e4. Law Firm Marketing: Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing – How Much Does SEO Cost?

August 5, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin
 

Matthew Laurin is the President of Esq.Marketing, a company that helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search engine marketing.

Matthew has been in the SEO business for over ten years. He possesses a long track record of repeatable success, achieving maximum ROI for SEO Campaigns, and leading teams to execute simple yet effective campaign strategies.

 
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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Matthew Laurin talks about what SEO for your website requires.
  • The key factors that influence how your website ranks on Google.
  • How to determine the search term you should try to rank for.
  • Case study: what makes a site outrank its competitors?
  • What would it cost to rank your website?

In this episode…

The real cost of SEO is the cost of not having done it at all. When done right, your SEO strategy pays for itself and helps grow your firm. However, many people do it the wrong way: all too often, they pay top dollar to rank for popular terms in their niche but end up missing out on ROI.

Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, says the most important element of SEO is ranking for terms that show purchase intent. In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin, Matthew is interviewed by Dr. Jeremy Weisz of Rise25 about the cost of SEO, how to determine the search terms you want to rank for, and more. If you’re interested in figuring out how to leverage SEO to grow your firm, keep listening.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Esq Marketing, your firm’s strategic search marketing partner. Esq Marketing helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing and helping them land on the first page on Google so that clients can find you right away. We help companies ranging from those with 10 or less members to those with over 50 in their team, essentially creating a marketing department for them to help them reach potential clients with ease.

 

Episode Transcript

Prologue

You’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, where he features successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Matthew Laurin

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Today, I have Jeremy Weisz here who has done thousands of interviews with successful entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs. We flipped the script today, and he will be interviewing me.

Jeremy Weisz

Matt, I totally appreciate you having me and I love always getting on the phone with you because you are a master at search engine marketing and getting the top of Google so whenever I can be on the call, so I can pick your brain I do that. Um, so I appreciate that. We’re Yeah, we’re going to talk about How much does SEO cost? How do you get to the top of the search engines? Before we talk about that, the episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing, you know, Esq-dot-Marketing, which is the company, and you help law firms to generate more clients in cases using search marketing. And you’ve been doing it for, like, over 10 years, which is insane if people think of what the internet was 10 years ago. So you’ve been a pioneer of search engine marketing for a long time. So you get the question over and over. How do I get to the top of Google? How much does SEO cost? So I figured we could start there?

Matthew Laurin

That’s a good question. Yeah. And the fast answer that I tell everybody is it depends. Not always the answer people want to hear but it really depends on what it’s going to take to get that person market share in a search engine results page. So every site is different. Every niche is different. And then as it relates to the legal vertical, every practice area is different, so some are way more competitive than others. Then as it relates to an attorney’s websites, specifically, every site is different, right? Like some sites are brand new. Some sites have had SEO work done to them, others have not. And so it all depends on where that sits right now and how much work is going to take to get it to rank for the keyword phrases, and then how competitive those keyword phrases are, how much demand there is for them in search.

Jeremy Weisz

We’ll talk about some specific examples. So because you know, we will go pass it depends and go really deeper into that. But just in general, before we go into the specific examples, what factors are involved, like, what should people be thinking about? When, okay, what’s it going to take to rank?

Matthew Laurin

So, Google came out back in 2016, and said that the top two ranking factors were links and content. There’s, obviously hundreds of factors that Google takes into account when they rank a specific web page, but Those two are some of the leading contenders. So the amount of unique referring domains pointing at a website and the caliber of content that’s produced are the two things that attorneys need to be thinking about.

Jeremy Weisz

So thank you. I didn’t expect such a simple answer. I love that. That is 80/20. Right? Because there’s probably a million factors. But what you’re saying is you focus on the two top factors that really move the needle. So let’s talk about a search term, like an actual search term. So I don’t know if you want to share your screen and show what, what, yeah—

