Erik Olson: Investing in SEO for Referral Optimization

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Erik Olson discuss:

  • Best practices for online marketing (including following Google’s Best Practices).
  • Understanding your marketing and advertising target and strategy.
  • When to get help with marketing versus doing it yourself.
  • Creating content with authors and timestamps.

Key Takeaways:

  • When you create content, you need to create with a strategy in place.
  • Created content needs to be written for people, not just a smash of keywords or it won’t be picked up properly by search engines, such as Google.
  • People are looking for more than just seeing the ad at the top of Google. The majority of people skip over them and go to the first organic search result.
  • Do as much as you can on your own, at some point you will find your consistency drops off and you will want to get internal or external help.

“We all know that referrals are the best source of leads, they have the highest trust factor. But the second best, at least within the Digital Marketing realm, is search engine optimization results.” —  Erik Olson

Connect with Erik Olson:  








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LinkedIn: Steve Fretzin

Twitter: @stevefretzin

Facebook: Fretzin, Inc.


Email: [email protected]

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Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911

Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.



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Erik Olson, Narrator, Steve Fretzin


Erik Olson  [00:00]

We all know that referrals are the best source of leads, they have the highest trust factor. But we believe here at REI digital, the second best when it comes to at least within the Digital Marketing realm is search engine optimization results. Because we go to Google all the time, we believe what Google tells us, we know that they’re getting us the best search results. And if they put a company at the top of the list, that’s a very strong endorsement. It’s almost like a referral, but on steroids and a scale. And so the trust factor is very high there, whereas the ad, most people just skip right over it.


Narrator  [00:41]

You’re listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for drilling a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive, helping you grow your law practice in less time, greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.


Steve Fretzin  [01:04]

Hey, everybody, welcome to be that lawyer. I hope you’re having a fabulous day. I have eight meetings scheduled today before 130. And I don’t know if that makes me insane, or what but I’m trying to get some golf in and, and also do some work. So I’m balancing between the two. But one of the things I always love to pause for and I love to share is when I have a really amazing guest when I’ve got someone coming on the show, that’s going to be you know, given out some great tips and ideas. And today is no different. I’ve got Eric Golson, who’s the founder of REI digital, and he’s going to share with us all about how to make your digital presence, your communications, your content, really, really shine. So how’s it going, Eric?


Erik Olson  [01:48]

Hey, Steve, hey, I love your style, being in those meetings and then hitting the greens. If that’s


Steve Fretzin  [01:53]

it, I’m trying to get it all socked in a 111. Day before I take off for a holiday weekend. We’re getting this recorded sometime the beginning of September. But yeah, I’m trying to fit it all in man. How’s your day going? So far?


Erik Olson  [02:07]

Fantastic. Actually, everything is good. I don’t I don’t have eight meetings. Oh, well, you got


Steve Fretzin  [02:13]

to work harder, man. You’re sloppy. You’re you’re you’re kind of being lazy. I think maybe?


Erik Olson  [02:17]

I think so maybe it’s a lazy entrance into the three day weekend. But I appreciate you inviting me on.


Steve Fretzin  [02:23]

Yeah, well, listen, it’s my pleasure. Do me a favor to give a give a little background on sort of how you came to be in the sort of array and all that that’d be working with lawyers too.


Erik Olson  [02:32]

Yep, yep. So we’re a digital. We are a digital marketing agency that works with law firms and helps them fill their case pipeline and grow their firms. So we speak with a lot of lawyers on our podcast is called the managing partners podcast. And after the first couple of dozen episodes, it became very clear to us that they all had one problem in common, which was they needed to fill their case pipeline, and sometimes a different, different demand, if you will, in each of their practice areas. So that’s exactly what we do. We help clients with that. Our history goes back about 12 years, I used to have my own company that was very software focused. And I knew we were kind of just missing a few things. We would build software for our clients, whether it was a website or mobile app, deliver it, and then they just wouldn’t really do anything with it. So I learned early on that they needed to market what we were giving them. And so we started to kind of tiptoe into the marketing. And then we started to do a little bit more. And then I merged with another guy who was a web developer. And he had SEO experience and him and his team complemented mine. And that was about four and a half years ago. And we took the opportunity to rebrand as a re digital. And since then we’ve we’ve dropped things like mobile apps, and we’ve gone exclusively digital marketing and exclusively for law firms. And the reason is, we found that the marketing of whatever it is we were building, whether it was a website or something else, was more important to our clients than the thing that we were building. Yeah, they needed the marketing and they needed to consistently and it didn’t really matter, like the technical attributes, if you will, of say a website that wasn’t as important as whether it got them leads they needed. And to do that they needed marketing


