Are Your Article Submissions Doing You Any Good?

Article marketing is a highly effective search engine optimization strategy for law firms or any other kind of business. If done correctly, it gives you the ability to create many links to your site that contain your preferred keywords. At one time, we were proponents of a mass distribution strategy in which you would submit your site to every directory you could find. However, a recent trend among article directories (and many other content-heavy sites) has caused us to re-evaluate our strategy. The trend is that many article directories are now putting “no-follow” attributes in your links. This means that they will have little value for helping improve your search engine rankings. A better approach now is to focus on a small set of directories that you know are of high quality and that allow “do-follow” links. Two such recommended directories are Ezinearticles.com and Goarticles.com.

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.

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.

Article Video Robot: Software to Ruin Your Reputation

In Internet marketing, fast is the name of the game. Got an article? Don’t just submit it to one article directory, submit it to a hundred. Don’t do it manually, use software. Then turn it into a video and submit it to a bunch of video directories using video submission software.

And so it was with great excitement that I recently started trying out Article Video Robot. I absolutely LOVE the concept of this service. The idea is that you load a text articles into a web site that automatically reads portions of the text, which is then combined with animated static images to create a video from the article. You can even then mass distribute it from the same program. All in under three minutes! For busy professionals like lawyers who don’t have much time to devote to Internet marketing, this is a fantastic strategy.

Great idea. It only it worked.

This is junk software for people creating junk content to try and make money on affiliate sales. For a business like a law firm, where reputation is very important, this software is to be avoided.

There is nothing wrong with the idea of creating videos by combining an audio voiceover with still images (it’s a low tech technique that we use all the time), but transitions should be smooth, and the voiceover should sound somewhat professional. We found that a large amount of time was required to tweak the videos into respectability. Three minutes? Try three to six hours. The system is awkward to use, and in the end, it is quicker for us to just create videos manually, even using plain ol’ Windows Movie Maker.

One of the main problems is that the computerized voice readings of article text tend to need a LOT of tweaking to sound reasonably human. The software gives you the option of recording your own voice for each “frame” (which corresponds to a paragraph of the text article) of the video. But by the time we do all that, it would have been just as fast to manually record an audio track and mix it with some still shots using our own software. Any video you create in three minutes using Article Video Robot will be trash.

The company claims to offer a trial period, but we were refused a refund even though we used the software less than two weeks. The stated reason is that we had done four video submissions (which was actually two videos, due to two failed attempts at using the system), which was too many for a refund. What I wonder is how we were supposed to thoroughly try the system out without actually creating and submitting videos.

I wish I had the time back that I spent trying to use this junk software. But a refund would have at least left me with the feeling that this is an honest company trying to create an honest product that just quite isn’t there yet. Instead, I am left feeling like I got ripped off.

Article Video Robot is definitely not recommended for any law firm’s use. If you want to use video distribution to promote your law firm, you should find another way to get it done. Or contact Work Media. We’ll be glad to help out.

Our Law Firm Linking System is Now in Beta

We are signing up beta users for law firm linking system. If you manage the promotion of a law firm’s web site and would like to participate or get more information, just send an email to me (Jerry) at jwork@workmedia.net and I will let you know what you need to do. This is a private system only open to invited users, so this is ONLY for those who promote a law firm.

It Takes an Umbrella, Not a Stick

I’ve been involved in a very interesting discussion on one of the LinkedIn groups that I participate in, and I thought it would be worth blogging about to bring the conversation into the public arena. The discussion started when I proposed an informal three-way linking arrangement among law firm members of the group. Basically, web site A would link to web site B, web site B would link to web site C, and web site C would link to web site A. It is similar to reciprocal linking, except the sites don’t swap links, but rather link to one another in a chain. The advantage to this kind of concept is that it helps each site build its link portfolio, and the links carry more weight since they are not reciprocal links.

What has surprised me about the conversation is the amount of resistance to the plan. There is a lot of worry about being banned by Google. Technically, this kind of arrangement is a violation of Google’s policies…as is just about everything that my company does. It was pointed out that in 2007, Google banned a bunch of real estate web sites for reciprocal linking. So is there some risk involved in something like this? Sure. But in my opinion, it is just as risky to do nothing.

Which is the better situation? Your web site not having any visibility because you haven’t taken steps to promote it, or your web site getting banned? Answer: there’s no difference! Either way, you’re invisible.

I think one point that I probably have not been clear on is that I am not at all suggesting that you should RELY on any particular link building strategy. I think that is where the above referenced real estate web sites made their major mistake. These were sites being promoted by amateurs who relied on link swapping to build their link portfolio. You don’t need a single technique; you don’t need a stick. You need an umbrella! In other words, you need to use lots of different strategies to get links from lots of different places.

Swap links. Do three way linking. Distribute articles. Post blogs. Submit to directories. Distribute press releases. Post blog comments. Build social networking pages. Submit to social bookmarking sites…

Do you get my point? Again, search engine optimization ain’t about using a stick. It’s about using an umbrella. If this sounds like a heck of a lot of work, it is. But either you do it or you don’t. Either you promote your web site or you don’t. If you’re NOT going to promote your web site, if you’re not going to be aggressive in doing things to improve your search engine rankings, then you might as well stick to Yellow Pages advertising.

