Is Your SEO Guru Making You Look Stupid? Here’s How To Fix It.

I’ve been sitting on my hands for the past year or more, trying to keep from writing this post.  The fact that you’re reading it means I’ve failed.  That sucks for me, but it’s good for you.

I am pretty good at this SEO stuff.  I don’t know everything, but I can write content that human beings can read.

I use a whole bunch of tools when I need to, and I’ve got a decent grasp of the English language.

I also know (in theory) how to hang a kitchen cabinet.

But I also know the golden rule of life.

Just Because You Know How To Do Something

… doesn’t mean you should be doing it.

Unfortunately, the people you hired for SEO are either too stupid or too lazy to pass on that tidbit of information.

I get it – SEO skills are important to getting readers to your blog or website or whatever you’ve got going on.  But you’ve got to realize that once you get someone to come to your site, you’ve got to have something that’s not cringe-worthy for them to read.

Take, for example, this gem.  There’s a bankruptcy blog written by a lawyer in California.  Stuff’s pretty good, if not a bit technical for most consumers.  Every single post – and I do mean each and every one – begins and ends with a link to his basic bankruptcy page.  The anchor text (the anchor text is the text that’s underlined – when you click it, you get taken somewhere else) invariably states a different location plus some variation on the term “bankruptcy lawyers.”

For example, here are a few of his recent openers and closers (the underlined text is not a hyperlink to his site, but they are all links in the original articles):

… our Corona consumer bankruptcy lawyers warn every bankruptcy client about the penalties for lies in bankruptcy — including lies that become relevant in a later bankruptcy as well as lies during the bankruptcy itself …

… our team of Rancho Cucamonga foreclosure defense attorneys regularly reads about “show me the note” cases …

…  our team of Moreno Valley foreclosure defense lawyers were interested to see a recent case in which … all of our Tustin foreclosure defense attorneys would be pleased … our Norwalk foreclosure defense lawyers feel strongly that …

I mean, really?  Someone told these otherwise smart lawyers (at least, I’m guessing that they’re smart) that blatant SEO-pushing is a good idea for readers?

Did they not realize that these self-serving, SEO-heavy links at the top and bottom of every post might make their stuff seem promotional rather than informative?

Probably not.  They hired an SEO guy (it’s usually a guy, though there are some very good women in the field as well) who sold them on the technical aspects of web publishing without bothering to remind then that people are actually going to read this stuff.

The Legal Marketing “Experts” Are No Better

It’s not just the lawyers who follow this awful guidance, it’s some of the big names in legal marketing as well.  Over and over I see marketers posting blogs that are so clearly designed to “fit” into the SEO “best practices” mold that it’s barely readable.  They look like desperate attention-seekers who are using the platform for nothing else but to climb to the top of the search engines by hook or by crook.

That sucks, because some of them are pretty good at what they do otherwise.

Here’s an idea for you, legal marketing “experts” “gurus” “ninjas” and similarly-meaningless terms.

Why not write someone that people are going to find interesting and entertaining?  Perhaps a bit of, I don’t know, information?  Guidance?

Or are you doing this blogging thing merely because it’s in fashion and a way to get eyeballs to your next conference, retreat, seminar, or pow-wow?

As for you, my lawyer friends, I have a bit of advice.  Take it leave it, as you see fit.

Write stuff that sounds human.  If it’s good, people will read it.  If it sucks, nobody will read it.  And if nobody reads it, you’ll be forced to get better.

Do that.

Image credit:  and.e.


  1. says

    Insert the sound of me clapping loudly! People overthink this stuff and drive themselves and their potential readers batty.

    Write good stuff. Be thoughtful about including keyphrases when you can. That is all.

    Stop sitting on your hands. They fall asleep when you do that.

  2. says

    You expressed my frustration with so many newsletters and webinars. All they do is try to sell me on their products. The lure is there, but there is nothing to back it up. I get so frustrated with it.

    I write to explain something. I know that people read it because they call me with questions. Some of them are in my area and hire me or refer me to others.

    That is what blogging is about. It is a way to educate and help people who need it, highlight what you know and what you can do, and call people to action. It gets your name and expertise out there so when people do need a (Insert expertise here) lawyer, they call or refer YOU.

    • Jay Fleischman says

      Amen, Mitchell. There’s a place for adding to the toolkit, but the basics are all there for you. Learn the skills – the tools can be swapped out.

  3. says

    To me, the most persuasive argument against the SEO copywriting of the type you featured is that it’s intrinsically self-defeating. Even if it’s successful in improving your organic page rank, no one will enjoy reading it once they’ve found you.

  4. says

    Great article. I, like Mitchell, enjoy blogging because I get real world responses from it when I meet with clients. I rarely get comments on my website but it is very satisfying to have someone walk into my office and ask me a question about a specific article or tell me they really enjoy reading my site.

    One issue I struggle with is blogging in an area like bankruptcy law I think it is tough to obtain true followers of your blog. Bankruptcy is usually a one hit thing. I imagine that the people who read my stuff consistently are more likely my mother and other bk attorneys (my Mom knows more about bk than I am sure she thought she ever would!). Once a case is over I doubt I have clients that ever visit my site again.

    Because of this I feel like I need to be conscious of the SEO aspect of my writing to help me with the search engines but at the same time generate content that will keep people there once they click through.

  5. says

    This article really made me think about the content of my blog posts. Now, I am confident that I am passing along great information, but I will put in an “Atlanta” here and “Georgia” there to satisfy the SEO gods. Maybe that is the wrong approach, or perhaps, as with everything, moderation is the key.