The Great Shark Hunt: Gonzo SEO, Vol. 1

by on May 15, 2011

For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled. ~ Hunter S. Thompson

SEO is not always a glorious profession. It takes a great deal of passion and motivation for personal satisfaction and also the patience of a pro angler as well as the resilience of a champion. You need to be able to think outside the normal schools of thought and be creative with your competitive strategies. Some situations can make you second-guess your abilities to rank a site, until you really think about what it takes to win. Marketing is war. Once your think of it in these terms, the rest comes easier. As a competitor, your strategy must be one of either weakening your opponent’s defense or fortifying your offense or a combination of both if necessary.

In a competitive space such as the legal industry, one can expect that the sharks have teeth deepest pockets are willing to pull out all the stops to dominate rankings. Lawyers like rivalry, they are programmed for dichotomy in law school. So as it happens, lawyers who market online, are fierce adversaries of one another. I have seen some search marketing tactics in my experiences with lawyers that are beyond questionable. The firms that adhere to lenient state bar ethics guidelines regarding marketing are actually among the better behaved online. I have observed most of the ruthless marketing lawyers are in mid-major markets. In smaller markets, there is usually only one big-dog and the rest fight amongst themselves over what he casts aside. In large markets, there are generally more potential clients than any one single firm (or even a few) no matter how large could ever hope to process, so they seem to tolerate each other.

So why are the mid-major markets more vicious in terms of competition? It comes down to supply/demand and the dynamic of head-to-head competition. These mid-major markets such as Omaha, Nebraska and Fresno, California are over-saturated with lawyers that have similar services for a similar price and a limited population of potential clients to hire them. Their ocean is red with blood of their shrinking profit pool. In the book Blue Ocean Strategy, the authors illustrate why you want to avoid head-to-head competition and offers way to innovate your services to make competing irrelevant. I suggested this book to some clients of mine and it helped break some mentalities of lawyers that had old industry ideas that were less effective in their markets and enabled them to make changes in their strategies for new client acquisition.

Until the next scatter of words on a page friends,

Don Rhoades, the Gonzo SEO



DocSheldon May 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Interesting, Don-

I haven’t worked with law firms on-line, but it sounds as though it’s not that different from their behavior off-line, at least in terms of the market slices that are the most cut-throat. I suppose the transition to an on-line marketing effort is at least as difficult for them as for many others, perhaps even more so.

P.S.: What took ya? ;)

Don Rhoades May 16, 2011 at 1:04 am

Thanks for commenting Doc,
I’d say in some ways its more difficult. There are some that do it really well because they have an open mind to the hyper qualified prospects that top internet results can bring. It’s certainly a way to cherry-pick the better cases, and if you have a good network of referral firms, they can trade leads if they want. What really makes things difficult for internet advertising for legal services is the ethics oversight involved. I don’t mean the state/city Bar Association as a governing body is a bad thing. I mean the Bar can make a ruling on an advertisement and then a competing firm can complain about the perception of reputation and the Bar can then overturn their own decision based on an opinion. It certainly makes a lot of lawyers gun shy if they’ve not started online marketing, and also keeps a lot of lawyers in line with the rest of their competitors. How to stand out from the rest of the pack is the key (and I don’t mean a cartoon or spokesperson gimmick). Otherwise, it can be hard to tell them apart aside from their caricatured mascots or lugubrious manners.

What took me so long is I’m a chicken-hearted self-doubter. Getting over that one post at a time, so thanks for reading.

Thos003 May 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Marketing can be war. It seems that in today’s business world online marketing can mean death or survival. Creativity in war often leads to better strategy. And per the Art of War, strategy leads to victory.

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