Lawyer Web Marketing

A Transparent Approach to Legal SEO Marketing With Michael Renfro

A Transparent Approach to Legal SEO Marketing With Michael Renfro

September 7, 2022   |   Written by Gladiator Law Marketing
Michael Renfro Michael Renfro Michael Renfro is a Strategist at Gladiator Law Marketing, an award-winning law firm marketing agency that helps law firms get their ideal clients. At Gladiator, they help law firms capture their online market through web marketing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience. Michael has over 30 years of sales experience. He is not your average sales professional — he believes in putting people first and delivering genuine service. He previously worked as the Chief Creative Officer at Skylar Forrest Games, LLC, and he became a US Patent holder in 2011 for an abstract strategy board game he developed.
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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Michael Renfro talks about Gladiator Law Marketing and the work they’re doing to build a reputation based on trust
  • An in-depth look at legal SEO and marketing and the value it can bring to your firm
  • Michael explains how legal SEO marketing can drive traffic to your website and produce growth
  • Why transparency is key when speaking to potential partners (aka clients)
  • Michael discusses keeping the momentum going with your social presence

In this episode…

Are you looking for expert strategies that will optimize your law practice? If you’re looking for a better way to grow your business, Michael Renfro is here to share his strategies for connecting and cultivating lasting relationships with your ideal clients. Trust and transparency are at the forefront of Michael’s work. With years of experience, he knows what it takes to help great companies grow and effectively target and market to their clients. Michael treats clients with respect and provides them with the services they need to best utilize legal SEO marketing. Michael and his team deliver tangible results that optimize your online presence through website remodeling and marketing. In this episode of 15 Minutes, Chad Franzen of Rise25 sits down with Michael Renfro, Strategist at Gladiator Law Marketing, to discuss how legal marketing through SEO and pay-per-click advertisements can scale a firm. Michael talks about how to build a reputation based on trust, proven strategies to drive traffic and produce growth, and ways to keep the momentum going behind your firm.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential. To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01 You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know, but likely don’t. Michael Renfro  0:09   Hi, Michael Renfro here. I am the host of 15 Minutes where we talk with top notch lawyers, law firms, as well as legal marketing specialists about what it takes to grow a successful law firm. Today we’re going to how do you say maybe flip the sketch a little bit? Generally, I am the host. But I have Chad Franzen here of Rise25 Who has done 1000s of interviews and with successful entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs. And again, like I said, we’re going to flip the script and we’re going to be letting him interview me. So Chad, take it away. Chad Franzen  0:42   Hey, thank you so much, Michael. Before we get started, I’ll let everybody know that this episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing where where they deliver tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI. Your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing. They use artificial intelligence, machine learning and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to Hey, Michael, thanks so much for having me today. So tell me, how did you What brought you to Gladiator Law? And what is your role there? Michael Renfro  1:26   Well, let’s see I, I’m the sales, I am pretty much all of sales, I do have a gentleman who used to do the podcast with me before we started this one. Mason, who does handle a lot of the how I say some of the grunt work, I don’t want to say that he’s a grunt. But he really helps me in many ways getting out, you know, marketing and stuff like that, that we do outreach that we do. But other than that, I’m pretty much the the salesman for the company. I’ve been with them since January of 2019. So a little over three years now. What really brought me to, to them from the very beginning, for the very first interview that I had with Adam, you could really tell that it was a different company. And what I mean by that is, most companies really don’t seem to care about their clients. I’ve been doing sales since I was 14. So I’m turning 50. Now when that time I got you know, by the time I got this job, I’d still been in sales for over 30 years. And you know, one of the biggest setbacks in sales is really being able to trust the company. And right out of the gate, it just felt different. So I was willing to take a chance. Chad Franzen  2:31   Sure, sure. Is that is that maybe the primary reason you’d say you’re proud to work there? Or is there another reason? Michael Renfro  3:59   No, absolutely. They believe in what they’re trying to do. And again, unlike