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Attention is Earned, Not Given

I’m all about SEO this month as I prep for an upcoming LMA panel in San Francisco on balancing the algorithmic needs of the web with creating compelling, engaging content that’s not suffocating in keywords.

Linus has advanced in doggy day care to word games.

I had an interesting conversation on the topic with Andres Acosta, a product designer and web consultant with David Perry & Associates. We’re working together on a client’s website, and the classic discussion arose. How much attention should we really be giving to SEO? “In the professional services space, SEO has its nuances, but it all comes down to engagement. Your content strategy has to lead your SEO efforts, not the other way round,” Acosta says. Thanks to a wealth of SEO vendors, SEO has been “completely confused with gamifying; finding a way to game the system. That’s due to firms out there looking for one-shot deals to boost results. But these they are tricks and they don’t last.” Andres and I both agree that what does last is a content strategy built around some true core KPIs. “A lot of times success has nothing to do with rankings on Google, but the core engagement of just a few people on the page,” he says. Besides, the Google algorithms are nearly impossible to keep up with, Acosta says. It’s not a race you will win. “Lots of things are constantly being tweaked that are completely out of your control.” Better to get the voice of your site right, and then focus on some of the basics. Make sure your site isn’t breaking some classic accessibility rules, he says, like placing content over images, missing tags, or not having SSL set up correctly. Do the little things that are in your control. Update your terms and conditions, privacy policy, and your opt-in for cookies. Making just one change a week helps boost SEO. It can be as simple as swapping out a photo on the site. Google likes it when it can tell that you are tending to your website. “Don't have someone like me come in and make your site pretty and then leave it that way. Do something on your website at least every week,” Acosta says. Andres and I are in agreement that building a relationship with relatable messaging and content trumps a myopic focus on SEO. This may be different for consumer-oriented law firms, such as those that do personal injury work. But for most professional services firms, it’s about speaking to clients in a voice they recognize. If you are in town, join me, Lynn Foley of fSquared Marketing, Carol James of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell and Adrian Lurssen of JD Supra on June 13th at the Bar Association of San Francisco. Our program, sponsored by the Bay Area region of the Legal Marketing Association, will cover how to balance SEO with personable content, with some great case studies and success stories. --stet-- Susan Kostal is a legal marketing consultant and content strategist located in San Francisco Bay Area. Find her monthly column on Attorney at Work & check out more great content here.

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