Matthew Laurin

I was just sharing it here before. Hope that’s okay. Yep. So I plugged in a search term for the Chicago area criminal defense attorney and usually, I mean, there’s probably search volume for criminal defense attorneys in Chicago, but a lot of people will use the offense in the search term to find lawyer. So in this case Chicago DUI lawyer is the one I plugged in here. Before I go to the example, the way I got here was we use a software called Ahrefs, where we can track keyword search volume. And anytime we do keyword research, we try to decide which keyword phrases the client should go after we we plug them into this software, and we try to see what has search volume, and we tried to find a balance between searcher intent and search volume so something doesn’t have any search volume, then it’s probably not worth going after to try to rank for it. And if something does have search volume, and it doesn’t have purchase intent, also probably not a good idea to go after it’s kind of that magic mix of you want to make sure that the person looking for your services is using a phrase that the indicates they want to they want to purchase or or even at the information stage of the funnel, but in this case, we use one with purchase intent. So Chicago DUI lawyer someone using this phrase is probably looking for an attorney to help them with a DUI offense. And as we can see right here, it’s got about 350 searches per month.

Jeremy Weisz

That’s a great distinction, Matt about purchase intent because I’ve had certain people come to me go, you know, you could rank for XYZ term, it gets searched X number of times, like, Whoa, Okay, that sounds good. But then I’m when you were talking about purchase, then I’m thinking, Oh, who cares how many searches that is? Right. You want someone who’s actually gonna get your services?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I mean, I’ve had a big part of my job is education. I’ve had people come to me and said, Hey, I want to rank you know, number one for this phrase, or I want to show up for the word lawyer or I want to show up for the word, attorney. And yeah, there’s tons of search volumes out there—

Jeremy Weisz

You’re like, why?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, exactly. It’s an extremely broad—

Jeremy Weisz

Does it make you want to throw your mind down the toilet?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, you have no idea what that person wants. I mean, they may be looking for how to spell the word attorney. They may be looking for pictures of attorneys. They may be wanting to know what an attorney does. So you, you have no idea what the intent is. And the more the closer you can get to what the what the searcher is intending to find the better off. So that’s how I found the volume for this is in Ahrefs. plugged in the keyword phrase, they gave me the data on what it is. And so I use that example here in an incognito window in Chrome, because it doesn’t track my search behavior, my search history. And it’s not the most accurate way to find out what’s ranking first, but it’s a pretty accurate way to kind of check on the fly once what’s ranking. So I plug this in.

Jeremy Weisz

And, by the way, if someone is a criminal defense attorney or a lawyer and they want to rank for DUI, you should definitely listen closely to this because this is a highly, you know, this is like you were saying this is search. This is purchase intent.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I mean, if you want to rank for DUI related terms in the Chicago area, this is the phrase one of the phrases you want to go after, and I’m going to tell you right now, why the results on the first page are there? Pretty much and there can be a lot of factors. But in general, we can narrow down pretty closely why the top sites are ranking in the first spots like they are. So the first four spots you see here are ads, obviously, and you could pay to get there. 

Jeremy Weisz

They’re probably expensive clicks, I imagine. 

Matthew Laurin

Ah, very expensive. Actually, the data in HREF shows me that too. So for this particular keyword phrase, you’re looking at about $35 a click if you were going to pay for it.

Jeremy Weisz

Someone clicks, boom, $35 gone.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, 35 bucks. Sounds great. So after the paid results, you have the Google Local pack, which is their top three local listings for their Google My Business results. These are the top three local listings. And you can also pay to get in here with paid ads, but these are organic ones right here. And then below that, we start to see our first organic listings now. The first couple of sites that are ranking are attorney directories. So Findlaw, Justia, those are two really popular attorney directories. And the reason these ones show up first is the domains are extremely authoritative. And I can show you what I mean by that. But I want to take an example. That’s not one of these bigger companies. That’s been around a while. So I took this. Let’s look at it’s Ktenas law, Ktenas law, Ktenas law. Hmm, probably not pronouncing that right.

Jeremy Weisz

By the way, there is a video if you’re listening to the podcast version. Matt will talk it through but you can watch the video on their website.

