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Is Your SEO Firm Destroying Your Reputation?

Running this site is pretty easy, with the exception of writing the articles. Taking care of the technical aspects of the site is simple. Responding to comments is fun. Updating plug-ins and tweaking the design is enjoyable. I like it all.

One of the things I do is delete spam from the comments queue. Most of the spam is automatically deleted by a special plug-in I use, and I rarely find spam that gets past the filter except for one particular type of spam, which I delete manually. It’s able to sneak past the filter because it contains keywords, and the filter thinks it might be appropriate.

The spam I’m referring to comes from law firms. It’s usually not written by the lawyers. It’s written by the search engine optimization (SEO) firm hired by the law firm to improve the rank of the firm’s website. The law firm has hired these people to do whatever it takes to move the site up in Google. SEO firms employ a variety of techniques to game the ranking algorithms the search engines employ.

One of the techniques these firms use is commenting on blogs with a link back to the firm’s site. They comment on my site most every day.

Unfortunately, the comments are usually stupid, poorly written, and generally not responsive to the post or the discussion focused on the post. The comments are frequently written in second-rate English, and it’s fairly obvious that some of the SEO writers didn’t learn English as their first language.

I can deal with deleting the comments; it’s no big deal. The damage to the law firm, however, is a big deal. These firms have authorized someone to behave badly in front of bloggers. They’re doing what they’re doing in full view of the people who have a platform and are heard across our community. They couldn’t pick a worse place to behave badly. These SEO firms are damaging their clients’ reputations with the people most likely to spread the word about the firm. Is moving up on Google worth trashing your reputation in your own community of professionals?

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  • http://www.steadmanparrotte.com Rick

    A few months ago I was largely clueless about the SEO industry. After starting our firm, I am amazed on a daily basis how SEO works and what tricks and methods are employed.

  • http://raleigh-divorce-lawyers.com/ Jim Hart

    Good points Lee – I look at any firm that promises high google rankings with a great deal of skepticism. As far as I am concerned, the best way to boost your rankings is to keep adding quality content, offer yourself as a guest blogger to other sites, and remain relevant. Everyone is looking for that magic bullet that will shoot them to #1 on google – unfortunately it just doesn’t exist. The best way to get to the top is to write your own content and post frequently, IMHO.

    Jim Hart

  • Anonymous

    Hi Lee-

    Unfortunately, there are some legal professionals out there that answer your question with a “yes”. However, sacrificing professional credibility with questionable advertising & marketing is certainly not unique to web marketing, nor is it something new. These are the same attorneys who crank out crappy TV ads, send distasteful direct mailers, and plaster our interstates with silly billboards.

    With regard to web marketing, and more specifically comment spamming, in my experience, the overwhelming majority of lawyers simply have no idea what they’re web marketing consultant is doing on their behalf. Is that an excuse? Certainly not. But there’s clearly a different degree of culpability from those that know this is going on, or are doing it themselves.

    In the end, each legal professional will need to make a decision about how they market themselves both online and offline. Hopefully, they are able to spend enough time researching web strategies to make a reasonably informed decision.

    • http://divorcediscourse.com Lee Rosen

      Agreed. I just finished a post for the week after next about stumbling on something a SEO had done that jeopardizes the attorney’s law license. Whether we like it or not, we’ve got to keep up with what our agents are doing.


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