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.

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.

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.

Law Firm SEO…the Time is Now!

The economy is lousy. Businesses of all types are laying people off or going out of business. Unless you are one of the luck recipients of a huge undeserved bonus, chances are you are not doing as well as you were a year ago. So now is no time to be spending your marketing funds on search engine optimization, right?

No way!

This is the time to INCREASE the amount of resources you devote to search engine marketing and optimization (SEO). There is always going to be some lag time (sometimes substantial) between the time that SEO is done and when you see results. So position yourself NOW to dominate in the future.

The economy will eventually improve. The percentage of the population (and thus your target market) that uses search engines to find businesses, including law firms, is going to continue to rise. The number of firms competing for the top spots is only going to increase. Do you want to be the aggressor, and increase your search engine visibility, or do you want to the be the firm that waits for a “better time,” only making it more difficult to catch up in the future?

So maybe you’re already the top-ranked site in Google for a search of your market and services. You can just cruise along, right?

Hell no!

It is highly likely that there are firms being aggressive right now, optimizing their sites and generating impressive inbound link catalogs. If you stop, you will get passed. Avoid complacency. Keep building your link catalog. Keep blogging and distributing content. You can bet some of your competitors are.

Don’t wait until you think you can afford to engage in a search engine optimization campaign. Time is not your friend here. Climbing the search engine rankings is often a very slow process. Start working on your search rankings today so that when economic conditions improve, your web site will be the one people find when searching for your type of services.

So…what are you going to do?

If you want to learn how to do this on your own, please check out my book The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book.

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.

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.

Time to Go Wide

Go wide with your blogging Wide as in managing five blogs, not just one.

Whoowhee… It’s hard enough just to make regular posts to one blog, much less five.

And what would be the point? For one thing, it gives you the opportunity to be more focused on specific areas of practice. And the process creates lots of content for Google to index. The key to managing five blogs is leverage.

Here’ how to do it. At the start of the week (or Wednesday, or Thursday at 3:00 AM…whenever), create five new blog posts, each between 200 and 300 words, using article spinning syntax and many alternate passages and paragraps. In other words, each of the five blog posts should be written in such a way to serve as a seed article for numerous other technically unique posts.

Next, use article spinning software to create five versions of each blog post. You now have unique content for twenty five blog posts, which you can distribute among your five blogs over a couple of weeks.

It would also be useful to do some keyword research before you write the five blog posts so that you can write them to emphasize some specific keywords. Look for specific, niche keywords that you can dominate. Your posts should also contain a liberal amount of links to your other web properties.

Need help with this stuff? Call me. I’m Jerry Work, with Work Media. www.WorkMedia.net. You can also learn more law firm Internet marketing strategies at www.law-firm-internet-marketing.net.

Law Firm Marketing with Ning

We’ve started playing around with Ning, which is a very interesting concept. It’s basically a social networking site that allows users to set up their own social networking sites. So we set up one specifically for law firm Internet marketing:

http://lawfirminternetmarketing.ning.com/

I also joined another group on Ning:

http://lawmarketing.ning.com

Ning is the type of site that Google loves, so it would behoove you to set one up for yourself. For instance, let’s say you practice divorce law in St. Louis. Why not set up a St. Louis divorce Ning site? It would be another way for people to communicate with you and learn some things about divorce law. And of course, as the creator of the site, you could pepper it with links back to your site and place your marketing message prominently on the site. You may even find that your Ning site ranks higher than your own main web site, but that’s just fine.

The site has lots of interesting features that you can add to your own site: forums, blogs, videos, images, etc., all of which get added to the main menu. It really does let you create some powerful, interactive sites.

I invite everyone reading this to come join us on our law firm Internet marketing Ning site. You just might learn something…and you don’t even have to pay us!

Law Firm SEO using Squidoo

I’ve been updating some Squidoo lenses this week. It had been a while since we had logged in (shame on us!), and noticed that there have been some changes to the Squidoo interface. One of the great things about Squidoo is all of the modules you can use that make the pages dynamic by updating themselves from various information sources (blogs, Google News, RSS feeds, etc.). So a Squidoo lens, if built the right way, will update itself forever.

The new Squidoo interface makes it much quicker to add modules and align modules on your page. Formerly, this was a very slow and tedious process. The new system is much better.

So why should you set up pages in Squidoo to promote your law firm? Because Google really loves it. Often, a page on Squidoo that pertains to your practice area will rank quicker and higher than your own web site. So links from Squidoo carry a lot of weight. And as you know, one of the things you should be trying to do in your law firm seo campaign is build a catalog of links from web sites that Google holds in high esteem.

You should incorporate Squidoo as part of your social networking/content distribution campaign. If you publish a blog for your law firm, you should use the RSS module to stream your blog posts to your Squidoo lenses. And use some of the other modules to stream legal news or other blog posts to your Squidoo pages. It is a simple and quick way to build a high quality industry page that links directly to youf firm.