Matthew Laurin

Thanks for that, Jeremy. So I took this domain right here and I plugged it back into the same software HREF which gives me a snapshot of this attorney’s LinkedIn profile. So the quantity and quality of referring domains pointing at this website and all the information that goes along with that. So I plug that in here and there’s a lot of things at the top here, and there’s some key data that I look at that kind of indicates to me why this attorney might be ranking on the first page for this term, as opposed to other competitors. And some of the information that I pick out first is the site’s domain rating, which is a rating between zero and 100. That gives a quick snapshot of how authoritative the domain is. And to put that into context: a site like Facebook might be at a DR 98 of whitehouse.gov might be like a DR 92, or 90. And this particular site comes in at a DR 13. So it’s not extremely authoritative, but you can tell they’ve been doing some work to it. The other thing that I look at are the number of referring domains. So he has 110 unique referring domains pointing at his site. And so those two things together tell me they’ve been doing some work on the site and they’re starting to build some, you know, not a lot of links, but a decent amount of links to the site. They have one 1700 backlinks pointing at the site and then the other thing I look at is their traffic value in HREF. So that’s right now they’re bringing in about $10,000 worth of traffic value. And what that means is, if they were going to try to get the same exposure in organic search, without ranking organically for it, they’d have to pay this much to Google on a, probably a monthly basis, to which activity. And so I take, I take these metrics, and I kind of look at them and see, okay, this is this is where the site says now if you take another another competing site, and I’m going to go to the third page here, so third page of Google—

Jeremy Weisz

For the same search term, we’re looking, Chicago, DUI lawyer.

Matthew Laurin

And I’m going to grab this, so it’s Ivan Rueda. Hopefully, I’m pronouncing that right, is the DUI lawyer in Chicago. I take his domain and I plug it into the same software like as I pulled up over here. Now you can see a difference here already. So the domain rating is down a little bit. So the first one, I’m sorry, it’s exactly that but 13. But the other thing that’s down a little bit is the number of referring domains. So this site has 22 referring domains, whereas this site ranking on the first page has 110. So substantially more referring domains pointing at that one. And you can see his traffic value is substantially lower $135. And the reason that is is because, you know, he’s not, he’s not ranking on the first page for high volume keyword phrase, keyword phrases or keyword phrases that would cost a lot per click to, to rank on the first page for so there are other factors at play here, I can see it right off the bat that he you know, doesn’t have a security certificate installed on a site he maybe the content is not as relevant or it’s not as in depth as the first page result. But overall, the backlink profile is not as strong as the top, the top ranking site or the site on the first page. We can go even further here to a little bit if you if we go back to the first page and we grab one of these top ranking directories. So from the example, FindLaw. This is FindLaw’s DUI page. So they just have listings of attorneys who are DUI lawyers. Just going to grab the root domain and put it into this software. And then you’ll see why this one first. Sorry, that kicked out there.

Jeremy Weisz

So just to talk through all your, you’re going there. So it’s interesting because you have the ads, then you have the directories and you have the organic rankings. And then it really doesn’t seem like it’s that far off. Like that third page person. It seems like they’re almost within striking distance. I mean, it’s Yeah, seemed crazy to like, get to his work. 

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, if you dig a little deeper, you can look at top pages in HREF. And you can see what pages are kind of close to or yeah, what kind of what pages are kind of close to the first question. Pay to Google for various keyword terms and in with a concerted effort of building links and improving on site optimization, you can move the needle you know over time doesn’t happen instantly, but over the course of a few months, you can definitely move the needle. So, I put this findlaw website into HREF. And you can see right here at the DR 90 substantially more than those other terms are those other sites and in the number of unique referring domains 14,000 unique referring domain. So pretty much with any legal related search term, the legal directories like FindLaw, Justia, do some of the other ones, Martindale-Hubbell. Those show up on the first spot, mainly because of this in this data, because because they have so many unique referring domains pointed out and because their DR rating is so high, they’re just very authoritative, very popular sites on the internet.

Jeremy Weisz

Are there any other ones besides those FindLaw? Just do, what were the other ones?

Matthew Laurin

FindLaw, just the Martindale-Hubbell. Sometimes, let me see here.

Jeremy Weisz

So do, do lawyers typically get on all of them, or some of them, only on certain ones?

Matthew Laurin

Some yeah, some attorneys. Usually when we start working with clients, sometimes they’ve already done some of the ,we call it low-hanging fruit. So joining attorney directories like Super Lawyers, FindLaw, Justia, claiming your profiles on those, sometimes they’ve already done that. So, but other times we work with clients who, maybe they are just getting started, and they haven’t had a chance to do that, or they weren’t aware that claiming the profile was so beneficial. Yeah, I mean, claiming those profiles is one of the first things we do for a lot of clients if they don’t have them already. Because you can. If you choose a category on those sites, and you fill out the profile, every single field that’s available on it, you tend to rank in those pages that show up for those keyword phrases. So even if you aren’t ranking on the first page, maybe you’ll show up in the profile listings of those Yeah, directory site. Super Lawyers was the other one I was thinking of. It’s just down here further on the page. Got it.

