Sunday, February 27, 2011

Google's New Duplicate Content Changes & Legal Article Marketing

There is a great deal of confusion as of late about the impacts of duplicate content on the web and how it can impact law firm search results. This has become increasingly important to understand now that Google has announced their new ranking changes as it relates to duplicate content. The rational is pretty simple here: Google wants to give credit to the originators of good content over the websites who would republish the same content on a more authoritative domain and get a higher rank / credit for it.

Naturally you don't want to create multiple websites with the same content - that was also a hard and fast rule of good lawyer SEO. But many law firms do conduct article marketing for the purposes of inbound link building and in these cases, here are a couple of key points you need to know:

- Duplicate content has to do primarily with identical content on the same domain
- If duplicate content is published on multiple domains, Google wants to give credit to the source of that content - irrespective of the authority of each domain publishing it...hence the new changes in the Google search algorithm.
- If you have distributed duplicate content for legal article marketing purposes AND the article also resides on your website AND the distributed content has links back to your website, then as a rule of thumb, you can avoid duplicate content issues if your content on your website and/or blog is at least 20% different than the content you distributed out for marketing purposes. Here are some ways you can do this:

- Change the title of the article
- Change the order of listed items
- Change the introduction
- Change the footer and about the author box
- Rewrite 1 paragraph in 5

Of course you can help avoid all of this by simply not publishing the identical content you have already distributed on your website as well...but many law firms still do.

As I have discussed in previous posts on law firm article marketing, good content distribution can be one of the most effective link building strategies you can use. With all of the recent press about Google penalizing companies for bad link building, it is increasingly important to make sure that you build links from relevant and legitimate sources.

When other law firms publish your content on their websites and blogs, they are also publishing your links back to you as well - a win-win scenario and why article marketing can be so effective. Since there is no Google duplicate content website penalty for publishing permission-based content articles in moderation, you are providing others the ability to publish "useful" information on their sites and blogs for the express purpose of providing enhanced reader value. How these duplicate articles ultimately end up ranking is immaterial since that is not their expressed purpose.

So when you conduct legal article marketing, just understand what the goal of Google's recent changes are and how they can impact the performance of your website and content. The last thing you want to do is write great content, syndicate it for distribution on other sites and then have Google discount your own website's article because the identical content also resides elsewhere.

On a final note, I recently published the top 8 legal article marketing directories which should still be used as described. Just keep in mind that it is always helpful to publish your article on the more authoritative sources FIRST and then to the remaining directories after. For example, if is going to give you the maximum exposure in comparison to the other directories, publish it there FIRST and then wait a few days to a week to distribute the same content to the other sources. That way you are sending source signals to Google from your most powerful points of distribution first.

Visit our website at to learn more about law firm search engine optimization and how to grow your law firm online.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Congratulations Mark Bederow (Great Win - Page 3 NYPost)

The following story appeared prominently on page 3 of the NY Post today:

A Florida man busted in the city for driving with an unloaded gun that was legal in his home state jubilantly bounced out of a Manhattan courthouse yesterday after a jury, won over by his "Southern charm," cleared him of a felony weapons conviction.

The not-guilty verdict for Jonathan Ryan, 29, came after only 30 minutes of deliberation on a charge of weapons possession that carried a mandatory 3½-year sentence.

"I am so relieved. I feel humbled and blessed," Ryan said afterward.

"When you realize you're on the brink of losing all the little things that are typically taken for granted, you suddenly realize they're not so little."

TRIGGER HAPPY: Jonathan Ryan leaves court with girlfriend Ashley Shewey and lawyer Mark Bederow yesterday after a jury spared him three years' prison.
Steven Hirsch
TRIGGER HAPPY: Jonathan Ryan leaves court with girlfriend Ashley Shewey and lawyer Mark Bederow yesterday after a jury spared him three years' prison.

Ryan admitted that he drove to Manhattan on Feb. 21 of last year with a 9mm pistol -- which he bought legally in Florida in 2007 -- in his truck's glove box. Cops found bullets near the unloaded weapon.

He said he had stowed the gun and ammo in the compartment in 2007 and had simply forgotten about them.

"It was a reasonable explanation that he put the gun in his glove compartment, never fired it and forgot it was there," said juror Ryan St. Clair. "He had no intention of committing a crime."

Ryan had been pulled over on the Upper East Side for turning right at a red light, and when cops approached, the landscaper reached for his registration. That's when they spotted the weapon.

"Circumstance shows maybe he really didn't know [he had the gun]," said juror and retired cop Ronald Schuppert.

Ryan had come from Lake City, Fla., to help move his girlfriend, Ashley Shewey, then a page for "Late Show with David Letterman," back to Florida.

Shewey said her boyfriend made a great impression on the jury.

"He's very old-fashioned Southern charm," she said. "That's what I love about him.

"He comes from a small town. It's all, 'Yes sir,' 'No ma'am.' "

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. was unapologetic about his office's prosecution.

"Guns brought illegally into New York City -- for any reason -- violate well-established state law and are a threat to our public safety," he said.

"We respect the jury's verdict in this case . . . but we will continue to protect our community from those who illegally possess loaded guns in Manhattan."

Criminal Defense lawyer Mark Bederow said his client should have never been hit with a felony.

"This case was overprosecuted from Day One," he said.

Ryan didn't get off completely scot free. He estimated his lawyer's fees and his trips between New York and Florida left him $50,000 in the red.

"Me and my girlfriend will be paying this for a while," he said.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The 8 Best Legal Article Directories

Inbound Link Building is one of the most effective techniques to improve the visibility and performance and of websites, blogs, videos, and other web assets in the search engines. One of the most effective ways to build inbound links back to these assets is to publish content for distribution to other directories, websites and blogs.

Ideally, links should come from as many different sources as possible - preferably those that are relevant to the legal industry. In short, the perfect world is to have a one-to-one ratio of links to linking domains due to problems inherent to bleeding links. Of course nobody ever achieves this ratio but is is always a good objective to keep the links /domains ratio as low as possible.

How To Use Legal Article Directories

Legal article directories provide a number of benefits to law firms including:

- Article syndication to build back-links to your website: There are more than 4500+ active legal blogs in the United States and new blogs are added each and every day. Many of these blogs needs good content to add to their blogs so by providing free use of your article along with a link back to your website in your article, you are created a win-win scenario for both the firm that needs more content and you who need more textual inbound links.

- Free articles from use on your blogs: As stated above, there are a growing number of legal blogs that ideally need active content additions at least 1-2 times a week. Unless the firm has shadow writers for their blogs, the reality is that most will not have the time, discipline and resources needed to create all of this content. Article directories now allow you to easily find legal articles by practice area and use them on your blog - for free.

- In-house counsel visibility: A recent study of in-house counsel attorneys show that 27% place a high importance on attorney blogs when doing their research. In addition to adding articles to your blog, you can further cast your net by providing this content to other blogs for use - creating yet another place when an in0house counsel may be able to find you when they review the "about the author" information on the article.

Directory Criteria:

- Must Provide "Follow" Links
- High Page Ranking & Alexa Traffic Rank
- Legal Article Categorization
- Allows Textual Links From Articles
DirectoryPage RankAlexa Traffic Rank

To learn more about law firm internet marketing, please visit our website at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

'Divorce' is's Most Searched Legal Term for FY 2010

Interesting News From

"Divorce" was 2010's most searched legal term on, the most popular consumer legal website.

Since about half of all American marriages end in divorce, it should come as no surprise that "divorce," and its dependents "child support" and "child custody," got the nod for most searched legal terms during the past 12 months.

"Divorce filings are a fairly common legal proceeding," said Stephanie Rahlfs, attorney and editor with "In many ways, it's not surprising that there are a lot of people looking for information on what divorce entails, divorce laws as they specifically apply to their state, how the process works, and how they can find an attorney."

Going through a divorce is difficult and emotional. Contested child custody decisions and protracted financial disputes often erupt during the dissolution of a marriage. So it makes sense that people come to FindLaw to research what ending their marriage might entail.

Top Terms Include:

What can law firms gain from this information? Many of these searches end up in the directory so if these include any of your practice areas (especially for family / divorce law), then you might want to look into some increased visibility with Findlaw.

To learn more about law firm internet marketing, please visit our law firm internet marketing blog

Monday, February 7, 2011

Building Attorney Referral Networks With Social Media

Most attorneys spend a great deal of time generating new referrals and maintaining them for their practice. The fact of the matter is that most attorneys today could not sustain and grow their practice without referrals from other attorneys – many of which practice in a different area of law and/or geography.

Most marketing experts claim that you need 7 to 12 impressions on a person for a marketing message to be remembered – the same applies for attorneys. How do you stay in touch with your referral network and better yet, how can you expand your referral network through the use of social media? That is what I will address here today…

Specialize Your Practice With An Active Content Strategy

If you have a specific medical need, you are more likely to seek out a medical specialist than a generalist – the same applies for law. There are 1.2 Million attorneys in the United States (75 Thousand in New York City Alone) which means you have a lot of competition for your services. The more specialized you can become in an area of law, the more attorneys will start recognizing you as a specialists in that practice area and the more likely potential clients will find you for that work.

