July 21, 2024

Mid Designer

Breakaway from the pack

Maximizing Your Marketing Mix || SEO-Optimization is Killing Your Content

Maximizing Your Marketing Mix || SEO-Optimization is Killing Your Content

Are Gyi and Conrad even real anymore? The “guys” discuss the most effective and efficient use of your marketing dollar. Then, it’s into the listener mailbag to commiserate over the ubiquity of unbearable (but SEO-optimized!) legal content.


We’re not sure who carries eggs in baskets anymore, but we’re all familiar with the classic idiom. And, it applies to your marketing mix as well. Gyi and Conrad evaluate each of the major marketing channels, weighing cost and time-to-success to help you think through how to build a own well-rounded (egg-shaped?) and effective marketing portfolio.

Then the guys respond to a listener question: Has compelling, useful content died in Legal? Lawyers are supposed to be good writers, right? So, how come so much of their marketing content is just plain awful? It seems that we all stopped creating content that an actual person would find useful in favor of serving our SEO god, Google. Remember, the client journey doesn’t end when they click your link. You still have to convince them to actually hire you. Hold fast, don’t give up; you can still create good content and win the SEO wars.

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Transcript

Welcome to the Lunch Hour Legal Marketing Podcast where we can chat about everything under the sun. I’m your host Conrad.

Gyi Tsakalakis:  And I’m your other host Gyi.

Conrad Saam: Gyi, it’s great to be back on air with you. How’s life been treating you?

Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s been good Conrad. Just trying to keep up with everything, you know how it is, how about you?

Conrad Saam: Yeah, it’s been busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So what do you want to chat about today?

Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately. Have you heard about the new developments in AI and robotics?

Conrad Saam: Oh, yes, it’s amazing what’s being done in those fields. It’s exciting to think about all the possibilities, but it’s also a bit scary.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Definitely, but you know what they say, the only constant in life is change. We might as well embrace it.

Conrad Saam: That’s a great point Gyi, and on that note let’s dive into our discussion for today. We’ll be talking about the future of AI and how it’s going to impact our lives.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Exciting stuff. Let’s get started.

Conrad Saam: Wow Gyi, that sounds like it was written by an eighth grader.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, it was not written by well, I don’t know what grade. I feel like but I guarantee you it’s not an eighth grader. Yeah, I feel like that would be low for an eighth grader. That was like maybe first grade. But that was written by our good friend at ChatGPT, with the prompt write me a banter section for a podcast with two hosts, casual banter no longer than three minutes.

Conrad Saam: All right, and now we have take two in our intro, also brought to you by AI, Gyi, take it away.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Ladies and gentlemen, put down your briefs and pick up your microphones because we’re about to embark on a journey into the wild, wacky and often bewildering world of legal marketing, that’s right folks, this podcast is all about turning those stuffy law firms into marketing power houses and what could be more entertaining than that. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and prepare to laugh as we navigate the labyrinth of branding, social media, and SEO for lawyers.

Conrad Saam: I think we just lost half of our audiences, dude.

Gyi Tsakalakis: This ChatGPT thing is really, and we didn’t even need to be here anymore.

Conrad Saam: We’re done.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Solved. Lunch Hour Legal Marketing solved by ChatGPT.

Conrad Saam: Although it did use a word labyrinth which I thought might be above the vocabulary grade of the writers over ChatGPT.

Gyi Tsakalakis: I like how SEO got in there and that was not part of the prompt.

Conrad Saam: Well the interesting thing, so for you guys who are still listening, if we haven’t made you vomit due to the kind of being all bantered that we just put together. We did not put in anything about SEO, we did not put in anything about AI or robotics, that all came from the algorithms over at ChatGPT so fascinating.

Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s what’s on ChatGPT’s mind but what’s on our mind today, Conrad?

Conrad Saam: All right, as usual, we are going to cover interesting news coming out, we’re going to do a little work on ChatGPT, it hasn’t gone away out of our section but we’re going to talk about the news. We are going to answer the listener question has compelling useful content, really died in the legal sphere? And finally, this is a really good tactical one. We are going to go into which marketing channels give you the most bang for the buck. So we’re going to be talking about the immediacy of different marketing channels, the cost of different marketing channels and why the portfolio theory really should apply to your marketing mix. But before we do that, I want to hear some music.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Please create a catchy theme song involving money for our podcast.

[Music]

Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, teaching you how to promote, market and make fat stacks for your legal practice, here on Legal Talk Network.

