New Year, New Blogging Philosophy

Jerry Work here. Wow, I have done a lousy job of updating this blog. Work Media is doing well, but as a consequence I have dropped the ball on our own blogging and social media. How are you doing with it? Are you updating your blog three times per week? Are you logging into LinkedIn at least once per week to post on some group boards and do connection requests?

No?

Then maybe you need to adopt a new philosophy. Let’s do it together. Repeat after me:

I will find 30 minutes every day to devote to blogging or social media.

That’s it! Two or three days per week, spend that time typing out a blog post. It doesn’t have to be grand. It doesn’t have to teach a lesson. All you have to do is record your thoughts. If you have come upon some interesting links that you think your readers would appreciate, then post them. Just write something!

The other days, log into LinkedIn, do a couple of connection requests, then check out the groups you belong to and post a couple of comments.

If you want to ramp things up a bit without spending any more time on it, add in some automation. Set up a Twitter account and then use an RSS news feed to automatically post news links to it. Use Ping.fm to update multiple blogs at once.

Whatever you have to do, in 2010, find that thirty minutes EVERY day to do social media marketing for your law firm. Or find someone else who has thirty minutes free (and who you think is competent) and have him or her do it. Or do it yourself early in the morning before you go to work.

Just get it done!

Safely Using Blog Comment Links for Law Firm Web Site Promotion

This post is similar to one we posted on our main Work Media blog, but I thought I would focus it a bit more here on legal marketing.

Google recently posted in its Webmaster blog about spam links in blog comments, and how using these links will damage your positioning. This is a strategy that Work Media sometimes employs for the promotion of our law firm clients, so we wanted to address this subject.

To begin with, why is this a good strategy? Lawyers are creatures of information. They have information that those of us who are not lawyers need to know. A lawyer adding to or commenting on a blog post about a legal-related subject is not spam. That is a high value person adding high value content.

You also have to take Google’s public statements with a grain of salt. Google likes to keep things secretive, and we believe it often does and says things just to create confusion about how its algorithm works. The Web is built on links. Without Web site hyperlinks, there would be no Google. Google uses links to find web sites and as a measure of a site’s worth in assigning it a ranking. So, in general, you still have to get links to your site if you want high search engine rankings.

We also don’t think it really makes sense to punish a web site for having links pointing to it. If Google is going to punish a web site for having links to it contained in blog comments, why wouldn’t I use this against my competitors? What is to stop me from going around to blogs and submitting spammy comments with links to my competitors’ web sites?

Google says this: “…it’s useless to think of harming your competitor’s ranking by spamming comments with their name, since it usually won’t affect their ranking if their sites are complying with Google Webmaster Guidelines.”

In other words, if you do things the right way, you will be fine. Here is our approach to blog commenting:

1. Use a keyword for the name field.
2. Type a URL in the appropriate field.
3. Type out a well-written, well-thought-out comment that relates directly to the content of the blog post.

If you use this strategy for law firm web site promotion, you should seek out blog posts that discuss a subject to which you can add information of value. Increase the value of the blog post. The difference between this approach and what Google is talking about is that we are making legitimate comments, while also taking advantage of the opportunity to get the link.

One more thing: don’t rely solely on this or any other SEO strategy to get links. Mix it up. And be credible.

So what should you do? Don’t worry about it. Do your blog commenting like we suggest above and you will be fine.

Word is Getting Out

I think word is getting out about the unethical practices of some of the bigger companies in the legal marketing industry. Part of it has to do with companies such as ourselves that do our best to try and educate legal professionals about this situation, and part of it is law firms finally realizing that they are not getting what they are paying for.

We have a client we are working with that has a site that was built by a large legal marketing firm, and we have been locked out from doing many of the things that we REALLY need to do. We also got contacted by another firm that knew of the first firm (this firm also has a site built by the same large company) and wanted to hire us as well. We turned the second firm down because it would have been in conflict with our first client (promoting the firms for the same markets and practice areas), but just the fact that the firm sought us out is evidence that the tide is turning.

It is almost 2010. Law firms are getting more savvy about what they are paying for in terms of Internet marketing. That bolds well for companies such as ours that operate in an ethical fashion and work like hell to get our clients’ sites to the top of search engine rankings. The giants are falling…and for that, we can be thankful.

Everybody have a great Thanksgiving!

Using the Twitter List Feature

Twitter released a new feature that I think has some use for lawyers promoting their firms online. The feature, called “lists,” lets you create lists of other users. So…why is this helpful?

1. There may be particular users you really like to read, but if they are mixed in with lots of other users, then it will be much more difficult to track their updates. If you move those users into their own lists, then you have a way to just read the updates of those users you really like.

2. It is possible to follow someone else’s list. So…if there is another user you really respect and he creates a list of high quality users, then you can follow that list. Also, if there are other users (or more of your own accounts) you would like to help spread around, then you can stick those users into your own lists, which help spread them around.

To create a list, click on the Create a New List button. Then give your list a name and add users to it. You can search for users using the search text box or you can add existing users you follow to the list. To do that, you just have to visit those users’ Twitter pages, then click the Lists button at the top. Your newly created list will appear as an option. Click on the list name to add that particular user to the list.

If you use Twitter for marketing your law firm, then you should definitely begin using the lists feature.

Interactive Flash Ads Made Easy

Work Media was recently hired to build a widget for a chain of movie theaters. No, not exactly legal-related work, but interesting work nonetheless. I (Jerry) have a pretty extensive background in programming, and this is generally the kind of project that I will say “yes” to because, for one thing, it’s different from what we typically do day-in and day-out, and second, I pretty much assume that I can figure most things out given enough time.

As I started researching technologies for building this, I discovered Flex. And I love it!

Flex is really nothing more than a platform that turns XML files into Flash movies. The XML file defines the objects contained in the movie and contains script that specifies what those objects can do. You’ve seen those Flash banner ads that let the user interact with the ad itself, rather than just clicking the ad to visit the web site? Those things are created in Flex.

If you do much paid search advertising, this is definitely a technology you should investigate. How about an ad that allows the user to select options that describe how they have been injured in an accident that then sends the person to a page on a law firm web site specifically dealing with that kind of injury? That’s not a very exciting example, but my point is that with Flex, you can create ads that interact and get information from (or supply information to) the reader before he even visits your web site. This technology has a ton of potential for firms to create highly engaging ads. Can you imagine if your law firm TV commercials could respond directly to the people watching them? This isn’t quite that advanced, but it’s a step in that direction.

If you’d like to try this out, give Work Media a call at 888-299-4834 or email info@workmedia.net.

Don’t Get "Locked Down"!

Due to some difficulty we are having getting started with one of our client’s web sites, I wanted to take this time to reiterate the following:

Do not hire a search marketing company that does the following:

> Requires a ridiculously long-term contract that is basically for nothing more than putting the site up.

> Is promoting many of your competitors.

> Does not give you full control of the site.

Our client, who has a contractual web site obligation with one of the big companies in the legal marketing industry (initials “F.L.”), has been told that the ability for him to modify his web site’s page titles and meta tags has been “locked down.”

So…you’re not going to promote the site (you might say you are, but come on…), and you’re not going to let me do the things I need to promote it?

That is a bad deal. Look, avoid the temptation to take the easy road by just hiring a company because you have heard the name or because the specialize in the legal industry. Hire a REAL SEO firm that knows what it is doing and will do everything it can to get YOUR site to the top.

Welcoming Some New Clients to Work Media

Work Media would like to welcome a couple of new legal clients into our family: Clark & Clark, criminal defense lawyers based in New Jersey, and USA Hurt, a personal injury firm based in Chicago.

Clark & Clark is also presently a client of the large company that provides Internet marketing for so much of the legal industry (initials “F.L.”), and some of the things we have been told about the way the other company operates are ridiculous. I’ll say this one more time: ask how many competing firms your SEO firm is representing! Do you really expect them to have you as a priority over their other clients in the same market?

USA Hurt is also a client of our friends at Joseph Media Group, who specialize in creating outstanding television commercials for law firms.

Work Media has a chart in our office with every metropolitan statistical area in the country. MSAs where we have a client are highlighted. It is our goal to have one client in every major market. Because when you are a Work Media client, you are our number one priority, and it is our intention to help you DOMINATE your market. Can your existing Internet marketing company say that? Call us today at 888-299-4837

Building the Ultimate Social Media Tool for Lawyers

We are working on development of a proprietary Twitter management application that will combine many of the best features of the applications we use now to manage our Twitter accounts. This program will also become the basis of another version created specifically for the legal industry. It seems many lawyers are having a hard time with this social media stuff, and they need a tool to guide them, tell them exactly what to do, and take much of the work off their shoulders. That is exactly what our program will do.

If you are in charge of marketing for a law firm, we would love to hear from you about what kind of tool you need to take advantage of social media. Do you want something to update Facebook? Do you just want something that makes it easy to find groups on social media sites? What would be your ultimate tool?

Email me at jwork@workmedia.net.

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I’ve spent most of my blogging time (of which I have very little) maintaining our newest blog, www.theTwitterMarketingBlog.com, so every other blog we manage, including our main Internet marketing blog at WorkMedia.net, has gotten the shaft. Actually, most of my spare time (is there really such a thing?) has been soaked up on the Twitter development mentioned above, so even the Twitter blog has not gotten too much love.

The One Question You MUST Ask Any Company You Are Considering Hiring to Promote Your Firm’s Web Site

Here is the question: how many other law firms are you promoting in my market?

This assumes that you have already established that the company has the experience to do the job.

One thing that perturbs me about this industry is law firms hiring a company for their search engine optimization that is already promoting many firms for the same market. SEO is war. How can an SEO firm fight like hell to get your website to the top of Google along with dozens of other firms? The math just doesn’t work out.

It’s not just that the SEO company is competing against itself…it’ s competing against companies like mine. We don’t have competing interests, and we don’t lose. If your firm is promoted by a company like FindLaw, which is probably promoting a dozen or more other firms for the same market, you don’t want to compete against a firm being promoted by us. It is highly unlikely you will come out a winner in that situation.

To reiterate: You only want to compete against firms that are represented by other SEO companies. Not your own.

Social Media Integration 101

Social Media Marketing is about integration. It’s about feeding a piece of content into a machine that drives that content onto various social media web pages. These can include article directories, video directories, social networking sites like Facebook and Linkedin, and anywhere else on the web where people are gathering to share information or to have fun.

By “machine” I mean an organized system for systematically distributing your content. Your system will likely involve a combination of software automation and manual work. However, there are lots of low cost sources of online labor that can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to spend manually working on your system. For example, you can outsource the article writing process. In my experience, it may take some time to find an article writing resource that you trust and that does good work.

For automation, there are a few basic tools you can use to get the job done. For example, Ping.fm is a tool of that will distribute a single blog post to numerous social media sites, such as Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr and WindowsLive. In this scenario you want Google and other search engines to find your content on your main blog first, and then find it on the other social media sites. So you might want to incorporate a staggered distribution strategy in which you first post your content to your main blog and wait a few days before distributing it to other sites.

The staggered distribution strategy applies to article marketing as well. You probably want search engines to first find your articles on EzineArticles Com. And then find it on the other article directories. The reason is that a keyword link from EzineArticles may carry more weight and thus help improve your search engine rankings more than a link on other article directories.

We’ve started recording the world’s shortest Internet marketing videos for law firms, which I invite you to check out at http://12seconds.tv/channel/lawfirmseo. And we recorded a longer video on this same subject on our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7zGC83lzm4.