The best way to build on this strategy is by creating an active content strategy for this area of law and establishing yourself as a thought leader. This means that a targeted website and blog are the first places you should start. Create a targeted blog (the more targeted the better) that is dedicated to a specific area of law. Remember, there are over 4500+ legal blogs in the United States so you need to specialize your blog to make it stand out to not only your potential clients and referrals but also to the search engines through search engine optimization techniques.

Once your blog/s is created, the next step is to provide “useful” content for your referral partners to read. What is useful content? Useful content is anything you can provide that will potentially capture the interest of your targeted reader groups – in this case: your referral network. If you are still unsure, ask a number of current referral partners what they would like to learn more about when it comes to your area of law and/or practice. Posting case wins is always helpful but you need to grab the reader’s attention with your articles and most importantly – keep them coming back for more.

Just because you are creating a focus for your practice doesn’t mean you are foregoing the other areas of law you want to also practice within. All it means is that you are building a brand for marketing purposes to help set yourself apart – you can practice anything you wish after new people find you but by then, if you are good, they will then know and trust you for other needs.

Using Facebook To Stay In Front Of Your Referrals

Facebook is now actively used by over 650 Million people – have of which visit their account each and every day. The average Facebook user has 130 friends and likes over 80 Facebook pages or groups. What sets Facebook apart from all other social media is that more people access their Facebook account on a daily basis than any other place on the web – including Google! The first page every Facebook user sees when they login is their News Feed page which content updates and news from all of their friends…and the Facebook Fan Pages that they indicated they like! Think about that for a minute – you now have the ability to stay consistently visible in front of ALL of your potential referrals, clients, and even their friends on a daily basis. There is no other place on the web that can give you this type of potential visibility and the best part is that it is 100% free! Here is how to start:

- Create and optimized a Facebook Fan Page for your firm and each attorney within your law firm. There are no limits to the number of fan pages you can create and each will help further extend your reach based on the personal and professional connections each attorney may have.

- Friend request (on a daily/weekly basis) each and every person in Facebook that could be either a referral source or knows somebody else who could be. After each networking event you attend, perform a lookup for that person in Facebook and send them a friend request ASAP while you are still fresh in their minds.

- Integrate your Facebook fan page/s with your blog so your blog entries are automatically feed into your Facebook fan page/s – which every one of your fans will likely see in their default news feed page in Facebook when they login.

- Have each attorney in your firm suggest your firm’s fan page/s to their friends on a weekly basis. This is a very simple process but requires discipline. Most attorneys on Facebook don’t have a standard protocol for accepting/rejecting Facebook Fan Page suggestions so more often than not; they will accept it and become a “fan” of your page. When this happens, you have created an active and automated content loop with the user.

Capturing In-House Counsel Work Through Targeted Blogging

Every day I hear stories about how attorneys with specialized blogs are generating interest for in-house counsel. Why? According to the 2010 Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey, when research is conducted for outside counsel work, 27% of in-house council now considers their emphasis on blogs as “most important” when doing their research. A perfect example is a client of mine who has a highly targeted blog on adverting law and claimed that he was found and retained by an in-house counsel from a very prestigious Fortune 500 company – because of his blog! Not only was the blog highly optimized and indexed on the search engines for visibility, but he also positioned himself as a specialist in this area of law – which is what the company was looking for.

Using Social Media For New Client Generation

Social Media isn’t just for referral networks either. There are a growing number of attorneys who market themselves directly to their individual customers with great success. A good example is Leanna Hamill who operates her own Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog in Hingham Massachusetts (just outside of Boston) and claimed on one of her recent Twitter Tweets that she had more clients come through her blog than her referral network over the past quarter. Leanna’s blog is successful because it has the five critical ingredients needed for a successful attorney blog:

1.) The blog is targeted in practice area focus

2.) The blog is optimized for the search engines

3.) The blog is posted to on a regular basis

4.) The blog entries are consistently useful & helpful to the readers

5.) The blog is consistently promoted - especially on her social media

Resource to Help You Get Started Creating Your Social Media Strategy For Your Practice

Facebook Page Search Engine Optimization

Blog Search Engine Optimization

Law Firm Search Engine Optimization

Author: Dustin W Ruge – Dustin is new york city law firm search engine optimization consultant. For more information see: Law Firm Website Search Engine Optimization (