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What is your law firm SEO consultant doing to your online reputation?

If you have someone doing search engine optimization work for your law firm you ought to know what they’re doing for you. Your reputation is on the line.

I’m in total agreement with search engine optimization consultant Andrew Shotland that when you have someone doing SEO work for you, whether it’s link building, social media marketing, article writing, or profile claiming, you need to ask them you the following questions:

  • Are you doing anything that can get my website banned/penalized in the search engines?
  • Are you buying links?
  • Are you comment spamming?
  • Are you writing fake reviews?
  • Are you creating fake addresses and profiles for me on Google Places and other local search sites?
  • Are you doing anything that might result in my having a huge black eye in the SERPs (search engine results pages) for queries for my business’ name or my name?

Why? Per Shotland:

The reality is that a lot of these tactics still work and can generate a lot of business for aggressive marketers. But the reality also is that the blow back from these tactics can be long lasting and cost you more in the long run. If you have not had this discussion with the people responsible for your online marketing, you are opening yourself up to a lot more than just some boorish comments from a jerky blogger.

Look at this blog by Milwaukee personal injury law firm Habush Habush & Rottier. Bob Habush is an excellent trial lawyer with a national reputation.

The Habush blog references the names of deceased victims of car accidents with links back to sections of his law firm’s website with anchor text such as ‘Milwaukee car accident.’ Such a post has the gall to conclude with ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims families and friends.’ You can be ‘the first to rate the post’ with a service presumably set up by firm’s SEO consultant.

Look at the list of categories on the Habush blog with an RSS feed for each, arguably set up for no other reason than SEO. Have you ever seen a list of categories that long? Let along each of the categories beginning with the the word ‘Milwaukee’ and concluding with a type of injury claim.

You think Bob Habush knows that his blog would be considered a spam blog by many professionals in the Internet marketing business, as well as many reputable lawyers? A spam blog defined as a blog offering little, if any, value which the author uses primarily to increase the search engine rankings of associated websites.

How would Habush and other lawyers in his firm feel knowing that jurors could pull this blog up on a Google search of his firm and very well think less of the firm. The damage to a client could be irreparable.

SEO work like this is not limited to smaller consulting firms. Look at the ABA Journal’s write up on FindLaw’s alleged spam blogs. The alleged spam blogs link to a list of lawyers that pay FindLaw for its marketing services.

In addition to your law firm’s reputation being sullied, as a lawyer you ought not to be supporting the companies doing questionable SEO work. It only perpetuates this cancer that’s spreading across the Internet.

Law firms spend a lot of money on SEO. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But make sure your unknowing buys are not giving you a black eye. And let’s start to do a few things to improve the image of the legal profession, not tarnish it.

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