Personal Injury Lawyer Wants to Rank in Tons of Cities


JoyHawkins

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Wanted to throw out this question for discussion. A personal injury lawyer in Texas calls you and tells you they want to rank all over the entire state of Texas. Their office is located in Round Rock, TX but they have virtual offices set up in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and several other cities in Texas (let's say 15 in total).

What do you tell them?
 

raisaroo

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Can you clarify what virtual offices mean?
Is this a space (maybe in a shared office) the lawyer can meet a client?
Is this a PO Box?
 

spadilla

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Kick rocks?

Kidding aside - that sounds like a nightmare in the works. Someone with unrealistic expectations off the bat means a whole lot of hand holding and explaining "why". People who know just enough to be dangerous to themselves are scary. Don't let them drag you down with them.
 
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I would want to know about these virtual offices. Do they have staff there to meet with clients on a daily basis? Are these just fake addresses for ranking purposes?

I prefer to deal straight with Google and so I would tell them to use AdWords in the locations that don't have a real world physical staff. I would only use GMB is locations with real staff.
 

JoyHawkins

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The majority of lawyers with virtual offices that I have spoken to use their offices for meeting with clients but frankly it's pretty rare. The real reason why they have the office is to get a listing in the 3-pack.

They definitely aren't staffed in the sense that Google wants them to be. They might have an answering service but someone can't walk in off the street and get help from a lawyer. It's by appointment only.
 

Phil Rozek

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A couple things I'd tell the lead:

1. "Your competitors probably have the same 'get ranked fast' scheme. What work are you willing to put in and/or pay for that will help you get results your competitors won't get?"

2. "I can tell you right now that virtual offices are against Google's policies. Let's say you want to use them anyway, and they work for a while, but you wake up one morning and you're whisked off the map. Then what will you want me to do?"

3. "Don't you think your clients would want to discuss their cases with you in-person?"

4. "I'm a Google My Business Top Contributor. Google's invited me to the 'Plex. Do you really expect me to go along with this?" :)

My reading between the lines is that this client would be a PITA. (Impatient and wants something for nothing.) I'd either decline, or say "I won't help you with the virtual-office plan, but I'd be willing to work with you on on-page, link strategy, and review strategy."
 

JoyHawkins

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HaHa! Phil I love your comments. I think I'll use #4 next time ;)

My advice was that this strategy doesn't work but then I thought, maybe someone actually has been successful in this arena? So far it looks like no one has.
 
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One thing I tell clients/prospects is that Google won't see them as relevant as actual local businesses and they shouldn't. Just as they are most relevant near their actual office, their competitor are near theirs.

Own your true market with local seo marketing. Advertise to the rest.
 
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Thanks for starting a great discussion Joy!
Sorry I referred that one to you! (If that's the one I think it is.)

Phil you totally cracked me up! Loved #4 too!

Everyone else, there are sooo many great comments in this thread!

I would do the 2 hour consult, just to gather all the facts and point out the error of their ways.

In cases like this in the past, I also show them a couple threads from the Google forum where attorneys had ALL their listings suspended (like 9 if I remember right) and they were left crying about not having even their main listing any more.

Then I'd share some of what Michael said in both great comments. If the virtual offices were not kosher with Google and they insist, then that's when I would explain I could not really help them further/help them violate Google guidelines.
 

katandmouse

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Kick rocks?

Kidding aside - that sounds like a nightmare in the works. Someone with unrealistic expectations off the bat means a whole lot of hand holding and explaining "why". People who know just enough to be dangerous to themselves are scary. Don't let them drag you down with them.
I can't agree more!!!
 
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Thanks for starting a great discussion Joy!
Sorry I referred that one to you! (If that's the one I think it is.)

Phil you totally cracked me up! Loved #4 too!

Everyone else, there are sooo many great comments in this thread!

I would do the 2 hour consult, just to gather all the facts and point out the error of their ways.

In cases like this in the past, I also show them a couple threads from the Google forum where attorneys had ALL their listings suspended (like 9 if I remember right) and they were left crying about not having even their main listing any more.

