e15. Law Firm Marketing: Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing – How to Smoothly Migrate Your Law Firm’s Website and Keep Your SEO Gains

October 21, 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.

 

Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy
partner-share-lg
partner-share-lg
partner-share-lg

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

 

  • Matthew Laurin talks about why you need to migrate your website from legal directories and third-party platforms to a self-hosting platform.
  • The cost-saving benefits of self-hosting your law firm’s website.
  • Why do some avoid migrating their website from legal directories?
  • Matthew describes the migration process.
  • Dealing with duplicate content.
  • The differences between self-hosted and directory-hosted law firm websites.
  • What you can and cannot migrate from proprietary law firm directory hosting.
  • Things to consider when migrating your law firm’s website.

In this episode…

If you own a law firm and your website is hosted by third-party directory platforms like FindLaw, you might find yourself wanting to get more out of your website. But, like many, you’re afraid of losing all the advances you’ve made in your SEO strategy.

What if there was a way to migrate your website without losing your SEO rankings, branding, and functionality? Law firm SEO expert Matthew Laurin says it’s possible—but, there are few things to consider to make the process smooth.

Tune in to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin to find out more about migrating your law firm’s website. He talks about why you should migrate your firm’s website from platforms like FindLaw and Justia, how to go about it, and some things to consider for a trouble-free process.

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

Intro

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 and solo SMB law firms from all over the United States. I have Jeremy Weisz here who has done thousands of interviews with successful leaders and CEOs. And we have flipped the script today. And he will be interviewing me, Matt, welcome to the show.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. Thanks for having me. And I’m excited about today’s episode. Because Listen, I have actually thought about this many, many times, even though I’m not a lawyer, because you’re talking about, we’re going to be talking about when you migrate a site from one place to your own site, how do you keep all the stuff that you’ve built up all the backlinks, all the good stuff you built up? So we will talk be talking about that. But before we do, this episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing, and they help law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing. And so basically, Matt, what you do is you help people show up on the first page of Google so they get more clients and clients can find, find them, and people can go to Esq.Marketing. So thanks for having me. The question is, are you if you’re thinking of migrating your site from a Justia or FindLaw? How does that work? Should they do it? Why should they do it?

Matthew Laurin

Great question. Um, yeah, so Justia, FindLaw and even Scorpion are popular website platforms for attorneys, they offer legal marketing, they offer website hosting and design. And so there’s a lot of law firms that use the services, they’re turnkey. And they offer some marketing services and things like that. So but after some time, law firms start to grow and scale, they want to change the look of their sight, or they want to do something different from a marketing perspective. And they often find themselves running into roadblocks with these platforms, because they’re proprietary. They’re, they’re meant to be a turnkey business that these companies can use. And they sort of lock attorneys into using the structure that was designed for the site using, you know, their, their method for for website hosting and website design. And they find themselves in a position where they need to get away from it. But how do you do that?

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. So a quick question, man, that so obviously, a positive size, when you’re first starting out? It’s just an easy way to get something up there. Right? Of course, yeah. And what are people worried about? So once you we’ve talked a little bit about, once you’re more established, there’s many reasons to not have your site beyond there. Um, and so what are some of the reasons why people should migrate off.

Matthew Laurin

So without going into specifics about what these platforms like how they’re structured, or, or what roadblocks there are, because I’m not really sure off the top of my head what, what you can and can’t do with them. But I know that some clients have run into problems with being able to customize code to a certain extent, or, you know, having the flexibility to install third party tracking scripts or additional functionality on their website, for example, maybe you want to, you know, link your, your website with a case intake intake program, or certain type of chat. And maybe you run into roadblocks because, you know, a find large justia or Scorpion websites just not conducive to to using those. I’ve had clients that, you know, want to change their permalink structure, but there’s some restrictions in the platform that will allow them to do that. Maybe they want to add you know, they want to change the overall look and feel their website and and the platform doesn’t allow for it as a coder or designer to go in and make any kind of changes because it’s just not flexible enough. Yeah, so those are all good reasons to, um, at that point, say, hey, maybe I’ve outgrown this platform, maybe I need to migrate to a WordPress site, which that’s, you know, we work in WordPress constantly. It’s extremely flexible platform, you own it, it’s you can do a self hosted version. And you can do pretty much anything you want to do if you can migrate your site off of there under WordPress.