Steve Fretzin  [04:26]

and the web and the website isn’t the Field of Dreams, right? If you build it, they will come right. It’s what you’re doing to drive traffic to the website, and then how the website represents who they are and what they do and how they’re experts in their field without saying they’re experts. And so you’re right, the marketing is all about it. And it’s not just one thing, right? There’s probably a number of things that have to happen for marketing to really take effect. Before we get into solutions and in what you do and what you’re solving for. For lawyers. What are some of the main challenges that you’re seeing on a day to day basis with either poor really put together websites or that lack of marketing? What are the things to be? Because I think that the lawyers listening are gonna go, oh, yeah, that’s me. That’s me, then, you know, you probably have a number of challenges that they’re they’re not addressing.


Erik Olson  [05:11]

Yeah. So I guess it’s really kind of a two part question. But as far as challenges right now, that that a lot of lawyers are facing, like, in order to do successful marketing, you have to work within the system, as it is right now. And what I mean by that is the internet is run by a couple of giant technology companies, Google, Facebook, Facebook owns Instagram, they control the bulk of the internet, those two companies, and they have very specific rules, and they have very specific instructions about how you should be doing things or not doing things. And if you do it their way, you will be rewarded if you do it some other way. Especially if you do it in what’s called a Blackhat way, which is you’re trying to trick the system, they may literally penalize you, they could see that you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. And they’ll drop you and things like rankings or visibility on your Facebook and Instagram feed. So it’s important to know all of these rules. And they change constantly. Yeah, and Google is an example where they will make a radical change to their algorithm, and then tell the public later that it just happened.


Steve Fretzin  [06:21]

But like, with a serious amount of time between it like like Monster,


Erik Olson  [06:25]

no, not most, but it’s usually, sometimes they don’t tell you because they make a lot of updates. Other times, it’s within that day or the next day, but they don’t give you a ton of warning that that a change is able to come up or be applied. But what they do is they give you best practices. And so really what’s going on with say, like Google and their algorithm is they they have all the best practices out there. And pages and pages and documents and documents of the way that you should do things. It changes over time. But they tell the public, they tell people like us digital marketers, or even our managing partners and law firms, if they want to do it themselves. They tell you how to do it. And then when their algorithm updates come out, what I found is that they’re actually enforcing it at that point.


Steve Fretzin  [07:13]

Yeah. Well, that’s why it’s important to have access, you know, experts in business development experts in data security experts in digital because things are changing and evolving all the time. And, you know, managing partners, they got to run the firm, they have to, you know, book, book, business build business in many in many cases. And it’s just so you know, you can only take on so much, and they may not have any interest in what you have interest in or what I have interest in. So we need to, you know, we need to bring this to them. So, what are than some of like, the, like, give me one example of a big change that that Google made that that like people that have websites that are two, three years old, that they’re not even considering these changes at all, they’re just kind of letting things you know, sleeping, sleeping, dog lie, or whatever, what are what are so what’s an example of a really impactful change that they’re not even aware of?


Erik Olson  [08:04]

Sure, there are several. But let me start with something that that’s probably near and dear to most law firms, which is the local community. So most people, most businesses, I was no exception started by tapping into the community. So you really kind of need to win your backyard before you go outside to the rest of the neighborhood, if you will. So local SEO has been a very big movement in the last couple of years. There’s a lot of factors and a lot of signals. This is what Google calls in signals. But more colloquially just factors. They have to take into account when it comes to local SEO. So certainly there’s proximity, there’s the relevance of the business as compared to what the person is searching for. And then there’s lots of other things like reviews, do you respond to reviews? What does your website say about your service? Does your website actually say that you know, the city names, and then there’s this thing called Google My Business that’s out there. And that has become more and more prominent. So that’s one example of something that’s changed in the last couple of years. It’s always kind of been there. But it’s morphed a lot in the last, say, two to three years. And now it’s very, very prominent.


Steve Fretzin  [09:12]

Yeah, so Google’s job is to try to make searches relevant and people that aren’t completing the forms or filling out the Google My Business and other such things. They’re just falling behind. And they’re not, they’re not going to be seen where they shouldn’t be seen. So that’s, that’s a major issue there. What about content, I mean, people that are writing a blog on their website, or people that are just continually adding content on their website, but maybe they’re not thinking about how to write it, or how to code it or whatever. And I don’t want to get into the details of that. But just generally speaking, is that changed?


Erik Olson  [09:45]

You know, I don’t know if it’s actually changed so much as it’s just more important now than ever. And the reason is more important now than ever is because everyone else is is doing that as well. They’re they’re creating content and there’s a lot more competition. There’s just To billions, probably trillions at this point, websites that are out there, and they’re all competing for those query results. So you need to create content with a strategy in place. And I think the strategy has to have two main things as far as the, the way, and the reason that the content is written. So thing one is for a human being. So what I mean by that is, you should not write content with just stuffing a whole bunch of keywords, Google is smart enough, now, it can actually scan the content of a webpage. And their algorithm is so smart. And their artificial intelligence is so good, that they can determine if this is content that a human being would want to read or not. So you should use your own kind of like litmus test, if you will, is this something you would want to read? Yes or No? If the answer is no, then you need to go back and rewrite it. But thing number two is you need to. So that was for the human, but you have to consider that Google’s in player. The other thing is the Google algorithm itself. And what I mean by that is, there are several things that Google wants to see out of an article before it will present it to their users to say this is a reputable source. So one of the things that they definitely need to see is visually, things like when the article was written, was this, is this article a week old? Or is it 10 years old, there’s a big difference there. Even if you’ve kind of updated it, you should always have the timestamp so that people can see it so that the algorithm can get it. And then there’s schemas that you can use that the schema is not a visible thing that’s kind of behind the scenes, but it attributes things like creation, date, and authorship. So even though you may put on your website, that this is not in a legal advice, whatever the disclaimer says, Google knows that this is a legal blog post. And you’re giving some, at least basic level of guidance to your visitors. And so they want to know, that is you know, who wrote it, they want to know who the author is. And that’s a behind the scenes thing. But it should also be on the webpage itself, who in your company wrote it, it’s not good enough just to say that the law firm wrote it, which attorney in particular wrote this piece. So that’s very important. Like, you don’t, you don’t have to have written it, per se, you can have someone else write it, you can, you can outsource that if you want. But but someone should put their name on it. And by that, I mean, they should review and say, Yes, this is all legally correct. And then on the back end, give Google that signal that says this is a legit author.


Steve Fretzin  [12:35]

Okay. Yeah, really good. So, you know, it’s just outdated that people are just trying to throw you know, a bunch of slop together and keywords together to try to get found on Google, it’s got to be, you got to write real articles. And you got to have maybe throw in some good keywords, but make it make it a readable piece, right. That’s the key.


Erik Olson  [12:55]

That’s right. Now, something else that we see a lot is that our clients, or prospects, I should say, prospective clients, they may get a lot of traffic, but it’s from all over the country, and they only service one metropolitan area, maybe one state usually. But they’re getting traffic from everywhere, maybe even the world. Well, that traffic that’s beyond the service area, their service area is just not valuable for them. Now, it’s a little bit valuable. Because if Google sees that a lot of people are coming in, then it’s a boost. But it’s not valuable for a business development perspective. So I would definitely write these articles with your ideal client in mind. Where are they? What do they do create an avatar, right? Give the avatar name is it a man or a woman like this would be very, very clear. And it’s probably going to change even within a law firm, depending on the practice area. But when it’s written when that article is written, or rewritten, have that avatar in mind and write directly to that one person, not to a general group of people write it to the avatar.


Steve Fretzin  [14:03]

And I’m going the opposite way. I was focused almost exclusively in Chicago for many years, not doing really much outside of the, you know, some stuff outside of the state, but not much. Now with COVID and zoom and everything. My business has blown up nationally. And so I’m looking for that Google national touch, not just the local touch. So any any recommendations, people that want to expand their reach? Is it just the opposite of what you said make it more more national in scope and how they write it?


Erik Olson  [14:31]

Yeah, absolutely. So at that point, we’re going into what’s called so either advertising to a bigger region or organic SEO, where I talked before about local SEO and your region within a couple mile radius around your office usually, but organic can capture much more of the market. So you can have a strategy that goes across the entire United States if you want, if you have that as part of your strategy, and particularly your SEO strategy. So that’s where I will focus that and advertising. And there’s pros and cons to each advertising and you get a pretty quick hit. Alright, so you spend the money, you put your ad up, and you should very quickly, within maybe even an hour, find out if it’s working or not, you probably need to get a little little more time and AV tests and things like that change the landing page, there’s a lot of factors that go into advertising, but you should at least get some indication of this, whether it’s working or not very quickly. Whereas SEO takes a while. The downside of advertising is the moment you stop spending money, all those leads go away, your ad is not shown and people are not going to click on your ad. with search engine optimization, it’s an investment in your company. So you make this investment, you’re building up the SEO value over time. And if you wanted to, if you needed to, you could actually stop it for a while. Now there is a degradation over time, you need to maintain it. But what most of our clients do is they want to continue to build it up because their competitors are building theirs up. Right.


Steve Fretzin  [16:01]

And in there are people that I’ve talked to that say they’ve given up on SEO, because they’re in personal injury, they’re in a space that’s so highly competitive that, that it just takes too much time, effort money to do natural stuff. So they just focus on Pay Per Click, is that a legit strategy for some people? Or should they be doing both? And there’s no, there’s no reason that, you know, there’s no alternative?


Erik Olson  [16:23]

Oh, I don’t think it’s black and white. So I wouldn’t say it’s not legit, but I don’t recommend it, you’re gonna have a just incredibly huge advertising budget. And you really what we’re talking about at that point is brand recognition, you need to be create brand recognition, somehow, some way, if no one knows who you are, but they see your ad, they’re probably not going to trust you. And especially if they just see words in Google, they need to see your face, they need to see your building, they need to see pictures, they need Panthers, right? They need a story that goes along with that. And you’re not going to get that in something like Google search ads, you just won’t get it. Right. So you need some other brand awareness. And that’s where things like search engine optimization comes in. And the reason I say that is because that’s a it’s like a referral system almost. Now, we all know that referrals are the best source of leads, they have the highest trust factor. But we believe here to read digital, the second best when it comes to, at least within the Digital Marketing realm, is search engine optimization results. Because we go to Google all the time, we believe what Google tells us, we know that they’re getting us the best search results. And if they put a company at the top of the list, that’s a very strong endorsement. It’s almost like a referral, but on steroids and a scale. And so the trust factor is very high there, whereas the ad, most people just skip right over it.


Steve Fretzin  [17:44]

Well, that was gonna be that was gonna be my next question is are you know, there’s years ago, people really weren’t differentiating between a top search result that’s natural, or an ad. And I think that’s what made ads kind of so powerful as people didn’t really care if it was an ad, or if it was a real search that was that was found through keywords. And now has that changed, like people, people pretty much know what’s going on, and they’re looking for that, like, who’s the most reputable credible through SEO versus pay per click,


Erik Olson  [18:12]

like ads work, people do click on search ads in particular, but generally, or the majority of people will skip over them and go to the organic, the natural results that Google and Google algorithm have produced. So it’s a small percentage. But there’s also a tremendous amount of queries that Google runs every single day, I just saw a stat it was 5.6 billion per day. So there’s a tremendous number of people making the same searches over and over and over again. So you will get people clicking through. But that ad, needs to be almost a perfect match of what they typed into Google. So it’s really not good enough, like in the case of personal injury, to type in something like, I’m just gonna make it up on the fly here, car accident lawyer at Atlanta, and get an ad that says personal injury, United States, you probably won’t get many clicks on that. Right? Right. But if the ad itself said, Car Accident Lawyer, Atlanta, it’s a perfect match. They could, they’re gonna be more likely to click through that. Now, the next thing is, when they click the route, they go to a web page, that web page should also say, car accident lawyer at Atlanta. So we need consistency there. And that’s where you have a lot of variations as well. There’s a lot of work that goes into this, right? So lots of different ads to try to match exactly what the person is typing in, and then a loss of landing pages to match exactly.


Steve Fretzin  [19:43]

Okay. And I want to I want to wrap up on a on a particular point here and it’s the hiring the expert you versus do it yourself. And there’s some things where, you know, yeah, just do it yourself. It’s not that big a deal. You can manage it. It’s you know, and there’s other At times where it’s like, no, no, no, no, no, you need to outsource you need to delegate, you need to hire the experts that know what they’re doing. So what are the things that lawyers that are listening to this should and can and should be doing themselves? And to a point where then they may need you or they may need to kind of upscale?


Erik Olson  [20:17]

Sure. Great question. And I, I like to think that I give the same advice for digital marketing as a lawyer would give for legal advice in this regard. So let’s say that if I’m buying a company, I probably need to have my lawyer draw up the documentation. I don’t want to screw that up, right. But if I’m brand new, and I just need to, I don’t know, maybe like form an LLC, the form is there, right? On the state commission Corporation website, all I have to do is put in my name and address basically, and pay the money. Like I don’t, I don’t really, yeah, especially if I don’t have the money, you know, just just fill out the form, it’s not that big of a deal. Or maybe in that case, you could use something like Rocket Lawyer or one of those kinds of websites, it’s probably okay, save your money later, you’ll need to do it for real, right. So that’s exactly what I did my first couple of companies, I did it myself. Now, when we open up some sort of a new joint venture or something like that, then my waters take care of that, I don’t really even care how much it is. This is same for digital marketing. If you are just starting out if you are a solo practitioner, and you don’t have a website, like, honestly, unless unless you’re gonna go like real big real soon. If you don’t have the money, if you’re not ready for do it yourself. And I recommend this all the time, there are literally 1000s of websites you can go to, that will help you build a website. As kind of circular as that sounds, you can go to Wix, you go to Weebly and go to Squarespace, you can go to GoDaddy. And honestly, they build very nice looking websites. But at some point, you will hit a limitation, especially as you grow, and you want to do more things you want to you want to actually have a search engine optimization strategy, you need to create a bunch of landing pages, there’s some features in the website, that you want to add that those build it yourself tools don’t allow you to have. And at that point, that’s when you should call someone like a red digital or another digital marketing agency to take you literally to that next level.


Steve Fretzin  [22:16]

Yeah, and things like, you know, getting started writing articles and social media and things that you can do yourself, you just have to get your mind wrapped around what you want to say how you’re going to come across authentically, and just get started with content, right? And then eventually, that could be something that you build a website around, or that you add into your website, or that you should be adding to your website, correct.


Erik Olson  [22:40]

Completely agree. Yeah, do as much as you can, if you’re willing to. And especially if you have the time, do as much as you can on your own. At some point, you’ll get busy. And what you’re going to probably find is that the consistency is going to drop off. We hear that a lot too. Like, I know I should write more for my blog. I know I should post more on social media. But I’m, you know, I’m in court, or I’ve got this for that. I mean, at some point, you need help. Yeah, so that’s when you should either hire an agency, or hire an assistant that has some marketing expertise on the assistant, that can be very good as an initial step. But keep in mind that you have one person probably with limited marketing experience. And that marketing experience is going to be in a particular discipline. Usually, it’s something like social media, which is absolutely completely different than building websites and search engine optimization. So yeah, what’s nice about an agency model, and of course, I’m biased. But what’s nice about an agency model is we have all the specialists here, and you just need a little bit of this person’s time a little bit of this person’s time and a project manager to bring it all together. Yeah, and


