Watch Out for Bad Comments

I’m gonna admit it. We at Virtuoso Legal Marketing are bad about watching for comments. Time is tight. You’re probably in the same boat. We do everything we can to post to some of our blogs as often as we can, but we don’t have time to sit around and look at every little detail.

Well, just today we noticed a strange spike in server activity for this very website. This site has some nice search engine visibility and gets some good traffic, but not enough to cause the massive flood of traffic the stats showed. As it turns out, for about the last month, we have been getting hammered by spam comments. But to make matters worse, we had the site wide open, so any comment got automatically posted without our approval. Big mistake.

Don’t let this happen to you in your law firm SEO campaign. This can cause several undesirable effects. For one thing, it can make you look bad (do you really want sex ads on your law firm website?). It can also drain your server resources, causing your website to slow down and possibly run up extra charges. And it can damage search engine rankings. That may be the worst part of all.

So watch your comments, if you use a website platform like WordPress that allows for comments. All comments should be moderated before appearing on your site. If you don’t have time to mess with it, just turn commenting off. Spam comments are likely going to far outnumber legitimate comments anyway.

There are a lot of little pieces to running an effective law firm marketing campaign, and comment management is definitely a little piece. But it’s a little piece that can make a major impact. Don’t let bad comments ruin your website!

Content Research Using Amazon.com’s Look Inside Feature

Content distribution as a search engine marketing technique has many benefits: it spreads your brand, it establishes your credibility, it generates keyword links (thus helping improve search engine rankings), and it even drives some direct traffic. The downside is that it can be a real drag. You, as the reader of this blog looking to promote his own legal web site, have a real advantage over me, the Internet marketer charged with writing articles on dozens of different subjects. You already know a lot about what you are writing about. However, that does not mean that it is never necessary for you to do some research, especially when trying to crank out articles for marketing purposes. So what follows is a strategy that will help anyone research topics and find material that can be used to write articles quicker.

The first place most people start is by searching Google. But you definitely have to wade through a lot of irrelevant (or just very poor) material like that. However, we’ve recently discovered that Amazon.com can be an excellent research tool.

The key is to use Amazon’s Look Inside feature. Look Inside allows you to search for and read passages from books in the Amazon catalog that contain specific keywords. You are only allowed to use this feature if you are a registered user on the site with an order history. So sign up for an account and go buy yourself something nice. Then you’ll be good to go.

Start by doing a book search based on your primary keyword. Then, scroll through the list of returned results and find a book that has the “Click to LOOK INSIDE” logo on top of the book cover image. Those are the books that you can search. Click the book cover.

On the next screen, you will see a search box labeled “Search Inside This Book.” Type your keyword in that box and perform another search. You will now be returned a list of links to passages in the book that contain the keyword. If you are a registered user with an order history, then clicking on the link will show you that passage.

Searching through a book like this will provide you with all kinds of information about a keyword from a real book written by a real expert, rather than marketing material written by amateurs.

Anyone can be a successful writer of online content for distribution if he takes the time to do his research. This process can be tedious, but using the best sources of information will make the process a whole lot easier. Content distribution is an outstanding law firm Internet marketing strategy that you should begin incorporating into your marketing plan today.

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!

Blog/Twitter/Facebook Integration Using Ping.fm

Blogging, micro-blogging and social networking can be an integrated process if you use the right tools. Integration, as intended here, means dynamically combining content from multiple sources into content for a third or more source.

How about an example?

I am Director of Marketing for a small law firm in Austin. I update my firm’s blog every Tuesday and Thursday. A couple of times per day, I also update our Twitter account. At five minutes per tweet and about an hour per blog post, my weekly time investment is about three hours.

For those three hours, in our original configuration, I am just updating my blog and micro-blog periodically. However, I can get much better leverage on my time if I stream that content to different places, such as a Facebook page.

Using a tool like Ping.fm, I can configure my firm’s Facebook status to update every time I update Twitter. Taking it a step further, I can use the Facebook Notes application to update my Facebook account every time I update my blog. Now I not only get my blog and Twitter account updated in a three hour time frame, I get my Facebook page updated as well.

We have left out one important component of Facebook, which is acquiring friends. So I may need some additional time to periodically log into Facebook and search for new friends. I could even automate that part using a tool like Facebook Blaster. I will still want to log into Facebook periodically and check on things.