Jeremy Weisz

So some of the benefits would be, you know, when you mentioned the permalink it’s those things when you control them. are better for SEO in general? That’s right. Yeah. And,

Matthew Laurin

you know, add keyword phrases into your permalink structure or change how Google sees the structure of your site. Yeah, those are all beneficial things for SEO.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. And then adding functionality is big if, you know, sometimes it’s like a process, you know, like certain chats or certain things that allow you to be in touch with your potential client, which could mean business like real business and dollars.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, and maybe you want to install like a third party script that changes the phone number based on how somebody visits your site. And so you know, that’s some tracking functionality you might want to add, you might want to put in a contact form from some other third party platform that allows you to, you know, move your data or your leads around. And sometimes you can’t always do that with a with a proprietary platform, because they won’t allow you to paste code in certain places, or you may be restricted as to how it can be built. And, yeah, so overall, you’re kind of when you’re on one of these platforms, you’re kind of pigeon holed into doing things a certain way.

Jeremy Weisz

And then the other thing is probably the self hosting costs, like actually having control of the platform and probably smaller hosting costs. Yeah, that’s

Matthew Laurin

a big one. So the hosting website is nothing. I mean, if you’re hosting a website, on GoDaddy, or WP Engine, or Bluehost, or wherever you go, the cost is usually nominal, I mean, a couple hundred bucks a year. And for most attorney websites, that’s all you need. I mean, you don’t, they’re not doing any commerce, they’re not doing anything that’s really resource intensive for a server. So you’re talking a couple hundred bucks a year max. Whereas if you have your site on, you know, just dia or Scorpion or fine law, I’m not sure what their fees are off top of my head. But I know that it’s probably going to be more than just the general hosting package, because you may be tied into other marketing services, you may be tied into other technical services to keep the site up and running, where you’re paying on a monthly basis. And it may be more cost effective to just go with a traditional hosting and control the site yourself.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah. I want to talk a little bit about what we’ll actually show some specific examples in a second, but what are people worried about? Matt from your experience, what’s holding them back from actually migrating?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, the clients that come to us that want to do migrations, it, it’s either something to do with SEO, or something to do with the way the site function looks. So some clients have been really happy with the way their site looks, they, they like the colors and the menu and the structure and everything about it, they just don’t want to be on the platform anymore. They want to be able to control things themselves. They don’t want to pay fees, or whatever it is. And they just want to move the site off. And so we’ve had a lot of success in cloning, cloning sites, making them look just like they do on the you know, whatever service they’re with, and then moving into a WordPress installation. So they can still have the same look and feel but be able to control everything themselves. And then on the SEO side, maybe they want to redesign the site and move it off the platform. But they are worried about losing rankings, because over time, links are built to sites, certain pages. And if you change the URL structure of a website, when you move it, you can lose those links, which will eventually impact your rankings if it’s not fixed right away. Sites like just the sites, I know use dot html and HTML extensions on the end of the URL. So when you move something like that to WordPress, you don’t have those extensions anymore, and the page will break. So we do a pretty extensive process where we comb through the site and we take out all the URLs and make sure we have everything organized. And then we do a page to page redirect. So redirecting home to home redirecting, you know, Car Accident Lawyer in a car accident lawyer on the new site, making sure that the experience for users is seamless, where if they click on the link that went to a car accident page, they’re still going to land on their car accident page, even though it’s a different URL. And that’s those are the things that people most often worry about is just how is my site going to behave the same way Is everything going to be the same as it is now? It’ll just be away from, you know, one of these platforms.

Jeremy Weisz

And basically you go in link for link and actually just make sure they’re they’re all going to be because that’s probably a big concerns like, well, I built up this page over many years. I don’t want to lose this and there could be 2050 100 of these.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah. In some cases, so when you’re talking about backlinks individually, there could be thousands. When you’re talking about referring domains, which are like unique referring domains, it’s usually I think we’ve seen some with just, you know, maybe a couple hundred, and then we’ve seen some with well over 1000. And, yeah, I mean, when you when you have a link built to a car accident page, or a truck accident page, for example, sometimes in some cases, you’ve worked really hard to get those links that may be on really high authority sites, and you don’t want to lose them. But you also want to make sure that the length is going to point to the page was pointing at before and not just redirect everything to the home page, which is a major, major No, no. So yeah, we go through page by page link by link and making sure everything redirects to the place it’s supposed to go.