Conrad Saam: Welcome to the Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. This is the real Conrad and Gyi, not artificial intelligence Conrad and Gyi. We are back with another exciting show for you. Today but first, let’s do the news.

[Music]

Conrad Saam: Gyi, you just recently appeared on New Solo with a good friend, Adriana Linares that was great.

Gyi Tsakalakis: I did, thanks Adriana. We talked Google Business Profiles, go check out the episode.

Conrad Saam: We will put that in the show notes. It’s super tactical. I believe it is top 10 tips on GMP, right?

(00:04:59)

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, we really focused on you know, for folks that are just getting started with the worse and things you’ve got to do, so go check out that New Solo episode.

Conrad Saam: Okay, it’s good stuff. I heard that everyone’s using ChatGPT. Google, we talked about this last time, but Google has really done a kind of a 180 on their perspective of ChatGPT and it’s really happen — sort of artificial intelligence generated content as it pertains to SEO. Gyi, can you give a quick overview of that?

Gyi Tsakalakis: Sure. Google said don’t do it. We are going to try to fight this artificial content. Then they said, gosh, everybody seems to be doing it, Bings doing it. Bings already on the ChatGPT-4, so maybe we should reconsider our position so they kind of reverse course completely and in fact, I just saw reported on the verge that they are testing a new Google home page that includes ChatGPT like prompts. We can’t get away from this ChatGPT thing. It is eating the internet. Who do you trust? I don’t even know what’s real and not real anymore.

Conrad Saam: Yeah, this may not actually be Gyi and Conrad, we may just be two computers talking to each other. Interestingly Gyi, Danny Sullivan, the two mouthpieces at Google who do talk to the SEO Community, Danny Sullivan, and John Mueller came out with statements in January about AI generated content, I’m going to read Danny’s and then the surprise really came from John but Danny said “Our spam policies also addressed spammy automatically generated content where we will take action, if content is generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience.” So I read that the contrapositive of that tells me that Gyi, if you do have regard for quality and user experience, it’s okay, right? Are you reading that?

Gyi Tsakalakis: So, here’s the biggest tip, the biggest Lunch Hour Legal Marketing secret of all time, this is what you do. You go to ChatGPT and you say ChatGPT, please write me an article about being a personal injury lawyer but please regard quality and user experience, ready, set, go.

Conrad Saam: Done. Now we can publish all that stuff, right?

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And, you know, again, Danny, John, great people. Appreciate all the work they do trying to keep us updated. Go read the actual developer documentation, see what they say and then ask yourself, what do you really think is going to happen here, especially with Google probably soon launching their own some kind of version of this. Just be careful, folks, you know, all the marketing expert people are saying all sorts of crazy stuff because that’s how they get paid to come in and consult. I can tell you if you search for ChatGPT from legal marketing.

Conrad Saam: Wow, what a plug here. Go ahead I know where you’re going with this.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, so just for the haters out there, I wrote a post about ChatGPT for Legal Marketing but guess what, I didn’t write it. ChatGPT did, and I disclosed on the top of the post that ChatGPT wrote this post and guess what, as of the time at least last time I checked ranks number one for ChatGPT for Legal Marketing completely written by ChatGPT take it, leave it, I don’t know, be careful, and look, inspiration, seed tax, stuff like that, there’s also research, there’s all sorts of stuff, you can use it for but please, please, please, please, edit, edit, edit, anything that you publish that starts with ChatGPT and we’re going to threw one of these, you know, there’s now — we’re going to put in the links too, there’s all sorts of tools now for detecting how artificial are your content is, and if your flag in that, you’re probably going to set off some flags at other machines so that’s another thing to keep in mind.

Conrad Saam: All right, and off of ChatGPT, there’s two contest going on for best law firm websites right now, right Gyi? What are those two, we’ll plug those guys because it’s interesting.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, our friends at Lawyers and now also Affinity have got their 2023 best law firm website nominations, hopefully the nominations are still open when this goes live. So we will put the link in there but just search for Lawyers 2023 best law firm websites. Submit your website, web devs that are listening to this, or designers, if you got awesome law firm websites you built, send them over there. They do a nice job of kind of parsing through a lot of different law firm websites and issues and always fun to win a prize.