you know, I’ll probably end up saying some of the things that you’re going to ask me, but, you know, after being here for three years, it’s one of the longest sales jobs I’ve ever kept as a sales role. And very much enjoyed it, number one, number two, the company has grown. And that only happens when you’re doing things right. Number one, not just because you’re selling correctly, the information that I give to these folks is what sells the company. I mean, I am the face. And yes, I have a lot of sales skills. And I’m not trying to, you know, be so modest that I don’t say I don’t have skills, but what really sells the company is what the company does for the clients and the reputation that they’ve built and the retention rate that we have. And when you’re talking about you know, legal SEO, it’s it’s it’s a different ballgame. Chad Franzen  3:25   What would you say is kind of the most complicated thing or what is particularly complicated about what Gladiator Law Marketing does? Michael Renfro  3:32   Right there I just kind of segwayed into it without me But legal SEO, when you’re trying to do SEO, that is one ballgame. And I’m not saying that there’s that the components aren’t the same, right? Obviously, if you’re trying to rank on Google, then you’re trying to rank on Google. So there’s a lot of components that are the same, no matter what you’re doing, but how you do it. For a law firm that’s trying to get a client to trust them enough to reach out and share their case with them. That is a different story, when you also are up against the wallet of the personal injury realm, particularly personal injury. And why why do I say personal injury? Well, that’s really it’s not just SEO, legal marketing, but personal injury, legal marketing is really where it gets complicated, because there’s essentially no cap to the kind of case these gentlemen can get, you know, these folks, I should say, excuse me, these these lawyers can get attorneys female, male, doesn’t matter. You know, there’s no limit, there’s no cap really to the kind of case they can get, particularly if they get, you know, like a big My mind is drawing a blank, but a big, you know, mass tort case, what we call mass tort, but that’s like a huge case where they’re trying to literally tell the entire country of anybody who’s maybe taking a medication or use particular product, you know, about a case where there’s liability on the on the company’s part, you get a part of that case, I mean, you know, generally speaking, these law firms are gonna want walk away with at least seven figures. And when you have really big law firms that do this for a while, there’s law firms out there that are bringing in, you know, national law firms in the personal injury realm that are bringing in billions and attorneys fees. But that also means they’re obviously getting, you know, billions to trillions for their clients, but at the same time it again, there’s just no cap. So it’s a it’s a, it’s a hard contest, Chad Franzen  5:23   as kind of a sense. Yeah, yeah, definitely. That makes sense. It’s kind of the the sales guy, then, are most of the people that you talk to, like the attorneys or whoever you’re trying to get as clients, are they aware that your service would be potentially valuable? Or do you have to explain that to them? Michael Renfro  5:39   I would say it’s about about half and half. And what I mean by that is, if they’ve already done marketing to some degree, or, you know, dabbled in it, if you will, then they know that legal marketing, you know, most of them, like a lot of times, if they find us, for instance, it’s because they found us by doing law, firm marketing, SEO, you know, or law firm SEO, on a Google search. And we, you know, we’re, we’re good at what we do, we practice what we preach, we use the same technology to, to get them to rank to get ourselves to rank, but the reality is, they know, it’s a different ballgame. Many times, if they find us like that, they kind of already know that. Clearly, it’s different marketing for me, than marketing for say, even a doctor or, you know, a restaurant from, for instance, any kind of retail outlet, that’s it’s just always going to be different. So I think, you know, at least I would say at least half, but I think some of them don’t realize quite just how, you know, complicated and difficult it can be, because all the while you have Google constantly doing, you know, changes, constantly changing the algorithm, and you’ll have a big algorithmic update, like that just happened this past December, that literally flipped the game and changed many of the things that were working, you know, in December or not, I literally just showed a gentleman yesterday, I just happened to have data because I looked at his town back in 2020. And everybody that was ranking then is not on the board now. And the people that are ranking now, we’re not on the board, then that’s how much of a flip. And that’s just two years. And technically speaking, if I had done the data, probably back in November, December, the same folks that were ranking in 2020, we’re probably still at the top, it’s after this big change. And when Google makes a change, you have to that’s that’s the real complicated