The Esquire Interactive Team
Esquire Interactive is made up of designers, developers, and creative people from all over. Our talent pool comes from many locations, but is all managed by our central project management team.
- We enjoy a good challenge, especially in branding and website coding. We can create a unique law firm brand that speaks to your targeted clientele.
- We don’t do average. Our branding, messaging, and website development allows our clients to stand out from the competition.
- Our clients want to win. We want to win. Our focus is on making clients successful, developing high ROI marketing, and strategic marketing for optimal client positioning.
Our Management Team
Jeff is our esteemed leader, visionary, and all-around great guy (he pays us, so we have to say this). In a former life Jeff was a “big firm” corporate and securities attorney and general counsel. Now he’s an author or two books (Internet Branding for Lawyers: Building the Client-Centered Website, and The Essential Attorney Handbook for Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Website Development Management), internet entrepreneur, and driving force behind ePRESQ™ and Esquire Interactive.
10 Questions with Jeff
- Why did you start Esquire Interactive?
- I didn’t like seeing attorneys getting taken advantage of. Having started and owned social media and website companies for several years, I was shocked when my friends who were still practicing law told me how much they were paying for websites. Often, very simple websites, many of which were essentially templates, were being sold for $1,000, $1500, or more per month, even for solos and small firms. The four year ownership cost of what were essentially template-based websites might be $50,000 or more, for a website that should not have cost more than $5,000 or so to build, plus a small hosting cost of maybe $15 or so per month.
- What makes Esquire Interactive different?
- We are dedicated to the success of our clients, which is probably why we have so many long-term clients. Our clients trust us. They know that we care about their success, and that we understand their budget.We also understand both the business and practice of law, which I don’t think can be underestimated. I was a business and finance attorney at a large law firm for years, senior counsel at Australia’s largest company, and a general counsel at an aerospace and defense contractor. In these positions I’ve worked for business clients, and have also hired lawyers in about a dozen countries, so I have a pretty good idea of what in-house counsel seek.
- Can you explain what role client education plays in Esquire Interactive?
- Sure. Most great lawyers do a phenomenal job communicating with their clients. They explain the law, they explain options and alternatives available, and the risks and benefits inherent in various strategies. Clients then are able to make objective, informed decisions.Our role is the same. Whether it’s SEO or a particular approach to website development, we want to make sure that our clients understand our recommendations so that they too can make informed decisions.
- What should attorneys know when it comes to good website design?
- Good website design is more than the images that make up the website. It also includes the messages and content that are necessary in order for a website to resonate with potential clients.
- What should attorneys know about SEO when a new website is being designed?
- The best, most cost-effective way of doing SEO with respect to a new website is to develop a plan for SEO at the outset of the website process. The biggest mistake we see is that law firms often don’t appreciate the importance of SEO at the outset of website development. Often, attorneys will hire a developer to build a site that may look nice, but not much attention is placed on the content and messages and how the site will perform in the search engines. It is important to put as much energy into the design of the site as it is the content and messages that are used on the site in order to be seen by prospective clients.
- What should attorneys know about getting high search engine rankings in order to get new clients?
- Focusing on high rankings should NOT be the first step. Instead, the first step should be determining whether the website resonates well.Frequently, clients come to us with websites that have very poor resonation. This can be see through Google Analytics in the form of high bounce rates, low pages per visit, and short website visits.In these cases, the key will be to dramatically change the website, as higher rankings and more clicks won’t lead to more calls if the website doesn’t resonate.Second, and importantly, focus on a long-term strategy of seeking and maintaining quality rankings. Short-term SEO plans are another derivation of “get rich quick” plans. Not only do they typically not work, but they can backfire and cause long-term site damage that cannot be undone.
- So for education, if someone weren’t going to use Esquire Interactive, what advice would you give them?
- First, I would highly recommend having your website developed on WordPress. In my opinion, it’s the best, most robust platform available for law firms. It’s by the far the world’s most-used platform, probably because it is both powerful and very user-friendly.Second, be very careful of who you hire for SEO. Beware of anyone who promises high rankings for a low price, especially in competitive markets. Make sure that you know exactly what any SEO company is going to do. We’ve seen lots of law firms get taken down in the search engine rankings when new algorithms are released because of manipulative practice used by SEO companies. I’m not talking about losing a few spots on the first page; I’m talking about going from page 1 to maybe page 8 or page 15 or worse.
- What Can Be Done When a Website Gets Hit Hard by a Google Algorithm Change Like Penguin or Panda?
- If a website goes from the first page of the search results to, say, page 8 or worse, the first thing to do is to figure out why the rankings dropped. Often, when we have looked at this for clients who have been using other website or SEO companies, in most cases it was because the website or SEO company has been engaged in manipulative link building practices – either “buying” links or setting up deceptive “link farm” or 3-way linking/directory practices.Google takes ranking manipulation seriously. When it finds out about these practices, it can be the kiss of death for a website, at least in terms of seeking high rankings. In our experience, trying to “rehabilitate” a website deeply involved in such practices, including using the Google “disavow” tool, often does not work. Instead, a new website on a new url often is the best solution, which, of course, is not really a good solution for an unsuspecting law firm that will likely lose out on significant revenue. Sadly, in most cases the law firm usually did not know what was taking place by the SEO company, often because the SEO company would not tell the law firm.
