If you Google the name of this company the results page will show only the positive reviews.
No hint of dissatisfied attorney customers.
And, by the way, this company serves ONLY attorneys. Mostly ones with solo or small firm practices.
Their offer is SO tempting, isn’t it?
They “do all the work — so you can keep practicing law.” Who doesn’t want this?
We’ll come back to just exactly what kind of “work” they do in a second. For now, let’s consider the other proposition…
What about their claim that “your prospects are looking online”? You should know if this is true or not. If not, then stop reading right now and forget about having an online presence.
If some potential clients are online looking for a lawyer like you or using your website to check you out, then it’s a different story.
In that case, you want to have an online presence (website) and make it easy for prospective clients to find you, and learn more about how you can help them.
Is Findlaw going to make that happen?
Maybe. But there is more to getting good clients than making yourself “findable” online.
Like trust, for example.
How are you going to make those prospects that find you online come to trust you?
It’s very hard to get people to trust you in the regular world. Trying to earn the trust of web-surfing info-gathers is a whole lot harder.
I’m not saying it can’t be done (it can), but it’s hard, and it takes time, and you won’t be able to outsource your online trust-building to some company or person you stumble across on the internet, or at a bar association trade show.
Findlaw will especially not help you build trust online. In fact, they have “trust issues” of their own.
Let me explain…
The work that Findlaw does is mostly “SEO” or “search engine optimization” work. That is, they built you a nice looking website, and post some content relevant to your area of practice, and generally try to get your website to rank higher in online searches.
Most online searches (over 60%) are done on Google. So that’s where Findlaw is trying hardest to influence search results.
The problem is Findlaw has been overly aggressive in attempting to influence search results and has (in the past) violated Google’s explicit terms of service.
Some of the sites that Findlaw set up for lawyers were penalized by Google and wound up being downgraded in search results. That’s right, some of the lawyers who paid Findlaw to make their sites MORE likely to come up in search results wound up having their sites be LESS likely to rank high.
I’m not an SEO expert, but I know enough about how SEO works. And I know that trying to attract good clients online solely by SEO tactics is not a good strategy.
And trusting a company that claims to be able to help your firm website rank high, but then does things that Google explicitly prohibits, is not a good strategy either.
Speaking of Google, search using this phrase “Findlaw problems”
The web article in the middle (surrounded by the red box) is written by Gyi Tsakalakis, an SEO expert who focuses on law firms. I can vouch for Gyi as a knowledgeable, straight-talking fellow.
Gyi’s article isn’t as harsh as it could have been. Why not?
Well, Gyi’s a sensible guy, and he knows that if he’s too critical people will just assume he’s trying to get business from Findlaw’s customers. Smart move.
Other folks, however, have been less restraint in their critique of Findlaw.
For example, here are some articles I’ve collected over the past few years.
• FindLaw Websites Crushed by Google Algorithm Update [Panda 4] (May 23, 2014)
• Why Your Findlaw Website is in the Tank and How to Recover (Nov. 9, 2013)
• Findlaw selling ghost written blogs : Law firms foolishly buy in (Jan. 9, 2013
• FindLaw blogs an embarrassment to the legal profession (Jan. 6, 2010)
• FindLaw gaming Google, and possibly scamming lawyer customers? (Aug. 17, 2008)
Yes, it’s true that those articles were also written by people who have business models that in some way compete with Findlaw.
But all they’re doing is citing indisputable facts about stuff that Findlaw did, which resulted in their law firm websites being penalized in some way.
The articles I list above, not only cite the factual evidence but also explain in a straightforward, easy-to-understand way, exactly what Findlaw’s practices were.
And the articles I cited explain why Google penalizes people for engaging in those bad tactics.
What kind of tactics exactly?
Well, for example, bad SEO tactics like:
Findlaw can’t dispute that it engaged in those bad practices. So they’ll most likely claim that they no longer do those things.
Has Findlaw truly learned it’s lesson and actually stopped engaging in those practices? Perhaps.
But look at the time span of those articles I linked to above. They run from 2008 to 2014. Basically six years.
That’s a long stretch of time that Findlaw was engaged in it’s “unfortunate” tactics.
So, do you still want to trust Findlaw? Better do your homework. Make sure they aren’t doing anything that Google doesn’t like.
And by the way, Google changes its search algorithm several times a year. So something that Google didn’t use to disapprove of might now be deemed a bad SEO practice.
I can’t keep up with all the changes Google makes to its search algorithm. And I’m sure you can’t either.
Maybe you don’t need SEO services to attract online prospects. Great.
But if you do need to optimize your website to rank higher in search results, and you’re too busy practicing law to figure the whole SEO thing out yourself…
Think twice about reflexively trusting Findlaw. Yes, they’ll “do all the work” so you can focus on practicing law.
But what kind of work will they be doing? And will that work enhance your online reputation or tarnish it?
Do some basic research before you hire ANY firm or person who claims to an online SEO guru.
Then trust your gut instincts.
That’s what the people searching for lawyers online will be doing.
If you want to learn how to use the web effectively to get high-quality clients in a dignified, professional way, click the button below.