In my book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days, I provide the following anecdote:
There is a classic Peanuts comic, where Linus is going door to door trying to sell wadded up pieces of paper as cat toys. His sales presentation is good, but he never makes a sale. He asks the cat owners to picture the hours of fun their cats will have playing with the wadded up piece of paper. Nonetheless, he can’t get past the fact that he’s selling wadded up pieces of paper. He loses the sale every time, because the prospective customers realize and explain that they can wad up their own pieces of paper.
I don’t know why that comic stuck with me, but I see it played out over and over in real life, especially on the Internet. To this day, solo practitioners who can’t afford it are spending thousands of dollars to have people build websites for them. To fulfill my continuing education requirements, I was at a law firm marketing seminar recently where someone claimed that incoming links are essential to successful search engine optimization (SEO). He claimed that you should have 30,000 incoming links to your site, and as luck would have it, he just happened to offer a link-building service for the “limited time, have to buy it now or the offer is lost for ever” price of $1,950 per month. He normally required a one year commitment, but attorneys signing up on the spot only had to commit to six months. Attorneys were lined up to pay $1,950 per month — a total commitment of almost $12,000 — for incoming links to a single website! The website fiverr.com offers 50,000 incoming links for just $5, and they are just as worthless as what this person was offering.
These sorts of absurd SEO claims and pricing are far too commonplace. By accident or design, many so-called SEO experts mystify the process so that you won’t realize it’s just wadded up pieces of paper, and you can wad your own paper, thank you very much.
Today I came across an interesting article by Jared Jorde entitled 5 Reasons Attorneys are Easy Marks for SEO Scams on a blog called LawLytics. Jorde has apparently witnessed the same sort of nonsense I reported, and provides a detailed look at the reasons behind the phenomenon.
LawLytics is itself in the business of creating websites for attorneys. In Big Fat Pipeline, I explain how to create your own websites for just $6 per month, and I use that as a point of reference when someone is offering to create websites for me. I have no objection to farming out that work, and although I have no experience with LawLytics, I’d bet their websites are fancier than my own meager efforts. You went to law school to practice law, not to create websites. So by all means allow the pros to create your sites if your budget permits, but just keep in mind that it isn’t magic, and you can wad your own paper.
At a minimum, take the time to create one website, just for the experience. You’ll be far less likely to overpay for website development, if you have personal experience on how easy it is to create one.
[Update:] When I first told this story of the guy selling the backlinks for $1,950, I didn’t mention any names (partly because I don’t recall his name), but the presentation in question occurred at an event hosted by Stephen Fairley from The Rainmaker Institute. Fairley and the Institute are now in the news because one of their clients has filed a RICO suit, alleging that he paid the defendants $49,000 for web page optimization and received nothing in return. The service in question? You guessed it — backlinks. Be sure to read my article about Steve Fairley and The Rainmaker Institute, where I tell you that he actually has a lot of good information to impart, so long as you don’t fall for the upsells.