If you’re a lawyer, competition drives you, but not just in the courtroom. You can’t rely on success alone to stand out in today’s market. You need an advantage you can depend on, a digital marketing expert or agency you can trust. Unfortunately, without industry knowledge, hiring one is not as simple as trusting your gut or just a list of credentials.
In his new book, Law Firm SEO, Jason Hennessey shares the proven SEO strategies he’s used for two decades to earn more than 500 million dollars in new cases for his clients. In the book, Jason shows you how he’s reverse-engineered the Google algorithm with practical tools and techniques and without technical complexity.
You don’t need to be an SEO expert to leverage digital marketing. Whether you’re a law student, solo practitioner, senior partner, or marketing director, the book will show you how to take your firm to the next level, increase revenue and give you the competitive edge you need to stay ahead.
Drew Appelbaum: Hey, Listeners. My name is Drew Appelbaum and I’m excited to be here today with Jason Hennessey, author of Law Firm SEO: Exposing the Google Algorithm to Help You Get More Cases. Jason, thank you for joining, welcome to The Author Hour Podcast.
Jason Hennessey: Thank you for having me Drew, I appreciate it.
Drew Appelbaum: Let’s kick this off, can you give us a rundown of your professional background?
Jason Hennessey: I got started in this world called SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, way back in 2001. I fell into the industry accidentally. For the past 20 years, 20 plus years, I’ve been continuing to expand my toolbox, and so I built a couple of agencies. I’m known to work with law firms, hence the book, Law Firm SEO. I do a lot of speaking at conferences, at legal marketing conferences, and I wanted to write a book that caters directly to my audience.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, why was now the time to share these stories in the book? You’ve been in the industry for a really long time, was there an “aha moment” recently? Was there something really inspiring out there for you, or did enough people come up to you and say, “Hey Jason, you need to put this down on paper and tell the world about what you know.”
Jason Hennessey: Yeah, I guess there’s a multi-part answer to that question. Writing a book was always a bucket list of mine. It was always something that I was going to do at some point in my life. I think COVID certainly helped push that to the top of the priority list since I was spending a lot more time working from my home office. The other part is I have a team now at my agency, which is called Hennessey Digital. The agency is growing without me, and so I’ve got a president, COO in place that handles most of the day-to-day operations, we’ve got a finance team, an HR team, and accountants, and basically, the whole agency is built in.
Over the past, let’s just call it a year, that I’ve been building my personal brand, it allowed me the time to also write this book.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, when you said, “Okay, I’m going to put pen to paper, I’m going to write this book,” during the writing process, sometimes by digging deeper, a lot of authors will come to some major breakthroughs and learnings. When you sat down and started writing, maybe by doing some research or by just by digging deeper, did you have any of these major breakthroughs or learnings on your writing journey?
Jason Hennessey: Yeah, you have the book Outliers that says you have to put your 10,000 hours into anything that you want to be an expert in. When you first sit down to write the book, the hardest part is to really organize your thoughts into figuring out how you are going to name the chapters and what you’re going to write about, right?
Once you get started, it becomes addicting, and those 10,000 hours that you’ve put in over the past 20 plus years, it resurfaces. It comes like a computer hard drive, all of the knowledge and insights that you’ve accumulated over the past two decades–at least for me.
Who Understands SEO?
Drew Appelbaum: When you were writing this, in your mind, who were you writing this book for? Is this for law firm owners, is this for law firm marketers, anyone in marketing, can they have takeaways from the book as well?
Jason Hennessey: Absolutely, I think the real reason why I wrote this book was that being in this industry, first of all, SEO is one of those industries where sometimes people cringe when you say, “What do you do?” and you say “SEO,” and they say, “Yeah, I’ve been burned so many times that I don’t trust any of you.”
That kind of hurts. What I’ve done is I wanted to educate and empower people to make better decisions with digital marketing. It’s an industry that’s very confusing, it’s nebulous, they don’t even really teach this in college. Because it’s a Google algorithm that you are teaching. By the time you would write and publish a textbook for a college university, in some cases, the algorithm has changed.
What I really wanted to do with this book is to educate and empower, whether it’s a solo practitioner lawyer or somebody that runs a hundred-person law firm, or even the marketing director of a law firm, there are insights in this book that will help them better understand what SEO is, how to keep score, how to recruit, whether it’s an agency or an internal team and hold them accountable.
Drew Appelbaum: How technical is the book itself? Do readers need to prepare themselves before they start the book? Is there anything that readers can do to potentially get the most out of the book before they start?
