As our originals know, (Circle of Legal Trust (aka COLT), officially started up around July of 2012. But guys like Dave Slepkow, Anthony Castelli and Jon Rosenfeld were already guys with law degrees and bar memberships whom I thought had a decent understanding of the power of Google and the Googleverse. So it was only natural that they be part of any future efforts at making sure we never got caught not knowing the nuances of best attorney search practices. These are the “originals”.
The SEO “Legal Website Experts”
Originally, many of us lawyers who had hired so called SEO experts for the years prior to Penguin and Panda of 2012. There were/are quality guidelines/rules that many still feel are vague and ambiguous regarding best search practices. But in any event, these rules were not apparently being enforced significantly by Google, as far as organic search was concerned, and people probably assumed that article sharing, blog commenting, etc., was how it is supposed to be done. This includes many of the SEO companies out there at the time.
Panda and Penguin Enforcement
But around April of 2012, we all started reeling from the effects of gray, or black hat, and yes, even negative SEO, that was finally coming down hard and fast on legacy sites, in favor of partial and exact match domains with great LSI and little to no external link profile. Many lawyers did not even have a branded anchor to their legal websites.
Panda and Penguin came about. The outing of negative SEO was realized. So was “whitelisting“, or showing favoritism in the organic rankings ago to allow so sites to be unaffected by algo variations, in their positions. All of these things combined, rocked the search community. Ezine, Articles base, and other article republishing sites that had one been valuable, now could drag your legal website down in ranking. Now these sites wee seen as do follow self promotions. Early on, I saw the handwriting and rushed to delete my author/publisher profiles, and disavow all those articles people had shared, with exact match anchors.
A Phoenix Rises From the Ashes of Algo Updates
Interestingly enough, many of us originals were already social media hounds. We saw first hand the destruction of good and bad sites (Google had not yet done the partial rollback on Panda) I sure lost some slots, and so did many others who were doing as good as they could, with what they knew. I had 15,000 twitter followers, and was one of the very first people to join Google Plus. (A loyal partei member . . click-click of the heels.)
So naturally, when I saw my site suffering, I wanted to find out what was going on out there with other lawyers who used to be powerhouses, and meet the new kids on the block, to understand what was taking place and how to “crack this nut”. Eventually, the originals, a corps. group of incredibly dynamic personalities who knew and wanted to understand search, with the same passion in which they pursued the law. These were already people who had been ripped off, misrepresented by so called SEO experts, and wanted to take the Googleverse into their own hands.
After all, why not? We are lawyers, we passed the bar. Now all we need to do is “study for the internet.” This is the next most important bar exam of a lawyer’s life as far as we were concerned. So when we formed the site, we looked at each lawyer as having a particular strength, and weakness. And like iron sharpening iron, we looked to advance each others interests in having online presence that surpassed all others, due do compliance with the rules of best search practices.
Enter the Green Beret Lawyers
The U.S. turns to the Green Berets when they need special forces trained in a variety of subjects, weapons systems, etc. Typically they all must learn at least one foreign language, and be able to train foreign troops and allies in the best tactics and strategies in achieving self rule. What we all wanted, was to be able to size up a true “expert”, and know at least what they knew, so we could direct and lead our online battle from the front with or without their help. So it was never about being anti SEO, it was about “are you full of it?”.
Andre Van Wyk
As we were vetting experts, I ran across Andre van Wyk. This is a guy with nerves of steel. Who really knows his stuff and has the work ethic of a Boer Kommando. I was so impressed with him, I introduced him to the guys. So this expert was voted in as an “honorary attorney”. The first ever in COLT history.
Our discussions eventually evolved into the creation of this website, as well as a mentoring and best search practices approach that strictly follows the Google and Yahoo!/Bing search engine quality guidelines.
As our sites started to recover and become stronger from OUR efforts, and the efforts of people we respect, we set up our own attorney whitelisting registry, where our patched members could list lawyers and search experts so other members could be confident in getting decent help.
Since that time, Matt Dolman, and Jonathan Rosenfeld have both flown out to the Golden State to discuss COLT business and hang out in person.
Recently, prospect, Seth Price and I met in Redondo Beach, California and we are really excited about getting quality, helpful materials that will help us all help the consumer/Googler. Some of us are Google stockholders, and we all want Google to be a success. We also want success from doing what Google wants.
The Video Hangouts
During the course of the year, we implemented a strategy of forcing lawyers to drill down into understanding technical language, use of Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress. We did hangouts and screensharing. When I went to a Maui seminar in May, I used Skype to do a news interview on the San Francisco limousine fire. I also conducted video hangouts at 5 in the morning there. So we are using Google itself, as a tool to make Google a better place.
Bantering With Experts
The next thing we did, was bring in the pros who are close to the electronic ear of Google so to speak.
We had AJ Kohn, Eric Enge, Neil Ferree, and many many other sages in the Google and social community.
Becoming Experts in Our Own Right
Although we all have a long ways to go, many of us now know much more than a typical internet salesperson, or SEO company. There are a few decent SEO companies out there. We work with them and bring their people in as experts to speak at hangouts. If they are any good, they might get whitelisted.
Our First COLT Beach Party
New patch, Steven Sweat, and outside social media expert, Neil Ferree met for our first annual COLT party in Redondo Beach, California. Steve has made significant progress in reaching seriously injured victims of vehicular cataclysms in California. His use of Scoop.it, is simply stunning. So we had a great time. And new prospect, Emery Ledger even showed up. Check out the cool picture.
Our Next Colt Party
Believe it or not, Seth Price is spearheading a COLT Las Vegas meet up, where we can have our own seminar on attorney search, and this will be the discussion of our next Friday Hangout.
Shout Out to New Members
Thanks for getting active. It is the best choice you can make if you are a lawyer who wants to take control over your own destiny in the Google and Search Engine Universe. Special thanks to William Bill Hurst, Alexander Limontes, Jeff Lapin, and Charlotte Christian for writing great editorials and posts helpful to fellow scholars and sages. With your help, the www.circleoflegaltrust.com site has become a powerhouse, getting traffic from law firms all over the world, not just the USA! Let’s march into the end of 2013 with even more energy and make everyone’s site the best site for the end user.
The Wrap Up
It has been an awesome first year. We are structuring group deals with 24-7 press release, and lawfuel.com for our attorney members. These are both platforms that are trying to comply with the Google guidelines. We really have made it happen. The members who have listened, have recovered significantly. The members who had no problems at all, improved their rankings beyond what they were. Plus, we are armed with the confidence in knowing we can call upon a fellow COLT member when we are panicking over an algo change, for example.
We have built friendships that have also led to the betterment of our lives, as well as the clients who could now find us online. We are helping build eachother’s brands, and simultaneously providing top notch legal issue content to the consumer in a meaningful way. Bravo and looking forward to the new year.
Posts by Michael Ehline
- SEO Search Terms and the Legal Field
- Attorneys and Penguin 3.0 - Winner and Losers
- NAPIL Bites the Dust?
- Was It Panda or Was it a PBN?
- Insights into Google Quality Rater Guidelines For Legal Websites
- Google's Local Pigeon Thinks Legal Directories are "Law Firms"?
- Politically Appointed Donors & Courts Move to Erode Net Neutrality
- Circle of Legal Trust Inundated With Membership Requests Post Panda 4
- New California Rules Codify Politeness
- Top Local Citation Sources for SEO Local Search