November 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Trying from which online directories to claim profiles can often be a daunting task. Ideally, you want to focus on directories that are topically or geographically relevant, have clean data, and generally look good to users. Of course, you also want to consider how search engines view the directory, as ultimately, this will be a major factor as to whether the directory is likely to send visitors your way or increase your own websites’ visibility with organic and local search results.
One directory that we often recommend is HG.org. While AttorneySync’s HGExperts listing doesn’t drive a ton of traffic, it is highly visible for searches for AttorneySync (currently #4). This makes it a good place for businesses and professionals, like lawyers to consider.
HG offers both a free and premium listing option. Both the free and paid listing options provide a profile and access to publishing articles on HG’s site. The premium listing (which at the time of writing is $195/year) increases your visibility within the directory and also provides significantly more profile links back to your site. This can be helpful in terms search engine visibility.
I definitely recommend that lawyers claim their free profile there. It only takes a couple minutes and is one of the more established and recognized legal directories on the web.
October 25, 2011 § Leave a Comment
As reported at the WSJ Law Blog:
Florida in the past has had some of the nation’s strictest limits on advertising by lawyers.
The state, for example, prohibits attorneys from running ads that are “manipulative” or that include “any background sound other than instrumental music.”
On Friday, Florida federal judge Marcia Morales Howard ruled that these ad restrictions violate lawyers’ First Amendment rights.
As new communications and web publishing technologies explode, complex issues surrounding the regulation of lawyer advertising resurface. While these issues aren’t really new, they are garnering much more attention.
While many of the rules may seem straightforward at first glance, they can be very difficult to apply. In the recent Florida case, the attorney contesting the rules stated:
“The bar rules were so vague, you couldn’t understand what they meant,” he told the Law Blog. “An ad can’t be manipulative? What does that mean? By definition, advertising to some degree is designed to persuade and manipulate.”
Whether you call it persuasion, manipulation, or influence, advertising is by definition an attempt to motivate someone to buy, hire, retain, etc. But we know that lawyers are permitted to advertise. So, in essence, lawyers are permitted to persuade as long as their advertising isn’t false or misleading.
For example, the Horace Hunter legal blogging vs advertising saga has led to debate about what constitutes editorial speech, which is afforded greater first amendment protection, and commercial speech, which while protected, can be subject to more significant regulation.
Without going into a full analysis of these issues, it seems to me, that for now, lawyers are better off including disclaimers on anything that they publish online that may be construed as advertising or marketing. While I would suggest that disclaimers don’t satisfy the purpose for which they are intended, failing to include an appropriate disclaimer may be cause for sanction.
The real problem comes into play for publishing platforms that aren’t as conducive to including disclaimers. These include tweets, status updates, and other online communications that an attorney may make.
To keep things very simple, lawyers should avoid making any false or misleading communications in any of their publishing, whether intentionally marketing or not.
October 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I don’t outbound link from my site because it will hurt my search engine rankings!
Have you heard someone say this? This is patently false. Think about how silly it really it is. The goal of search engines, like Google, is to organize the world’s information. Do you really think that you’re helping search engines achieve this goal by participating in link isolationism?
Think about some of the highest quality sites on the web. Visit them. Poke around. Notice something? They all link out.
Now don’t get me wrong. You ought to be conscientious about who and how you link to other websites. Obviously, you don’t want to be massively linking out to sites that aren’t relevant to your site, or worse yet, appear in one way or another to be a link scheme.
On the other hand, natural linking on the web is exactly how search engines decide which sites are authoritative in particular topics. If you’re not linking out, you’re simply not passing those signals to search engines.
It amazes me how many people have this fear. Even folks that have a good idea about how search engines work.
Don’t be a link isolationist. You’re probably doing more harm and missing more opportunities than any risk of too much PageRank flowing out of your site.
October 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Google is one of the very best resources for webmasters online. After all, their entire stated mission is to organize the world’s information on the internet. Unfortunately, in the SEO world, their advice is too often overlooked or ignored. So, let’s take a minute to consider each of their guidelines on design and content.
“Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.”
It seems to me that very few website owners spend enough time thinking about site architecture, layout, and organization. This is especially true in the realm of small business owners. Whether it’s because more and more business owners opt for turnkey website solutions, or because they just don’t know any better, the overwhelming majority of sites that I come across would do better to spend some time on site layout, internal linking structure, and organization.
If search engines can’t find your pages, they won’t even get into the index, let alone, appear in search results.
“Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map has an extremely large number of links, you may want to break the site map into multiple pages.”
People often talk about whether or not and how to include site maps. My advice, if Google recommends a site map, have a site map.
“Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.”
This is a great one. Between link exchanges, resource pages, and blog roll links, people generally put way too many links on their web pages. If you find you have a large quantity of useful links on your site, break up those pages into multiple pages. Preferably, by topical relevance.
If you’re including these links for some sort of SEO benefit, well, this post probably won’t help you much.
“Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.”
90% of your web marketing should be focused on content development. Unfortunately, there are too many websites that simply ignore the importance of content quality and opt for large amounts of light weight content. If you’re pumping out large quantities of light weight content to feed search engines, you’re likely going to learn about something called Panda…
“Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.”
And don’t only think about users that are shopping for you. There are a variety of audiences that might find your pages online. Think about all the ways that people use search engines and write for them.
“Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the “ALT” attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.”
Better yet, use both. Describe images on your website with relevant text. And of course, follow best practices for optimizing images and other forms of web content.
“Make sure that your elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.”
Hopefully you’re using some type of content management system to help you organize and publish web content. If you are, it’s likely that the content management system will help you with things like title tags and other on-page optimization issues. If not, you should definitely check out how title elements are being displayed. They’re one of the strongest on-page signals that search engines look for to determine what your web pages are about.
“Check for broken links and correct HTML.”
Hoepfully, you’re not creating a lot of pages to nowhere. If you’re worried about this, set up Google Webmaster Tools so that you can monitor and fix broken links as Google finds them.
“If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a “?” character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.”
This is another area where using a content management system can help you out. If you download and install WordPress from WordPress.org, make sure you check their information on creating pretty permalinks.
“Review our recommended best practices for images and video.”
Don’t get lazy with your images and videos. Many webmasters that work hard to make sure that their text content is properly optimized either ignore or over look best practices for optimizing images and video. This is a major lost opportunity.
September 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Acquiring links and citations from authoritative sites is key to having success in search engines. And with all the websites out there from which to choose, finding and prioritizing the best websites from which to acquire these link and citation signals can be overwhelming. From time to time, we like to discuss sites that we think are worth the investment in time and/or money. One such site is Manta.com.
Manta has both free and premium listings. Like other business profile sites, we encourage you to fill out your firm’s profile on Manta as thoroughly as possible. Be sure to include as much information about your firm as you possibly can. Here are the most important components:
- You Firm Name
- Names of Attorneys
- Your Firm’s Physical Address
- Your Firm’s Local Phone Number
- A General Inquiry Email
- A Link to Your Firm’s Website
- A Link to Your Firm’s Blog
- Images of Your Firm’s Logo and Photographs of Attorneys
Manta is a very authoritative business directory. It performs very well in search. You can get a lot of value from the free profile.
September 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Has AttorneySync moved to WordPress.com? No, but we are visiting. A lot has changed since the last time I visited WordPress.com and I wanted to stay on top of the changes. So, I’ve launched this supplemental blog. Our main posting will still take place at AttorneySync.com but I’ll also be posting here and at AttorneySync.blogspot.com to check out features there too. So check back to see what we come up with.