part is you have to adapt, and you have to quickly decipher how did the change affect my clients? And what do we need to do to fix it? Chad Franzen  7:35   So what would you say is kind of like the the secret sauce about Gladiator Law Marketing that sets you guys apart? If it causes people to come and want to work with you? Michael Renfro  7:43   I would have to actually say that it’s probably a couple of things. If I’m being honest. The reality is, you know what, and I think that’s, that’s what draws people to us, is that it’s not just one thing. You know, number one, we have years and when you look at the staff that’s involved. Our founder alone, Lisa Vaughn has 20 plus years specific tools. Legal Marketing on designing websites doing pay per click and SEO specific to legal marketing, just her. You know, when you look at the other, the rest of the staff, most of the staff has already been here for more than five years before I came on board, there’s only been a couple, maybe two or three hires since I’ve come on board. And we have a staff of about 20. And most of those people already have five years and some of them had 10-15 years before they came on board. So when you look at the staff, we have a staff that has that represents more than a century’s worth of legal marketing experience. That is a big one. Why they stay and why they why they’ll give us a chance is when they talk to our past clients and know why they’re staying why, why our clients don’t leave us year after year. And that’s because, you know, even after we do what we do, and help them get to where they’re trying to get to which the most growth is in the beginning. And I’m sure most people understand that, because you’re usually starting from either a bad situation, or, or a situation that’s almost nil to zero, right. So the beginning growth is exceptional, we’ve had 2,000% increase. But what’s really important to me, and what I think speaks volumes to new people coming on board, new firms looking at us, is that in years, you know, three, five, and down the road, we still have consistent growth, we still have an average medium annual increase of more than 33% traffic to their site. Well, if you’re getting more traffic to your site, you’re getting more business, that means there’s growth from this vertical. Chad Franzen  9:33   So tell me about a client that you kind of helped, you know, you’re the sales guy, so that you brought to Gladiator Law, and what the process was in terms of getting them on board? Michael Renfro  9:41   Well, I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning. But his name is Tarracks, he is out here. I’m trying to think of his first name all of a sudden, How can I forget Barry Barry B A R R Y Tarracks T A R R A C K S he’s a criminal defense guy out of Tampa. When he came to me, it’s funny, he didn’t tell me this until after but when he came to me, I helped him on the first phone call, we always try to do a little screen sharing and, and look and take a live, you know, snapshot, if you will, while we’re sitting there together and do searches and looking things and many times I can find little things right off the bat that they can change themselves that they just don’t know about many times in like the Google My Business listing, which is you know, where you come up in maps, just so people understand that which quite frankly, is a huge piece of real estate these days. If you’re one of the top three, coming up on the front page of maps, you’re on the front page number one, and people are like, Hey, he’s close, they get a lot of calls that way, you know. So again, I’ll have these these initial meetings where I go over that. And on that first meeting, I showed him a little something that he could do with his GMB. And at the time, he was ranking 20/21 and 22nd for DUI Lawyer and Criminal Defense Lawyer respectively. And the week the next week, when we met to go over the full analysis that I did for him, which I call a comprehensive competitive analysis as a CCA. But when we went over that, just in those seven days, he had gone up to number one and number two, for those keywords, which means he was now on the front page. And he’s like, I’m getting calls. And he told me like, I can stop taking. He’s like, I was taking heartburn medicine because I was really nervous about the future of my firm. But I can stop taking that. And he was very thankful. And obviously, you know, it was, it was a no brainer for him to come on board and give us the opportunity to really turn things around, you know, all in all phases, not just on his maps. Chad Franzen  11:39   Sure, sure. Was there anything that he was, you know, before before that obvious improvement in terms of his ranking? Was there anything that he was skeptical about that you kind of had to Michael Renfro  11:47   Oh yeah. I mean, he let me say this, first of all attorneys by nature should be skeptical. That’s their nature. I mean, like they’re, you know, they’re always representing one side or the other and if they’re on one side, which when they’re representing themselves, they should be skeptical of anybody talking to them, which is why I don’t even bother trying to cold call these guys as a salesman, cuz it’s not even worth their