How to Inadvertently Hide Your Content (And Gut Your Site) with Pop Ups

Got another call from a lawyer whose website, he thought, was underperforming. A quick review of the site shows why….

While the site is visually fine, note that all of his practice areas display as pop ups on the same URL…the individual practice area content doesn’t actually exists at his URL: http://grenierlawgroup.com/practice-areas/. (Note below – the URL for this practice area is stuck at /practice-areas/, as is all their other practice area content.

And you can see that Google can’t find any pages about specific practice areas:

I’ve seen this with attorney profile pages as well. So…when you are DIYing (and you really can) your websites…be sure that all of your content has a page (read: distinct URL) on which to reside.

.Law Comes Clean About SEO

I was bemused to see a tradeshow booth from .law at the recent AAJ conference in Louisville (which was awesome btw).  And further bemused to know that Carl Jaeckel would be speaking to the conference about the TLD.  To be honest, I sat in the back of the room, huddled with fellow internet marketing shiny object curmudgeon, Gyi Tsakalakis as we plotted gotcha questions to fry Carl on stage.

To catch you up to speed if you know nothing of .law…. in 2015, this new Top Level Domain (TLD – think “.com” “.gov” and now “.law”) was introduced and aggressively advertised as an SEO silver bullet by the marketers behind .law.  (IMO $200 a year for domain registration seemed a beyond slightly excessive.)  This marketing included a bogus “case study” conducted by SEO veteran Bill Hartzer, vigorous PR outreach, a slick brochure (which seems to have been purged from the web), “sponsored” articles placed in legal and marketing blogs and a backlash from Google directly.  Regardless, the case study was touted widely among those selling the new TLD, including FindLaw and John Morgan of Morgan and Morgan, the chairman of the new domain selling service.

Over the past two years, our firm dealt with more than 10 .law domains that failed to generate anything in the way of Search Traffic – at great expense to the lawyers duped into purchasing the domains on the false pretext of SEO awesomeness.

But…. Carl (Morgan’s former CMO and COO of .law from the very beginning) gave us the straight honest truth, albeit two years late. At the AAJ conference, in response to a point blank question about the SEO benefits of the new .TLD, Carl replied:

I’d love to sit here and lie to tell you that you put on a .law and it will amazingly shoot you to the top of the search rankings. – Carl Jaeckel

So there you have it…. the .law marketers were lying all along (and they knew it… there’s a very good reason John didn’t move forthepeople.com to forthepeople.law.)  When I introduced myself and spoke with him later, thanking him for his candor, Carl blamed the “marketing people” for the false SEO promises.

But, when someone comes peddling these new domains (and they will), don’t fall for fuzzy vagaries of what Google may or may not do in the future to change their perspective on TLDs. The SEO silver bullet will NOT be based on “a new .law suffix that could set off a domain gold rush” (which was the 2015 title of an ABA Journal article that has also since been purged from the site, at whose bidding, I don’t know).

Next Level Marketing…. Local Legal Spam across NY and NJ

About a month ago I wrote about the strange case of the solo practitioner, Andrew Calcagano who staffed 66 offices across the tri-state area.  Here’s the follow up post regarding his agency, Next Level – who according to one of the testimonials on their site….

“They maximize our exposure in a way no one else does.”

Well, at least that part is true.

Let me start with this:  Next Level produces amazing, slick, professional quality video.  They also spam the hell out of the legal market across the eastern seaboard.  And while Next Level pulled all mention of Calcagno from their website after my post… there were plenty more to do a little review on like:

The Law Offices of John W. Tumelty

Solo practitioner with seven “offices” across the bottom tip of NJ.

Proner and Proner Attorneys at Law

Despite their name “& Proner” and “Attorneys at Law”, the only attorney I can find on the website is Mitchell Proner, although he manages to have no fewer than five different locations.

Team Law

Team Law is upfront about their “appointment only” office space (on their website at least).

Lombardi and Lombardi

This 10 lawyer firm manages to spread their attorneys across 6 offices across the Garden State, although their Point Pleasant locations looks like I might get to order some friend popcorn shrimp along with my legal help.

And according to Yelp, 62 Broad Street is really the location of Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty – to be fair, perhaps this did get turned into a law office once Jack’s shut down.

I did check out more of their clients’ alleged office spaces and in many cases, found some that might have been genuine spots; athlough there was a strange prevalence of law firms sprinkled inside medical office buildings.   But…. the pattern remains, small (even solo) firms, pushing 5-66 different locations is simplty Local Spam.  And, to reiterate my point from my previous post: faking office space is stealing, not marketing.