Jeremy Weisz

So you’re mentioning the difference there? It seemed like those directories had much higher numbers.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah. So they’re just much more authoritative. They just have way more sites linking to them. And overall, they’re just much more authoritative sites, which is why they tend to rank in the top spots right underneath the local pack. So it’s not to say that getting a higher Dr. And getting more referring domains is going to guarantee you a first page spot or guarantee you over competitors. But in our experience, most of the time when we try to compare why competitors are out ranking a site, it’s usually because they have more unique referring domains they have a higher domain rating than their competitors. Do—

Jeremy Weisz

Man I like that answer a lot more than just it depends because you can really see it depends on the keyword, like, if you want a certain keyword depends, what’s it gonna take? And then what the the, you know, the top people in Google, what it’s going to take to kind of overcome them and the work it’s going to take for it could just depend on even a keyword that you’re trying to rank for.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah. And so and as it relates to the question about costs, like, if I don’t know anything about a site, I’ll have to, you know, just give wild estimates. It’s like, Yeah, it really depends on what the condition of your site is. So if we go back to that first example, with the domain rating of, you know, what was it 13 on the person on the third page? You can see, Nope, sorry, I got kicked out again. You can see that, you know, to increase the number of referring domains, it’s gonna take a lot of manual work. So a lot of manual outreach to other websites, emailing webmasters, coming up with unique campaigns to try to get a foot in the door to ask them for a link to your site. Claiming attorney directories, claiming social directories, building citations, all of those things take a lot of time, which translates to a lot of costs. So the more the fewer referring domains on the the less authoritative a site is, the more effort and time it takes to get it to the first page, because you have to increase those numbers, you have to, to increase the number of referring domains pointing at the site, along with all the other odd site work that it would take to to optimize an attorney’s website. So once I see that data, I can give a more accurate estimate to them as what it’s going to cost on a monthly basis to get them where they want to be. And sometimes an attorney site may have a lot of referring domains already, maybe it’s just a lot of on site work that needs to happen in order for them to rank better, and it may not cost as much whereas on the you know, conversely, if it’s a brand new site and they have no referring domains pointing it may cost, you know, several thousand dollars a month to to get that site ranking you know in a six, an eight month time period.

Jeremy Weisz

Now where can people contact you? How can they contact you? Where can they find out more?

Matthew Laurin

You can find out more at Esq.Marketing, that’s our site and you can contact me directly at Matthew@esq.marketing

Jeremy Weisz

And I’m just I don’t Matt is not right here. Matt has not agreed to do this, but I’m going to put him on the spot for a second. He chose a lot of money to do consulting and things but I’m gonna say contact him he may or may not depending if he listens to me do like a free audit or some kind of audit to show you kind of where your specific firm is ranking on all these factors and, and actually explain some of the things that you can do. 

Matthew Laurin

So, you know what, Jeremy. since if they’re listening to this podcast, and they mention it when they reach out to me, I will, I’ll do that. That’s something that we usually sell for about $1500 as a comprehensive on site and all site audit of a website. But yeah, if you listen to the podcast—

Jeremy Weisz

If you listen this far, I’m gonna say you get to you deserve to get get that I guess I didn’t even realize how much you charged I figured you did because it’s a really comprehensive, so.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, we do. I mean, we’ll do a brief overview when we do a proposal because it doesn’t take that much information to kind of understand what it will take to gain market share, but to you know, the audit is a different animal. It’s pretty much a blueprint for what you need to do to achieve first page rankings. And so you don’t take something like that. And either do it yourself which is a lot of work or give it to internal marketing person or a freelancer and say, Hey, do all this stuff that Yeah, and you could you could achieve first page ranking or someone who’s actually done it before always works. Yeah, there is an artistic style to it. So but yeah, if you listen to the podcast and have an interest in growing your law firm, using search, contact me, mention the podcast, and we’ll get you an audit.

Jeremy Weisz

Cool. Thanks for having me.

Matthew Laurin

No problem, buddy. Thanks for being on. Appreciate it.

Conclusion

Thanks for listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.

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