Jeremy Weisz

Now, there there any other big concerns or worries people have on migrating?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I mean, some of these platforms, that the content can be proprietary in some cases. And we always make sure to communicate with the client and the platform to make sure that we aren’t taking anything proprietary like images, sometimes stock images are not owned by the client. In some cases, we’ve seen that where content is not owned by the client. And so we just have to make sure that you know, everything that we’re copying over to another server is something your client is allowed to take with them. In most cases it is, especially with blog content or page data is but you know, images are pretty easy to replace. But that’s also a concern, we see

Jeremy Weisz

a lot. Is there a concern Matt with I know some of the ones in different industries? I know, sometimes there’s duplicate content across different sites, just to you know, the site will have duplicate content to put across all of the their websites. Can that hurt someone who’s on one of these platforms?

Matthew Laurin

Are you talking about like if we were cloned it and migrated it?

Jeremy Weisz

No, I mean, like, like, I know, there’s chiropractic. You know, once you’re talking about the lawful, the legal field, there’s chiropractic ones, and they go, Oh, they have this article on back pain, and they put it across all of their hosted websites. And it’s on all of the websites, no matter if you’re in, you know, San Francisco or Chicago or LA or New York, and sometimes the people don’t realize that’s all duplicate content. And all these other, it’s the same, all these other their chiropractic websites.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I haven’t seen that on any of these ones. Not to say it doesn’t happen. But yeah, I haven’t seen the prevalence of duplicate content on any of the legal platforms. But that is a concern, you know, if you were if you were migrating from, from a proprietary platform to your own website, if they had content that that they used on other pages, you know, you’d want to scan for it and make sure there isn’t anything being used on other sites. I mean, it would be a concern, even just staying on the platform. Because what happens is, if there are multiple pages with the with substantially the same amount of content, like multiple paragraphs, it’s exactly the same. What happens is, Google doesn’t really know which one is the original or the most authoritative. And so they are left in the lurch trying to guess which one is is the correct one, or which one is the most relevant for the searcher. And what often happens with duplicate content issues is that pages just struggle to rank well. So if you have a page that or if you have a web page that could be on the first page of Google, maybe even at the top, it might struggle to get there and be like it right at the cusp of the first and second page and struggle to get any further or lower, because of duplicate content issues. And that would be a concern whether whether you move the site or not.

Jeremy Weisz

Matt take a look at some examples. So you know, I have Justia, I have FindLaw. And we just took an example of a site that we found that, you know, because verify that it says Justia law firm website design at the bottom,

Matthew Laurin

this was a review on their homepage,

Jeremy Weisz

versus one that is not you can find this. This was a migrated one. This Yeah. Yeah. So talk about some of the differences. So we have this one. And then this one, obviously, it’s not the same one, but this one has was on one of the other ones as been

Matthew Laurin

migrated over. Yeah, this one was on FindLaw. And this was a case where this firm liked the way the site looked. But they wanted to move off of the Find Law platform. So we made a clone of the site and built it on a staging server. And then once we were finished, doing all the development and watch the ones the client had reviewed, Did and was happy with the way everything looked, we flipped the switch and pointed their domain at at WP Engine, which is where the site is hosted now. So a couple of things like they didn’t have, they had a proprietary chat feature, they use dot bind law. And they were, that was one of their concerns, they wanted to still be able to do chat on the site. So we went with a third party engaged chat, which is popular in the legal industry, um, images on the site, they wanted to swap out some images on the practice area pages to be more relevant to the content there. So we did that for him. But otherwise, it’s an exact replica of what was there came over pretty nicely.

Jeremy Weisz

And then some of those same concerns were like, making sure to maintain the SEO value and all that any other things to point out with the migration process.

