Doing some research yesterday afternoon I pulled up a blog post of mine from a few years ago. As is often the case, the post cited a third-party resource and contained the appropriate link to the resource.
The resource I was looking for was a survey conducted by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.
Click on the word “survey” and you’ll see the link is dead. The ABA has taken the survey down or, more likely, redesigned their website without keeping the site architecture intact so as to retain the existing url structure and the validity of incoming links.
I shared on Twitter:
To which Dennis Garcia, Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft, responded:
Garcia, an established leader in technology and innovation in the legal industry, regularly writes for widely read third-party publications.
In addition to legal professionals citing his writings in their blogs, articles and on social media, Garcia is building a personal and professional legacy in his writings. His influence is growing.
Our Twitter discussion continued with my comment.
Feeling insecure that no will otherwise see their content, lawyers and law firms are apt to have their content published on third-party sites – both news sites and content distribution platforms.
The problem comes with the long term visibility and url structure of the content.
Business models of publishers change. Medium has gone through about three and is still not clear on their long term business model.
Companies get acquired with the aquirer changing things up or eliminating most of the product acquired altogether.
More than one current legal blogger has complained that their contributions to ALM, owner of Law.com, originally free and open on the web, have now been placed behind a paywall pursuant to a business deal between ALM and LexisNexis.
Two problems there. One, people cannot find this content any longer (was only written for ALM, not the lawyer’s blog) and all of the links citing their commentary are now dead.
Two, links from blogs, articles and social media are important, they are an objective measure of a lawyer’s influence in their field. Take those links away and you take away their influence.
Seems the long term answer is to publish on a platform that you can control. One where you own the domain, the content and the domain mapping for the content should you ever want to migrate the content.
Getting your content back, alone, without the original url structure, as would be the case with making the third-party poublisher the host of your content, will not cut it. All of the incoming links are dead and you’re starting over from scratch.
Sure, syndicate the content to other places to increase visibility and delivery to a focused audience, just like you syndicate your content through social media, but make your place – your blog or site – the primary site.
When syndicating to third party sites, ask that that your content reference that the piece was originally published on your site or blog. That’ll signal your blog or website as the primary site.
Digital publishing, especially by individuals, is new, this learning process for each of us as to what’s important is only natural.