At Black Fin, We’re a Team of SEO Veterans Passionate About Helping Businesses Rank in Google

You’ve done everything you can think of, but the phones still aren’t ringing.

You’ve put together a nice website, created great social media pages, and even got LeBron James to star in your television commercial. But still, the people of Cleveland are looking elsewhere for legal services.

You may have worked with marketing agencies or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies in the past, spending countless dollars on audits and work that proved to be useless.

Or maybe you’ve heard about SEO, but haven’t known where to start or have been wary of agencies selling services that seem like black magic.

How can you trust that the dollars and time you put into SEO will help your rankings and bring in leads?

At Black Fin, we know this story all too well.

Our team has years of experience working in SEO and putting together effective strategies that have helped attorneys break through the noise in cities all over the country. We’re ready to give you the exact game plan you need to rise through the Cleveland search rankings – for free.

We know how it feels to know how much better you could be doing with more time, resources, and, most importantly, a little more knowledge.

If you’re ready to invest the time, we’re ready to show you what sets Black Fin apart from the competition and provide you with a tailor-made video audit of your site at no cost for you to watch at your leisure.

Other SEO agencies, even those local to Cleveland, may make you grand promises that sound too good to be true. That’s because they are too good to be true.

The free, detailed audit we provide you will prove that we deliver on the promises we make by giving you smart, actionable ideas for your firm. Even if you never work with us, the guidance and pointers we deliver are immensely valuable.

Our agency isn’t primarily interested in taking your money, we’re focused on getting you results. If our word isn’t enough, read what a few of our clients have had to say about us:

“I have been in the internet advertising game for over 15 years. During that time, I have hired and fired at least 6 SEO/SEM companies. Luckily, my search is over. Black Fin is by far the BEST company I have used. EVERY SINGLE PERSON I have dealt with from Day 1 has been super-knowledgeable, as well as professional, courteous and friendly. My questions (and I have a lot of them), are ALWAYS answered beyond my satisfaction in a very quick manner, and someone is always available. Most importantly is that Black Fin has grown my business exponentially. They not only designed 2 beautiful website for me, but they have managed my PPC campaigns VERY effectively and cost-efficiently. I cannot say enough about this company, other than that I am happy I need look no further.”

JEFFREY H. PENNEYS, ESQUIRE Law Offices of Jeffrey H. Penneys, P.C.

“Black Fin is a powerful partner to improve your Firm’s web presence, credibility, and get new business. I’ve worked with several other companies who claim to get results and, only now, since working with Black Fin have we actually gotten solid results.”

Chris Parvin

“We have been using Black Fin more than a year for both SEO and web design. We appreciate their responsiveness to our requests and questions. They have been a pleasure to work with.”

Doug Douglas N. Kiger | Attorney at Law


There is no college degree for SEO.

While attorneys go to law school and have to pass the bar, and doctors go through medical school, all SEO “experts” have to do is create a website. In a large legal market like Cleveland, how do you know who to trust to get you the results you need? Is there a way to tell the difference between a knowledgeable SEO professional and a phony SEO hack?

The unfortunate truth is that tens of thousands of those who claim to specialize in legal marketing and SEO are no better than used car salesmen dressed up to sell at any cost.

These SEO phonies are consistently doing the following:

  • Using outdated tactics.
  • Violating search marketing guidelines.
  • Outsourcing all of their SEO services – and I mean all of them – from strategy to execution.
  • Using the same tired SEO plan for every client, no matter what the client’s needs are.
  • Cashing your checks without producing results.

We hear SEO “expert” horror stories at Black Fin from new clients on a consistent basis. And quite frankly, we understand why.

SEO is really hard work.

Every part requires serious attention and understanding:

  • Staying on top of Google’s algorithm changes.
  • Understanding new SEO technology.
  • Accurately analyzing results and outcomes.
  • Creating affordable and manageable SEO strategies.
  • Coming up with better plans than the competition.
  • Actually executing those plans.

SEO can be time-consuming, difficult, baffling, and all of the above. There’s no formula or equation that will work every single time with every single situation. The game is always changing, and those who tell you differently aren’t putting in the hard work and analysis necessary to get you results.

At Black Fin, we’re committed to putting in the time and coming up with innovative solutions that continuously bring our clients success.


Your firm could have a number of problems.

  • Maybe you hired a “SEO expert,” but haven’t seen any results after months and months.
  • Maybe you hired an agency local to Cleveland that promised you their understanding of the local market would guarantee results. Nothing.
  • Maybe you’re too wrapped up running your firm and don’t have the time or energy to focus on internet marketing or SEO.
  • Maybe you’ve put members of your staff in charge of SEO and marketing tasks, but haven’t put together an effective strategy to get real results.
  • Maybe you’re too focused on what the competition is doing, keeping you from understanding how to market your firm.
  • Maybe you’re pouring money into the wrong places and not getting the results you want.
  • Maybe you’ve read a little bit about SEO on the web and have tried implementing some “simple fixes” that are either ineffective or, worse yet, causing Google to penalize your site.
  • Maybe after such a long stretch of searching for SEO help on the web, you’re not sure who you can turn to or trust to produce the results you want to see.
  • Maybe your website was flourishing, but Google penalized you for reasons you don’t know or understand, causing all your traffic and incoming calls to stop.

There are an endless number of reasons why SEO might not be working out, but we’re here to tell you that, with some well-thought out strategy, we can make it work for you.


The entrepreneurial and innovative spirit is alive and well in the art of SEO. There’s a certain unquantifiable, creative ability that’s necessary to do really great SEO work.

With years of experience in the SEO world under his belt, our CEO and founder Gerrid Smith has found that there is one component of good SEO work that never changes: a blend of art and science. When all of Google’s algorithms are changing and the methods of online marketing are evolving, the ability to be flexible and adaptable is absolutely necessary to getting the results you want, whether you’re in Cleveland, New York, or Small Town, U.S.A. We provide our clients with solutions and strategies that are time-tested and based on years of experience and knowledge.

At the same time, staying ahead of the curve means staying up to date, being innovative, experimenting, and catering to the individual needs of a client rather than sticking to a formula.

There is no assembly line mentality at Black Fin. Each plan we put together for a client is unique to their situation, because with Google making over 150 changes to its algorithm every year, there is no way to provide an effective “cookie cutter” method of SEO. Your internet marketing needs are not the needs of your biggest competitor, just like the needs of one client you work with are vastly different from any other.


Our SEO Program is built on three parts, broken down into Month 1, Month 2, and Innovative Maintenance.

Month 1
Any successful SEO campaign needs a solid foundation to build on, and that foundation is your firm’s website. Your website is at the center of all that you do on the internet. All the leads from social media pages, search results, email newsletters, wherever, are all directed to your website. That’s why we spend our first month focusing on the optimization of your website’s code and content, doing things such as:

  • Optimizing your images for SEO and loading speed.
  • Fixing any indexing problems.
  • Optimizing title tags and headers, and making sure they’re not too similar.
  • Setting up internal links on all of your practice area pages.
  • Analyzing Google Page Speed insights.
  • Auditing your website’s content for improvement.
  • And a number of other things that are too technical to explain here.

The first month’s purpose is to ensure that your website is technically and functionally sound so it won’t hold you back when you dive into your SEO and marketing campaigns. While the issues we deal with in the first month are the most basic, they’re also the most vital to good rankings.

By the end of the first month you will have:

  • A good looking and user friendly website.
  • A website that scans well for search engines.
  • A website with quick load time.
  • A website with high-quality content that is useful to your leads.

Month 2
The purpose of our second month is build your website’s authority, helping build the brand of your firm and you, the attorney. People hear a lot about “keyword stuffing” when they hear about SEO. If any SEO agency offers this as a solution to you, TURN AND RUN. Only 30 percent of the SEO work we do is actually done on your website. The vast majority of SEO work is actually done off of your site.

This sort of “off website” SEO work consists of a variety of things, including:

  • Write and distribute press releases.
  • Claim and verify local citations and directory listings.
  • Set up and manage social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
  • Secure high-end directory links like and
  • Set up website sponsorships.
  • Secure and publish high-end guest posts (We’ve been featured on,, and others).
  • Write magazine-style article posts (e.g.,
  • Create case studies based upon data from Google Consumer Surveys.
  • Develop scholarships that are pitched to colleges to garner high-quality .edu links.

One of the most important things we do for your SEO is making sure that your Google+ Local account is up and running correctly. For local businesses, Google+ Local is a huge platform, and we make sure that your listing is verified and optimized in addition to cleaning up old citations and creating new ones. With Google’s organic algorithm being so dependent on Maps and proximity to user, optimizing your site for local search is one of the most important aspects of SEO success.

Once we have your website and SEO strategies in place, we’ll continue to do a lot of the work that we mentioned above. The goal is always to build your website’s authority in Google and other search engines, as well as within the local Cleveland community. This maintenance work includes the following seven pillars:

  • Strong Structure. Make sure that nothing on your site will prevent you from ranking in the future
  • High-Quality Content. Optimize for both SEO and conversions
  • Trust. Ensure conversion elements are in place
  • Thought Leadership. Blog to gain influence, links, and trust
  • Authority Development. Link-building and website promotion
  • Preeminence. Rank YouTube videos, Facebook, and Yelp profiles in Google
  • Social clout. Make sure that your brand is building trust on social media websites

While most people think of maintenance as basic upkeep, for SEO purposes it means consistent analysis and the ability to adapt to the everyday changes that Google makes. These changes can be small, but some have huge implications. That’s why the ability to innovate and adapt is so critical to good SEO work. Our foundation of putting together a great website will never change, but the way we market that website on the internet is always destined to.


Despite what other SEO agencies may have told you, really great and effective SEO work takes time. From building a well-optimized website to taking the steps to establish your firm as an authority, as well as fixing any issues and problems with old sites or poorly done SEO work, there’s no set amount of time we can tell you. It all really depends on your unique situation.

What we can tell you, however, is that it takes about 6-8 months to generate results in Google for a brand new website. For established sites, that range might look more like 3-5 months, though it depends on how aggressive your campaign is, the SEO tactics you’ve used in the past, and your competition.


While other agencies might give you the runaround when it comes to price, this is another area we like to set ourselves apart from the competition. Our SEO plans start at $750 month and can go up to $20,000 per month. On average, our clients pay about $1,500 per month for our services. Most importantly, we work with businesses of all sizes and are committed to putting together an SEO strategy that will be effective and fit your budget.


Search Engine Optimization is the art and science of ranking web pages in the organic sections of search results.

There are over 250 factors that make up Google’s algorithm, so for the sake of simplicity, the two factors Google primarily looks at are relevancy and authority.

Relevancy is made up of everything, both on and off of your website, that communicates to Google that your site is relevant for a certain niche (or keywords). For personal injury lawyers, what content on your website tells Google that you work as a personal injury lawyer? This includes practice area pages that target things like medical malpractice, dog bites, or whatever areas your firm works with. Google won’t simply believe you’re a personal injury lawyer simply because you say it on your website, you have to back it up.

Authority is a little bit trickier. If relevancy is a bucket, and all of the personal injury lawyers in your market are contained in that one bucket (because of things like “Cleveland,” “personal injury,” “car accidents,” etc. on their sites), how does Google decide who in that bucket should be ranking first, second, third, and so on? This is based on authority, or the number of quality websites that link back to your website. If your competitor has 50 quality websites linking back to their site, and you only have 25 linking back to yours, then they become the cream that rises to the top of that bucket. Of course, there’s more that goes into building authority, but that is the simplified way of understanding it.

There are four main pillars that make up an SEO campaign:

Maps/Google My Business SEO – EXTREMELY important these days.

Content Optimization – This includes optimizing your content for readability and other factors Google considers.

Site Structure – Site speed and crawlability allow Google to look through your website more easily.

Link Building – Getting quality sites to link back to you.

We generally tackle the first three of those pillars within the first 1-3 months of a campaign, creating a solid foundation for your website. After that, we work on increasing your domain authority through link building.

Here are a few more factors that play into your SEO campaign:

  • Your domain age.
  • The duration your domain has had a live website.
  • The amount of time people spend on your site.
  • Your site’s bounce rate.
  • The amount of times you mention keywords on your web pages (these days, more doesn’t mean better).
  • The amount of related/LSI keywords on your webpages.
  • The amount of local directory listings you have.
  • The consistency of your firm’s Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) across your website, directories, and Google My Business listing.
  • Your content length.
  • Your content’s grade-level.
  • The readability of your content (is it optimized for users?).

The price you pay for quality SEO services depends on two factors, generally:

The strength of your competitors and the strength of your own website.

For example, if you owned an estate planning firm in Cleveland that was organically ranking #3 for “Cleveland estate planning lawyer,” a quality SEO campaign may cost around $750 a month. On the other hand, for those with websites just getting started without any history in Google, it’s possible your campaign might cost around $3,500 a month.

The most important thing is never to choose an SEO company simply based on price. The majority of reputable companies that I respect charge a minimum of $1,500 a month for smaller markets and sometimes up to $10,000 a month for clients in larger markets. Hourly, you can expect to be paying anywhere between $50-250. Just ask yourself what’s really cheaper, though: $2,500 a month for six months to rank on the first page of Google, or paying $1,000 a month without ever ranking anywhere? Be realistic about prices, and understand that, 99% of the time, you get what you pay for.

Have you gotten these sort of emails in the past? The sales emails from SEO companies claiming they’re “looking out for you” and wanted to inform you of all the problems on your site? Our clients get them all the time.

There’s a simple solution to determining the validity of these companies. Simply drop the domain name of their website into SEMRush (, and you’ll be able to see if they actually know anything about SEO.

(Here is a screenshot of SEMRush in action, showing how much traffic a site is receiving each month from search engines. This is from one of our clients that received a sales email from a company claiming to know SEO. As you can see, their own website receives 0 visitors per month in traffic from SEO.)

Getting ranked in Google and other search engines is a complicated process with a number of factors at play. The biggest factors (if you are working with a quality digital marketing company) come down to the strength of your competitors compared against the strength of your own website. If your site has been well established for a while, and if you have other sites with good authority linking back to you, you’re on the right path and it may take less time (~3-5 months). For new and newer sites going up against strong competition, however, it is not unheard of for it to take 12 months or more to start ranking.

At this point, SEO is a major part of marketing for Cleveland businesses, and it’s possible that some firms have been doing SEO for the last 10 to 15 years. It takes time to establish the authority necessary for you to rank well in Google, and if you’re the new kid on the block, ranking well just won’t happen overnight.

Our agency has worked with a wide variety of firms over the years, including:

  • Personal injury lawyers
  • Criminal defense lawyers
  • Estate planning lawyers
  • Bankruptcy
  • Family Law/Divorce Lawyers
  • Financial Fraud Lawyers
  • IP Litigation Lawyers
  • …and many more

Regardless or your firm’s main practice areas, our agency can help put you on the (Google) map in Cleveland.

BLACK FIN – Your Cleveland SEO Company

We make the following guarantee to all of our clients:

We will take all the necessary steps to understand your firm, what sets it apart from the competition, and its unique SEO needs.

We will create an SEO strategy based on proven action to optimize your website that, ultimately, brings your business great success.

We will track each step of the journey, so that you can understand the concrete and objective results that we share with you.

Whether you work with us for 6 months or for 6 years, we promise to remain passionate about your project and will always apply an innovative spirit to your project.

We will be open, forthright, and honest about our services, prices, and promises.

We want you to find the right solution for your SEO problems, and we know that we can help. Stop worrying about what you can do to improve your SEO strategy and let us take the reins. Contact us today or give us a call at 888-823-0571.

Schedule your free consultation now with Gerrid Smith, CEO
Find out how Black Fin can help
with your free consultation now

Client Review


"I cannot be happier with Gerrid Smith and Black Fin, and highly recommend their services."

- Seth Gladstein, Gladstein Law Firm