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Martindale-Hubbell still not indexing for Google : Disservice for lawyer customers

I was just looking up a lawyer by name on the net and having a dickens of a time finding him. Gave up and went into the Martindale-Hubbell directory to do a search by name of the lawyer. Good thing I knew of Martindale, something most non-lawyers have never heard of.

About a year ago, an excellent law firm marketing director asked on a law marketing listserv why when he searched for his firm's lawyers and firm's name on Google their Martindale-Hubbel profiled did not come up? Logical question when it's the law firm who is paying LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell to get the firm and lawyer info in front of current and prospective clients.

The reason then and today is that Martindale-Hubbell refuses to let Google and the other search engines index their content so it can be displayed in search engine results. They insert a 'no follow' tag so that the search engine's spiders cannot index the content. Crazy when one realizes that virtually all other websites have their content indexed. Heck, it's exactly what you're praying is going to happen.

What's this mean? When I search for a lawyer or law firm by name at Google, I cannot find lawyers even though they have a listing at Martindale. I just did a search. Crazy thing is that the lawyer's info at FindLaw comes right up. FindLaw is allowing Google and the other search engines to index their content.

The purported reason that Martindale-Hubbell does not allow indexing was given by Martindale exec, Tim Corcoran, in response to an earlier post of mine.

The reason MH hasn't completely opened its doors to search engine crawling in the past is because several times a year for a decade we have to pursue people and organizations that try to steal our data. If the doors are opened to the search engines in certain ways, they are open to harvesters. Done right, we can both increase traffic and visiblity and protect the asset (lawyer credentials) we have promised our clients that we will protect.

To me, that logic is crazy. Martindale clients want their credentials to be available to as many people as possible. If people want to steal Martindale-Hubbell data, they can buy a Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory on CD-ROM and pilfer it. Hacking through Martindale's existing search to get lawyer names would not be difficult for unscrupulous companies. Like any company, Martindale can clamp down on such conduct.

In this day and age where 'Googling' anyone or any company is the way of the world, preventing people looking for a lawyer or firm by name from seeing an excellent bio or firm profile is nuts. It's especially nuts when the lawyers paid to have the bio and firm profile finely tailored and showcased to the world.

By allowing lawyer bio's and law firm profiles to be indexed by the search engines, LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell will be of greater value to customers. That value is going to make their brand and business strong. Ignoring how the Internet works and how people search Google for everything makes LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell less valuable to users and will erode their brand and client base.

By way of disclaimer, I worked at Martindale-Hubbell after selling my last company to LexisNexis. When I comment on the company now, I am often labeled by company execs, who are great people and friends of mine, as bashing the company. That's not the case. My goal is to express opinions on effective Internet marketing for the benefit of law firms.

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  • http://lawfirmmarketing.wordpress.com/ Tom Crandall

    Thank you Kevin for posting this. I am dumbfounded by the statement made by the Martindale-Hubbell executive, Tim Corcoran.
    “The reason MH hasn't completely opened its doors to search engine crawling in the past is because several times a year for a decade we have to pursue people and organizations that try to steal our data.”
    When was that statement released, 1999? This is a completely outdated paradigm for today's wired world and there is recourse for illegal use of content, trademarks, and copyrights. If their primary concern is to prevent competitors from accessing their clients' contact information, they're clearly in the wrong business.
    “If the doors are opened to the search engines in certain ways, they are open to harvesters.”
    Translated, if our clients are easily found in the search engines they won't need us anymore, and we are open to losing millions.
    “Done right, we can both increase traffic and visiblity and protect the asset (lawyer credentials) we have promised our clients that we will protect..”
    If M-H spent $800 million a year on TV, web, radio, and print advertising, this could be a possibility by branding their site so heavily the everyday legal consumer would think, hey, just go to Lawyers.com. The reality is this: By blocking search engine spiders from indexing their pages they are actually shielding their clients from visibility–shielding their clients from motivated individuals and businesses actively searching for experienced attorneys and law firms.
    I find this statement as a whole, very disturbing, and I would be incensed at the arrogance, or perhaps ignorance, of the leadership of M-H if I were plunking down big dollars for exposure on their websites. It seems to me it is a little like putting a combination lock on a phone book. As a practitioner of search engine optimization for three years and an internet marketing consultant/manager/specialist for seven years, I am having trouble digesting this nonsense.

  • http://www.sayitbetter.com Kare Anderson

    Kevin. Your blog is interesting even to those not involved in the law (although my first husband was/is a federal judge so I became familiar with this world)… a new subscriber to our Say it Better ezine recommended our looking at your blog. Wanted you to know that your writing has rippled out in this direction. – Kare P.S. some of the methods in my book, SmartPartnering, might interest attorneys

  • SLS

    This is amazing, they must be living in the ice age. The thing is, the average guy on the street would never waste his time going to MH, if he even knew it existed. I think its mostly used by other Attorneys. Which devalues its worth in the quest for new clients.

  • Dana Macario

    Hi Kevin -
    I was just wondering if this is still the case with Martindale.
    Thanks,
    Dana