Matthew Laurin

So they the URL structure was a big one, if you go to the practice area pages, scroll down and just click on one of the links on this page, right there is fine. At the end of each one of these URLs, instead of a backslash, and in the URL, it was.sh tml. And that was across the board on every every single page. So um, and you can’t see this either. But in all the images, those images were stored in specific folders, that all ended in, you know, the file name all ended in s HTML. So all those specific files are Yeah, for the pages, and then all the images and JavaScript and CSS and all those different files all had to be redirected to different locations into different file file extension. So you know, going through and doing that was a pretty tedious process and getting all the pages to resolve to their correct locations without losing rankings, because we didn’t, you know, this, this firm, it built links to hundreds of different websites, or I’m sorry, hundreds of different websites that build links to the firm’s website over time. You know, if they were to lose that, they would have probably lost a significant amount of traffic in business, you know.

Jeremy Weisz

So the permalink structure, you could see here, the top would have some weird like, sh on the other side,

Matthew Laurin

on the on the very end of it, it would have been so right after that word death, instead of a slash, it would be dot s, HTML gotchas, you know, it’s not bad for SEO, it’s just that it was a different, you know, it was a file an HTML file, as opposed to WordPress, which behaves a little bit differently, this whole page is constructed using a bunch of different parts on the back end. And to get it’s the predominant the predominant programming language in WordPress is PHP. So all this is constructed on the fly as it gets loaded, whereas HTML is a little bit different. But anyway, we’d have to redirect those URLs, so they go to the right place, otherwise, you would just hit an error page. And eventually, if that happens, over time, with link building, you know, links can fall off and be deleted, you know, website owners that link to this site, if they all of a sudden have had an error page, they might delete the link or delete the page, the link is on. And then obviously, that link won’t pass authority to the new site, because it’s just hitting an error page.

Jeremy Weisz

Um, and in your what you’re saying is also you can maintain If you liked the design, and you like the functionality, you could still maintain that design functionality, there just added functionality and other other features you can do.

Matthew Laurin

Some things can’t be carried over like, like, obviously, the proprietary chat, FindLaw has a proprietary chat that they use for their clients, we can’t use that, obviously, since there’s so but there’s a lot of other similar things to do to the job. So there’s always there’s always a workaround.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah, I can see there’s a chat right here on this one. So this is obviously fine. Um, what else so when people should realize when migrating a website

Matthew Laurin

I would say just have a plan for for maintaining updates and things like that. This particular law firm had someone internally that was already pretty savvy with a website updates and WordPress in general. So they had a plan moving forward, who is gonna you know, who’s going to update content, who is going to keep an eye on things, some attorneys, you know, if you don’t have an agency, or if you don’t have an internal person or somebody that you’re working with that can help you out with website updates, or, or just managing the whole process and then managing the site after the process is over. It might you might want to get that in place first before you migrate the site away from by law because by law, or you know any of the other platforms they do, they do that service for you.

Jeremy Weisz

have anything else to consider when migrating your site and overall your overall stance and people because you’re basically helping people with their SEO and getting the top of Google so I’m wondering your stance on migrating versus not migrating in general.

Matthew Laurin

I mean, I think I think everybody should just be on on WordPress or something that they can manage on their own. I think you have more flexibility with SEO and installing things like schema and third party scripts and more flexibility over managing your content you know, improving PageSpeed you’re not you’re not sort of you know beholden to a company to make sure that all the technical aspects are worked out you can you can choose your hosting platform you can choose a high quality host that’s got good uptime has efficient efficient servers efficient technology and you don’t have you’re not you know, resigned to using one one particular platform that may you know, they may have their ducks in a row and they may not if if you know something’s going on and FindLaw or one of these other places we Justia and and their sites aren’t performing well or their servers are down and there’s not much you can do you know, you just gotta wait way to let it be fixed. Whereas you get if you are, if you have a site hosted somewhere else on your own, you can you can shop around and get get the best you know, choose the best provider for that particular thing. WP engines a great one, they’re extremely reliable, they have amazing support services. And they’re made for WordPress sites that hosting is made for WordPress sites. It’s really easy to migrate things it’s really easy to you know, do any kind of technical updates so now you would definitely if you’re if you’re a law firm thinking of you know, getting more out of your site and being more flexible and maybe scaling and doing more with it. I would definitely think about migrating off of these platforms if you’re on

Jeremy Weisz

Matt as always, thank you everyone could check out Esq.Marketing. I appreciate you having me.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *