A lot of attorneys are relying on Google and SEO. What I am advising all my clients is that SEO is by no means dead. It’s not that you can’t SEO, but what’s going to end up happening is SEO is getting more difficult. Google is trying to monetize as much as they can.

As you can see, this is what’s happening with the plumbers right now in San Francisco. Google is testing this out in their own backyard, and they’ve been doing this for a while. Actually, if you want to see what’s Google’s working on, you can usually search for plumbers in San Francisco.

For some reason, that is the niche that they’ve taken on. If you look up “Plumbers San Francisco.”  At the very top, they’ve got this Google Guarantee. Now, these are all ads. But, look at this. They’ve got Google Guarantee, they’ve got their stars, etc. Below that, you’ve got three more ads.

The Evolution Of Ads On Google

If you think about the evolution of how ads used to be, there used to be three ads at the top, and there was a lot of ads on the side. Then, they got rid of the ads on the side, and they added four on the top. Now, they went back to three right here. Now, you’ve actually got six ads above the fold.

Now, look at this. What’s happening here? Basically, above the fold, you’ve got six ads, you’ve got one organic listing right here. Mr. Ruder Plumbing of San Francisco, who is also right here.

If you keep going down, you see you’ve got the ads. The other thing is that a lot of times, you’re also going to start seeing an ad at the top of this list as well.

It gets even worse. Now, you come down, and the first two listings are Yelp. I’m sure you see that a lot.  Yelp, Justia,  FindLaw,  all these big names and brands are ranking high in the organic listings. What you need is to be ranking here.

Why Does Google Optimize Their Search Pages?

The problem is there’s so much stuff, and you have to remember, Google is constantly optimizing. They’ve got billions of clicks, so they know that having Google Guaranteed in this font, in all capital letters next to a green check performs better than a red check with Google Guaranteed in lowercase letters, in a different type of font.

They can test all this stuff, and they optimize this to perfection. That’s what you see here in this green ad. It’s green letters in a green box, and it blends in there. This used to be yellow for a long time, and it said ad and sponsored.

What’s happening is Google does all these tests, and they figure out what increases the clickthrough rates. What do you do about this?

The first thing you do is you can keep doing SEO. I’m not saying give up SEO. I’m not telling you or my clients to give up on SEO because SEO will always be around. For Google to have these paid listings, they have to have organic listings. But, the clicks are getting harder and harder.

If you’re the absolute number one organic position on this page, that’s this guy right here. What are the odds? A lot of people bypass the ads, but there’s a lot of people that don’t bypass the ads. What ends up happening is even though you’re the absolute number one organic on the page, you’re going to start getting fewer and fewer clicks because they’re doing such a good job optimizing up here.

Can Social Media Help?

How do you take this back? Social media is the way. I’ve been saying that you need to figure out how to do social media. I’ve already figured out how to do social media for lawyers. In the coming weeks and months, you’re going to be getting a lot of content from me. I’ve already given you some content about social media, but I’m really going to be cranking up the social media content in terms of how can you use social media for your law firm.

Have you seen this in any other areas? I know it’s in San Francisco. I have not seen it in any other markets, but I do know that they’re starting to roll it out in a lot of different places. There’s talk of it.

Do you think that SEO is going to go away? Are you focusing on SEO? Do you think it’s time to jump in to social media yet? Do you think it’s time to jump into something else?