Conrad Saam: Great link building opportunity to. Okay, I believe to end up the news. This is the last call for Tech Show, right? Would love to see you guys at Tech Show, Gyi and I will be speaking together. I’m also speaking with Ruky Tijani(ph) on branding and positioning, and we would love to have you at Tech Show. If you want to chat with us, you can find us there. We’ll be doing some recording for Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, and see you in the Brisk City of Chicago later on.

Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s going to be a blast, let’s take a break.

(00:10:02)

[Music]

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So Gyi one of the questions and one of the things that we balance regularly for our clients and I’m assuming you do as well is the marketing channel mix that they’re dealing with. So this is going to be highly tactical, but it’s understanding there’s kind of two really key elements to each marketing channel. Number one is cost and effectiveness, right? And number two is time, and I think that time element is often missed. So what I would like to go through with you right now and we’ll get some perhaps consensus on major marketing channels for legal and the digital space as it pertains to both expense and time. So we’re going to cover organic, just so I give you a heads-up, organic, local, local SEO, LSAs, pay-per-click, paid social, organic social, and your favorite and call rails most underperforming marketing channel email. So Gyi, can you talk to me quickly about expense and timeframe for organic and when I say organic, I mean, what most people think of as SEO.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yep. So organic search, driving traffic and leads and fees from Google and other search engines that someone out there might be using, DuckDuckGo and Bang, I guess, and cost, you know, could be free, right? Time is money, but you don’t pay Google so realistically, I’m going to give you the — first, let me give you the talking points, and then you can give me the counter points, right? The talking points on organic are this. It’s free traffic, you don’t pay Google but it takes time, right, because you’ve got to publish content. You’ve got to do things to get your content in front of people that can actually like link to it and talk about it because that’s a factor, you got to fix technical issues with your website so that can take some time and some context. So usually the high-level talking points are free traffic and it takes a lot of time.

Conrad Saam: Typical talking points and if you can win that game, right, it actually can be very valuable right and bluntly, I built my bones, I earned my bones in the legal marketing space, learning SEO for legal. I think the key here is, it is in many cases personal injuries and example, criminal offense is becoming more this way, so difficult that you shouldn’t even bother. If you are a starting, a personal injury practice in Downtown, Atlanta, I would not put SEO in the top 10 things you should be thinking about because it is going to take so much time and money to actually get there that it’s not going to work. Having said that and you and I had an argument about this about a year ago on the podcast, there are frequently across my desk, I come across websites that have been done so poorly with such egregious failures, technical failures, that there can be quick fixes, right? I would say proprietary website platforms can be so bad that upgrading that platform in and of itself can actually have an immediate and persistent quick impact but there are other really stupid things that people have done with the technology to shoot themselves in the foot, right? Can you give a listener an example of a particularly egregious error that is there easy fix that could then have a major impact?

Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, my favorite one is the no index, right? You got no index protocol on your robots.txt file. Well, of course, guess what? You can go from zero to some traffic as soon as Google comes back and recalls and indexes your site. Now, is that going to be gangbusters? I don’t know.

(00:15:06)

The only thing I wanted to respond to because I, you know, I’m generally with you, you know, from prior — and we’re going to talk about this in the context of like this idea of portfolio strategy but like you say, don’t bother with SEO. I might say look, be realistic about SEO. Plant your seeds, garden your site, publish your content, but don’t expect that if you’re in a competitive space and a competitive practice area with a lot of other lawyers trying to compete for the same queries that been doing a long time or spending a lot of money that you’re going to able to do that but I don’t know that’s a reason not to I mean, I’ll say this, you know, this is the other stat that we always talk about 15% of searches every day, brand new, if you can latch onto long tailed queries, you know, especially in some of these new emerging query universes, it can still work you know, are you going to rank for personal injury lawyer in Chicago, no, of course not but guess what, good news is 15% of the searches have never been done before so do your market research, understand your audience, what are people — however, you serve clients, what are they talking about, what are they typing into Google, go try to publish stuff on that.

Conrad Saam: I do think that we’re going too deep on SEO here, but I do think this is very practice dependent. I spoke this morning to a gentleman, he’s an IP lawyer in Seattle, there’s not that many of them, right? Go play in that game, okay. So, let’s have an SEO strategy for you starting very rudimentary level but personal injury, criminal offense, family, increasingly family, super hard games to play.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Here’s one, how about copyright infringement from ChatGPT content.

Conrad Saam: There you go. Mr. ChatGPT in front of all your title tags.

Gyi Tsakalakis: All right. Moving on. Local, can you give me a feeling of expense and time to success?

