Search engine optimization services - advice?

I work for a small law firm. We’re trying to make better use of the internet to advertise our business, and to that end, we’re considering hiring a “search engine optimization” company to get more traffic to our web site. There seem to be a lot of companies doing this, and I know nothing about it, so it’s hard to differentiate, or tell if I’m getting a good deal.

If anyone is knowledgeable about this, I’d appreciate any information about the following:

  1. Any particular companies that you recommend, or advise we stay away from?

  2. Aside from specific companies, is there anything in particular I should look for in an SEO provider?

  3. How much should I expect to pay? I suspect that, as with many things, it depends on how extreme you want to go. We’re a small firm, and we’d be targeting people who want our type of services within our geographical area (the city we’re in, and the surrounding areas). So we don’t need to conquer the world, but we’d like people nearby to be able to find our site pretty easily.

  4. If you’ve used SEO services, do you think it was worth the money? Did it pay for itself?

Any input is appreciated.

Before spending money on an SEO firm, you might first experiment with Google Adwords. You can buy an ad that will appear when users search on, for example, “personal injury lawyers in New York City” (or otherwise target the ad more specifically) and the initial investment can be quite small.

Here’s some technical information on how Google ranks websites:


I asked this very same question here a few months back, and got some useful advice, that was basically, most SEOs are scams. You’re better off to learn how to do it yourself (it’s not hard - reading google’s info should do it).

GoogleAdWords is a good and checp thing to consider as well.

I’ll see if I can find the thread I started…

ah ha!

The vast majority, perhaps 95%, of all clicks come from the top five sites returned from a search engine inquiry. Every law firm in the country that has a web site wants one of those positions and is willing to pay a SO firm to get one of those.

Another law firm has retained yours to sue a SO firm because they didn’t get one of those top slots. Would you take the case on a contingency only basis? Calculate the odds you will win and for bonus credit, show your work.:smiley:

SEOs are generally scammers, not so much evil but just that what they can do will rarely be worth near what you pay. Some search engines even penalize your ranking for the SEO tricks (“invisible” text, jump pages), though they might not notice.

Your best bet is for your site to be non-framed, non-all-Flash with good meta tags (though google ignores meta due to abuse, I’ve heard), a home page that describes in the first few text lines what you do in plain text (not flash, or images), and to submit your page manually to the main search engines. If you have the money, buying adwords on google or Yahoo selected sites might be useful. If you can get other sites to link into you (hopefully with a good short descriptive link), your ranking may be improved; plus if your business is specialized and you use those particular keywords that people looking for your specific skills will search on, you’ll rank better than with a general search. So while you may not be hit #1 for “law firm”, if you are a municipal law firm specializing in park districts, and someone searches for “municipal park law” you may be well situated if you have properly descriptive test in your home page, you’ve been submitted/found by the search engines, and others link to you.

You will also notice when you do a search on Google certain “sponsored links” show up on the right side of the listing page. You many want to look into how much it costs to be a sponsored site?