By Attorney Michael P. Ehline, Esq. – Does the blog h1 title above have your attention? Well that was the idea. What I meant to say is that you lawyers who try to take the short way out by hiring someone to post to their blog network(s) are doomed to kill your site and all its rankings. Your “ridin dirty”.
Types of Lawyer Blog Networks and In General What They Are
First, there are many different types of attorney blog networks. Google defines or describes a blog network here:
Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site, or outgoing links from your site. Manipulating these links may affect the quality of our search results, and as such is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Some say they are linked to automatic content distribution on multiple sites, others say it is any network of sites owned by the same person, who manually posts content on their sites and member sites, on a wide range on unrelated topics. But my research indicates it is all of these and many other things. One thing is certain, Google will, and is, taking these networks out. (Source.) They can be legal directories, or a network of sites adding spun content, such as this example here. Findlaw has its own “blog network”, but they have a program where they basically lease you a blog, or firmsite, and they write the content and link it back and forth from the other paid sites they host and run. At least it is targeted to law. But I am Leary of this, as I think it could run afoul of the above Google rules.
One thing all private blog networks all have in common, is that they all tend to link out to the same commercial sites with similar exact match anchors – pretty spammy – with not very helpful articles (I admit Findlaw does usually have pretty decent articles that add value however), and typically with more than one link to the same external site per post.
One other common element they usually have is that the blogs themselves are not targeted to any specific topic. So usually, it is just some blog that has a bunch of blog posts on every topic under the sun. (I hear echoes of Ezine.) One post might be about “Internet Tech Consulting”, and the very next post might be about “personal injury law”. In my earnest opinion, Google saw that developers would typically create WordPress sites (free templates), leave the “this is an example of an “about us page”, and not actually add a page, and basically just start blasting a bunch of articles into the “posts” section. Of course it goes further than that, and there are many more advanced blog networks.
Typical Footprints of a Blog Network
- Are privately registered,
- Have no disclaimer,
- Have no contact us, or
- Have no about us page,
- All linking out to the same commercial sites,
- Use an overabundance of exact match anchor text,
- Add more than one link to the same “commercial” site in each post,
- Have no social profile with history on Twitter, FB, G+, etc, (newer and still developing test),
- Blast rewrites of news stories that have no editorial, or real value, but with commercial links to the same commercial sites,
- Add formatted text into the WordPress visual editor from MS Word, etc, which leaves behind junk code and screws up the justification and formatting,
- All happen to be on the same server.
DOH! How retarded can you get? Of course that is a giant red flag. Especially if they are all “privately registered”. Do yourself a favor and get a job flipping burgers.
Although Not a “Blog” Network Per Se, Directories Also Can Leave a Similar “Evil” Footprint
A digital footprint is defined as:
“… a trail left by interactions in a digital environment; including the usage of TV, mobile phone, internet and world wide web, mobile web and other devices and sensors. Digital footprints provide data on what has been performed in the digital environment; and are used in behavioural targeting, personalisation, targeted marketing, digital reputation, and other social media or social graphing services. In social media, a digital footprint is the size of a person’s “online presence” measured by the number of individuals with whom they interact.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_footprint
Ok. Here we are really talking about “interactions” involving your url, how it is being used, and where it is being linked externally from. This is a related topic that simply could not go ignored in this post. Imagine the digital footprint Google sees. Indian business directories are a big culprit here, as our first example. We have all seen the ads. “Get your anchor text on 10000 high PR directories, call Gobin Rupta” So the issue here is, an automated PHP directory of thousands of links. Creates a link spike, and is all to the same anchor text. Just like the blog network, but worse, sine it is not natural acquisition as far as the speed it was added, and is all the same across thousands of sites, like “Accident Attorney”, for example. Google reasons. Oh they must want to rank for that term ,put em on page one million. Negative SEO people are now using these previously helpful sites, to hurt your competitors, or you! Beware. Your job is to try and get them all removed, and/or report them in your “link disavow tools”. Get it?
Of course, this is just a taste of it and is all, in and of itself, or collectively, a dead giveaway. So it is relatively easy for Google to spot these with an automated program, if your a billion dollar company like them. Think about it. If you, the PI lawyer, and Joe, the IT consultant, and the other clients of “SEO Blog Network” (for example) all have links pointing out from all the very same blogs, Google will probably kill your site.
Guilty Unless Your Not
Yep. Their philosophy has been, if it “appears” you are gaming them, you are guilty. After all, your job is to make sure your site complies with the Google Quality Guidelines. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. If you are too busy or too lazy to learn the law, use PPC, and stop wasting your money on content farms and SEO experts. If a U.S. Marine has a bad tailor, he can’t blame the tailor for too many Irish Pennants. The point I am making, is that Matt Cutts gives warnings, they tell you what they are going to do, what they are looking for. They have guidelines. If your SEO guy doesn’t abide by them, it is YOUR problem. Read the frikking rules and/or join the Circle of Legal Trust, to learn how to enact them.
Penalty Designed to Hurt All Parties
So now your Gobin Rupta, “SEO Guru”, and you have thousands of blog sites, forums and directories. This is how you make your money. You say, “no big deal if my PR6 site gets hurt, and de-indexed, I can still post links to other sites from those de indexed sites, and just build more sites.” Mistake. Google will use your blog network site like a boat anchor on the sites you are linking to to drag them down. Google wants to send a message that these types of linking schemes are unacceptable. Besides, as a blog owner, would you not just want to target the blog, cull and delete all the crap, or de-index it, save your crusty old site, and re evaluate what you did wrong? Maybe you should start adding quality content while you at it?
What Google Wants To See
Google wants to see what it thinks real people want to see. If you have a blog, it should be targeted to a particular topic. If your a lawyer, you should have a blog about lawyer things, you should be linking to .edu sites, court sites, .gov sites, and perhaps a FEW decent commercial sites that have good info on their CHILD pages. You should not be linking back to everyone who links to you. That looks like a fake voting ring.
- You should be building links to your blogs themselves, and not simply use them to post paid or shared articles (don’t be a cheapskate),
- Rarely use exact match anchor text to link out to a commercial site.
Getting links to your blog can be done by getting votes on social sites, and having great content that actually is helpful. Trust me, people will link to it if they know and trust you. For example, everyone hurt in a crash who hates lawyers, would like to know about “how to handle a soft tissue claim in small claims court“, but probably would have their eyes glaze over if they saw an article that discussed how “millions are hurt every year in car accidents”, or “how to hire the best IT consultant.” YAWN. If you repost news stories, why are you not discussing the legal ramifications of what took place, the potential parties, and potential outcomes in court? Think about Lindsay Lohan, or the failure of schools to provide armed guards to protect kids, for example. Think of all the IRAC types of issues you could help consumers with.
Anyways, I sure hope this helps you attorneys who are struggling to meet payroll, and feed your families. Don’t let posting to blog networks kill you.
Posts by Michael Ehline
- Not the First Time Google Abused Such Power?
- PR, Social Media, Content Marketing & SEO – A World of Rapid Changes
- How Will Google's EU Fines Affect PPC Bids?
- EU Slaps Google with More Antitrust Allegations
- Google Lawyers Up Over Extensive Probe
- Fight Between EU and Google Just Warming Up
- Tech Lobbying Money a Troubling Trend
- Google Seeks Self Driving Car Safety Exemption
- The "Right to be Forgotten" and Legal Precedent
- Gmail a Potential Security Minefield