Conrad Saam: So let’s start with talking points and just make sure we’re all level setting what we’re talking about here. So local, there’s two ways to think about local. First local is local pack, right, three-pack with the map currently, but there are also localized traditional results. I guess I won’t get too deep on the localized traditional but I think it’s at least worth noting that but to the point that was made about traditional, you know, look if you’re in an area where people actually search at the neighborhood level for lawyers like you or for answers to the questions that might be a lot less competitive, right? So instead of competing in Chicago, you’re competing in Park Ridge or Oak Park or another (00:17:26) like maybe you can but really what we mean is local SEO were thinking local pack you know, can be the same problem, super competitive, you don’t pay Google for it, a lot of overlap of traditional SEO factors, obviously the difference there is they focus on the three big ones they publish relevance, distance, prominence, prominences where you make your money, you can really impact too much on your distance unless your opening offices or moving and a lot of that tradition SEO factors and stuff you’re doing with your Google Business Profile. Keeping up today, publishing on it, publishing posts, categorization stuff, Darren Shaw’s Whitespark has been a lot of great videos on LinkedIn about Google Business Profile stuff, really entertaining too if you follow Darren, I’d say check that out but the same point super competitive and maybe more likely to happen overnight especially if you change your firm name to keyword firm name officially.

Gyi Tsakalakis: I thought you’re going somewhere else for that.

Conrad Saam: I think the keyword local is the time to success for me is heavily focused on the proximity. Like, you can have an unfair advantage just by the location of your office, right? Or you can be screwed by the location of your office. And so if you’re in a building whether other law firms do the same thing, you have no chance. If you are the only person in those suburbs that’s doing family law, and that’s where your office is like, you actually have an unfair advantage, so you can start to see success and it’s all based on how proximal you are to people who are looking for what you do, and how proximal everyone else is to you, right? And so I think that is the key factor. All right, moving a little bit more quickly, local service ads expense and time to success Gyi, I got a good answer on this.

Gyi Tsakalakis: If you can get your local services ads spend, they’ll be up and running. Well, first of all, let’s go through the validation process that can take some time.

Conrad Saam: Yeah.

Gyi Tsakalakis: But once that’s done, you’re up and running fast. If you get them to spend fast, very fast and cost relative, I would say relative to pay per click we’re going to talk about more affordable at the per lead level basis. I’ll leave it at that.

Conrad Saam: Okay, I agree. I think the biggest problem with this is Gyi couched his answer with.  “if”, if you can get these things running it happens immediately. Our ability to impact what shows up in LSAs is slim to none. And it is like if you are — we’re going to talk about portfolio theory. If you are depending on LSAs that can go away tomorrow and you will have no recourse, no way to change things, it’s like a car being driven by a blind man on a freeway, the wrong direction. It is so difficult to be deliberate and predictive with what’s happening with LSA. So it can be tomorrow. It could be two years from now. I’ve no idea.

(00:20:20)

Gyi Tsakalakis: I’ll give two tactics to play around with one, play around your budget, I’ll give you three actually. Two, play around with your the geo where you’re actually going to run your LSAs and three, make sure that you are actively engaged with booking appointments in the LSA platform. Again, no guarantees, but budget location, and mark those appointments booked quickly and I think that’s your best you can do.

Conrad Saam: But it’s still awful.

Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s still awful but they’re right up there at the top and you got the reviews there in 24 hours, and you’re penalty paying per lead I mean sounds like magic.

Conrad Saam: All right next, pay per click Gyi, cost, time.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Very fast. It might be able to get you up and running same day and boy, is it expensive.

Conrad Saam: Everyone’s playing the game, totally agree. And your success is going to be based on how well you convert clients, which is based on two things. Do you have a great intake process and are you really unpicky with your clients?

Gyi Tsakalakis: And that’s the biggest one. That’s the biggest one is, are you volume? Are you going to take on anybody who’s got some kind of claim relevant to your practice? Because, you know, again, we see this in the Facebook groups all the time. Oh, my cost per acquisition on pay per click is really high but we turned down 99% of the clients that come in, well of course, it’s drives with your cost.

Conrad Saam: All right next, paid social time and expense.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Expense a lot lower than other paid channels. I’m going to go talk because I’m not big on the direct response for paid social. So I’m going to couch this in terms of demand gen.

Conrad Saam: What do you mean by a direct response Gyi? This is really important.

