Conrad Saam

Conrad Saam


About Conrad Saam

Conrad Saam is the founder and general manager of Mockingbird Marketing (formerly Atticus Marketing), an agency delivering advanced online marketing exclusively for the legal industry. Previously, he spent 6 years running marketing for legal Q&A site Avvo -- which went from concept to market leader without spending a dollar on advertising (they were really really good at SEO). He's the author of The FindLaw Jailbreak Guide and hated by legal marketing vendors and social media marketing consultants who fleece their clients.

Conrad Saam's latest articles


Suing Your SEO: Can An Agency Be Held Liable For Poor Results?

It was only a matter of time before a lawsuit was filed against a search engine optimization agency for failing to deliver. Last week, the legal marketing industry was aTwitter (and aFacebook and even aPlus) with news that law firm Seikaly & Stewart had filed a lawsuit against The Rainmaker Institute seeking a return of […]

Google Analytics

How To Work With Four Common SEO Leadership Styles

I’ve had the pleasure of working on SEO in a variety of companies both in house and, frequently, through casual advice to other companies. After eight years in the business, I’m convinced that the success of search for an in-house person hinges on their ability to work within a leader’s approach to search. This is […]

Google algorithm updates

Dealing With People – The Hardest Part Of SEO

The really hard part about search engine optimization isn’t the SEO itself but dealing with people within your organization who have (or should have) an impact on SEO. Optimizing H1s is easy. Dealing with people is hard. Really hard. What follows are a series of the most important lessons I’ve (maybe) learned while dealing with MBAs, […]

Analytics & conversion

How Scattergraphs Can Be Your Best Friends

Recently, I was on an in-house SEO panel at SMX with REI’s Jonathon Colman. Most of the audience’s questions centered around explaining and reporting relevant metrics to upper management. Turns out, while search has come a long way, many execs still use terms like “Google Juice” and define success as launching a PPC campaign to […]


Recruiting: 12 Questions For Uncomfortably Hands-On SEO Interviews

I was shocked by the widespread, deeply negative reaction to the introductory paragraph of my column last month, in which I described beginning every interview with a math problem.  The response is probably best typified by EricM: Despite missing the entire point of the article (that you can use simple free tools to calculate confidence […]

Analytics & conversion

Do It Yourself A/B Testing

I always start marketing interviews with a phone screen of some variant of the following question: “Let’s say this is your first day at Urbanspoon and I show you the following data. We’ve just launched an A/B test of that I’d like you to evaluate. [The example can be almost anything you want to test […]

Paid social

UGC + Search Collide: Jesus, Jelly & Susan G. Komen

The first rule of social media marketing is to have a great product. File that rule away while you read on . . . Companies are increasingly integrating user generated content, reviews and social media into their overall marketing initiatives. In principle, this seems like a good idea. In practice, it can falter. I’m going […]


A Letter From Santa To The Search Community

December, 2011 The North Pole Dear Search Community: Thanks so much for your many letters to the north pole. Your nicely written texts and emails included some familiar requests from last year and some entirely new ones. Lisa and Ian, I’m very sorry, I can’t drop that referring keyword data  from signed in users down the […]


How To Terrify Executives Into Linkbuilding

Much has been written about the poor in-house SEO, fighting the good fight to inculcate SEO awareness and best practices throughout the organization. This is an unenviable task and more than one in-house has shared a narrative with me that sounds something like this:  SEO:  “So, I’m concerned that we’re not proactively link-building and that […]

Link building

Aspirations Of Incompetence: Benchmarking Competitors

Why oh why do we obsess over our competitors’ SEO strategies and tactics? Business leaders, frequently molded from concentrated Type-A material, can’t help but obsess over performance relative to competitors. They celebrate gains in market share, the thrill of stealing a client and the schadenfreude of a competitor’s stock decline. When introduced to SEO, they […]


Am I KW Crazy? A Guide To Tackling An Ubercompetitive Keyword Strategy

In which I recommend (a very limited) focus on ranking reports . . . I’ve long railed against the stupidity of keyword ranking reports and the insufferable myopic thrashing that occurs when consultants or business units get wound around the axle trying to diagnose a two spot slip for a favorite pet term. (Or worse, […]


What Your UGC Or Community Site Can Learn From Google+ And Quora

We have a lot to learn in the upcoming Clash of the Titans cage match:  Google vs. Facebook. The nastiness has already started with Facebook blocking the chrome extension to download FB friends and numerous petty PR quips. Twitter further kicked the hornets’ nest by letting their data agreement with Google lapse. (This was a […]

Link building

Public Relations: Link Building On Steroids

Caution:  This starts as a mean spirited post, but there is some humility forthcoming, please persevere through the rant. The following is a rough recollection of a conversation I had with a PR professional recently about BusinessWire’s press release services that come chock-a-block full of SEO promises: Her:  “You need to switch your wire service […]


Dr. Harry Potter? The SEO Name Game In People Search

On March 12, 2008, the name of Eliot Spitzer’s pay-for-performance paramour, Ashley Dupre was finally sniffed out by a New York Times reporter. Immediately, our Avvo profile page for Texas Attorney, Ashley Dupree Russel was inundated with traffic. The site was hit by millions and millions of people trying to find out anything about the […]

Google algorithm updates

Cosmo Quiz: Should You Get In Bed With An SEO Agency?

I’ve spent the past 5 years in-house and over that period, I’ve never hired an SEO agency; however, I’ve been pitched more times than I can count. Additionally, I’ve been exposed to hundreds of SEO agencies through my work with doctors and lawyers.  During that experience, I’ve seen the spectrum of some really great work […]

Google Analytics

An Alternative To Ranking Reports

Last month I wrote Ranking Reports Rant, a diatribe against using ranking reports to evaluate SEO success. The reasons are many and include personalization of results, taking your eye of the long tail, increased clutter and testing on SERP pages, and the danger of having agency compensation tied to ranking reports. There were more than a […]


Excuse Me While I Have A Ranking Report Rant

I had lunch today with a young, ambitious entrepreneur. He’s fresh out of a prestigious tech university, has a fledgling company and visions of shaking up a big industry. He wanted to talk about search. Him:  “I’m pretty psyched, we just launched about 4 months ago and we’re already ranking number one for <insert obscure […]


Google vs. Bing: The Fallacy Of The Superior Search Engine

I can still remember when my when I first switched over to Google on the recommendation of my brother’s girlfriend. She’s literally a rocket scientist and carries a lot of intellectual weight with me; her endorsement was fairly simple – “it returns great results”. To understand what “great results” means, transport yourself back 10+ years […]

Link building

6 Strategies For Introducing New Hires To Your SEO Program

The most important function of the primary SEO is ensuring departments across the organization are pulling together strategically. SEO can never be a siloed department – it has multiple inputs/outputs and needs to transcend organizational boundaries. Effectively coordinating multiple departments into a cohesive SEO plan is a managerial nightmare. SEO’s have to deal with differing […]


6 Things On An SEO’s Holiday Wish List

Dear Santa, I’ve been a very good SEO this year focusing on nice and skipping most of the naughty. I know the elves have been very busy building iPads and Kinects for the other SEOs, but please carefully consider my more selfless wish list below. 1. Widely Accepted Cost Accounting Metrics For SEO Now I’m […]


How To Dress Like An SEO For Halloween

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d write a guide for Creating an SEO Costume for October 31st just for fun. Most likely, you already have all of the elements in your closet. Like many industries, we share a common look, and the following is an admittedly broad brush stroke composite of SEO people […]


Lawsuits & Lemonade: There Really Is No Such Thing As Bad PR

For my inaugural post as a regular columnist for In House SEO, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to introduce myself and our company, Avvo, without making the post about myself and Avvo. Last week, the writing gods delivered in the form of a lawsuit filed against Avvo.  The saying, “there’s no […]


Why I Didn’t Buy Links, But Seriously Considered It

About 3 years ago while I was an SEO infant, an especially slick, Canadian-born, industry veteran introduced me to the people at LinkExperts. “You’ve got to use these guys.  They are the only way to get some killer links, it’s expensive but it’s totally worth it.” I eagerly called LinkExperts, went through a Powerpoint dog […]

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