My Local SEO Book is published!

I’ve finished my local marketing book, Webcentric Local Business Marketing:How to market your business on the web and beyond… , the book has an in depth treatment of Local SEO and discusses all the lessons I’ve learned marketing my law practice and real estate sites. It also discusses outsourcing and which work is safest to do yourself to save money. I focused on the relationships between different kinds of marketing and how to evaluate your business for the best marketing techniques. It’s also a great deal at only $3.50 for the Kindle edition. Click on the cover to check it out on Amazon, there’s a nice preview of the first couple sections.

The book itself is also an example of the outsourcing techniques in the book. The cover, table of contents, kindle editing, and proofreading were all done using Fiverr gigs that totaled around $100 and a stock image for about $20.

Non .com name extensions for solo lawyers.

 

There’s a wide variety of domain name extensions out there that lawyers might want to consider. The best is obviously .com the dominant extension. If you are trying to pick a nice keyword rich domain like memphisbankruptcylawyer.com or atlantapersonalinjury it’s going to be taken. While you can think up non-taken permutations speaking from experience they don’t work as well.

Lots of lawyers like to use their own name but the URL is an important ranking factor especially in bing/yahoo which accounts for about 30% of the search market. A shorter URL will also typically get better pay per click results.

 

There are now a large number of domain extensions available. For search engine optimization purposes Google does not prefer one domain over another except as to geotargeting. Two letter extensions are reserved for particular countries like .us, .cn, .co. These extensions cannot be geotargeted except to their countries of origin. There are exceptions to this where countries with snappy marketable extensions have opted to develop their extension as a globally available extension. Search engines seem to have unlocked the geotargeting from these domains. Columbia has dedicated it’s .co since it sounded a lot like company and looked kinda like .com and has burned a bunch of money advertising it.

 

I not a big fan of .co for the reason that confusion with .com seems very natural to this extension. The biggest downside to using non .coms is a potential security risk of people thinking an email address is a .com and misdirecting email and while I think it’s overblown except for larger companies .co particularly suited to this downside. To minimize this and prevent confusion you can reserve a name based .com like sandylawoffice.com and use that for email. You don’t have to put up a site on a domain name to use the email address. Larger companies will buy all extensions of their site to prevent spoofing attacks where people use official looking emails to try to get personal info.

 

Since search engines treat domains equally and quite frankly the recognition difference between other domains is minimal, it comes down to what’s more catchy and memorable. The top choices for me are .me and .pro . .Me is the unlocked country code for Montenegro and widely available. .Pro is a registry launched originally in 2006 and limited to licensed professional with a very high registration fee. It’s still suppose to be limited for professionals and the registration fee has dropped to be competitive levels. It’s not widely available at registrars and the best I’ve found is Encirca.

 

I hope the above is helpful and expands your attorney internet marketing horizon.

 

Taking Action

I’ve always been of the view that it’s best not to spend time getting motivated. It’s best to take action and if not taking action then read about practical skills. I’ve also read motivational slogans are an indication of a neurotic personality. This blog/site started from an ebook I wrote on starting a solo law practice after I had a string of good month after about a year of practice.

I decided to write about what I was doing in order to provide a fresh practical perspective on law practice contemporaneous with the actual practicing. I also wanted to work on a longer manuscript in preparation for writing a still uncompleted novel. I don’t have the novel but I do have quite a bit of unique and informative content I’ve deployed on this site. That’s the power of taking action it gets you somewhere.

I’m not updating this site often because it’s no designed to be the sort of blog you visit everyday and basically commiserate with all the other struggling solos.

I’m just trying to provide actionable intelligence not trying to get you to be a regular reader but a resource you’ll remember and go back to when you’re looking for something to do. So’s here’s a small list of things you can do -

1. Go leave some comments on blogs with links leading back to yourself. www.legalpracticepro.com is a good place to start with a good read.
2. Write a sales letter if allowed by your practice area.
3. Call a mailing list broker and see what selects are available for marketing .
4. Organize your filings.
5. Call five older lawyers with bigger firms and set up a networking lunch.

Outsourcing for Search Engine Optimization and Web Marketing for Lawyer

Utilizing Internet Resources and Outsourcing for Search Engine Optimization and Web Marketing for Lawyer

Early on when I started my practice I was faced with a  shortage of one commodity that being cash and a surplus of another called time. This is the natural state of affairs of a starting solo practitioner without a great referral network. I also greatly desired more business, but being a cheap SOB resisted the siren song of slick SEO marketers and PPC resellers.

I’ve achieved the number one ranking for “Memphis lawyer” and “Memphis Bankruptcy attorneys” and am climbing the rankings and top 10 for many others. Promoting those two sites I’ve spend about $2000 on SEO and web design, total. No, I’m not blogging. I briefly had a blog focused on food reviews and legal tips and achieved some local notoriety, but little business from it. I just signed a notable Memphis Divorce Lawyer as my first SEO client which should be a fun side gig if I get it going.

