As a lawyer, if you heard a potential client say: “Meh, I’ve been through enough court cases, I could represent myself,” would you:

A). encourage the client in the doomed path they’ve chosen? or

B). begin to list the number of qualifications you have and enumerate the many years of schooling you’ve experienced to get there?

While SEO isn’t nearly as complicated as a lawyer’s job, it’s certainly not something you can jump into after reading one Neil Patel post. On the surface, SEO is simple. But there are so many layers below the surface it would make a sous chef cry.

So, what could go wrong if a lawyer tried to do SEO by themselves? Let’s put crummy SEO on trial and see. Order in the court! I say order!

1. The Jury Falls Asleep

There is no room left for doubt. You’re a great lawyer. But if you addressed the jury like some amateur web “writers” address their audiences, they would fall asleep before they heard all the evidence.

Humans have a short attention span. It used to be that students could pay attention for 15 minutes at a time.  But some studies suggest we now have an average attention span even a goldfish would scoff at.

Google understands this. And they’ve installed measures to ensure top content on their search engine engages users and gives them what they want quickly.

A lot of SEO experts use Yoast’s standards when creating content for the web. And Yoast recommends keeping your paragraphs short and increasing white space.

Your law school professors would probably cringe if they saw the copy we SEO experts produce. But it’s what keeps people interested. SEO for lawyers is the opposite of what they taught you in your college English courses.

2. You Rank Nowhere and Lose the Case

You probably learned quickly that law isn’t as glamorous as TV makes it out to be. Not only do you have to pour over thick volumes of previous law cases, but you have to research and understand complex circumstances.

This means hours upon hours of research and preparation.

Of course, it would be an affront to all lawyers everywhere to claim that keyword research can hold a candle to legal research. But there is more to keyword research than picking a topic and running away with it.

Google offers a free keyword planner. But you have to understand how to use it before you go galavanting off with the first keywords you find.

You need to understand a few things first.

If you choose an all too popular keyword, you’re going to find it’s impossible to rank for that.

Take the word “lawyer” for example. KWfinder.com ranks this keyword at a 57 out of 100. “0” being easy and “100” being hard.

While over 200,000 people searched the term “lawyer” over the last year, it will be nigh impossible to rank on the first page for this term. And the cost per click is high, so if you ran a PPC campaign, you’d be paying out large sums of cash for very little worth.

You see, if you fail at keyword research you will fail at SEO.

3. You Lose All the Data (and Possibly Your Ranking)

As history has proven, if you’re not paying attention you could fall in a pit. And then you might need a lawyer because the pit was on somebody’s property.

But be that as it may, well-seasoned webmasters have fallen into SERP pits. And sometimes it’s because they weren’t paying attention to the right information.

If you’re really going to attempt SEO, you need to know how to use analytics effectively. Information is valuable in the SEO world. If you can know something is going to happen before it happens, you can mitigate or even eliminate the consequences.

Google offers free analytics tools for marketers and webmasters. But there is a host of services out there ready to help you get lost in all the data.

And if you forget about the data, you’ll lose big time.

4. You Become the Accused (of Plagiarism)

I’m probably preaching to the jury here (you made it through law school, right?), but cheating doesn’t get you anywhere. And it will eventually bury your website in the rankings.

You say you’ll never cheat or copy other people’s work. But you might offend the Google bots quicker than you could say plagiarism if you don’t know what’s not allowed.

Google frowns on plagiarism. And while you may never outright copy someone else’s work, the citation rules you followed through your academic career won’t save you in the online world.

You don’t want to look like you’ve ripped from another source. Always link out to a source.

Google wants original content. And their bots are designed to weed out duplicate content. If you accidentally place too much duplicate content on your site, your SERPs will suffer.

5. You Will Have No Social Life

I’m not talking about real life here. Maybe you don’t have a social life. That’s none of my business.

But social signals are an important aspect of SEO. And if you can’t keep up with social media in regards to your website, you won’t rise in the ranks with Google.

You want to take advantage of any social media influencers you can. This means people with massive reach.

These people will have more credibility on social media than you will. And the more someone with authority and credibility shares your content, the more it will get noticed by audiences and search engines.

You have to incorporate social into your SEO strategy or you’ll just end up at the bottom of the pile.

Lawyers Should Stick to Law

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try SEO. But it will take up more of your time than you think.

If you want to balance a law career and the optimization of your practice website, be my guest. But if you want things done right and you want your website on the first page of Google’s rankings, hire an SEO specialist.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.