FindLaw’s Templated SEO Services & How Its Not Custom, Top-Shelf SEO

I was recent asked to evaluate a FindLaw contract for a firm I work with, who has a prospective client that uses FindLaw and is considering more custom SEO services from another vendor. Specifically, I was asked to discuss what the contract included and what is what lacking with regard to SEO. While this is specific to this one instance (and I cannot share the contract for privacy reasons), I think there are some points here that go across the board for all of these law firm online marketing services.

This contract is basically for Website Design & Management. The only specific SEO-related item is “Search Mkt IV” which they describe as “evaluations” or “audits” that they will do two times in a 12 month period. Even so, an evaluation simply tells you how you are doing. It by itself does not help you to do any better unless action follows the evaluation.
– Link Building
– Content Building
Basically SEO is three things:

1) Optimized HTML Code & Site Structure
2) Lots of good, unique content
3) Good quality inbound links from other relevant sites to your site
FindLaw is doing only # 1, which they’ve built into their template. That is the “easy” one. # 2 and # 3 are the more important ones. Especially for law firms, # 3 seperates the men from the boys, so to speak.
To me the real question shouldn’t be what does their contracts include, but rather what results are they getting from this. Literally 50% of law firm websites I work with have been or are currently FindLaw clients. Its one piece of the pie. The most signficant thing they offer is leads from people who visit the main FindLaw site. They do very little to help the firm’s individual website.
As XXXPERSONXXX mentioned, the activities they do provide they provide to everyone, so no one really seperates themselves or rises to the top.
Key Takeaway – FindLaw is not someone that will give you competitive advantage so much as they are someone who simply helps you keep up with the Joneses. Everyone uses them so no one really rises above.