The first general rankings I achieved through an outsourcer I found off www.elance.com, probably the most well known outsourcer site. The prices I’ve found on elance to be quite high for writing but low for graphic design. Elance also has a high proportion of North American providers. My first website I had designed off Elance for $50 . This year I used a designer off Elance and paid $100 for my Memphis Real Estate site and $50 for my Memphis Bankruptcy Lawyer site plus $50 for the theme he modified. Let me know and I’ll send his contact info.

Elance has a helpful escrow feature which helps to monitor jobs. One thing I’ve learned over the years is be super careful about sending money, break the job up into parts and pay even if it makes accounting irritating, someone you’ve worked with many times before will flake out on you, and they all have bad accounting. When I mean flake out there’s this curious tendency for outsourcers abroad to drop off the face of the planet and then reappear up to several months later with a message somewhat like, “Hey, here’s your xyz” like nothing happened.

Sites like Elance are numerous and varied, probably the most useful for lawyers would be Odesk which has a high proportion of South East Asian workers, with a smattering of North Americans and a curmudgeonly British guy who I hired to write some blog posts at $2.50 each for a site I had. The other sites have a high portion of programmers and less writers and designers.

One major trick to hiring off Odesk is to post bigger jobs. I was trying to post these 150 word blog post for a blog network for SEO purposes that had to be original writing. I kept posting $50 jobs and the contractors would flake out after 10 or so posts out of the 50. I finally posted a $250 job and got much more serious candidates that have been doing okay.

That’s one thing about outsourcing, it will be very difficult to pay for quality. The savings will not be as great as the raw prices imply as you will incur a number of flakeouts. You will also need to give very detailed instructions as contractors will inevitably find some sort of weird roundabout way to follow your instructions yet botch the gig up.

Probably the best source for almost any sort of SEO service would be the Warriorforum, which is like a gathering place of internet marketers. They have a several sections such as Classified Ads and Warriors for Hire where every conceivable SEO service is offered piecemeal. It’s basically like the SEO wholesale shop.

You can find people who’ll write, spin, and submit an article to thousands of sites for $20 for one and with volume discounts, 450 word copyscape passed articles for $4.50, $10 articles by native English writers, several VA firms, and $10 banner headers from Logonerds(They have a coupon posted there). There are some reliability problems, but the longer running threads and need for testimonials have meant that I’ve had a very very good experience with it. The Warrior Special Offer section has info products that have taken me from decent to gamechanging in my internet marketing knowledge.

You’ll notice I’ve actually only named three sites, to be honest I think in terms of outsourcing you can find every conceivable service under the planet at these three locations. Beware it’s the wild west in many respects. People buy access to unlimited submission networks and act like they own it privately and it’s highly buyer beware, but if you know how to evaluate SEO options you can get ranked here for a fraction of the price. In all likelihood, if you hire an SEO consultant they will be whitelabeling quite a few products from all of these sources.

So if you want a fun hobby and to save some SEO money this is where you can get started. In the future, hopefully I’ll be able to do an article on linkbuilding and ranking tips and techniques including some of the naughty stuff.

Outsourcing for Search Engine Optimization and Web Marketing for Lawyer

Utilizing Internet Resources and Outsourcing for Search Engine Optimization and Web Marketing for Lawyer

Early on when I started my practice I was faced with a  shortage of one commodity that being cash and a surplus of another called time. This is the natural state of affairs of a starting solo practitioner without a great referral network. I also greatly desired more business, but being a cheap SOB resisted the siren song of slick SEO marketers and PPC resellers.

I’ve achieved the number one ranking for “Memphis lawyer” and “Memphis Bankruptcy attorneys” and am climbing the rankings and top 10 for many others. Promoting those two sites I’ve spend about $2000 on SEO and web design, total. No, I’m not blogging. I briefly had a blog focused on food reviews and legal tips and achieved some local notoriety, but little business from it. I just signed a notable Memphis Divorce Lawyer as my first SEO client which should be a fun side gig if I get it going.

The first general rankings I achieved through an outsourcer I found off www.elance.com, probably the most well known outsourcer site. The prices I’ve found on elance to be quite high for writing but low for graphic design. Elance also has a high proportion of North American providers. My first website I had designed off Elance for $50 . This year I used a designer off Elance and paid $100 for my Memphis Real Estate site and $50 for my Memphis Bankruptcy Lawyer site plus $50 for the theme he modified. Let me know and I’ll send his contact info.