Jason Hennessey: Yeah, that’s a good question. Even for me, when I first got into SEO, I would go to Barnes & Noble and I would look for SEO, and “Yeah, you need to go over to the computer engineering section.” That’s intimidating for somebody that wants to learn a new subject, and next thing you know, you got to learn a whole new code, a different language, which involves coding, and I guess I would have walked away if that was the case.
This book is not that. This book is written so that somebody that doesn’t know how to code or doesn’t care to want to ever learn how to code can get a grasp on digital marketing, specifically, SEO, and understand that you don’t need to have those technical skillsets to truly understand what happens when you do a search on Google, and click that button, and why do results appear there.
The answer to your question is no, it’s not very technical. We get into some basic stuff, but I would recommend more technical books if you do start to get a passion for this.
Integrity, Relevance, and Popularity
Drew Appelbaum: Now, you did mention, you spent the last two decades essentially reverse engineering this Google search algorithm. What does that actually entail breaking that down, how often does it change, and are you having to change things up yourself?
Jason Hennessey: In the book, we talk about that there are three components to having a good SEO strategy. It’s integrity, relevance, and popularity. That’s the three most simple ways to break down SEO, and I’ll explain what each of those means.
The integrity is really the technical makeup of your website–making sure that you have a website that loads, it’s fast to respond when people access it, it’s set up so that when somebody views the website from a mobile or desktop or an iPad that it propagates correctly, making sure that there are no broken links. That’s all the technical aspect, which is the integrity part of the site.
The relevancy is publishing content that will be relevant and satisfy the intent of somebody that’s doing the search for whatever it is. For some of my clients, maybe it’s “Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer.” If somebody got into a car accident and they need a lawyer, well, there are ways that you can write content that will have a better chance of ranking on Google when somebody is doing that search.
Then the third piece is popularity. The popularity is getting other websites to link back to your website, which is like a vote of confidence. As you go out and you do things to promote your website and other people talk about it and they link to it, that increases the popularity of the website.
If you can satisfy all three of those, the site integrity, the relevancy, and the popularity, that’s the perfect trifecta to having a good SEO strategy.
Drew Appelbaum: What are specifically law firms doing now that they’re not optimizing their SEO and their web traffic enough? Are there any major mistakes that you see at most of the law firms out there?
Jason Hennessey: Yeah, I think a lot of law firms assume that their web developer knows SEO. In some cases, you might find a web developer that you hire that might be a jack of all trades–they might do design, they might do some web development, and they might know some SEO.
That is one mistake that we see people make is just they make assumptions because it is so confusing and nebulous that if somebody says, “Oh yeah, I can cover SEO. I can do that,” well, they might know the very basics of SEO and not expand upon some of the more advanced components of how to really do SEO. So, the book that I wrote educates people on the difference between the basic stuff from more of the advanced stuff. I think that is one mistake that people make.
I think the other mistake that people make is they just assume that SEO is like a one and done check that box tactic, where you hire somebody, and you think that you’re going to pay them a couple of thousand dollars, and then you can check that box that you’ve done SEO to your website. That one couldn’t be further from the truth. In order to SEO a website, it involves continuous maintenance of your website from a technical perspective, and publishing content on a regular basis. Then you get more pages indexed in Google and you start to get more traffic.
Then the third piece is continuing to increase the popularity of your website by getting other people to talk about it then link back to it, and over time, your site becomes more authoritative. That’s when Google starts to reward you with increased rankings, and more traffic, and then people can turn that traffic into leads and then new business, which in our case would be lawyers getting more assigned cases.
Justice for Families
Drew Appelbaum: I thought that was a really interesting case as well where you talk about it’s not just a business but for the businesses but this can have a great result for the people making the searches as well. Can you talk about the benefits of somebody typing in “great lawyer, car accident, Chicago,” and what might happen to them if the firm’s SEO is optimized?
Jason Hennessey: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s the real reason why lawyers get into the business that they get into is to provide justice for families. If you think about it, let’s just say you had a husband that had a family of three and he was a doctor and the family relied on his income. Maybe the mother was a stay-at-home mom, and the kids were in school. God forbid, something happened where a truck cut off the doctor, the doctor got into an accident, and God forbid, something happened to him and he couldn’t walk for the rest of his life or even worse, maybe he died.
You really have a family here that’s been impacted. They just lost the one that they love that supported the family and so, when they go out and they use Google and they try to find somebody that can help them, this is a very scary part of the process. They are trying to grieve but at the same time, they need help, and there might be a liability there.
I think what we do, what we’re doing with SEO is we’re connecting the person that needs help and some financial assistance in dealing with what they’re dealing with, with an attorney that has years and years of experience that can make this a little bit more comfortable for them during the whole process.
