with cash and free services or products in exchange for taking down negative reviews—not only that, but anyone accepting these bribes would have had to sign an NDA threatening them with up to $250, 000 worth of legal fees if they continued writing negative reviews.
While the lawsuit’s outcome is yet to be determined, it’s an excellent example of why cheap SEO can cost more than it’s worth.
6. Failing to Identify and Offer Real Fixes for Thin Content
Low-quality content erodes your image as a thought leader in your practice area. Cheap SEO agencies often ignore the dangers of thin content for fast results. This includes:
- Duplicate content, such as separate versions of your site (HTTP versus HTTPS)
- Doorway pages that are only search engine-readable and use META refresh to redirect users
- AI-generated prose that offer little information or value to searchers
- Ad-filled pages that offer few answers to questions asked by potential clients
- Pages with a low word count
Thin content is a particular problem: as of 2022, only 19% of companies report that they have an advanced content marketing strategy. Low-cost SEO agencies lack a clear focus on addressing user pain points in your area of law, be it criminal defense, family law, estate planning, or personal injury law.
This may cause you to fall afoul of Google’s new Panda/Coati algorithm.
7. Implementing Poorly Vetted Social Media Campaigns
Social media marketing is an integral part of SEO for lawyers, as it can help increase your law firm’s visibility.
That said, bad social media can backfire spectacularly. Pepsi learned this the hard way with its Kendall Jenner ad in 2017. Despite the brand’s insistence that the ad advocated unity, it was accused of over-simplifying the challenges in achieving it.
That same year, Dove earned a backlash when an ad compared women’s bodies to plastic body-wash bottles. Although the brand reassured detractors that the ad celebrated “beauty in all shapes and sizes,” the backlash negatively impacted its image for years.
Cheap agencies can damage your brand image with ill-conceived social media campaigns. An effective brand positioning strategy with culturally relevant content is a must in today’s consumer-focused markets.
8. Avoiding Both Real-Time and Predictive Analysis
Low-cost SEO agencies often neglect progress analysis, relying instead on dated vanity metrics to pull the wool over your eyes. Remember Max? His agency optimized for low competition, low CPC keywords — with no real plan for increasing conversions by tracking metrics such as:
- Ad conversion rates
- Email campaign conversion rates
- ROAS (return on ad spend)
- Customer lifetime value (LTV) by channel
- Site conversions from organic traffic
- First-click and last-click attributions along the conversion path
As a result, they failed to close the content gaps that were hindering the growth of Max’s law firm.
Max didn’t know that Google’s self-learning algorithms now prioritize search intent and UX in search engine rankings.
In addition, CPC by industry matters — a lot. According to digital marketing guru Neil Patel, a CPC of $134.77 for the keyword “accident lawyer” may seem excessive — until one recognizes that the average client value for an accident-based law firm is higher than that for an e-commerce apparel company. The agency Max hired disregarded this critical truth.
9. Using Black Hat Strategies to Increase Rankings
Low-cost SEO agencies often use tactics that violate search engine rules, which can result in penalties.
If your SEO agency is using the following black hat SEO tactics, there’s a high chance you’ll be penalized by Google:
- Link farms
- Blog comment spam
- Deceptive redirects
- Private blog networks
- Rich snippet hacks
All of the above can earn you a Google manual action and damage your law firm’s reputation. For extremely egregious offenses, Google may even remove your site from its index entirely — making it impossible for potential clients to find you.
Law Firm Marketing Pros Delivers Quality SEO Services that Yield the Highest ROI for Your Law Firm
If creating an SEO strategy from scratch seems overwhelming, we know the feeling. Law Firm Marketing Pros is an award-winning digital agency with over a decade of experience working with attorneys. It all starts with a strategy, and your strategy should be to create an online omnipresence so that everywhere your potential customer looks online, they see you. Then you have to be in a category of one, so you are the clear choice of the lawyer who can solve their problem.
Are you ready to get immediate access to powerful SEO strategies that drive revenue? Contact Partner and Co-Founder Josh Konigsberg, author of Law Firm Digital Marketing Made Easy: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need to Become a Best-Known Attorney, to schedule a free 15-minute discovery call at (561) 948-5001 or complete our online form. Though brief, this call dives deep into your strategy. Josh will then prepare a complimentary digital marketing brief packed with 25-35 pages of value that drives qualified clients directly to your practice.
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