I recently wrote an article on the topic of how law firms can determine the frequency that they need to be publishing content.  As an exercise related to that post, I dug through the sites belonging to the 10 largest firms in the Philadelphia area to see how often they were publishing content.  The firms on this list are perennial AMLaw500 law firms – and some of them are completely butchering their internet marketing strategy.  Here’s what some of the law firm SEO strategies the Philadelphia AMLaw100 Firms are getting wrong.

Originally, I was going to use these firms as an example of what the firms with the power of hundreds of attorneys and a full marketing department behind them are doing as part of their content marketing strategy.  What this list became was an excellent example that despite the efforts behind publishing such large volumes of content, even the big firms sometimes do it incorrectly.

First let’s take a look at the ten largest law firms in Philadelphia, the average of how many pages they publish a month, and the total site size.   This is a good example of how often the firms that publish the most are putting out new content.

For the explanation how I got these numbers and why this matters, read the other post.

10 Largest Philadelphia-Area Firms:

 

Firm Name

Morgan Lewis

Pepper Hamilton

Cozen O’Connor

Ballard Spahr

Duane Morris

Blank Rome

Marshall Dennehey

Fox Rothschild

Dechert

Drinker Biddle

Average

Posts Per Month

157

82.3

106

93.3

126.6

64.3

40

166.6

99.6

86.6

102.23

Total Site Size

34,400

12,400

13,000

8,250

355,000

31,400

6,650

46,100

304,000

923,000

173,420

As you can see these are massive sites.  If a website has a total page count in the six digits and an authority rank of 6, it theoretically should be able to rank for almost anything that it wants to.

What I found when digging through all of these web sites is how many of these firms are doing it completely wrong and how it’s hurting their search engine rankings.

Now, I understand and remember well from my in-house days what the politics are like in law firms and sometimes it can take months to push through new business development strategies.  It could be completely possible that many of these firms are intentionally ignoring Google search as a stream of incoming web traffic.  Maybe they think that purchasers of complex commercial litigation aren’t searching Google for who is going to defend their next shareholder proxy contest.  But in this day-and-age, it’s almost negligent to not be (at the very least) formatting web content correctly to at least give it a chance to rank within Google.

Here are some examples: Pepper Hamilton (450 attorneys, 1,200 staff) uses bold headings instead of H1s or H2s and publishes pages with poor or duplicate page descriptions (two of the absolute worst formatting mistakes you can make).  You’re telling me that no one in their 1,200 staff knows how to properly format a web page?  To me, it’s indicative of a larger problem.

Blank Rome publishes all three of their blogs on separate domains.  While that strategy is fine and I understand that sometimes there are organizational or technological limitations, nowadays having five different websites can create 10x the work (especially for a smaller firm).  Those blogs range in authority, but average a rank of 3-5.  They are essentially working that much harder to make each of those sites rank on their own instead of them all working together to help the main site.  Further, most of the posts on those blogs do not interlink with anchor text to the main site.  For instance, Blank Rome only links to their main site for anchor text of the name of the attorney who wrote the article.  That’s great if that attorney wants to rank for their own name, but they might have been doing that anyway.  Think of all the wasted link and authority benefit if they had kept all that content on their main site.

If you want to see how doing the incorrect things can affect (or better described as having no affect) a blog or website, try finding one of Blank Rome’s in Google search.  Blank Rome’s off-site blog, The Bankruptcy Law Watch, is described as an informative commercial bankruptcy blog written by a commercial bankruptcy firm right here in Philadelphia.  It is a page rank 4.  It would be reasonable to think that it could show up if you were to Google “commercial bankruptcy Philadelphia”, “commercial bankruptcy attorney Philadelphia”, or “commercial bankruptcy law firm Philadelphia”, and yet it does not show up in the first 10 pages of Google results for any of those search terms.  100 other web pages that show up for it’s targeted keyword before it does.

What Law Firm Does it Right?

One firm that does it very well is Duane Morris.  You’ll notice if you visit their blog that all of their blogs are a subdomain of their main site, i.e. a url something like blogs.duanemorris.com/BLOGNAME/, and the posts on the blogs are interlinked with anchor text to their attorney bios and practice pages.  That, folks, is how you should be doing it.

</rant>

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