Elance has a helpful escrow feature which helps to monitor jobs. One thing I’ve learned over the years is be super careful about sending money, break the job up into parts and pay even if it makes accounting irritating, someone you’ve worked with many times before will flake out on you, and they all have bad accounting. When I mean flake out there’s this curious tendency for outsourcers abroad to drop off the face of the planet and then reappear up to several months later with a message somewhat like, “Hey, here’s your xyz” like nothing happened.

Sites like Elance are numerous and varied, probably the most useful for lawyers would be Odesk which has a high proportion of South East Asian workers, with a smattering of North Americans and a curmudgeonly British guy who I hired to write some blog posts at $2.50 each for a site I had. The other sites have a high portion of programmers and less writers and designers.

One major trick to hiring off Odesk is to post bigger jobs. I was trying to post these 150 word blog post for a blog network for SEO purposes that had to be original writing. I kept posting $50 jobs and the contractors would flake out after 10 or so posts out of the 50. I finally posted a $250 job and got much more serious candidates that have been doing okay.

That’s one thing about outsourcing, it will be very difficult to pay for quality. The savings will not be as great as the raw prices imply as you will incur a number of flakeouts. You will also need to give very detailed instructions as contractors will inevitably find some sort of weird roundabout way to follow your instructions yet botch the gig up.

Probably the best source for almost any sort of SEO service would be the Warriorforum, which is like a gathering place of internet marketers. They have a several sections such as Classified Ads and Warriors for Hire where every conceivable SEO service is offered piecemeal. It’s basically like the SEO wholesale shop.

You can find people who’ll write, spin, and submit an article to thousands of sites for $20 for one and with volume discounts, 450 word copyscape passed articles for $4.50, $10 articles by native English writers, several VA firms, and $10 banner headers from Logonerds(They have a coupon posted there). There are some reliability problems, but the longer running threads and need for testimonials have meant that I’ve had a very very good experience with it. The Warrior Special Offer section has info products that have taken me from decent to gamechanging in my internet marketing knowledge.

You’ll notice I’ve actually only named three sites, to be honest I think in terms of outsourcing you can find every conceivable service under the planet at these three locations. Beware it’s the wild west in many respects. People buy access to unlimited submission networks and act like they own it privately and it’s highly buyer beware, but if you know how to evaluate SEO options you can get ranked here for a fraction of the price. In all likelihood, if you hire an SEO consultant they will be whitelabeling quite a few products from all of these sources.

So if you want a fun hobby and to save some SEO money this is where you can get started. In the future, hopefully I’ll be able to do an article on linkbuilding and ranking tips and techniques including some of the naughty stuff.

Bankruptcy is not a low touch practice area

Just thought I’d fill everyone in. There’s a popular misconception I fell for before starting to try practicing bankruptcy that bankruptcy can be part of a practice. It probably takes 5 hours of time per 7 and 10 per 13. However, what’s not stated is that it’s 10 hours over 5 court appearances and multiple client contacts.

This is okay if you have alot of bankruptcies because you’ll be at court everyday and they schedule you as a group and you’ll be able to afford a dedicated staff, but it’s killer if you don’t have enought to be doing multiples.

Secondarily you’ll be doing alot of consults which last around 30 minutes. I’m estimating 3 per bankruptcy actually filed with modest 5 minute phone screens which alot of lawyers are too paranoid to do.

Lawyer Time vs. Real People Time

I wrote this for clients, but alot of clients need the explanation so I’d thought I’d post it.

 

That’s my price for working for someone exclusively.  Otherwise, you are going to have to get used to lawyer time.

You see in the law world as the real world passes by assignments are shifted to law clerks, bumped in favor of emergencies or approaching deadlines, or I may have to think about it some more before I do something I’m nervous about.  That’s the pri                                                                                                           ce of having over five case files and most lawyers have in excess of two hundred sometimes a thousand or more.

Its also why we can get away with charging under five hundred an hour to take your case. Flex time is very costly, as is having spaces in the schedule. There are very few hard time appointments in law but there are many different level of priorities.

I remember one time I was eating a pork chop late at night. I started choking, but could still breath with difficulty. I drove to the hospital. They put an oximeter on me and found I wasn’t about to die. So they gave me little push button to press if I started to pass out.

That’s modern life get over it. If your situation isn’t life or death no highly educated professional is going to give your work product priority unless you pay for it, usually by having a personal lawyer. I’m available for $225,000 a year with a 2 year minimum guaranteed.

I’ve heard stories of it taking months in California to set a motion. Here in Tennessee I need to draft a motion and set it by Friday before the next Friday which hopefully won’t be a Holiday or the judge will be off. Then an order needs to be taken off and sent to the other lawyer who may take a couple of weeks to sign.

 

Nacba, Negotiations, and Nitwits

And the consequence of Bad Ideas.

