SEO or Reputation?

Here’s why these actually work hand-in-hand.

Let’s say you haven’t really built a solid professional reputation. Maybe it’s because you’re fresh out of law school. Maybe it’s because you’re just not very good at what you do. So, to “replace” your reputation, you decide to turn to SEO.

You register some exact match domains, create some websites, build links and wait.

You might get lucky for a while and actually “trick” search engines into thinking that your sites deserve to rank. At least for a handful of exact match and partial match queries. Heck, you might even get some visitors from organic search. You may even get a few people to contact you.

Of course, when you get them on the phone, they’ll likely start asking questions.

Questions like:

  • “How long have you been doing this?
  • “Have you handled situations like mine?
  • “Can I talk to someone who has hired you before?


If you haven’t developed a reputation, or worse, you’ve developed a reputation for incompetence, folks probably aren’t going to hire you.

I know some of you, particularly you injury lawyer folks, are thinking, “My potential clients don’t ask questions like that.”

Fair enough.

Let’s assume you get a few to sign-up. Let’s also assume that you actually are a pretty good lawyer, provide good service and obtain your client an outcome with which they are satisfied.

Guess what, you just started to build a reputation!

Now let’s assume that you’re inexperienced, make a lot of mistakes, or simply aren’t a very good lawyer for whatever reason.

See where we’re going here?

If you have clients, it’s impossible to avoid developing a reputation for something.

Now let’s do this the other way.

You’ve put in the time. You’ve provided great service for your clients. You’ve done a lot of things that go into developing a reputation for excellence.

Your clients get your name from people who know and trust you.

You don’t need the silly internet.

What you don’t realize is that most of your potential clients probably do use the internet in some way.

Real life word of mouth referrals will likely look you up online to learn more about you. And for most, looking you up will include using a search engine.

And what they find (or don’t find) will play some role in their decision to contact and hire you.

Perhaps you’re not convinced. Here’s the thing: The internet doesn’t care whether you believe in it.

The best example of this is from client reviews.

If you do a crappy job, it’s likely that, at some point, someone is going to say something about it somewhere online.

Maybe they’ll head to a review site. Maybe they’ll set up their own site completely dedicated to bashing you (yes, this happens). Maybe they’ll say something to all their friends on Facebook.

This is why everyone is in the internet business.

Maybe this is all obvious to you. If that’s so, great.

But I know a lot of you don’t see these things working together. Some of you are frustrated that, “some kid lawyer out ranks you on Google.”

Who’s fault is that?

Some of you “kids” aren’t buying into the reputation part. You’ll come around…

In any event, the point here is to stop pitting reputation against the web.

And if someone is trying to sell you “web presence” as a proxy for reputation, don’t give them your time or money.

Or do, and then complain that, “the internet doesn’t work for lawyers.”