That’s really what we do as SEO, is we connect people that need a service with people that provide that service and this book particularly is connecting lawyers that people need law firms.
Drew Appelbaum: Can you talk more about some of the digital marketing agencies and maybe what are the pros and cons versus either one, trying to do it yourself or building a team in-house?
Jason Hennessey: There is a whole chapter in the book that goes into that in great detail, whether or not you have a limited budget and you want to get great results, what’s better–do you hire an agency or do you hire people? Who do you hire first, what does the team look like as you are trying to expand? Again, there is a chapter that goes into great detail about how to make this decision.
Does it make more sense to hire an agency based on what your goals are, or does it make more sense to start to recruit an internal team? The beauty of the book is that in some of the previous chapters and the chapters that come after that chapter, it really educates those that are reading it about the things that you should be looking at, because ultimately, whether or not you hire an agency or you’re hiring somebody in-house, you have to understand SEO to hold them accountable and to keep score to make sure that they’re actually doing a good job.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, what you talk about in the book, you have such a wealth of experience. What you write in the book, are they theoretical solutions or are these actual practical and functional tips and tricks?
Jason Hennessey: The beauty about this book is that I’ve been doing this for so long that there is a lot of theory that goes into SEO, but everything that I wrote in this book is all practical. Our agency works with law firms and we’ve been testing out the techniques and the strategies that I write about in this book for years and years for some of the largest law firms in the country, and so, most of the book is practical.
However, Google keeps its algorithm very guarded, and they are constantly changing and tweaking things. The book was written so that it will remain evergreen. Sure, some tools might change names and Google might come out with different algorithmic updates and things like that, but if you read this book, you’ll have a great foundation that will last you for as long as Google is around.
This Is Important
Drew Appelbaum: What impact do you hope the book will have on a reader and what initial steps do you hope a reader will take right after they put the book down?
Jason Hennessey: I just hope that this book stops people from being taken advantage of, that’s the biggest thing. Whether or not they hire me or my agency, realistically I just don’t want people to get into conversations where they are uninformed and uneducated on this because marketing their law firm online is such a crucial part of their business. So, I just would love everybody to pick up the book and read it with an open mind.
It basically educates and empowers them to make good decisions, hire the right people, and how to keep score. That’s the biggest thing on why I wrote this book. Once they’re done with the book, I would hope that as they’re reading the book they just stop. In some cases, they even say, “Hey, listen. If you haven’t done this yet, stop reading right now, put the book down, and go take action.” This is that important.
I hope that they read the book and they take action, and if I wrote the book with the real intention of why I wrote the book, I think that people will keep this book next to their desk and reference it as they are having conversations with their digital marketing team.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, when you asked a reader to put the book down or whether a reader finishes the book and as you mentioned earlier, they’re really into it, can you talk about some of those other resources that you suggest?
Jason Hennessey: Sure, for example, making sure that the website is compliant with those that might be blind that can’t read their website. You have to make sure that you satisfy that. What I do is I say, “Hey, listen, there are a lot of lawsuits that are taking place because your site is not compliant,” and so, if you don’t have some type of compliance on your website, there is a chance that you could possibly get sued.
Put the book down right now, there is a free resource called userway.org, where you can download a plugin and it will allow you to check that box where the site is more compliant. Things like that.
Drew Appelbaum: Well Jason, we just touched on the surface of the book here but I want to say that writing a book that’s going to help educate folks on the resources just right at their fingertips is no small feat, so congratulations on having your book published.
Jason Hennessey: Thank you, I appreciate that. That means a lot.
Drew Appelbaum: I do have one question left, it’s the hot seat question. If readers could take away only one thing from the book, what would you want it to be?
Jason Hennessey: The one thing that I want people to take away from the book would be to basically how I live my life personally. You know, there is an old saying, take action, action creates results. So, the biggest impact that I would like people to have after they read this book is to actually take action. Don’t just read it just to have the education, you need to take action with this book, and I think people will because that’s the way that the book was written.
Drew Appelbaum: Well Jason, this has been a pleasure and I’m excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, Law Firm SEO, and you could find it on Amazon. Jason, besides checking out the book, where else can people connect with you?
Jason Hennessey: You can connect with me, my email is [email protected] and then I’m also on Twitter and Instagram underneath the handle @jasonhennessey, and then the agency is Hennessey.com, and then my personal brand is on jasonhennessey.com, so I got them all covered.
Drew Appelbaum: That’s a lot of places to get in touch. Well Jason, thank you for spending a little bit of time with us today talking about your new book, and best of luck with the new book.
Jason Hennessey: Thank you so much, Drew, I appreciate the interview.