  • Its stealing from clients who want to hire (and think they are hiring) a law firm who is just down the road.  Remember 43% of people make their lawyer hiring decision based on proximity – so faking an office location when you are really 100 miles away is lying about the most important hiring factor to prospective clients.
  • Its stealing from other lawyers – well positioned in their local community – who are losing out to geographically distant firms. (And sometimes not even firms, but marketing agencies scumbags masquerading as law firms who sell local leads to non-local law firms).

Join me this Wednesday, for a webinar to discuss a case study on a State Bar that stepped in (or “stepped up” to deal with rampant local spam.  Join us:  Local Spam, Lawyers, State Bars and an Ethical Quandary.  (And Next Level Marketing people…. if you’d like to join the webinar and defend your tactics, consider this an open invitation…..)

Local Spam: The Solo with 60 Offices

Spamming the Garden State

Let me start by saying that I’m calling out a single lawyer here, simply as an example. There are thousands of law firms engaging in these spammy tactics either in-house or through their “agency” or marketing “expert”.  And let me also reiterate the point of my latest post:

Faking office locations is NOT marketing – its stealing.

  • Its stealing from clients who want to hire (and think they are hiring) a law firm who is just down the road.  Remember 43% of people make their lawyer hiring decision based on proximity – so faking an office location when you are really 100 miles away is lying about the most important hiring factor to prospective clients.
  • Its stealing from other lawyers – well positioned in their local community – who are losing out to geographically distant firms. (And sometimes not even firms, but marketing agencies scumbags masquerading as law firms who sell local leads to non-local law firms).

Which brings me to an example of local spam, albeit an extreme one – Solo practitioner Andrew Calcagno who has more offices across my home state of New Jersey than toll booths. In fact…. according to his Google listings, Calcagno staffs no fewer than 66 different locations…

Fortunately, at the Elizabeth Office you can get your acupuncture done while waiting for your lawyer, or your acrylic nails buffed at the Bayonne office.

       

Hurt on the beach? Try Calcagano’s “office” just one block from the sand, that looks suspiciously like my Aunt Doris might live there during the summer.

And nothing says success like swanky office space at 460 Park Avenue in the heart of New York City….  Except of course, the 17th floor of the building is entirely occupied by Dermatologist, Dr. Steven Victor.  How do I know this?  Because the very nice receptionist there told me so.

      

Need a McMansion Litigation Lawyer?  Try their “office” on Agress Road in Millstone, NJ

And at least Google won’t get fooled by the Regus office in Hamilton Township…

And it seems that Walmart (or women’s clothing chain, Joyce Leslie) has started offering DWI Legal services as well at their 100 Enterprise Drive in Dover, NJ locations.

 

Although, double check your car door is locked at the Passaic office….

I could go on and on.  Suffice to say I think its highly unlikely an attorney could plead ignorance of an overly aggressive agency creating all of these “offices.”  Besides, his website lists about 20 of them directly:

But speaking of overly aggressive agencies, I wondered who might behind all of these listings – afterall a single attorney probably doesn’t have the time to create and maintain 60+ “offices” – regardless of how virtual they may be.  So digging just a little further, I uncovered…. post coming tomorrow.  🙂

Immigration Attorneys: We Want You!

So…. Since starting Mockingbird, we’ve never proactively sought business.  For the most part it has come to us.  BUT…. I’m now proactively looking for more immigration attorneys to add to our client list.  Over the past two years, we have locked down online marketing for a handful of immigration attorneys.  And at the risk of making this sound like I’m selling a set of steak knives or a used Ford Taurus – its an easy, repeatable, fool-proof system that has delivered stupendous results.

I’m writing this this morning after coming out of a conversation with one of our immigration clients that sounded something like this:

“Please turn down the efforts – we’re turning away business – I don’t even bother to reply to half of the voicemails.”

Here’s the inbound traffic growth this client has experienced since we took over his account (from a big box Legal Marketing “Expert”) – he’s now driving 9 times the traffic than prior to our engagement:

Here’s another situation – where we’re driving close to 10 calls per day to a small immigration firm.

Why Immigration? The answer is twofold threefold:

  1. We’ve spent a large amount of time (and money) learning what works and what doesn’t in Immigration.
  2. Much of our effort and experience and learnings are generated from the hypercompetitive markets of Personal Injury, Mass Torts and Criminal Defense.  Simply applying the best practices from those aggressive and overcrowded markets to the less competitive and frequently more distributed immigration market is all it takes to make a huge impact.
  3. (And yes, some of this is undeniably due to the xenophobic politics of the day.)

 

 

Caught Stealing… Why Your Local Spam is THEFT and Not “Marketing”

A month or so ago, I gave an amazing webinar with Local Search nerd and founder of Sterling Sky, Joy Hawkins  Frankly, the webinar was awesome because of the subject matter and Joy… this is no humblebrag.  Joy and I spent the better part of an hour talking about Local spam…. the underhanded dirty practice of faking office locations as a marketing tactic to artificially expand a law firm’s geographic reach.

Escape FindLaw Contracts

During the webinar I made the comment, that this practice is not a marketing tactic, but instead theft… that law firms are stealing business from other lawyers with fake locations. One of the webinar attendees commented, “thank you, thank you, thank you for finally calling this out for what it is.”

So here goes again:  Those of you engaged in local spam are stealing, not marketing. And those agencies helping you do so should be shunned.  

If there’s any question note this:  according to a Google study, 43% of prospects select their law firm based on the proximity of the lawyer – so lawyers faking locations are screwing not only their competitors, but their clients as well.

I’ve seen the devastating impact on the bottom line of many firms who suffer from competitors virtually elbowing their way into a market.  In any given month, 10% of our clients’ marketing investment is targeted towards combating those fake listings.

To date we’ve been quiet and private about those firms and agencies marketing with Local Spam caught stealing from our clients.  That stops today.  More to come….

 

Optimizing Images for Search: The Basics

Images are important. They can improve SEO as well as break up text and help make your website or blog post aesthetically pleasing. However, large uncompressed images can slow your page speed and impact your ranking factor. With the majority of people using their mobile devices for web browsing rather than desktop pc’s or laptops, making sure that your images are optimized is vital. Follow these steps and you will be on your way to becoming an image optimizing machine.

Finding The Right Image

Whether it is the header image for your website, a featured image for your blog post or a product image for your web store, make sure that you are using an image that reflects what you are trying to accomplish. There are many great resources that provide free stock images however it is best if you can supply your own images or have professional images taken. Original images will always be better than stock images, but if you do not have the resources to take your own photos, free stock images will work as long as they are high-quality and not too tacky. A couple website that I frequent are:

There are plenty of other stock image sites, however make sure that you can legally use them and whether or not you need to provide attribution.

Choosing The Correct File Format

Whether you are using Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, or any of the other photo editing programs available, you will need to figure out which filetype will be the best for your image. This could be confusing considering how many file options are available. In this post I will be going over two popular file formats, JPEG and PNG.

  • JPEG: This is one of the most common image file types on the internet. JPEGs do not support transparency within images like PNGs do. JPEGs keep file sizes small and is pretty much supported universally.
  • PNG: Unlike JPEG, PNGs support transparency and possess a better color range. On the downside, file sizes are larger than a JPEG.

Unless you need transparency, JPEG should be your first choice when deciding file format.

Correctly Naming Your Image

Using a proper file name for you image is important because you want Google and other search engines to know what the image is about. For example, let’s say that you took a photo of a sunset at the beach in Hawaii using your own digital camera. When you upload that photo to your computer, you might have seen something like DSC1234.jpg as the file name. When looking at the image, you can instantly tell that it’s a picture of a sunset at the beach. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for Google. Instead you want Google to see that the image is sunset-hawaii-beach.jpg.

Optimizing Your Image For Web

When posting an image on the web, your main goal is to decrease the file size as much as possible without losing too much quality. With websites like compressjpeg.com and compresspng.com this process is incredibly simple. Simply upload your image to the site and it will do everything for you. After the image has been compressed, you can make further changes to the image when you hover over the image and click on “settings” (shown below).

Once you’re happy with the changes you have made, simply download the image and you are ready to go!

If you have access to Photoshop and want an in-depth “hands-on” approach, you can read about compression and how to compress images in Photoshop here.

What Alt Text Is and Why You Need It

Alt text is the text that search engines use to understand what the image is. When we look at a picture of a sunset at a beach, we understand what is going on in the picture. At this time, search engines cannot recognize images unless you include alt text. If you are uploading your image to WordPress, all you need to do is update the alt text option within the edit image options. Another way to include alt text is simply through html. For example:

<img src=”sunset-hawaii-beach.jpg” alt=”Sunset Hawaii Beach” />

Done!

It’s that simple. By following the steps previously outlined, you will have images that look great and load quickly.

 

Don’t Optimize for “Child Pornography” or: Why Titles Matter

A few weeks ago we were talking to an attorney that’s made a priority to produce an abundance of highly informative video content. However, during that discussion he asked us to look at his YouTube channel to see if there were any opportunities he may have missed when uploading and marketing his videos.

Here’s the first one I saw:

Definitely Not Child Pornography
Well…now we’ve got something to talk about…

One of the things he’d specifically asked about was whether we had any input on what he should be titling his videos.

