How the criminal law firm of Grabel & Associates became number one in its category on Google, with web visit statistics and marketing budget numbers.
What would it be like to rank number one on Google, above all the other law firms in your area, your state, and even your field of practice? Scott Grabel, the founding attorney of Grabel and Associates, wondered that very thing. So he made it his mission to trial-and-error until he found exactly what worked best.
In this case study you will discover what Scott Grabel and his team did to go from not showing up in organic Google results at all to showing up on the first page of Google—often as the top search result.
A word of warning before you proceed: this process is not for those without staying power.
“This won’t work for anyone looking for a ‘quick fix’ or anyone who wants a shortcut—because there aren’t any,” Grabel says. “This process takes time, dedication and patience. It’s not so easy to copy what others are doing and cheat the system with this process.”
The good news is, if you follow the steps outlined in this case study and do it well, you can have just as amazing results as Grabel and Associates have had.
Scott Grabel and Associates are a Michigan-based criminal defense team who practice in the areas of sex charges, DUI, driver’s license restoration, drug charges, theft and property crimes, assault and violent crimes, juvenile crimes, post-conviction services, police mistakes, prosecutor mistakes and jail alternatives. Two years ago, Grabel realized that his practice wasn’t ranking at all in organic Google search results.
What this meant was when people were searching for criminal defense lawyers in Michigan, his website wasn’t ranking on Google—so his competitors were getting a lot more business than he was.
Also, since his law practice website wasn’t getting much traffic, it wasn’t generating quality leads for his business. This was a serious problem because it affected his ability to attract potential clients and to win their business. In short, it affected his ability to grow his firm.
Grabel wanted to find a way to outrank his competition on Google’s organic search results, as well as attract more leads to his website and earn more business.
Grabel knew this would require some massive changes, and that it was going to take time and effort, but he was willing to do whatever it took. During his research and trial-and-error period, he discovered two things:
- Content is King
- Content marketing is Queen
This process for Grabel and Associates took place over a 24-month period. Since that may seem daunting for smaller legal practices, he recommends taking baby steps by “starting out small at first, so you can do things the right way and focus on quality.” You can then grow from there.
Before Grabel could take on his goal of “dominating in Michigan in my practice’s demographics,” he knew he needed to get educated on exactly what it was going to take for him to outrank competitors and show up as the first organic search result on Google. So he immediately dove into an educational period where he read every book on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that he could get his hands on (he highly recommends: Ultimate Guide to Link Building by Eric Ward and Garrett French, and the program Moz Analytics by SEOmoz).
“You have to spend 40-50 hours learning how to do it all yourself—then you can hire people who know what they’re doing to help you and you’ll know what to look for,” he says.
He learned everything he could about attracting organic traffic through link building, blogging and content marketing. Then he was ready to dive in and start executing.
A Website Overhaul
The next thing Grabel did was turn his attention to his law practice website, GrabelLaw.com. He realized his website at the time was too simplistic and confusing for the end-user—so he changed it. He had the site custom designed and reorganized, so that everything was much more user friendly.
“You have to take control [of your site]and be highly organized and detail focused,” he says. “I’m constantly asking myself, ‘how can I make it better?”
He then started two blogs: a Michigan Criminal Lawyers blog and a Michigan Sex Crime Attorneys blog. His GrabelLaw.com site now has around 600 content pages, with more being added all the time.
He also created six micro-sites for the main branches of his practice; all of these sites have around 50-60 content-based pages, and drive traffic back to his main Grabel Law site. The micro-sites help give the main GrabelLaw.com site even more authority with the search engines.
Hire A Support Team
Grabel knew that he couldn’t do this process on his own and continue to practice law, so his next step was to hire a team to support him.
He started out by hiring a content marketing company to do everything for him, but when he wasn’t getting the kind of cutting-edge support he expected, he decided to put together his own content marketing team. This allowed him to “skip the middle man,” and instead have a hand-picked team of 5-6 high-quality writers and content marketing experts at his disposal.
Grabel used the website Elance.com to hire his team of freelance contractors who help him maintain his website, create new content for his blogs and micro-sites, as well as run SEO and social media for his practice. His team is “constantly updating and adding new information” to his main website and micro-sites.
If you’re a smaller firm that can’t afford to hire a team of people in-house right now, there are content marketing companies out there focused on SEO, link building, and blogging that you can hire in the meantime to help you until you can afford to hire your own people.
While the results from content marketing will always vary based on variables such as:
- Amount of effort put in
- Quality of content
- Quality of linkbacks
- Keywords and keyword phrases targeted
…there are certain results you can expect to achieve using this process, such as:
- More organic traffic to your website
- Increased authority with the end-user and with the search engines
Here are some of the specific results Grabel and Associates were able to achieve over the last 24 months from implementing the process outlined in this case study:
- The Grabel and Associates main website, GrabelLaw.com, went from not ranking at all on Google for important keywords related to its practice, to showing up on the first page of Google (often as the top search result) for keyword phrases like, “DUI attorney Michigan” and “Criminal attorney Michigan;” keyword phrases that are almost impossible to rank for in today’s crowded internet market.
- GrabelLaw.com now gets an average of 12,000 to 13,000 new visitors a month.
- GrabelLaw.com is now one of the most trafficked websites in the entire United States, with an Alexa US ranking of 87,041, and a global ranking of 415,916.
- A massive engagement increase. 24 months ago, visitors to GrabelLaw.com only stayed on the site for a few seconds. Today, the average time on site per user is more than five and a half minutes. The bounce rate is also much, much lower, at around 32%.
- The Grabel and Associates annual marketing budget went from $60,000 per year to a whopping $200,000 per year. They were able to increase their budget for marketing by such a large amount because they’re “making a good ROI” with organic search results and better-qualified leads on its website(s).
- Grabel and Associates now has its own in-house SEO person, content writers and a Marketing Manager.
If your firm wants to take on the process that Scott Grabel and his team took on to get the results they desired, here are some final tips to keep in mind:
- Aim for Quality—“Hire the best people, and stay focused on creating high-quality content and getting natural backlinks,” Grabel says. “You’re not owed organic search results; you have to want it.”
- Use US-Based Freelancers, When Possible—“This ensures there’s no language barrier,” he says. “The native language of your writers will make a difference in the quality of the content they produce.”
- Please the User, Not Google—“You should follow Google’s SEO guidelines, but use White Hat SEO practices and write your content for the end-user, not for the search engine,” he says.
- Compete Against Yourself—“Don’t worry about what your competition is doing,” he says. “I don’t worry about my competition; I focus on putting out a great product, and am always reaching for improvements.”
- Lean On Your Team—“I couldn’t do what I do without all the people who help me,” Grabel says.
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