Attorney SERP Results


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I have been looking at Google organic SERP results. I think (can't be sure, was not spending every day with it, don't you know) that the Possum update pushed me as a Dallas disability lawyer down many slots, and ranks sites like yelp, superlawyers, and findlaw in the top slots. I did some searches in other areas and found the same general trend. Anyone that works with attorneys and lawfirm also conclude that recent google changes have favored these directory type sites? What is annoying is this: both superlawyers and lawfind are directories in which the lawyer pays the the nose to get the top listings. So Google appears in the legal area to be favoring attorneys that pay big money to third party attorney directories.

As an aside, but interesting I think, is the attached SERP results for "dallas personal injury lawyer". There findlaw is no 1. More importantly, lucky attorney Aaron A. Herbert get a free ad right there in organic? As does lucky attorney Ted Lyons in superlawyer. But wait, I thought findlaw and superlawyer were directories. Why would Google arbitrarily decide to favor one of the directory listed attorneys?

 

Colan Nielsen

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Hi Stan,

It's very common for sites like findlaw, Yelp, Justia and AVVO to rank high organically for competitive terms in the lawyer vertical.

Just to clarify, Possum affected the Local Pack results, but not the pure organic results.

I would spend some time researching what you need to do to be the one that gets highlighted on those top two organic results. If it's a paid listing it might be worth exploring because that is some prime real estate. My guess is you could gain some visibility there organically with some effort.
 
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Thanks Colan for your response and clarifying the possum update for me. Paid listing with findlaw would run me $1K a month, committing for one year. Pretty pricey. Can't see any pattern as to why sometimes the findlaw organic listing includes info below about one of the listed attorneys. So a search of "social security disability attorney cleveland" gets a findlaw organic listing at listing two with this squib: "Cleveland Social Security -- Disability Lawyers, Attorneys and Law Firms - Ohio. Disability Benefits – Attorneys That Care About You. Ohio's Leading Disability Law Firm. Proven Track Record."

But a search of "social security disability lawyer atlanta" gets findlaw at no. 2 with lucky boy Trevor A. Brown getting this showing on the SERP: " I am Trevor A. Brown, an attorney handling Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims for clients in Dalton and Atlanta, and throughout northwest Georgia. My entire practice is devoted to the practice of... Dedicated soley to Social Security Law." (Typo and all!) What in the world would explain this? Yes, I might give findlaw $1000 a month if that happened for me!
 
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As an SEO in Dallas who has legal clients, here are my thoughts. There are a couple large SEO players who have been hammering lawyer results in dallas for the last 2-3 years. I mean relentless.

I have seen firms change domains on a regular basis after a ban, pop back up, rinse, repeat. These SEO's (we know who they are) used large pbn networks, and of course the results did not stick. Lots of upset lawyer clients to, I get at least 1 a week from a Dallas lawyer whose site went adios.

Google got tired of the games and now gives directories rank priority.

I was pearsonally told by someone on google spam team that dallas legal was one the the biggest headaches in the country.
 
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Hi Stan,

I am an SEO that specializes in legal and have been in this game for 15 years. Keep in mind that google personalizes search results based on logged in user and the results you are seeing may be different to what I'm seeing. I say that because when I search for "dallas disability lawyer" you are coming up #2 in the local pack. I can also see your organic result at #8.

You are playing the SEO game well, but if there was one recommendation I could give you, it would be to ask your happy clients to leave you Google reviews. Right now, you have none.

It is definitely possible for local attorneys to outrank the big directories like Findlaw, Avvo, and Yelp. My clients do. It's just a matter of hammering away at content building, citation building and backlink building.

Luckily your niche is much less competitive than personal injury or criminal.
 

SmallBizGeek

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I agree with Scott: get the clients to leave reviews, but under no circumstances try to incentivize them to do so. It can call into the question the validity of the reviews in the minds of prospects.. plus Google are known to remove legit reviews on a whim.
 

bhartzer

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Paid listing with findlaw would run me $1K a month, committing for one year.
If I were you, I'd invest that money in content and a good link building program. You'll get a lot more value in that over the long run.

Keep in mind that the paid listing sites are doing their SEO and link building, as well. They wouldn't be able to keep those listings if they weren't investing SEO in them.
 

SmallBizGeek

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If I were you, I'd invest that money in content and a good link building program. You'll get a lot more value in that over the long run.

Keep in mind that the paid listing sites are doing their SEO and link building, as well. They wouldn't be able to keep those listings if they weren't investing SEO in them.
Agree with this sentiment. It's better to earn a person's trust long-term via your own platform (your website) than it is to rent a person's attention short-term via ads, paid listings etc.

Of course, you can circle back around to paid listings in the future, and use those methods to boost the excellent evergreen content you've been adding to your website all those years.
 

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