By Michael P. Ehline, Esq. – A lot of us in the attorney search community have seen several videos from Google and its organic search team on Guest Blogging. Typically, as here, Google has not given us a lot to go on. Andre van Wyk and AJ Kohn, as well as myself, all have similar positions on this. My suggestion has been to not create footprints that it is a “guest blog”, if you intend upon asking a trusted friend to post one for you. This is because in the past, Google has written their algos to pick up text like “pay to add your link”, “sponsored link”, etc. Thus, if it is labeled “guest post”, that certainly could send a footprint: “all this guy does is make guest posts”, etc. (You never know when Google will say a guest blog is “unnatural”; see also “Link Schemes“.)
Matt Cutts Says it is OK If Your Really Offering Non Spun Content that is Especially Helpful & Written By an Expert
As licensed professionals, we are all “experts” in our field(s) of law. So from an attorney search perspective, “Guest blogging” is still a powerful tool. For example, if Michael Ehline out in California, has a great post dealing with vacation accidents out in Los Angeles, California, and your firm is based in Rhode Island, for example, and one of your clients was injured in California on a Holiday, that is a great topic for a guest blog.
This is because you have special expertise, beyond that of an ordinary Rhode Island attorney about a California legal issue like the statute of limitations, discovery rules, etc. (This is just one example, can you think of some?) The post could have to do with discovery, who pays for the deposition? Can you do a video deposition, etc. Who pays for your client’s plane ticket to fly to California for a deposition? It could deal with a marriage in California with the divorce being filed in Rhode Island.
In a Video Hangout prior to the above, another Google rep corroborates what Matt Cutts says. It has to be quality and ORIGINAL. Andre Van Wyk’s article on this topic is here.
The AJ Kohn View
AJ Kohn has commented on Guest blogging as well. His position is “whose brand” are you building? Kohn suggests that the point of a blog post is not for the juice, but to get it read by an audience. If the post is on some other lawyer’s site, the reader still has to click the link back to you. My view is that I agree, but that, like AJ’s view, if the content is memorable, and it is GEO specific/targeted towards my expertise, such as my lawyer examples above, the potential new client, is going to click back to the actual writer and view source. So it will really boil down to how memorable and helpful the post is, to see if the dividends in traffic are valuable.
Michael Ehline View
My view is based upon my understanding of the Google Quality Guidelines, which state inter alia:
A link scheme is: “Building partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking” (Read more.) You can probably think of other failed link schemes, like “lawyer academies”, etc., designed to get links from other lawyers by having them all cross linking back and forth to eacother. My opinion is this is not “natural”. In fact, I don’t think the Findlaw “blog network” is natural either. Do you?
So you can see already how a manual reviewer, or automated algo could detect “Guest Post” and neutralize you, claiming it is really a linking scheme. After all, everything is subjective when it comes to a manual review, and the reviewer’s interpretation of the rules. And then you can request reconsideration while your in bankruptcy court.
In any event, guest posts are a great way to build your social authorship signals and traffic, if you follow the guidlelines. But don’t focus too much effort on it. Think about more natural ways to get a backlink. Use your influence as a trusted attorney.
What Do I Do? After All No One Links Back to Attorney Sites
And this is the magic question. Google wants to see a “natural” link back to the article on your site.
The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.
Note it doesn’t say someone will link to your home page. Is says people will link the the “content”, or the document, if you prefer. Google knows that a home page is pretty worthless, unless the page is more helpful than what is on your internal, or child page (very rare unless a targeted micro-site.) And since Panda and Penguin, most of us lawyers with multi-topic portal sites, have seen our home pages tank for terms they once dominated, in favor of a child page with better, more in depth, relevant content.
Based upon Google’s own quality guidelines (See supra), it is reasonable to assume that Google wants to see Ron Miller link back to an article written by Michael Ehline, as a source for an article he wrote on a similar topic. This is more natural than Michael just asking Ron to post a guest blog for him.
How Do I Get Another Attorney to Write About My Content?
Good question. Obviously, the source needs to be good. It has to be helpful to Ron’s readers and audience. So when I write a great article, I may want to send an outline of my article about a California negligence law issue, along with a link back to it, to Ron, and other members of the Circle of Legal Trust.
After all, we “trust” eachother, we are not using tags, we are “no indexing our archives, categories and tags” we just have to keep for whatever reason. So we already know we aren’t going to hurt the receiving site with a false reading or too many exact match anchors from one sending site.
So in my outline, I am not just sending an article. I am saying, look, here is a skeleton for a great corollary article you can write and your view. You determine the anchor text your going to give me, if any. You determine where to place with authorship data, and what pages, or posts of mine you want to use in your article. Most importantly, you also include more sources you discovered in your own research. This way, you can then share with the other members, and we can create a huge knowledge base for consumers.
Are you guys getting this so far? Think outside the box. So where is Anthony Castelli’s outline, or Jon Rosenfeld’s outline on his most recent post? I sure would love to talk about it on one of my targeted micro-blogs and give my view, one way or another. Every judge, lawyer and individual has an opinion. So let’s break ours down, like I just did in this article. See how AJ Kohn
just got a natural link back to his great article?
The whole point of the Circle of Legal Trust is lawyers helping lawyers. We help eachother, by making sure our clients get the best service and results, as well as the most cutting edge information. We can help eachother build our OWN brands by linking back to high quality content that may already be on our sites.
Does this make sense? Let me know by sharing and voting up this article. Incidentally, if you are not a member of the Circle of Legal Trust, and wish to go before the committee of originals for acceptance into this free society, contact us here.
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