FindLaw provides SEO and law firm website design services to thousands of law firms across the nation. We have talked to dozens of lawyers who have had nothing but positive experiences with them. There is no question that they have some happy clients.
At the same time, we have enough first hand experience helping law firms move on from FindLaw to understand the aspects of their SEO practices and their business operations that law firms ought to beware of.
Our goal is not to “bash” FindLaw. What we care about is informing you, the lawyer who is considering either hiring FindLaw OR leaving them, about the common issues that we see and complaints that we hear, as well the critical items that you should be aware of before you hire or leave them. Toward that end, and before we get into to our formal review of their SEO services, we invite you to download a free copy of Moving on From FindLaw.
FindLaw Website SEO Audit
Below we have documented the results of an audit of a $5,000/mo FindLaw website. We haven’t included any SEO factors that were being done well, because frankly, we think it’s reasonable to expect that all important SEO factors should be done well when the firm is paying $5,000 per month for SEO services.
1. No Google Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools
Typically we begin our SEO analysis’ with a look at the Google Analytics data for the site so that we can understand how the site has performed in organic search historically, how it is currently performing, and what the major areas of opportunity are.
In the case of this site, there is no data to analyze because Google Analytics was never installed on the site. 5k a month and you don’t even get any Google Analytics data? Ouch.
Note: In fairness, FindLaw does have their own proprietary website traffic analytics software. The problem is that, when you stop paying FindLaw, all that data goes bye-bye.
The other primary tool we rely on for analyzing the site’s performance at a high level before we dig into the specifics is Google Webmaster Tools. This is a free service from Google that 100% of qualified SEOs recognize as a fundamental SEO tool.
Again, we can’t use historical data from Google Webmaster Tools, because, in over a year, it was never set up.
2. URLs Use Capital Letters and File Extensions
One of the issues that we see with the URLs on this site is that they contain capital letters, and complex file extensions:
The capital letters and file extensions in the URLs are by no means a major SEO issue, but they are emblematic of FindLaw’s SEO offering in general; it is imperfect. Great technical SEO is all about being the least imperfect.
3. The Content is Nothing But Generic Sales Copy
There is almost no substance to any of the pages on this site. Most of the content on the site is little more than sales copy. Here is an example from the “Bankruptcy” page:
From a strictly SEO perspective, the problem with this type of content is that it is not truly unique. Half the bankruptcy attorneys in the country likely have very similar text to this on their site. Why should Google rank this page higher than any of those? FindLaw is not providing anything here of unique value that deserves to rank highly. For $5,000 per month, we would hope that the content on the site would be of substantially higher quality.
4. Single Pages Optimized for Multiple Cities
The cities that the content is optimized for is randomly inserted into the content. Clearly, FindLaw does not have a good grasp on how to properly optimize for local search queries. Here is an example from the firm’s “Workers Compensation” page:
5. No Google Local Page for Second Location
The firm has two offices; one in Denver and one in Avon, CO. While FindLaw was marketing the firm’s services in both locations, they failed to create and verify a Google Local page for the Avon location. Without creating a Google Local page it is not possible for the firm to rank in local search results in Google. So, rather than having a roughly 12 month head start on this work, they are just now getting it started. It will likely be at least 6 months until their local page for Avon begins showing up in local search results for relevant queries.
6. Blogging Strategy = Digital Ambulance Chasing
One of the primary tasks that FindLaw was performing for this client was monthly blogging. However, rather than blogging on evergreen topics which addressed the needs and questions that potential customers might have, they instead simply reported on recent horrific accidents (we refer to this as digital ambulance chasing).
Even if you have no moral opposition to this type of technique, it is simply not effective as an SEO strategy. Even if these posts manage to attract some traffic in the days after they are published, they will not provide any long term SEO value because they are not relevant after a certain period of time. Not to mention the fact that their contents don’t help anyone.
Here are some examples of the kinds of topics they were blogging about:
7. Page Titles: Too Long, Keyword Stuffed, Generally Awful
The page title is perhaps the most important on-page SEO ranking factor. It is the place that Google’s crawler looks to understand what the page is about. FindLaw did everything wrong with this firm’s page titles.
Over 80% of the site’s page titles were too long:
Multiple locations were being targeted in singe page titles
Keywords were being stuffed in page titles:
8. Images Missing Alt Text
Image alt text is where Google looks to understand images. Ensuring that all images on important landing pages contain alt text which describes the image is SEO 101. On this site, over 65% of the images on the site were missing alt text:
9. Bleeding Link Authority with Site-Wide Footer Link
FindLaw likes to advertise on your website, even though YOU are paying THEM. They do this in the form of a site-wide footer link, which essentially bleeds link authority from every page of your site:
10. FindLaw Couldn’t Be Bothered to Write Unique Content
FindLaw has this habit of using the exact same text on several of their client’s websites. This is even the case when you are paying $5,000 per month.
We aren’t perfect either
While we have criticized FindLaw’s SEO product here, we are not trying to claim that we have never made a mistake for a client, or overlooked a basic SEO issue. We aren’t perfect either.