Recently got back from Washington DC where I attended the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) . I really really loved DC, I’m not originally from Memphis growing up 60 miles away and have found it somewhat stultifying. While it has some high points, it’s at its heart a jock city with conversations revolving around sports and hunting. Even the reading material on the subway was completely different then the books I see read around here.

The conference was extremely informative but Bankruptcy Attorneys didn’t impress me as a happy group with a few exceptions. Think really uptight social reformer types.

I’ve been encountering a bunch a lead sources now coming and offering cutrate deals. This makes sense as even though the quality of leads I’m encountering is improving. Leadrival actually told me that I should expect to close 10% of leads marking them as the most upfront and honest company I’ve dealt with in the field. They also offered me a deal of 40  a lead with the ability to contest. I was really tempted to take this but Memphis’s going rate of 800 or so for a 7 makes even this price not work out. Lesson there is to negotiate with all lead providers especially if you’re in a low going rate area.

I’m really wondering if there’s not a considerable price bubble going on here for PPC derivative leads that’s starting to crest.

Recently I had a client who for some reason I though I’d already copy his driver’s license. Document day was coming up the next week so I called in and told him I really needed it. Of course there was no answer and I left a message. I called again the next week left a message and he actually got it in in what was the nick of time but the secretary at the exec office share didn’t follow protocol and email me it was in. I also didn’t double check as much as I normally do since the ear infection had crested those two days resulting in spending most of those 2 days either at the doctors (my general sent me to a specialist) or at less than peak performance. Fortunately the Memphis trustee files a motion to dismiss and continues the meeting of creditors and if you get the documents in they’ll dismiss the motion.

Which was nice to find out when I got to the meeting of creditors which the client for some reason didn’t make? That makes 3 moc no shows in 3 weeks. 2 had filed before so not lost. I called one who claimed confusion as to time. Then texted he couldn’t make it down even by the original time and asked if he could come in tommorow. (—-> brain explodes.)

This all comes to the following conclusion, restarting the law practice was a bad idea. I’ve actually gotten it through website and ppc to generating a bit in the black. Too get where I’d want to be will require at least another 5 years with considerable risk and alot of work.

I’m not making much more than a frycook at this point and am going to court 3 days this week. Bankruptcy is a surprisingly court appearance heavy practice.

I think I’m going to go back to the original plan of trying to be a hospitality manager which I feel and testing confirms I’d be much more suited for. Also, it offers the ability to work night which would be a lot more fun.

Just think if I had gone with this plan 9 months ago I could be an assistant front desk manager. The only real downside is the standing for the first couple of years.

Bankruptcy Lead Generation

I’ve gotten back into the practice of law due to a limited contractual relationship that led to more and more legal work in the bankruptcy area. I tried out Total Bankruptcy’s Chapter 7 offering and Legalhelper’s sponsor program. Neither are blowing me away. I cancelled the TB after about 12 leads of which none panned out. At 70 a lead that’s pretty sad. There’s no way I would have gotten the minimal 3-1 return you need from a lead system. I speculate part of it was the Chapter 7 draw marginal clients in my area, especially ones with lower income who knew they could qualify for chapter 7.

The legal helpers is slightly better. At these conversion rates (about 30% at a minimum are going to be no connections and 30% won’t come in or aren’t qualified over the phone and the rest even if you get appointments they either don’t qualify (sometimes in some moderately comic way like $2000 of pet expenses for horses they won’t give up) or frequently are currently lacking the cash) you are obviously gunning for a good chapter 13 to make the numbers work out and the LH has landed 2 good looking 13′s that will make the lead program have a 6-1 payoff. This makes advertising on a Chapter 7 branded somewhat dubious.

My own ppc is generating leads at about $30 but again poor lead quality, also difficult generating a meaningful number of leads. Going to try a new capture form soon that can make a big difference. Surprised that mentioning a proper name can really help the CTR on the ads.

Ethics Violations and Avvo

I’ve determined that Avvo’s here to stay. Unfortunately, their bogus and easily gameable rating system is going to be a major factor. I’ve had 2 clients in the past week mention avvo.

This actually is due to Avvo’s pretty decent Search Engine Optimization and not anything in particular socially beneficial about their system.

This also means that a public ethics warning is now a super serious sanction rather than a mild and temporary public disgrace. See AVVO is going to place a big red warning sign on your profile like here . Most importantly, rather than having to go to some obscure bar website that’s going to put the sanction in small print, they’re going to find it super easily on a reputable looking site with big ass red attention sign and in red characters.

I had a client tell me specifically they chose me over someone else because of this. I assume Avvo’s not going to be aging this warning either.

The moral of this story is even if your bar isn’t giving suspensions for anything other than serious steal from client violations, you’ll need to be extra careful going forward, which might be a good thing.