Questions for Cesar
- What is the goal of ePRESQ™?
- With ePRESQ™, we want to develop the premier system for law firms on the WordPress platform. I’ve worked with a number of other platforms, such as Joomla, and in my opinion, WordPress is by the far the leading platform in terms of ease-of-use, stability, and functionality. WordPress does not natively come with the functionality that law firms typically want – like the ability to easily create new attorney profiles, particularly “brochure/microsite” profiles, and to automatically associate attorneys with the practice areas so that a list of attorneys in each practice area can be shown on the practice area page. Our driving objective is to continue to increase the functionality of ePRESQ™ to offer the key functionality that attorneys want.
- Why not use a template instead of having a custom-built website?
- Most people who purchase a template website want changes made. Often these changes take as much time or longer to make in terms of coding than if a custom website was developed. It’s kind of like buying a house, and then determining that the bedrooms should be moved to the other side of the house. A second concern is the fact that it is a template, and the statement that it makes about a lawyer or firm. Are you a template-based lawyer? To me, this seems to be the statement that is being made. Moreover, the important issue is the work that our team does with branding and messaging, and to build the best website for a particular law firm’s needs. Sometimes websites can look good, but they may not resonate with a firm’s potential clients. We want to bring the whole package together.Third, templates are not always without problems, particularly when plugins are added. Sometimes there are coding issues, other times that can be compatibility issues.
- What aspect of website development do most attorneys not appreciate?
- In a letter, Mark Twain once apologized to the recipient for having written a long letter, saying that he did not have the time to write a shorter letter. Really good law firm websites are much the same – it takes longer to design an elegant, effective, and clean website than it does to design a website with a lot more aspects that likely will resonate less. Apple iPad ads are good examples of elegant and simplistic design. The simple, one page magazine ads showing an iPad and about ten words or so of text create high resonation and brand awareness. An alternate ad with a lot more text about specs or functionality simple would not produce the same results.
Kelly is our primary Internet Marketing and Social Media expert. She works with attorneys to create effective Internet marketing campaigns according to the specific needs of your firm.
Questions for Kelly
- What’s the best part of your job?
- Definitely working with clients, working with our team, and helping our clients succeed. While we are technically good in many areas, the one comment that we hear repeatedly from our clients is that “you guys really care.” Which is true. We’re not here just to build a website and then disappear. We serve most clients for the long-term. We get to know them well, which helps us provide strategic marketing advice to help their firm grow and succeed.
- What do people not know about you?
- I have a Master’s and Undergraduate Degrees in Education. After college I was a teacher on the Navajo reservation in Northern Arizona, living in a small dorm on a blow-up mattress. I’m also a part-time fitness instructor at the incredible Hilton El Conquistador Resort.
- Since you’re a social media expert, what do most attorneys not know about social media?
- I would say a number of things. One, social media can be incredibly effective. Two, for many attorneys in competitive markets, like personal injury, social media is becoming a “must-do” marketing activity, much like phone book advertising was critical in previous generations. Three – social media can actually be fun. A lot of attorneys like to educate the public on the law. It’s also rewarding when new clients come to a firm primarily because of blog postings or social media. Often, these clients remark about how postings were a primary reason for calling the attorney over one of the attorney’s competitors.
- For attorneys interested in taking advantage of social media, how should they get started?
- First, develop a plan. When most attorneys start in social media, usually the first thing they do is to start by creating social media pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites. But there is not really a uniform plan or strategy about objectives to be accomplished, or what to do after the basic sites have been created.A good social media plan will have objectives to be achieved, messages to be conveyed, and a plan of action. It will utilize multiple Internet properties that are the most likely to be used by current and prospective firm clients.
- Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools have become heavily used by law firms. Why?
- Many lawyers use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools for historical information – like seeing how many website visits their site received. But that’s not the real power of these tools. The real power is understanding what pages clients are visiting, how many pages an average visit receives, and the “bounce rate” – which is the percentage of times that a website visitor leaves after seeing only one page, and if there are any crawl errors or broken links on the web site. All of this information can be used to help a firm determine whether the website is resonating with visitors or not, and if changes should be made.
- Where do you see Google focusing for the future for high search engine rankings?
- I think clearly Google has signaled the end of the days for high rankings for law firms, or any websites, based solely on getting a lot of incoming links from low lever websites. In my opinion, if a being on or being promoted by another website doesn’t have any value independent of the link itself, then trying to get a link is probably a waste of time. For example, being featured on the ABA’s website would have high value for lawyers; being feature on Joe’s Hardware or a similar site would like have little or no value.We believe that Google wants to feature websites that are high in authority, and that have good user experiences. Law firms should focus on creating high-value, original content. There are a number of different tools that we use for clients in creating this type of content.Good user experiences are a little harder to quantify, but in general, have a lot of clutter and ads definitely do not contribute to a good user experience.