Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How Do I Turn Off Government Alerts On My iPhone? #governmentalerts #iphone

If you have a smart phone and get these funny-sounding alerts on your phone, you are not alone and no the NSA is not trying to call you and check in. Rather, the Government has decided that since you have a smart phone, wouldn’t it be smart to alert you about bad weather, amber alerts (know what those are?), or when the President needs to get reelected…or I mean when he says there is a national emergency.

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch at a Chick-Fil-A when a government alert was sent out. Based on the volume of the people and smart phones present in the restaurant, all of the phones when off at once and that was interesting to say the least...even the smoke alarms were jealous. Topics quickly turned from who is really inside that cow suit to how the hell to turn these annoying alerts off. Overhearing a few conversations, most people seemed to believe that this was another government action like drones, taxes and philandering politicians that they simply had to accept. But they are wrong…


Unlike bad politicians, government alerts can be turned off by you…at least for now. If you have an iPhone, all you need to do is to go to Settings > Notifications, scroll down the screen at the bottom where is says “Government Alerts” and simply turn to “Off” the slider to the right of AMBER alerts and Emergency alerts. Simple, no more problems and no more alerts.

Now that I have posted these instructions, I want to give a big shout out to the NSA who are probably now monitoring me and tapping my phones as a result… :-)

#iphone   #amberalerts  #governmentalerts

Friday, July 12, 2013

Successful Online #LawyerMarketing Requires #SocialMedia

Eight years ago many attorneys asked themselves if they needed a website. Today, similar questions now revolve around social media. I still conduct CLE classes at a number of bar associations dealing with online #lawyermarketing and social media and nothing fills the room like a social media CLE. Why? Because unlike a simple website, social media can be far more complex and difficult to understand for a typically attorney. Moreover, social media is best utilized as a much larger piece of an overall attorney marketing strategy.


Until recently, most website authority producing measures had to do with the quality and quantity of inbound links generated to a website. In 2012, Google made 665 reported changes to their search algorithm with arguably the two most sweeping changes having to do with active content (Panda) and bad link building (Penguin).

As a result of these changes, we are seeing new sources of authority coming from content distribution points – namely #socialmedia. A recent study by Acend2 indicates that companies with the strongest social media / SEO strategies now produce the best results, and visa-versa. This was further picked up in Search Engine Land when they built on this analysis to point out the important of social media marketing and local SEO efforts. Since most attorney searches are local in nature, this should grab your attention.


At the heart of social media is unique content generation and the best place to generate new and fresh content is on a blog. When content is created on a blog, it can be automatically sent to content distribution points where people can more readily see, access, promote, share and act on it. The most effective content distribution points for attorney come from social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, etc.). This is what we refer to as an active content strategy – all of the necessary pieces from generation (blogs) to distribution (social media) to conversion (websites) working together.


As the search engines like Google are changing from static to a more dynamic content indexing, they face a number of new changes including which results should have the highest authority (and rank) in the SERP’s. Although inbound links (off-site SEO) still remain a critical component to success online, the search engines are finding new ways to create authority from social media. In short, if inbound links serve as “votes” from other websites, what does active content generation and distribution count as and how should it be measured?

The most effective way to measure social media content distribution is through “#reach.” Reach is nothing more than a simple measurement of the total number of people who see your social media updates. The more people “reached,” the better visibility and potential for new case / client generation you receive. Beyond reach, Google has added one more benefit: authority.


Through optimal content flow and distribution of active content, the search engines should be able to source your social media information to a single point. Much like an author will cite their sources in a book, so too will the search engines try to cite the sources of content through citation flows. The more of these citation flows from blogs, news, post, tweets, retweets, Google +, etc., the more potential authority can be gained by the source. For most attorneys, the source is their blog which more often than not resides on their website. When properly executed with all of the pieces working together in an active content strategy, we are seeing around a 30% bump in overall traffic to websites that deploy this strategy compared to firms that do not. This would help reinforce the findings from Acend2 study listed above. In short, authority comes from both off-site SEO (inbound link building) and citation flow (active content strategies).


Internet marketing has evolved beyond a simple website. In fact, the technology and market is evolving so fast that what was optimal yesterday may be obsolete today in this competitive framework. Due to the limitations of the search engine battlefield, everything online is a function of competition. If you are not consistently moving forward in action and strategy, you will fall behind – plain and simple. Successful attorneys online have evolved beyond simple products (websites) and now follow additional strategies (active content) in order to stay ahead of the game and maximize new case and client generation efforts.  

Successful attorney marketing is a journey, not a destination. How you chose to compete ultimately comes down to this simple philosophy.

#blogs  #socialmedia  #activecontent  #lawyermarketing  #seo

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Has #Google Gone Too Far?