Steve Fretzin  [23:47]

one person rarely, I mean, can can handle everything, right? I mean, everybody’s got it’s just like in law, you know, there’s rarely a generalist that’s going to be good at everything, right? It’s mostly specialists, but at least at a law firm or full service law firm. You they have all the lawyers in the different categories. And that’s what you have an array, right to lay it out in legal terms. Yeah, well, listen, man, I


Erik Olson  [24:09]

love it. You sound you summarize it perfectly.


Steve Fretzin  [24:11]

Well, I’m doing my job. So let’s wrap up with a speed round of the three best dogs and I when I was a kid, I used to go to Virginia Beach and and watch out for jellyfish at the time back in the 70s. But you’re in Chesapeake, Virginia, correct? Correct. Okay, so the three best I have is just the three questions I’m going to ask you and it’s just whatever comes top to your mind answer and let’s we’ll just knock this out in short order. People that want to visit your area. Best Restaurant, your favorite restaurant, like if you were coming in if I’m coming from Chicago to come see you. What restaurant would you take me to?


Erik Olson  [24:48]

Oh, wow. So you know. And interestingly, we don’t go to the restaurants that often my wife can really really cook amazingly nice. So we do not go to a lot Out of restaurants, there are several at the ocean front row. So there’s a lot of sushi places around here a lot of seafood. So if you’re let’s, let’s see, what will it be a good


Steve Fretzin  [25:10]

doesn’t matter. I’m just gonna go to the Olsen household, and I’m gonna get your best meal in town.


Erik Olson  [25:14]

That’s what I’m here. Exactly.


Steve Fretzin  [25:17]

We can do we just need to give out your address and phone number. And we’re all set. I’m just kidding. Yeah, here we go. All right, so So let’s, let’s skip the restaurant. And let’s go right to if I’m coming to visit, what’s the best thing to do or see like, the one thing you can’t miss if you’re coming to your area?


Erik Olson  [25:32]

Gotcha. Certainly, we’re known for the beaches. So Chesapeake neighbors, Virginia Beach. Yeah, they’re both very large cities. So for me as an example, it takes about 30 minutes to get down there. And I don’t go there that often, just because the novelty wears off after a while. But every time I go, I’m like, I need to get back here more often. So the beaches are amazing. And then if you go a little bit to the north, you’re on the eastern shore of Virginia, or about an hour and a half south, then you’re in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And what’s amazing about that, that’s my preference to go to like when I go to the beach, it’s usually to the Eastern Shore, because there’s just no buddy around. It’s in nature. And it’s beautiful. And I love it.


Steve Fretzin  [26:12]

That’s cool. That’s cool. So Eric, awesome chatting with you. And your expertise is without question, and I appreciate you sharing some personal stuff about Chesapeake. If people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to reach out?


Erik Olson  [26:26]

Pretty sure if that’s the best way to reach out is to go to our website at array And you can find out all about our services. So the four major areas that we cover for digital marketing, our websites, search engine optimization, on on advertising, and social media, we work with managing partners, and if they have a marketing coordinator director will work with them as well. We also have the podcast, the managing partners podcast, and we’re always looking


Steve Fretzin  [26:52]

for which I was on which I love doing and can’t wait to hear. It’s coming out soon. Okay, okay. Well, thanks again, man. I appreciate it. And I appreciate you taking the time and sharing your wisdom and hey, you know, everybody, listen, you know, it’s all about being that lawyer, someone who’s competent, organized and skilled Rainmaker and you know, getting tips from this show and just kind of taking action on things. That’s really the name of the game. So listen, everybody, be safe be well, and again, Eric, thanks for taking some time today.


Erik Olson  [27:21]

Thanks for having me on.


Narrator  [27:27]

Thanks for listening to be that lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes