Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NYC: foreclosure filings and consumer credit cases explode over the last year

Letter From The President Of The New York County Lawyers' Association:

Now is the time for all good lawyers to come to the aid of their neighbors. We have seen the number of foreclosure filings and consumer credit cases explode over the last year. According to The New York Times, "Lawyers, judges and tenant advocates say the staggering economy has sent an increasing number of middle-class renters across New York City to the brink of eviction, straining the legal and financial services of city agencies and charities. . . . Overall, court records show that the number of cases filed citywide for nonpayment of rent jumped about 19 percent in the first two months of 2009 from the same period last year, to 42,257 from 35,588." This translates into more than 250,000 eviction cases annually.

Read more...http://www.metrocorpcounsel.com/current.php?artType=view&artMonth=July&artYear=2009&EntryNo=9918

SEO Consultant Firm - Law Firm Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Great Analysis on Web Companies That "Guarantee" First Page Placement

There are a number of PPC firms that are now promising to guarantee first page placement under the sponsored (PPC) results for competitive search phrases - for a set fee. This is how it works - you buy a handful of exact search phrases and they guarantee first page placement for those exact search terms. It sounds great and I have had a number of client who have done this with firms like TNT Media or GuaranteedonTop.com.

The sales pitch is always a hard sell in that they promise to work with only one criminal or family lawyer in a given metro and that you have to make your mind up by the end of the day or they sell it to someone else. Throughout the pitch the salesperson hypes the popularity of these keyword phrases, often using Google's own inflated numbers (see my article on keyword exaggeration). Once they have you on the hook they start to upsell by adding new keyword phrases to the mix. I have had many attorneys call me up and tell me about the great deal they just struck. It always sounds way to good to be true - and it is.

Any type of guaranteed paid placement service is a very bad idea and a waste of money! These placement companies make a lot of money on this model because they know what I know - that even the most intuitive legal searches are far less common than one might think and they will receive very few clicks.

The Test
I had a client ask me to review his guaranteed placement program. He had purchased 22 exact word phrases in the area of family law and divorce. The terms were impressive; "Phoenix Divorce Lawyer" "Phoenix Divorce Lawyers" etc Complicating my analysis, though, was the fact that this particular client held a dominant position in the organic and Google map results for many of these same divorce phrases. I could do a keyword report for the last year and pull all of those exact keyword phrases that led people to his site, but I would not be able to differentiate what was organic and what was coming from their guaranteed sponsored placement. But I did have another client who was right below him in the organic ranking for those same phrases, a client who never did pay per click of any sort. Therefore, I could compare the keyword report to help determine how many clicks customer "A" was getting from the guaranteed sponsorship program.

The Results
So I ran the report for customer A for his two top phrase; "Phoenix Divorce Lawyer" and "Phoenix Divorce Lawyers". Those two exact phrases generated just 89 clicks, in a year! When you consider that customer "A" generates well over 1400 total clicks a month, this is a shockingly low number. Customer "B", who appears lower than customer "A" organically, received just 41 clicks from those same two phrases. Does that mean that customer "A" got 48 clicks from his guaranteed placement company? Hardly. With a much older URL, customer "A" typically averages 40% more traffic than "customer B" so the actual number is likely far less, 20-30 in a year. This would be consistent with the studies that have been done on online behavior, which show people are 80% more likely to click on the organic results vs PPC - due to a built in bias against paid advertisements. Of the number that we can subscribe to his sponsorship program, how many clicks were the result of click fraud? competitors? sales people?

Guaranteed placement companies are not interested in you getting clicks or increasing your business. They simply want to SELL you first page position for certain keyword phrases - knowing full well that those phrases will cost them very little. If the phrases tun out to be popular and begins to cost them money - they can reduce their bid and bury your listing on the bottom of the first page (remember they only promise first page listing). This is the case with customer "A". It is instructive to read the testimonials found on the TNT website. Most of the lawyers talk about a company that does what they promise. A laudable goal to be sure but if the lawyers were educated on how little traffic their investment was getting them, they would likely sing a much different tune. In fact I will offer a free analysis for any FindLaw client that uses this service. Just send me the list of "keywords" you purchased and I can tell you how little you are receiving from the investment. You will find that you would be much better off doing PPC yourself for the premium your paying. Another client of mine was paying $500/month to another "guaranteed placement company" for a handful of phrases including "Scottsdale Criminal Defense Attorney" - a phrase in which the top organic ranking site received just 2 clicks in a year.

No matter what the phrase, guaranteed paid placement is a bad deal, particularly when you consider the alternatives.

Source: This is from a consultant I work with out of Phoenix - http://www.azlawyermarketing.com/2009/06/guaranteed-sponsored-result-first-page.html

SEO Consultant Firm - Law Firm Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great new video on the value of lawyer marketing online - 600% ROI!


Couple of key points from video:

- 600+% Return On Investment (ROI)
- 3 Targeted websites: Criminal Law, Family Law, and Personal Injury
- 500% Growth in criminal law practice
- 300% Growth in family law practice
- Recently increased fees - even during a recession

Law Frim Name: Shaffer & Engle

Law Firm Marketing and Search Engine Optimization

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Facebook and Divorce - Be Careful What You Say!

From Time.com:

Not long after Patrick told his wife Tammie he wanted a divorce, she posted an angry, hurt note on "the wall," or public-comments section, of his Facebook page. Embarrassed that his colleagues, clients, church friends and family could see evidence of his marital woes, he deleted it and blocked his wife from seeing his page. A couple of days later, the IT worker in Florida--who asked that his last name not be used in this story — found alarmed messages from two Facebook friends in his inbox. Tammie had used a mutual friend's account to view Patrick's wall and e-mailed several women he had had exchanges with. He says her e-mails were borderline defamatory. She says they merely noted that he was married with children, a fact he had left off his Facebook profile.

Either way: Ouch.

For those who want to connect or reconnect with others, social-networking sites are a huge, glorious honeypot. But for those who are disconnecting, they can make things quite sticky. And as the age of online-social-network users creeps up, it overlaps more with the age of divorce-lawyer users, resulting in the kind of semipublic laundry-airing that can turn aggrieved spouses into enraged ones and friends into embarrassed spectators. (See five no-nos for divorcing couples.)

Lawyers, however, love these sites, which can be evidentiary gold mines. Did your husband's new girlfriend Twitter about getting a piece of jewelry? The court might regard that as marital assets being disbursed to a third party. Did your wife tell the court she's incapable of getting a job? Then your lawyer should ask why she's pursuing job interviews through LinkedIn.
Battles over finances and custody remain the Iwo Jima and Stalingrad of divorce cases. Opposing lawyers will press any advantage they have, and personal information on sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn is like decoded bulletins from enemy territory. "It's now just routine for us to go over with clients whether they have an active presence on the Web and if they Twitter or have a MySpace page," says Joseph Cordell of Cordell & Cordell, a domestic-relations law firm with offices in 10 states. He advises his mostly male clients to scour their page — and their girlfriend's — for anything that could be used by their ex's legal team. Then Cordell studies the page of the soon-to-be ex-wife.

"We had a custody case where a mom assured the court that she hadn't been drinking," recalls the Missouri-based attorney. "But her MySpace page had actual dated photos of her drinking — and smoking, which is also of interest." In another case, a mom had listed herself on a dating site as single with no kids, which Cordell's firm used to cast doubt on her truthfulness.
And that's just the courtroom stuff.

Half the fun of social-networking sites is the posting of personal news. The other half is the posting of personal opinion, something spurned spouses typically have in spades. MySpace and its ilk offer the giddying cocktail of being able to say something in the privacy of your home that will be publicly accessible, along with a chaser of instant gratification. All this at a time when people are often less than their best selves. On the walls of two Facebook groups — I Hate My Ex-Husband and I Hate My Ex-Wife, which together had been joined by 236 Facebook users as of early June — posts include all manner of (often misspelled) vitriol, including some colorful British slang: "my husband is ... a dirty smelly chavvy theivin alcoholic drug addict selfish scum bag" and "my ex wife is a no good lieing slag," each of which was posted alongside a smiling photograph of the commenter. (Watch TIME's video "Beer Pong Strikes Back.")

There's little the besmirched can do legally, unless there are children involved. Family-law courts routinely issue restraining orders to prevent one parent from disparaging another to a child. "The question is, If it's on the Internet, can that speech be blocked?" says Stephen Mindel, a managing partner at Feinberg, Mindel, Brandt & Klein in Los Angeles. "The First Amendment is going to come into conflict with the family-law courts." (Read "Your Facebook Relationship Status: It's Complicated.")

Issuing an order to remove children's access to Facebook is pointless, says Chicago-based lawyer Jennifer Smetters. "The kids just go on a fishing expedition to find out what's so secret. And no child needs to see their parent being publicly humiliated." Smetters has seen cases where messages on a social-networking site were part of a harassment campaign that led to the court's issuing a civil order of protection.

It seems everybody — except perhaps some lawyers — would be better off if divorcing spouses gave each other some space on MySpace. But when confused, anguished people look for ways to work through their feelings, a social-networking site can be an almost irresistible venue.
Patrick and Tammie are still active on Facebook. So are decoupled East Coast residents Andrea and Adrian, even after "he told me he didn't have any money and then posted pictures of his new BMW bike," Andrea says. He says Facebook helped her stalk him. "It's had a very negative impact on our communication," he adds.

But there can be some positives. Tammie's friends post supportive messages on her Facebook page. And Patrick says he understands online social networks better now. "It's like putting everybody you know in the same room. I'm using it, but I'm much more careful."

Source: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1904147,00.html?cnn=yes

SEO Consultant Firm - Law Firm Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New legal blogs

- Lawyer SEO Blog- Lawyer Attorney News- Lawyer Press Releases- Lawyer Blogging Consultant- Law Firm Blogging Consultant- Lawyer Blogging Consultants- Law Firm Blogging Consultant- Lawyer Consulting Firm - Lawyer Consulting - Lawyer Consulting Blog

The 10 Things Every Lawyer Should Know About Online Press Releases

Article provided by SeoConsultantFirm.com. Please visit our website at http://www.seoconsultantfirm.com/Law-Firm-SEO.html

Before the internet, public relations came down to who you knew in the mainstream media and how much you were willing to spend to build visibility and awareness. Back then, marketing promoted your legal services to consumers while public relations was far less controlled by you and relied heavily on media filters and contacts. With the advent of the web, that has all changed.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Courts’ ruling on Bates vs. State Bar of Arizona in 1977, attorneys have been (with certain limitations) been able to move beyond the shingle and advertise their services to the public. Prior to the proliferation of the web, public relations primarily dealt with press releases and media outlets such as television, periodicals and the like. These were the most common vehicles of the time in which your prospective clients could be conveniently interrupted with announcements of your services. Over the past decade or so, customer behavior started to change and instead of being interrupted by TV’s, billboards and the like, they started to turn to the web as part of their daily lives. With the help of search engines, an amazing transformation started taking place – people starting looking for attorneys on their time without interruptions. If they have an issue, they now look online for legal advice and attorneys who can handle them, on their own time.

All of these changes have now clouded the once separate functions of lawyer marketing and public relations since technology now allows them to cross some very important paths – chiefly having to do with press releases. In the past, press releases were sent from the attorney to the “press” for the “press” to release through their own channels. This in effect served as a filter to the consumers to which many attorneys had little control. But three important technological changes happened to dramatically change all of this. First, press releases can now be published to the web by anybody at anytime at very little costs. Second, press releases are now indexed in the search engines just like websites and blogs for people to search for and find. Finally, many traditional media outlets are increasing relying on web content for their news and research - or they are simply dying off like dinosaurs with other print media.

So how can your law firm take advantage of these changes? Here are the top 10 things you should know:

1.) Define your goals and objectives. What are the goals and objectives for your law firm and how will press releases help you get there? This is a fundamental question you need to ask before you start a press release campaign. Remember: you cannot manage what you cannot measure. If you want to measure the success of your PR efforts, make sure you have clearly defined your objectives. These will commonly include: increased awareness and name recognition, communication of major events or cases, client retention, new client generation, building a case (such as new plaintiffs for a class action case), generating new referrals, etc.

2.) Use your press releases to support your website and blogs. Every press release should help support the visibility and client generation effort of your firm. If you send out a press release, ALWAYS make sure it provides and easy path for users to find and contact you – a place where a call to action can occur. Links to your websites and blogs not only direct traffic, but also provide inbound link value to your website thereby helping to increase your ranking in the search engines as well.

3.) Every press release should include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Keywords: When it comes to the web, content is king. The more targeted content you have, the better your chances of showing up in the search engines for those types of searches. Do some research on the words and phrases that people commonly use for such related practice areas and incorporate them into the title and content of your releases. We have provided tools to assist in your keyword discovery process at: http://www.seoconsultantfirm.com/SEO-resources.html.

4.) Every press release should include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Inbound Links: It is also important to include inbound textual links from your press releases into your website – which will act as a vote for your website in the search engines and help increase your visibility and rankings online. Although some press release services will limit the type and amount of these links, it is important to take full advantage of as many of textual and inbound links to your website you can. We have provided an overview to assist in your inbound linking process at: http://www.seoconsultantfirm.com/seo-optimization/SEO-Link-Building.html

5.) Make the press aware of your press releases. This might strike some as a bit odd since this process can help bypass the press all together but that is not the point. If you have something important to say and want to become a thought leader in your practice area, you should make the relevant press contacts and outlets aware of your press releases. Remember, if your goal is increased awareness, visibility and client generation, than leveraging your current PR efforts to bigger outlets should always be welcome. Do some research into the major press contacts who have written about your area of expertise and gather their contact information. When you have a press release you think may be of interest to them, send them a personalized email to their attention about your work and do so on a frequent basis for each release. At the same time, make sure to invite them to your blogs if you have one as well. You never know – they may just have an interest in what you are writing about and one day and all of the sudden you can become a star.

6.) Write your releases with your target market in mind. If your press release has to do with trucking accidents and is intended to help generate trucking accident clients, they stay away from the legal jargon such a “litigation”, “plaintiff”, etc. – words that mean nothing to somebody who just may have been crushed in their car and need legal help for the first time. Find the words that your customers use and use them in your press releases.

7.) Timing can be critical for your press releases. This may come as a surprise to some but a good steady stream of press releases can be just as important as an event drive release as well. In the past, PR was all about timing – news today, ancient history tomorrow. Unlike traditional media with shelf-life measured in the hours, the web now indexes, stores and provides press release content for months, years and even decades later. So a good steady stream of press releases is always a good way to flood the world with information for whenever they may need it – when they need it.

8.) Include compelling offers to potential clients in your press releases. If you law firm offers free initial consultations, make sure to include that prominently in your press releases. Look back at your goals you have set for your press releases and always make sure that you try to support those goals with an incentive and/or call to action within the press release itself.

9.) Place press releases on your website and blog. Many press releases provided to the online news services have a limited shelf-life – in many cases two years or less. Since you want the search engines to index these press releases to your benefit, why run the chance of losing that content and links into your website if they expire? To help avoid this, publish your press releases on your website and blog – it will add to your visibility and create more inbound likes to your website as well.

10.) Publish your press release online through distribution services. Once you have your press release ready to go, you now need to distribute it through a press release distribution service (or news wire) so others can read and index it. These services number in the hundreds and range from free to hundreds of dollars per release. The benefit of using the good paid ones are that then can often reach hundreds and thousands of websites in a single release. The free ones are good to – just understand that with most forms of business, you get what you pay for. Below are some of the more popular paid and free news distribution services online today:


Free (Or almost free):

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SEO Consultant Firm - Law Firm Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Friday, June 5, 2009

New York City in top 5 cities for Construction Accident Searches Online

New York City is now rating as a top-5 city for construction accident searches online according to Google. The top result, St Paul, is actually a technical glitch for many results and is typically omitted from these...so New York should be #4 overall on this list.

SEO Consultant Firm - Law Firm Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)