I shared yesterday that food safety lawyer Bill Marler’s blogging may have sent two food executives to prison. After all Marler bird dogged for the last six years the case of salmonella tainted peanuts that killed nine and injured hundreds.

Marler was also blogging about victims and sharing information, both of which ended up part of a congressional hearing on the peanut-salmonella and food safety in general.

Imagine if Marler blogged with the goal of SEO to draw traffic to his website. Where’s the passion in that? Maybe contract out the blogging to content writers who sell their services to what they call real lawyers who focus on being on a lawyer not a marketer or social media pundit.

Maybe the SEO consultants would be half a million dollars richer (they charge North of $10,000 a month). But our food would be less safe, executives who ordered the dissemination of salmonella laced peanut products into care facilities and schools would be sitting in their mansions, and the victims would have gone uncompensated, or at least less compensated.

Not everyone is Bill Marler. Attorney Christine Wilton of Los Angeles personally blogs to help to help consumers on bankruptcy issues. New York Attorney Troy Rososco blogs to help injured workers in general and specifically Zadroga claimants who were Ground Zero workers killed or injured from cancer or respiratory diseases. He has two blogs. Miami Attorney Jim Walker, with his cruise law blog has not only righted wrongs in the industry, but also brought legislative change in other countries.

Years back Portland Attorney and blogger, David Rossmiller sank his teeth into the Dickie Scruggs judicial bribery in the State Farm Insurance Katrina claims’ suits. The Wall Street Journal called him the blogger of record on the subject and gave him a shout out for the information and insight he was disseminating.

There are hundreds of other American lawyers who put their passion and care for people before SEO and website traffic. These lawyers went to law school to make a difference, and they certainly are. Sometimes on a mass scale. Some by helping one person at a time through the passion, care and insight the lawyers personally share online.

The ironic thing in all of this is that the lawyers who blog with heart and care dominate the search engine rankings. These lawyers usually rank higher and generate more traffic than those lawyers who are too busy to help people online and instead pay and blog for SEO.

You see, SEO is not as complicated as some would make it out to be.

One it takes a good publishing solution and a little coaching as to publishing online. And two, good content as defined by valuable information and insight brought with passion and experience in only the way a real lawyer can bring it. This is what Google wants.

Sure engaging others with relevant interests whether they be other lawyers, bloggers, reporters, referral sources, and potential clients on social media and the like will help rankings. But this sort of activity comes naturally over time to those lawyers who care enough to get out and help folks.

The blogging lawyers I mentioned above do not spend one cent on SEO. Yet they rank above most all of the lawyers who do. I wonder what they would be told to do, to watch for and pay for had they chosen to blog for SEO.

These bloggers blog to make a difference. They blog to fulfill the dream they had heading into law school. The result is blogging that is more rewarding – personally, professionally and financially. They are the real lawyers.

  • Matt

    Interesting post, Kevin. I have 2 points of rebuttal:

    First, by contending that all lawyers who want new business from the internet ought to actively and genuinely blog (like Mr. Marler) you are ignoring the 90-9-1 rule for participation inequality online (http://www.nngroup.com/articles/participation-inequality/).

    The rule goes that 1% of people online are the creators of content, 9% react to that content, and 90% simply lurk around web, rarely interacting or creating anything. This rule explains why a large percentage of lawyers will always choose to hire SEOs and other marketing professionals to handle their online marketing efforts rather than do it themselves.

    Regardless of attorney’s intentions (whether they want to change the world or just make a boat load of money), based on this participation inequality rule, the majority will never engage at the level of those attorneys from your examples. Should that disqualify them for competing for new clients online?

    Second, it seems to me that you are framing SEO as the natural enemy of quality, as if pursuing high rankings for valuable keywords and clicks from qualified prospects can only result in low quality, unimportant work. I would argue just the opposite.

    To gain the type of visibility that my clients are looking for, in some of the most competitive markets in the county, requires extremely high quality content efforts. It requires the technical expertise to build fast, functional, exceptional websites. It requires a nuanced understanding of the attorney’s target audience online.

    Pre-Google Penguin these assumptions may have held water. But in 2015, publishing crappy, unimportant content will produce exactly zero SEO results. Only exceptional content that is served up to the right audiences drives SEO value.

    Looking forward to your thoughts!

    • Thanks for the comment Matt, appreciated.

      No question most lawyers will not give of themselves online. The lawyers who do are the exception. It’s that way in all aspects of life.

      Do not presume though that the lawyers I cited and many others are putting in huge amounts of time. Bill Marler may be the exception there. ;)

      A lawyer not being willing to give of themselves of course does not disqualify themselves from competing for clients online. It’s a free world. Yellow pages, television ads and radio ads were all ways lawyers competed for clients. Other lawyers chose other ways built around helping people, building a word of mouth reputation and networking with people.

      One could say some areas of practice were more conducive to ads than others, but that’s not always the case. Fellow board members of my state trial lawyers association (we represented injury victims) didn’t do a lick of advertising and they had a ton of good cases.

      I am not saying chasing SEO is the opposite of quality. A lawyer’s blogging is also high quality. Lawyers looking to make a difference tend not to publish “crappy, unimportant content.”

      One factor that lawyers miss is what is quality for the party we should all be serving – the consumer of legal services. The Internet gave lawyers and the consumers of legal services something they never had before – the ability to connect, the ability to develop an intimate relationship of trust before they ever met.

      It’s an incredible feeling to have a prospective client who drove 220 miles to see you tell you, “No, I don’t want you to refer me to a lawyer closer to home who may know the medical and other experts better than you, I want you,” while at the same time holding up insight and commentary you personally published online.

      Hey, I know I may be working with the minority of lawyers and that many folks think I am a darn fool, but I do think there’s an edge for lawyers looking to make a difference when it comes to the net. They achieve search results, they help people, they enable people to pick a lawyer they feel they know and at the end of the day they make the world a better place.
      But not all lawyers are the same, that’s why there are alternative ways to use the net.

    • Matt, so you understand, I am not begrudging the work you and others do on SEO for lawyers. One of, if not the biggest challenges lawyers have is getting good work. Not getting good work leads to all sorts of problems for lawyers, not the least of which are health and financial problems. Getting work to lawyers can help the people they serve, the lawyers themselves and their families.

  • Conrad Saam

    Kevin – you pose a great question. I’m sure your readers are interested in the answer: reading about the results of a well built SEO campaign. I’m happy to share three case studies here.

    • I am not sure what you’re offering Conrad – to post your case studies as a post on my blog as examples of your work? I am not sure how that makes much sense. Would Bloomberg post your case studies if they published a piece you disagreed with? Above The Law? ALM? Wouldn’t people just go to your website to see those?

      • Conrad Saam

        Posting a case study of SEO results here is exactly what I’m offering. I try not to be cynical, but your comment reads like you want to shield readers from that information rather than genuinely engaging with them.

        • I tell folks some lawyers blog for this reason and some lawyers blog for another reason and as a result I am obliged to let you do a guest post sharing your marketing case studies? If I don’t take you up on it I am shielding people from the truth? Sounds like politics, maybe even like Donald Trump’s criticism and boycott of Fox for being unfair and not letting him get his message out.