Ever since Google first introduced their search engine back in the late 1990’s, there have been a lot of changes – and I am not referring to their secret search algorithm. Google has also fundamentally changed their search results display screens (or SERP’s) and many would argue to only the betterment of Google. An increasing amount of people who follow the changes in Google are lamenting that Google is transforming itself from an independent search engine to a Google product engine.


A recent study released found that on average only 13% of the Google search results display real results. In short, Google has now pushed the natural “organic” results to less than 13% of the screen display above the fold (or scroll). So who owns the remaining 87% of the displayed results? You guessed it: Google. This includes Google paid advertising PPC (29%), Google Navigation Bar (14%), Google Maps (7%) and the rest is Google dead space.  

As you can see from the images to the right, we compare a typical Google results screen from 2001 to one from today to illustrate this point. When comparing the 13% organic results today to the nearly 70% organic results displayed in 2001, you can clearly see a trend here. It is true that long-tail searches can typically display more organic searches if there is less competition from PPC but then again, when competition is present, many search results move us back to the 13% again – even with an absence of maps and local results.  There is also a qualitative change as well. Notice the contrast from the heavily colored “Sponsored Link” #PPC ads in 2001 to the seemingly subtle colors of the “Ads” displayed today. Coincidence?

Some would argue that the advent of universal search along with localized searches screws these results and they have a point. However, where their arguments lose steam is when you consider that all of these new elements beyond organic search results are Google owned properties which they sell and monetize to varying degrees.  


As we have previously discussed, #mobilesearch is expected to exceed PC search to websites by 2016. If you don’t believe me, simply look at a group of people ages 10-28 waiting in line and see if they are still twiddling their thumbs. When I compare the same “divorce attorney” search in my iphone 5 (see example) with Google, I see roughly 25% of the screen displaying organic results – the rest are Google properties. Moreover, of the top three results, the top two are PPC ads and one includes a click-to-call feature…something the organic listing does NOT provide. Once again, advantage Google.


Google makes their money from advertising and they have added a lot of vehicles to help them accomplish this over the years. The problem for the average user is that as more display options have increased, the space on their computer screen has not. In fact, with the advent of mobile search, the screen is now increasingly shrinking for most search engine users. Google has made it very clear through their actions that organic search results (the stuff they don’t get paid on) will be minimized to the point where they can maximize their revenues and still keep people coming back for more. If that number has fallen from around 70% in 2001 to 13% today, will people still see the value in Google?

Here are a few things to consider:

If you run PPC with Google, you need to make sure you are changing your focus to mobile ads along with your user base. It is also important to note that being in the top two PPC positions on mobile may be the only effective answers to being crowded out of a dramatically shrinking screen. This may mean better search results but it also comes at a very high price you mayneed to pay to Google.

Long-tail search results increasingly give you the best chance for real results in the organic search world. As people become more sophisticated in how they search, they are becoming more specific (ie long-tail searches) in what they are looking for. When attorneys spend high amounts of money for organic vanity search phrases like “Personal Injury Attorney…” or “Divorce Attorney…”, aren’t they really competing with Google PPC? In this case, why not pay Google instead for these top of the page results (PPC) and stick with the money searches in the long tail? Economists would argue that pricing parity will eventually be reached if a keyword PPC result for “Personal Injury Attorney…” came at the same cost as organic. And who do you think Google would prefer to be the benefactor of this search spend? Welcome to the 13% solution.

A mixed marketing plan may be more effective moving forward. A combination of Website, SEO, PPC, active content (blogs) and social media tend to be the most effective combination of web marketing today. The search engines reward each to varying degrees and by having those all work together, you have a rising tide that lifts all boats.

You need to consider both traffic generation and conversion. Gone are the days when #attorney search was weak and cases were easy to generate online. Search results are a function of competition and you now have a lot of it. If you have invested in ways to generate traffic to your web properties, you must now determine how best to convert them into new cases and clients. Remember, the average person will look at 4.8 attorney websites before they contact a firm and your referrals are also making judgments about you online before they ever call. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression…and conversion.
The biggest threat to Google is not another search engine like Bing – it is those little black devices that everybody is carrying around with them…and in ever increasing numbers. The time spent on smart phone APPS is far outpacing the flat-line of time in search and this means that people are finding APPS more useful than search engines for many of their daily needs. Do you need an APP for your law practice? That’s like asking if you need a search engine for your law practice – it is not the point. Marketing 101: “fish where the fish are.” If the eyes of your clients are moving to APPS, then why not advertise your services on them. This after all was how a small project at Stanford University ultimately became known as Google. 

#lawyermarketing  #google  #seo  #ppc #apps