Since I’m using Ping.fm, I could also choose to set up some more social media pages and have them update every time I update my blog. In this case, it will be important to separate blogs from update sites using groups. Otherwise, I will end up with a bunch of extremely short blog posts with no titles.

Assuming I just stick to one blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook account, I can still merge the information created from two of them (my blog and Twitter) into my Facebook account, thus having a Facebook account that remains fairly active without requiring any additional work on my part.

Integrating Your Law Firm Blog and Facebook Account

You must blog. If it is your intention to use the Internet to generate leads for your firm, one of the most basic components of an online lead generation campaign is a blog. Just a few reasons why you should be blogging include: the process creates lots of text content that can be indexed and ranked by search engines; your blog content can be used for many more purposes; and you can use use it to prove your expertise. So you or someone at your firm must blog.

Another reason for blogging is that blog content can be streamed to other web sites, such as a Facebook Page (note the capitalized “P” indicating we’re talking about a business page). As painful as it may seem, you might as well go ahead and set up a Facebook Page and put someone in your office in charge of that, too. Spend some time setting up your profile, telling who you are and what services you provide. Go ahead and tell all about your firm. If you have video or photo content that would make your Page more interesting, go ahead and add that. If you know other lawyers or business professionals who are on Facebook, go ahead and send them a friend request.

Once your account is set up, set up your blog to stream to your Page. The Facebook Notes application can be used to stream your blog to your business Page. Notes supplies the functionality to add your blog as an updating note. Your Facebook Page will then be automatically updated every time you post a new blog.

If you get a hang of blogging regularly and integrating your blog into your Facebook page, then you might want to explore some more advanced options such as using an application like Ping.fm to update your blog and multiple social media sites all at once. In this scenario, you would actually post your blog content to the Ping.fm interface, and the program would then update your blog as well as all your social media accounts.

However, when using Ping.fm, you have to be very careful about NOT updating blog style content and “update” style content all at once. You will end up with lots of very short blog posts with no titles. A blog post needs to be substantial and substantive, which requires far more characters than you are allowed in most social networking update boxes.

Official Product Recommendation: Tweet Later

I have been searching hard for the best tools for managing a Twitter account, and the single best one I have found is Tweet Later. I started using the free version a while ago, and I just upgraded to the professional (paid) version, and I love it!

With the free version, you can automatically follow back anyone who follows you and send the person a direct message. Just doing those two things help tremendously in building up a Twitter following.

If you are serious about using Twitter as a marketing tool, then it is well worth the money to upgrade to the professional version of Tweet Later. With the paid version, you can pre-configure a bunch of spinnable tweets to be posted at regular intervals. If you set it up right, this can save you a TON of time managing your account.

If you already have a lot of content to link to in your tweets, then this strategy is a little easier to implement. For instance, if you have been publishing a blog for a while, or doing article marketing, then you can set up a bunch of tweets that link to various blog posts or articles.

If you don’t have any existing material to set up lots of tweets for, you can still make good use of the system. It just might take more work to come up with material for all of your pre-configured tweets.

I do VERY little affiliate marketing because most affiliate products are junk (not that stops me from buying many of them in the pursuit of new tools for my toolbox). But I am impressed enough by this product that I am officially promoting it to my readers. I officially recommend the professional version of Tweet Later. To learn more, visit this link:

http://www.tweetlater.com/86969.html

There is a one week free trial (no credit card required!), so I definitely recommend you try it out with all of its features.

Social Networking Scheduling for Law Firms

Social networking is a complex area with a lot of moving parts:

  • Blog posts
  • Forum posts
  • Updates
  • Groups
  • Content creation and article writing

Social networking is one of those things that tends to happen haphazardly, as time permits, whenever you think about it. This is especially the case when it is done by someone who is extremely busy, such as the typical lawyer. This can all be done much more effectively if you create a monthly social networking/content distribution schedule that tells you exactly when you should be doing things and what you should be doing.

In other words, you need a system.

I have been working on an Excel-based organization system that lets you input some data into some fields, after which a calendar of activities you need to perform for the given month is created. I will be giving this away for free, but also working on a more advanced, online, database-driven version for use by Work Media’s clients and friends.

But it’s something you can begin to do immediately, even if you are just writing notes out on a piece of paper. You gotta start somewhere.

I consider content distribution to be a major part of online social networking, so that is where your system should start. If you leave this part out, and just concentrate on meeting people online, then you are not taking advantage of the Web’s ability to spread your name and marketing message. Writing blogs and articles and distributing that content gives you something to talk about in a social networking environment, and it accomplishes the more broad marketing goals of branding and name recognition. And that’s not to mention the search engine optimization effect, which I’m not going to go into at this time.

To begin with, I suggest you create a simple calendar of when blog posts should be posted and articles written. Aim for eight blog posts and three articles per month. You can get away with only two articles, but the eight blog post minimum is written in stone.

When you lay out your blogging and article writing schedule, go ahead and write out an idea for each blog post in advance, and create groupings of two or three blog posts in a row that elaborate on the same general topic. Then for each of those topic groupings of blog posts, specify a date to write an article that combines the information from those blog posts.

For example, a lawyer who deals with a lot of automobile accident cases might write two or three blog posts about driving safely in various conditions, and then combine those blog posts into an article about the same thing. At the end of that blogging cycle, you would have three new blog posts, which search engines will index, as well as an article to mass distribute. You also have several items you can link to or mention in forum posts in social networking groups you belong to.

Just doing the above things will go a long way toward giving your content distribution efforts more focus. In later blog posts, we will continue talking about content scheduling and hit on some other functions that should be included in your social networking calendar.

Contact Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email Info@WorkMedia.net if you need some help promoting your law firm online.

Ping.fm Settings Advice

One thing I learned while experimenting with Ping.fm yesterday is that it is not really a good idea to use the “default” setting to send blog posts. It posts blogs with no titles, which you don’t really want to do. In my case, doing so completely messed up the front page of this web site because we stream our own RSS feed to our front page. Not having a title broke the design of the page, which we did not notice for several hours. So…when using Ping.fn, use the blog setting for your blogs and the updates setting for other things, but avoid the default setting.

Staggered Distribution of Spun Blog Content

My company uses a strategy that we call “staggered distribution of spun blog content.” Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? At Work Media, one of our specialties is making things sound scientific and complex. Despite the long name, it’s really just a strategy for getting the most value out of your blogging efforts. I believe if you take the time to write something of value, you should get maximum value from it for your law firm promotion efforts. It’s also related to something I blogged about previously, which is using multiple blogs to promote your web site and firm.

In my previous blog post, I stated that you should maintain up to ten blogs focused on your areas of practice. The idea is to use article spinning software to create multiple versions of a core blog post that are technically unique, and use those for updating your blogs. These blogs would be spread out among various blogging platforms and have many different names.

To carry this concept a step further, I also suggest you stagger your blog posts. In other words, rather than updating all of your blog posts on the same day with a similar spun blog post, make the posts over multiple days. Less time is required between updates the more blogs you maintain.

If you are careful, your spun blog posts will each qualify as unique content. However, there is still some risk in releasing many blog posts on the same day that are all very similar. Staggering your blog posts over time closer matches the idea of different humans updating different blogs. It sets off less of a signal.

For more advanced ideas about how to promote your law firm online, check out my book The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book.

Dofollow Blog Link Building for Law Firms

An underutilized link building strategy for law firms is posting comments which contain keyword links on relevant blog posts. This is an old school strategy that has been used for years. Internet marketers have also abused the strategy. The major blogging platforms have mostly made it so that blogs, by default, do not allow “nofollow” links.

So what exactly does “nofollow” mean? “Nofollow” is an attribute that can be set for any link to disallow search engine spiders from following the link. You don’t get credit for it. So why bother?

For one thing, just getting your name and firm name on an active blog page related to your areas of practice is good self-promotion. You can’t do too much of that. Another reason is that blogs that allow the kind of link you need still exist.

First you have to find them. One tool to make this process easier is Fast Blog Finder. It works by looking for blogs that contain a target keyword and then evaluating the HTML of the blog to try and determine if it allows “dofollow” links.

It is a time consuming strategy, but one that is very effective. But I believe that you should seek links from many different types of web sites. This strategy is one that will compliment your other link building techniques.