Then I'd share some of what Michael said in both great comments. If the virtual offices were not kosher with Google and they insist, then that's when I would explain I could not really help them further/help them violate Google guidelines.
This is why I don't go outside of Google guidelines. I approach it like a doctor, first do no harm. I never want to be a part of the reason that a company gets thrown off of Google. There is plenty of win to be had playing straight up.
 

katandmouse

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Red flag for me here with his or her expectations. It's hard enough to get PI attorney to rank in one city, let alone many - at least in competitive areas. If he doesn't respect what you have to say on the matter and insists on doing it his way, walk.

On the hand, if he/she is willing to listen, I'd recommend paid ads in either or all Findlaw, Lawinfo.com, lawyers.com, AVVO and adwords possibly, though I know one PI attorney who is targeting all of California and is paying $50K a month in adwords. It's not cheap. Ads in legal sites are more affordable.

There are also a number of sites that sell leads to PI attorneys. Those can be effective.

No matter which way you look at it, you have to pay to play. I say put your money where it's going to work for you. SEO in cities where you do not have an office, especially for PI attorneys in competitive areas, is likely a waste of money.
 
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I get this request all the time from prospects and have a very simple response:

Virtual offices are against the guidelines, so even if you get them ranking, they're a ticking time bomb. I won't work on them.

I'll help you rank any *real* physical locations in the local pack and organic results. For the other locations I'll work on getting you ranking in the localized organic results with very good "city pages". We can also help you attract business from these other cities with Google AdWords.
I've had great success with city pages for some of my legal clients. Phil has an awesome post on the topic:
25 Principles of Building Effective City Pages for Local SEO | LocalVisibilitySystem.com
 

mborgelt

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When we get this sort of request we usually show the prospect a few different SERPs and how things really work when in comes to multi-location rankings. From there I usually ask "Would you rather rank 50+ for 10 locations and never get seen or would you rather us focus on getting your business dominant in one area." The shrinking local pack has definitely helped smooth this conversation. I then point out how this move could hurt them and present them with an alternative. I have found that 8 times out of ten when you tell people how something will hurt or help them they usually listen. Great question, Joy.
 
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This is why I don't go outside of Google guidelines. I approach it like a doctor, first do no harm. I never want to be a part of the reason that a company gets thrown off of Google. There is plenty of win to be had playing straight up.
(Red highlight added by Linda.)

I like and agree with all the comments. But Michael's really resonates with me.

I literally would not be able to sleep at night if I knowingly violated guidelines and got someone suspended or removed.
 

Videopete

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First let me start by saying I love this group! Some of the smartest marketing/ seo people in the world here.
Personally would tell him basically what everyone one else is saying and then propose a paid search campaign and as we build their business open real office along the way to create a powerful network and community outreach building long-term tangible assets, real and predictable and if they are not on board with that hit them with a fee that makes their head spin.

:eek:
 

gyitsakalakis

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What's your budget for office leases?

Even if the "scheme" works for rankings, for a short time, will they be able impress a sufficient number of clients at each of these locations to sing their happy praises on all of those Google My Business pages?

#1 rankings w/o reviews < #3 rankings w/ 5+ reviews...
 
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JoyHawkins

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This is a great thread. Glad I posted it!

@Darren - do you mean you've actually seen businesses rank for stuff like "personal injury lawyer + city" organically using a city page? I see this work well in tons of industries but not Personal Injury Law because the directories are so dang competitive and good that it's almost impossible to beat them. FindLaw, Avvo, Lawyers.com, Yelp, and a few others just dominate the top organic for almost every city. Is your strategy just to go after long tail? Then there is the question of "what" long tail to go after that other PI lawyers have not already done.

@Gyi - Great idea. I mean if someone is willing to fork over 10k a month for SEO why wouldn't they pay like 2k a month for a small office lease and actually have someone staff it? I'm not sure how much Regus offices cost these days but if they ditched the 15 fake locations they could probably afford 1 real one :)

We are definitely a white-hat bunch here.
 

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