Gyi Tsakalakis: So when we talk paper click and LSA is we’re thinking “Search, See the Add, Click, Call, Hire”, right? Direct response. For paid social, you can have the same strategy, you can do a direct response, or lead generation strategy with paid social. It’s certainly less effective than search. It’s more like trying to do direct response with like TV, but the real magic of paid social is demand generation, right? So go back and listen to all of our conversations about dark social and branding and demand generation. The issue though, in this context, this conversation is demand generation takes time. They got to see those ads, those paid social ads over and over and over and over, so that they’re like, “Oh, yeah, so and so” does that thing that I need when they need them

Conrad Saam: I agree with almost everything you said, with the exception of cost effectiveness. I think it depends on the channel. It depends on the social network that you’re working on. LinkedIn is insanely expensive. Some of the others, where there’s much less targeting available are much more affordable. LinkedIn is bananas. And I think the key with paid social here is, well, actually, we’re going to come back to this, answer the question for organic social, okay, organic social. Time and money.

Gyi Tsakalakis:  So free, except for your time, right? I can’t stand when people say free because time is money, but we’re going to call it free for the talking points.

Conrad Saam: Okay.

Gyi Tsakalakis:  And same thing, takes a long time, right? Now maybe not. Maybe if you’re super popular and a lot of people, you got a lot of friends who are active and they’re sharing your work. I know some lawyers who post, they do the affinity stuff where they’re in these groups, they’re posting like we’ve talked about Ken in the in the food stuff, and that kind of stuff, you know, maybe it’s a shorter period of time but it’s still top of mind awareness demand generation, it’s not as fast as direct response. So it’s still longer on the spectrum.

Conrad Saam: Yeah, I think the time on organic social is actually in years, because —

Gyi Tsakalakis: it might be decades if you have no reach.

Conrad Saam: Yeah, if you’re starting out with no reach, like the big part of this is, you can post as much as you want, but you don’t, you’re posting to yourself. You’re watching not everybody sees everything you post and that’s right.

Gyi Tsakalakis: You know it’s funny, lawyers don’t realize that they think everybody that’s connected to sees everything. I said, no. They see a fraction.

Conrad Saam: Not even close. So there is importance and time taken in building not just numbers. And this is where I get annoyed with this stuff, not just the number of followers because I can go buy you 10,000 followers tomorrow for 50 dollars, right? It is the engagement with those followers which is what actually impacts your reach and that does take time. And my tactical there is focus on groups. Focus on lawyer-to-lawyer referral groups. Focus on affinity groups that you’re interested in. If you’re going to spend organic time on social do it in those groups.

Gyi Tsakalakis: And I would say really work on the key influencers there, right?

(00:25:02)

This is where the whole key influencer approach is really, really important. You build a relationship with someone who has that reach that becomes part of your reach.

Conrad Saam: Okay. The last one, your favorite, lawyers favorite to hate is email. This is going to be an interesting conversation. Time and expense for email Gyi.

Gyi Tsakalakis: So again, free.

Conrad Saam: Free?

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, we host email hosting.

Conrad Saam: Well, emails like constant contact or something.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Email software maybe.

Conrad Saam: Yeah, maybe some software.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Not free. No, okay, fair.

Conrad Saam: But very, very, per unit insanely.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, if you’re using hub spot. No, just kidding. Yes, there might be some software costs for sure. But still MailChimp. I mean, it’s not breaking the bank like the other ones are. And it’s just the time you’re putting into actually creating the campaigns and that. But time, same problem, right? So big problem. You don’t have anybody in your contact list. You got to grow your contact list. That can take forever, right?

Conrad Saam: Yeah.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Now, if you’ve been practicing for 30 years and you’ve got a bunch of contacts that want to get messaging from you, maybe it can be faster, but still it’s not direct response here. It’s more nurturing. “Hey, happy New Year. Happy Birthday. Top of minds, learn something new share a book review. What’s been going on?” That kind of stuff. That takes time because again, most legal services are in the “I need a lawyer when I need a lawyer” not in constant state of searching for a lawyer. So it’s like it’s a way to stay on their mind when they’re actually looking.

Conrad Saam: Totally agree. Totally agree.