The main point of optimizing your titles is to make sure expectations are clearly defined and your article or video aligns with the search intent of your potential audience. That’s why super generic titles are usually a bad idea in the first place.

However, for something as immediately off-putting as child pornography, it’s even more important to make it 100% clear what your video is about and why it’s not actually offensive content.

A better title would be, “Criminal Charges for Possession of Child Pornography” or anything else that clearly captures what the video is going to be about and increases the likelihood it will be found by someone worried about this scenario.

Granted, this is an extreme example of when generic titles go bad, but it illustrates the importance of fine-tuning titles for any content you intend to publish.

Not only is this a scary example of YouTube search traffic you don’t want to capture, it’s also likely this video’s nonspecific title will prevent it from appearing for searches where it would be totally relevant.

In short, if you’re going to take the time to publish content online it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to think through what it’s about and title it appropriately for its desired audience. That goes triple when you’re dealing with child pornography.

Hat tip to Christopher Morales for letting us use this example.

Counterpoint Guest Post: Social Media Done Well…..

Last week I wrote (another) anti-social media piece – Cute Kittens do NOT Generate Lawyer Business and received a disagreeing comment from Howard Iken.  Howard’s comment included the following quip: “social media is icing on an already well-done cake.  But just like icing, the social media marketing should be a small part of the meal.”  Love it.  Couldn’t agree more.  So I invited Howard to post an intelligent longer counterpoint to my overriding antipathy towards social media marketing amongst the legal field….

Conrad – I love your blog and normally agree with your opinions. But I felt obligated to weigh in here because I firmly disagree. I think there is a place for social media in any healthy campaign. But first, here is where I agree with you – the vast majority of legal social media effort is a complete and total waste of time and money. If you do not do it with purpose and knowledge you might as well stop right now.

I think the problems we attorneys face are the following:

  1. Consultants are always taking advantage of us. That is a nice way of saying we are being constantly scammed! And consultants love touting social media.
  2. Social media sounds sexy, and cutting edge. Just saying that phrase is awfully hard to resist.
  3. Everyone successful is doing it!   As least that is what you are told.
  4. 79% of online-Americans use Facebook.   A huge untapped audience is waiting!

Pew Research – http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

Here is where I disagree with you. My two cents: natural SEO is king but should always be accompanied by an appropriate amount of social media efforts. You should also include a certain amount of pay per click. If online marketing were reduced to a delicious slice of cake, the most satisfying slice would look something like this:

 

* Social media should be the icing on the cake. Never in huge amounts, and never the bulk of your effort. The overwhelming bulk of your effort should be in natural search.

Here is the part where I agree with you. If your efforts at social media completely and totally stink you should immediately hang it up and concentrate on more productive directions.

Signs your social media efforts stink:

  • You write the usual legal drivel and expect the placement of FB like buttons to encourage people to share your drivel. Your drivel is boring to read and is even more boring to share.
  • Your FB, Twitter, or LinkedIn posts consist of random article sharing from the internet. Why expect anything good from driving people to sites other than yours?
  • Your posts consist of funny, cool, or snarky comments that will be forgotten about 9 seconds after someone reads them. Sure – all you need is a second of someone’s attention to get a Like.   That like will get you another 8 seconds of continued attention before fading into oblivion.
  • Your posts consist of quick headlines or reposts that lead your readers to pages and pages of legal drivel. Similar to my first point. I consider myself a decent writer but I rarely enjoy reading my own articles !
  • The most-stinky social media posts of all – an endless series of posts and tweets announcing to your non-existent audience that you are an attorney and open for business.

Proper uses of social media (in my own humble opinion)

  • Drive people to your website
  • Drive people to your website (did I mention that twice?)
  • Lure people in to the best-damned writing and subject matter you can conceive of. People do not seek out legal drivel but you can offer them compelling stories.
  • Specifically target demographics that are more likely to click through and more likely to share your content with potential clients. Yes – this can be done effectively.
  • Give your SEO cake a nice, elegant icing that looks interesting to potential clients. Looking cool is not the end goal but it is always great if you look cool to the clients you are already targeting.
  • Notice I call social media the icing on the cake. It should never be too thick. It should never overwhelm the actual cake.
  • Throw in PPC (pay per click) decorations on your cake. That is whole separate subject. But it is a subject that also applies to social media.

Conrad – I have watched you conspicuously call out a lot of people selling SEO snake oil. I love seeing someone like you call BS when you see it. You have great opinions and impressive SEO chops. But I have to call it like I see it. You are wrong on this one. Social media does have its place in the search marketing arsenal. Properly done social media is always a help to the overall online effort.

Howard Iken, Esq. Managing Partner, Ayo and Iken, Florida.