time. It’s not worth my time. It’s not worth anybodys, but yeah, like, like most he had skepticisms. And one of them. If I remember if I’m remembering correctly with Barry, it was it was well over two years that he came on board now, but seems like you know, he had done some other things, I think like Yellow Pages and things like that. So what he was skeptical about is that the reality that most things end up drying up. And I’m like, You’re absolutely correct. The one difference between SEO compared to every other form of marketing that’s ever been around, up until this is I don’t see anything new coming out. And what I mean by that it’s always going to be internet based at this point internet is where we have landed. Television is old radio is old. You know, anything that you put out ads, I’m not saying they’re not worthy, don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of cases to get out, you know, to get from using those avenues. But a lot of the skepticism comes from the long lasting. And the beautiful part about SEO is yeah, there will be a time there’ll be times there’s up and downs with SEO, there’s roller coasters. But if you have flexibility, and your team and your team is staying on top of what is working now, and just to preface that, it’s funny, but what worked yesterday may not work today, like we just talked about, but what’s funny is in this industry, what worked four years ago, I mean, it’s hard to work again, right? So it’s again being on top of that. And once they see that with SEO, you can get yourself in position where you pretty much stay in position. And then that position is a payoff. If you’re one of the top five ranking local firms, you know, and that organic listing down there, and I’m sure everybody knows I’m talking about, you are getting your money’s worth of what it takes to be there, almost always your phone is going to ring plenty, you’re going to get plenty of good cases. And you know you’re going to you’re going to be the visibility is going to be there for what you need. The reality is staying there just like you know, I’ve talked to so many who’ve done phone books, who’ve done billboards, they always find that at some point something ends up drying up and no longer works. It has a shelf life, if you will, of getting people to call you with that mechanism. I have been doing SEO now since 1997. And I’ve never seen anybody ranking on the top of the page, do anything but great things. It’s a matter of staying there. Chad Franzen  14:27   So so they have that skepticism. And you obviously eased his concerns a week later by show Michael Renfro  14:34   I proved to him with you know, I mean, quite frankly, I’m not, you know, I don’t want to make it sound like anything, wasn’t he was ready to go with me because of the GMB thing because of that Google listing. However, I after the presentation, I was like, Look, I know you said you’re already ready to go with me. But do you see now what you have to do? And if you do it, yes, it takes some time to get there initially. But once you’re there, you really you have the ability of staying there for as long as you stay on top of it until you’re ready to no longer be there. And he did. So you know, you know, proving one thing right away, I think is a huge thing with it, you know, if you have the ability to do that, and I always try to, you know that that makes a difference because it shows them hey, I care and you’re doing it before they even ever put any money over, which really helps any skeptic. Yeah, definitely. But at the same time, I still presented a very sound case to him as as an attorney. And the thing is what we try to do when we present our findings, and our recommendations, which is really what it is we go out there and we find what’s going on. And then we recommend this is how you get into, you know, either 5432 or one position. We present it in a different way, I think than attorneys are used to seeing it, we itemize everything. It’s very transparent. And it also explains it for attorneys, and layman’s terms, because even though they’re very high spoken, very intellectual people, and you know, well spoken is what I meant. They’re very well spoken, very intellectual high intellects. And you know, they they write better than most of us read, right. So understanding that is is one thing, but they really don’t talk that way. They’re just like everybody else might come talking to them. And they really want you to break it down in the simplest of terms, because they’re not marketers. Chad Franzen  16:17   So you mentioned open this, this this particular Yeah, definitely, definitely. This guy has been a client for over two years now. So what’s kind of been the story with him for two years? He’s obviously he’s obviously stuck around, what have you done for him? Michael Renfro  16:31   Oh, we’ve continued to, you know, do do him justice, we pretty sure we built him a new website, which displays him better and gives him a better presentation to the world. You know who he is. And it’s just been, and if we didn’t, then we fix the website. I can’t always remember. I mean, you you know, we deal with a lot of clients. And I don’t mean to sound rude on that. But if we didn’t build him a new website, then we always do what we call a facelift. And we you know, we’ll fix it so that it’s ranking better. He’ll probably end up staying with us long enough for us to do a new website, I would imagine, because we do recommend about every three years you want to change your look. So So we’ve continued to you know, produce everything get him going. No, I now Absolutely. Remember we did. We are I think we’re just about done with his new website. There was some issues that we’ve had. He’s been with us for a while, but there was some issues. So it probably wasn’t the best example when it comes to where he’s ranking only because he had some issues getting photography done for his new website. And we don’t generally start a campaign SEO wise until we get the new site up. But again, the little change that we made and keeping him on top of GMV was feeding him enough business to where he was happy again. So you know, it’s been kind of a back and forth if that makes sense. Chad Franzen  17:43   Yeah. So You know, let’s say let’s say you’ve given a client, a new website, you’ve elevated them to, you know, tops in the rankings, tops in search rankings, how would you say a client’s life is different after that? Michael Renfro  17:58   Ah, I think one of the things that they start to experience is, you know, understanding that not every agency is the same, you know. And what I mean by that is marketing agencies over the years, particularly, I think, in the law firm, marketing industry, which is, is now over 20 years old. It’s been an industry for more than 20 years. I think a lot of it gets a bad name, because you, you know, I mean, first of all, I’m in sales. So when I tell people, I’m a salesman, the first thing that a lot of people think of is car salesman, right? So salesmen have a bad name, because this one group, when you work with legal marketing agencies, you find that there are a lot of bad apples, but there’s also a lot of good agencies that really, truly care about getting their clients to where they want to get them. And it’s not always as easy as 123. And what I mean by that, you know, for instance, I talked about this change, well, we had multiple campaigns that were either fresh off the ground, or right in the middle, that all of a sudden had to completely change and readjust in order to keep the momentum that was going, you know, so I think a big thing is communication. I will say that, so I think they, they just after working with us, I think they can trust an agency, you know, which is why I think they probably don’t end up leaving, because it’s hard to find that trust between a marketing agency and a law firm. You know, and the one thing I will say, just speak, you know, very candidly, is that, if you’re doing it really well, then these really are partners, because a lot of things that the law firms have to do in order to maintain a good relationship, we can only do part of it, we can only do this part on the internet, they still have a public presence, a social presence, you know, that’s very real and physical, right. And they still have to win cases. And they still have to be polite and be happy and do all the things to get good reviews and all that stuff, where else it’ll take away from us, right? So it’s it works hand in hand to that you’re working with the agent or with the law firms. And I think they find a new meaning of what it is to work with an agency when they work with us. Because right out of the gate, I try to refer to them as partners, they’re not clients, it really is a partnership. It takes both the law firm, and the agency working hard to get them the cases they need. Chad Franzen  20:09   Final question for you. This podcast is called 15 Miinutes. What are you most excited about regarding the podcast? Michael Renfro  20:16  Well, after we get done with my little blab on, which I appreciate you doing for me, the whole goal really is to interview like I said, you know, other lawyers of the law firms, other legal marketing specialists, that bring something to the table. And what I mean by that is, you know, we call it 15 Minutes, kind of like that, your 15 minutes of fame. So we want to give them 15 minutes of fame and showcase what they’ve done in a positive light. And, you know, obviously, we’re looking for folks that have a good story, you know, or have something that they’ve done. And the fact is like, I don’t know that I could, you know, throw a rock into an attorney that doesn’t have at least one good accolade, and is in his pocket that we can showcase. So everybody, you know, in our opinion, kind of everybody is a legal hero. So this is the opportunity to give them that 15 minutes of fame and let’s talk about what they’ve done for either, you know, their firm a client, maybe how they marketed themselves better, whatever the case may be. Chad Franzen  21:10   Okay, great. We’ll look forward to it. Hey, Michael, it’s been great to talk to you. I appreciate you letting me be a part of it. Michael Renfro  21:15   Thanks a lot, Chad. I appreciate your time. Chad Franzen  21:17   So long, everybody Outro 21:18 Thanks for listening to 15 Minutes. Be sure to subscribe and we’ll see you next time.

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