Gyi Tsakalakis: But with all this stuff, I think we alluded to this at the top of the conversation, the best tip that we really can give is to have a portfolio strategy with this stuff. Don’t put all your eggs in a single channel basket. Diversify your marketing. And guess what, your marketing works best when it’s integrated because legal services consumers, they’re consuming your messaging across channels. So, you know, prioritize things, plant some seeds in SEO. But don’t just go all in on SEO, don’t go all in on paid search and put together — hire someone like Conrad to put together an integrated attribution system so that you can actually see how people are moving through that journey.

Conrad Saam: Yeah, I think this is really, really important. I think the portfolio theory is amazing. We saw problems with this with LSAs. We had we had clients who were killing it as early adopters of LSAs. And then they disappeared, and they’re like, “I’ve just hired all of this staff, and I’m screwed,” right? Well, now we’re going to go play the pay per click games where your cost per client is 4x what we we’re paying last week with LSAs. The other thing with portfolio theory, this is really important is some of — and the reason I couched these questions to you initially Gyi is some of these channels are now and some of them are tomorrow, or next year, right. And so having both of those elements working where you are driving business now but you’re also actively today working on tomorrow, that’s just healthy business, right?

Coke doesn’t run their advertising so you’re going to walk outside and go to a 7Eleven and buy a Coke, they want you to know that you’re going to buy Coke for the next 20 years. And so it’s really important to both think about today but also plan for tomorrow because some of these channels are really, really fundamentally different. And bluntly, if you have been doing this, if you are running the really effective organic channels that take time like organic social for example, you can choose to walk away from pay per click because you can always turn it back on. But you can’t flip it the other way where you desperately need the clients but you don’t have the money to pay the pay per click budgets because you weren’t doing the things you need to do last year. When we come back, we’re going to answer an amazing question about why SEO content is so vapid and our dear questioner asks us can Gyi and Conrad lead us to the promised land away from awful generic keyword-stuffed content that seems to be winning the SEO games in legal?

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Gyi Tsakalakis: And we’re back. And as Conrad mentioned, we are so grateful for this listener question. I’m going to paraphrase some of it to try to hit the high notes and just to be respectful of time. Hi Gyi and Conrad, I listen to your podcast since accepting a role with a top law firm.

(00:30:02)

Thank you. Burning question, here we go. Great deal of experience with SEO, web development, publishing, however, my experience comes from non-legal and mostly B2B industries, predominantly tech and startups. Moved to the insanely competitive legal space, fired most of the agencies that are working for the firm, hired several new agencies, completely mystified when I began to understand that media, creative, digital PR that work in the space and by and large are taking advantage of attorneys who haven’t a clue about business much less marketing.

Conrad Saam: Wow, I’m sorry.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Welcome to our world.

Conrad Saam: Sometimes I feel like I need a shower at the end of the day, right? Like, yes, I’m sorry, this is your experience. And I mean, really, there is so much garbage in legal that the rest of the marketing world looks at us. And they get to peek behind the curtain and boy, do they not like what they see.

Gyi Tsakalakis: I heard an agency that specializes in legal SEO and PPC, though I only hired them for the former. So it’s SEO. Quickly learned the value of unique and useful content and the legal SEO game which is to say there simply is no value. It seems to all be written for Google. Now, I understand that, I get that SEO and I also get that one needs to understand how to write content that’s properly optimized. However, I do not think there’s a solitary page on the website I’ve been working on with this agency for over a year now that is composed of original, interesting or even concise content. It’s pages upon pages upon pages of keyword rich content. I can go on for hundreds of examples of how this project is played out with the agency I’ve taken upon myself to edit many of the bad pages, replaced some stock photos. Well, we don’t want to put the NC17.

Conrad Saam: She said shitty pages.

Gyi Tsakalakis:  With original or semi decent stock photos and I’ve refused to publish content even prospective client wouldn’t care to read. Great point and keep fighting the good fight. So I’ll provide you with the most recent examples of what I’ve had and see what you have to say. Yesterday sent me two blogs and two press releases in “to approve.” I read the press releases and once again find myself dismayed at the clear Google content, no newsworthiness, no timely tips, just the same old legal stuff you see on every law firm website. I asked if we could at the very least add some timely stats or data to the release. I asked if we could do some actual case studies to make it relevant or even slightly less nauseatingly sterile. They said that these press releases, which do indeed gets sent out on the wire and do get found and picked up even when it says by Yahoo Business need to be optimized. And that would mess up the perfection of their SEO strategy.

I’m so sorry. I’m attaching two of the releases for your reading pleasure, your reading displeasure. And I need to know, is this the way it must be to compete in the legal industry? Has compelling, relevant, useful, content died here or years ago? Ah, and our listener, thank you again and has expressed she would prefer to remain anonymous. We feel your pain. This is why Conrad and I cry ourselves to sleep at night.

Conrad Saam: Self-loathing marketer much.

Gyi Tsakalakis:  Conrad, what do you tell this dear listener?

Conrad Saam: Well, I mean, there’s a couple of things to unpack here. And I’m going to kind of jump on two of them. I think you would agree with me Gyi that the really successful pages that have been written successful from an SEO perspective pages that had been written in legal really are uninspiring and have been uninspiring for a long time. The winners of SEO content have been uninspiring for a long time. I think that is fair to say. You agree?

Gyi Tsakalakis:  I do. I mean, my view of this is and this Will Rounds talked about this years ago, lots of SEO people have talked about this. It’s that pages rank that are terrible all the time and to your point, you got Danny and John out there telling everybody, “Great, great. We got the helpful content update. We got all these awesome updates that are focused on surfacing more awesome content.” Go look in legal. It’s not happening. I mean, I tell people all the time, even some of these practice area pages, the home pages, the content is absolutely awful. I wish — this shouldn’t be a letter written to Google. I wish Google wouldn’t do that. But you want to know what’s happening? It doesn’t matter what’s on the page. It’s the link profile. These sites that are ranking for these competitive queries, they’ve got tons of backlinks, they’re bigger sites so they’ve got a lot of internal links. And you know, as AJ Cohen say, “The best Google is a blind five-year-old.” So Google is able to connect the dots and say things like, “Okay, this page is about personal injury lawyer and it’s got 10,000 backlinks from all of these relevant sites. Throw in the results.” That’s what’s going on here.

(00:35:03)

Conrad Saam: I think this is also exacerbated by the fact that this is one engine. Like we don’t have a Penelope of different ways to search for content. We have one algorithm, we’re all playing the same game. And that’s why the results all look the same.

Gyi Tsakalakis:  But look at Yandex. Yandex, they just leaked their code. Guess what they used? Links. They’re all using links.

Conrad Saam: So links as a component, but they actually on the valuation of the content, like, we’re all looking at this through the same algorithm. And so that’s why the stuff that like you look at this day in, day out. It’s the same thing over and over again. I want to unpack another piece here though. This is a second subtext to your question. And this was around press releases and two blogs. So I want to pick on the Press releases first. I’m going to read this again because it’s important. They said that these press releases which do indeed get sent out on the wire and do get found and picked up even if it’s by Yahoo Business need to be optimized and that would mess up the perfection of that. What the fuck are you optimizing in a press release? I’m serious.

Like Google knows these are syndicated stuff if there was a link value in press releases, the press release companies would be raking in money, right? There’s no content. If their press releases are generating a story and you’re getting coverage and links and goodwill from that? Like, great, but like press releases? Are you kidding? The other part of this that drives me just up the wall Gyi, we’re talking about two press releases and two blogs in a week. It feels like this very, very nice lady is in an engagement with an agency that suggests that you just need to keep publishing on the regular. How well does that work Gyi?

Gyi Tsakalakis: Terribly. In fact, I’m hoping our listener listens to this and then emails you and CCs her agency and be like, “Here’s a link to the episode. Talk to Conrad about this.”

Conrad Saam: No.

Gyi Tsakalakis:  Don’t do that. That’s what I need. And again, dear listener, let me tell you, you are on it. You are right. Focus on newsworthiness. Focus on original reporting. Focus on stats and data. And not because that content is going to like magically — Google think this is the best content since sliced bread. But guess who will think it is? People who are ready, willing and able to link to it. Journalists, bloggers, maybe people that cover these types of issues in the local community. Maybe you write something and a local school invites the attorneys to speak or invite someone to take on a leadership position and those pages have links. That’s the point, right? And let’s also face another thing. In local pack, it’s predominantly going to be home pages. Look, some of these firms, big firms with multiple office locations might have internal pages set up on their GPT profiles. It’s your homepage. So the content on your homepage is not driving your rankings for local pack. It’s the links. It’s the third-party validators. Mostly it’s the distance in your business name field. But to our listener, you’re doing the right stuff. Focus on the newsworthiness. Focus on newsjacking.

You know, I was thinking of an example we did a long time ago, a couple come to mind. But we did a scholarship for a lawyer that was like we’re going to give you a scholarship not to go to law school.

Conrad Saam: I remember this.

Gyi Tsakalakis: We did a bike accident map so people could self-report all of their bike accidents, and the news picked it up. Firms do dangerous intersection content. People actually care about that stuff, right? Oh, I’ll avoid that intersection or complained to my state representative, check this out. It gets picked up by the local news. That kind of stuff, you’re on it. Keep doing that stuff. This press release for link thing, this should have died what, 20 years ago.

Conrad Saam: It died over a decade ago.

Gyi Tsakalakis: At least a decade.

Conrad Saam: I don’t know if it ever was a thing, because it was by definition syndicated content that is super, super easy to pick up. And so that drives me up the wall. But what Gyi is saying like, doing the press releases around as a small component of a publicity event that you’re also supporting through human outreach, through social outreach, that you are trying to get that recognition and the links back and the coverage of what you are doing, like the don’t go to law school, the scholarship not to go. Great, creative, out of the box, links, that will win the day. And you know what? Your content for SEO may be nauseatingly boring, but focus your creativity on driving the authority because frankly, I said this the other day to a close group, I’ll say it here. We don’t know where — I hate to close the episode of ChatGPT, but it’s been a long time since your technology platform was a unassailable competitive advantage in the SEO wars.

(00:40:05)

Everyone’s on WordPress, everyone has reasonably well coded sites, that is no longer a competitive advantage. That used to be like amazing. ChatGPT launches, if you think Google is going to be able to identify artificially generated content for the rest of time, like maybe you avoid this, but like, it’s enabled people to generate a whole bunch of content really quickly. So your content profile, the second leg of that SEO stool, if you have amazing lots of content, that’s no longer a competitive advantage. The final remaining example, the final remaining leg of this stool where you can kill it on SEO is those links. And that’s why you’ve been hearing links from Gyi and Conrad, from as long as I started talking on this podcast, right. And so put your creativity and effort towards that instead of press releases. That drives me up the wall.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And the other thing that I would say, and this is more in the local context, I know we’re kind of coming to the end because just like we talked about before, I don’t want to try to overhype the link thing. You still got to get reviews; you’ve got to be able to — just ranking. Everybody’s so focused on ranking. If you don’t have something that motivates the searcher to actually click and call and hire you, it doesn’t matter what your rankings are. If you listen to local pack and your office is closed when they’re searching and the competitor’s office is open, if you list the wrong category, and so they’re searching for personal injury lawyer and you’ve got divorce lawyer in your Google business profile. If your competitors got 1000 reviews and you’ve got two. Deprioritize that in your portfolio because you got to build those assets up before you — ranking is not going to matter. This is the thing. These people that are selling rankings alone, you’re not thinking about conversion, you’re not thinking about a potential client experience. What are you putting on your page or on your listings or on your profile, that’s going to make them say, “Oh, wait a second, this person actually is the best lawyer for me.” It’s not going to be keyword rich press release. It’s not going to be your practice area page. You know, it’s not going to be your practice area page outlining personal injury law in your state, right?

And again, I’m not saying don’t do any of this stuff. But you know, portfolio, these are your long shot Hail Mary longer term type of things. There’s a knot where to put 80% of your eggs. I’ve been talking a lot about eggs and baskets today. It’s on my mind, I guess.

Conrad Saam: We need a new metaphor. Or maybe we should have breakfast together next time.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. But sincerely. Thank you for this. I think it was not only cathartic for Conrad and I, but also really, really valuable. I think for other listeners, because we know a lot of marketing directors, we know a lot of other lawyers, they’re dealing with this exact same issue.

Conrad Saam: We’ve ranted a lot today. This has been rant filled.

Gyi Tsakalakis: Rant filled thank you. Thank you, listener. Thank you to all of our listeners. If you just landed on this episode, please do subscribe so you can hear future rants from Conrad and Gyi on your favorite podcast thing and check us out on YouTube. We think we are hilarious and we put short videos there of us being hilarious. But hopefully, you do find some tips, some tricks and do subscribe there as well. Until next time, Conrad and Gyi for this amazing Lunch Hour Legal Marketing GPT powered podcast.

[Music]

Outro: Thank you for listening to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. If you would like more information about what you heard today, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Subscribe via Apple podcast and RSS. Follow Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Conrad Saam: That was really good. I’m going to say it again. Our best episode yet.

Gyi Tsakalakis:  We get better every time I’ve heard. Someone wrote that on LinkedIn.