Want to talk about how to promote your law firm web site? Call Work Media at 888-299-4837 or email info@workmedia.net. We’ll be glad to talk to you.

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.

Stumbling for Law Firms: How to Use StumbleUpon

Probably not many legal marketers reading this are actively using StumbleUpon, and that could be a mistake. The site displays random sites submitted by other users based on your interests. I doubt many legal marketers really have time to just sit and watch random web sites appear. However, where StumbleUpon becomes useful is in submitting web pages of your own into the StumbleUpon system to be seen by others. StumbleUpon is very popular and has the potential to put your web site in front of a lot of eyeballs.

There is one caveat: you must create the appearance of being an active user, and not just a marketer trying to get your site in front of people. Follow these rules and your “stumbling” will be more effective.

Make sure you set up a good profile with a nice photo. Failing to set up a good profile will emphasize that you are a marketer only looking to promote your own web site, rather than a part of the community.

Every time you submit a site, take the time to provide a well-written description and appropriate tags.

When another user recommends your site, send that person a personal message.

Only submitting your own web pages makes you look like a spamming marketer. Recommend enough other web sites that it is not clear that you are trying to promote a particular site of your own. Try to submit sites that you think other people would really be interested in.

For your pages to receive maximum exposure, they should be strong enough for other people to recommend. The pages you submit should therefore be light on fluff and heavy on value or usefulness. Pages that do nothing but try to sell your services will likely receive few recommendations. The more approval you get from people who see your site, the more visibility you will have in the StumbleUpon system.

StumbleUpon also has its own advertising platform that allows you to pay to have your site displayed to users in a particular category. There is a legal category. Impressions in StumbleUpon cost a nickel each. That may sound expensive, but it is actually a good value because an “impression” in StumbleUpon means someone is actually viewing your web site, rather than an ad for your web site.

I am currently working on a new book specifically about this type of thing, but in the meantime I recommend you check out The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book on Amazon.com for more Internet marketing strategies for law firms.

If Your Web Site is Sinking, It’s Time for Deep Linking

When you are working on building a catalog of links pointing to your web site, you need to remember to think deep. Deep linking is the act of linking to sub-pages of a web site, and not just the home page. You need to remember these two rules:

1. You should seek keyword links that point to web pages optimized for those same keywords.

2. You can really only optimize a single web page for a couple of keywords.

So if your web site has different pages optimized for different keywords (and if that is not the case, you need to call me today), then you need different keyword links pointing to each of those pages specifically. Here is an example. Let’s say you have a web site with pages covering the following practice areas: automobile accidents, maritime accidents, and aviation accidents. To help raise the search engine visibility of each of those pages, each one needs keyword links related to the subject of the page. The automobile accident page needs links such as “automobile accident attorney,” the maritime accidents page needs links such as “boating accident lawyer,” and the last page needs links like “airplane accident lawyer.”

What you have to keep in mind is that search engine optimization is a business of specificity. Specific pages are optimized for specific keywords, and those pages need specific keyword links.

You may be wondering how you go about getting links with specific keywords in it. If you rely on other web sites to hopefully link to you, then you are at the mercy of those other sites with regard to what keywords they use in the links, if any. Most of the time those types of links will just contain your web address, which is useful for the fact that it is a link, but not as useful as a link that uses a keyword.

One of my favorite strategies for creating links that contain the keywords I want is article marketing. Write an article related to some keywords, and then place a couple of keyword links in the article resource box to the pages you want to promote. Then distribute the article to lots of article directories. If you want to get more complex (and more effective), you can do something called article spinning, which will result in lots of technically unique articles being distributed rather than duplicate articles. Another way is by posting on others’ blogs with a keyword as your name (but you will need to find blogs that allow “dofollow” links).

I invite you to check out my book, The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book, to learn more about this type of stuff. You can also contact me at Work Media if you would like some more in-depth help.

Link Swapping Reluctance: Get Over It!

A pet peeve of mine is when someone tells me how to do search engine marketing. I have been doing this for years, have promoted dozens of web sites, have written hundreds of articles and blog posts, and have two books in print on the subject. SEO is what I do.

As an SEO expert, I can tell you right now, unequivocally, that link swapping is a valid link building technique. Until I see that it doesn’t work anymore, my firm will continue doing it.

Here’s what I don’t understand: why do attorneys seem to have such a distaste for link swapping?

We continue to talk to attorneys who question us on the matter; who don’t really want to swap links with other sites. Look, link swapping has nothing to do with having links on your site that you actually want people to follow. It’s strictly for the search engines. Don’t worry about it!

I’m not at all implying that you should rely on link swapping is your only strategy for getting links. Certainly, without a doubt, one way inbound links are better, and you need to use other strategies to get those types of links. But link swapping is one important component of your overall online marketing campaign.

However, to receive maximum benefit, there are a couple of rules you need to follow. For starters, limit the number of links on any particular page to 40 or 50. So you will probably need to have multiple pages. You also need to supply your link partners with very specific verbiage and HTML to use for their links to you. Your links pages do not have to be prominent pages on your site. You don’t need a link to it on your main menu. Place a small text link to your links page at the very bottom of your home page. That will be good enough for search engines to find.

This is a great way to begin the process of building a catalog of links to your site if you are just getting started.

Get over it.