Scorpion Design Review
A Review of Scorpion’s Web Design and Digital Marketing Services
Scorpion Design is one of the largest and oldest companies in the online legal marketing space. If your law firm is online, it’s likely that you’ve been approached by Scorpion, and perhaps even lured in with delicious cookie baskets (several of our clients have ☺).
Whether you’re just getting started with online marketing, or you’re looking for a change (new website, new strategy, etc.) you may be considering Scorpion Design.
Below I’ve attempted to provide a fair look at the pros and cons of working with Scorpion Design so that you can be well equipped to begin your decision making process.
Disclaimer: Scorpion Design is a competitor of ours. Accordingly, we are hopelessly biased. That being said, what follows is my honest assessment based on what I know of their products, services, and results.
Reviews of Scorpion Design’s Core Services
Below is a breakdown of Scorpion Design’s primary services:
Scorpion Website Design & Development Review
Scorpion is certainly capable of producing high quality and very well designed websites. Their numerous awards speak to this. Over all the years that I’ve done competitive research in the legal marketing space, I’ve come across many Scorpion Design websites, and have seen many that are truly impressive both in terms of design and usability.
One commonality that I’ve noticed among Scorpion websites is that they tend to be extravagantly designed. Bright colors, large and frequent imagery, and interesting shapes and effects are commonplace among Scorpion websites.
Here are a few examples:
Depending on your preference, you may find Scorpion’s designs to overstated or flashy. I certainly have spoken with attorneys who feel this way. Then again, I’ve also spoken to attorneys who are very fond of Scorpion’s overall design look and feel. As with all design shops, whether you not you like Scorpion’s designs comes down to your personal design preferences.
Now let’s turn and look a Scorpion’s website development. “Development” refers to the actual building of the website. Development references the code that transforms a website from an image to a usable website. Development also describes the underlying technology used to support that code.
This is where I have stronger criticism of Scorpion’s websites. Because Scorpion’s designs are often image-heavy, this can cause pagespeed issues, for example:
Another issue is that Scorpion (like FindLaw) uses a proprietary content management system for their websites. The problem with this is that it creates inflexibility for your firm.
If you decide to move your web marketing efforts to a different agency, but you want to keep the website that you paid Scorpion to create, your new agency may not be able to make necessary changes and additions to your website purely because it’s built on a proprietary system.
At Juris Digital, we use WordPress to build all of our client’s websites. We believe that building websites on WordPress is a no brainer for law firms, especially firms that don’t need advanced funtionality like payment gateways or database integrations.
WordPress is widely supported (it’s the most popular CMS on the web), it’s built to be SEO friendly, and it allows for easy content publishing, even for those with minimal HTML or other coding knowledge.
The final point I’ll address about Scorpion’s website design services is pricing. Because they are a reputable agency you should expect prices to be on the high end. In the past I have heard lawyers say they’ve received quotes in the $20k range for custom website design and similar numbers for monthly services.
On the flip side, I’ve more recently spoken with lawyers who’ve been quoted at ~$1,500 for website setup. It seems that Scorpion has a templated website design which they launch quickly and at a low cost, not dissimilar to our JurisXpress websites. However, those lawyers were only talking to me because they weren’t satisfied with their current results with Scorpion, so the efficacy of this approach seems up in the air.
As with most things, you’ll likely get what you pay for.
Scorpion Search Engine Optimization Review
If you’re considering Scorpion, you’re likely interested in what their SEO capabilities look like. The overarching trend that I’ve seen – through speaking with clients and prospective clients of Scorpion and through my own competitive research of their client’s websites – is that they are prioritizing paid search methods (Google Adwords, social media advertising, display advertising, etc.) over organic search and SEO.
I do believe that for their highest paying clients, Scorpion does execute aggressive SEO campaigns with local SEO, content marketing, link building, etc. However, it would not at all surprise me if Scorpion has decided that, for law firms with smaller budgets ($1k – $5k per month) they can be far more profitable by simply managing paid advertising campaigns then they can be with full service SEO and organic online marketing.
I have seen Scorpion websites rank high in organic search results many times. I have no doubt that they have capable SEO professionals on staff who are able to drive real results with SEO. What I do doubt is that Scorpion is committed to SEO over the long term.
Simply put, SEO is hard, it’s time consuming, and there are no short cuts. If Scorpion has made the decision that they can be more profitable by focusing more and more on paid advertising over organic marketing, I would expect their interest and investment in the latter to dwindle.
Scorpion PPC / Paid Advertising Review
Let me start by saying I personally am biased on the side of organic search efforts over paid advertising channels.
With that being said, I have seen first hand how powerful an integrated organic and paid digital marketing strategy can be. When the two areas play well together, the results can be extraordinary.
I have very little first hand knowledge in terms of the efficacy of Scorpion’s paid search advertising services. With the amount of focus they are placing on it and the talent of their people I’m sure that they have driven results with PPC for numerous client.
However, I have spoken to three law firms over the past month who have expressed dissatisfaction with the results that they are seeing from the PPC dominant approach that Scorpion is pitching. Two of those firms focused primarily on personal injury law and the other on divorce and family law, both competitive areas.
All three of these firms specifically noted that Scorpion had sold them on low up-front costs to setup the website, and then a larger monthly investment in primarily paid search advertising. All three firms were not especially happy with either their Scorpion website or the results they were seeing.
To be fair, three clients is a drop in the bucket for an agency the size of Scorpion, and it’s quite possible that many firms would describe their experiences differently.
Example Scorpion Proposal
For your edification, below is a screen capture of a Scorpion design proposal from September of 2016. This was shared with us by a client who was approached by Scorpion last year:
To sum it up…
Scorpion Design is a well established, well respected digital marketing agency. Because of their age and size, they have substantial resources.
Based on my recent discussions with Scorpion clients and prospective clients, it does give me pause that they are pushing paid search advertising over organic search. I continue to believe that organic search is the best marketing investment small to mid-sized law firms can make, and that it’s a mistake to divert so much money to paid advertising that there is little left for organic SEO.
Scorpion surely has many happy clients. Whether or not they are the right choice for your firm will depend largely on your preferences and whether you believe that paid advertising is as valuable as organic search marketing.
Looking for an alternative to Scorpion?
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