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Using Yelp! As a Form of Alternative Dispute Resolution?

legal marketing, social mediaYelp! Yelp! Yelp! What a nightmare. I seriously doubt the company can last with what many users believe is its unfair system that forces consumers and businesses to be regular Yelpers or likely have their reviews buried.
What we do see is that business owners are seeing their Google Local and Yahoo! Local results fall in favor of businesses that figured out how to seemingly manipulate the Yelp! algo.

Get Clients from Yelp!?

The only viable way to do that we have found is to try and only get clients from Yelp! And that is the whole idea, right? Spend tons of money advertising on Yelp! and you get Yelpers who are already active users. Some of these people are called “Elite” Yelpers. But business owners and their spouses are not allowed to be Elite Yelpers, so don’t even waste your time if that is the case. But that is a discussion for another time.  So with that intro out of the way, what about Joe Public?

Can You Use Yelp! To Your Advantage as a Consumer and Avoid Lawsuits?

  • The Set Up

First, you need to understand the basic set up in using Yelp!, or you are really wasting your time. Even lawyers like me want to avoid Court. It is a terrible waste of time in many many cases. It also uses public resources we simply do not have, at least in California. Of course, as discussed above, using Yelp! to avoid lawsuits comes at a cost. You must have a Yelp! account, you also probably can’t share the same IP address and computer as a business owner (Do you Yelp! from work, a Starbucks Coffee where an owner has also logged in to claim their business on Yelp!, etc.?)

If you don’t have a “clean” IP and account history, so to speak, it is highly unlikely your reviews will even stay live based upon the reports I have heard. Almost all the reviews for the law firm I work for are filtered even though they are legit (see here.) . But wait, you say, “when I am logged in, I can see all my reviews.” Ok fine, now copy and paste the URL of the page you are on and log out and then paste it into your browser. 9 times out of 10 this is what I see, or a reasonable facsimile:

22 other reviews that are not currently Recommended

the above example, you see the reviews from my clients that are not recommended. As you can see, presently, Ehline Law Firm PC has 7 live reviews and 22 reviews that are NOT RECOMMENDED. Not recommended by Yelp! that’s who. So I called a Yelp! rep and the rep said:

“those reviews are too close in time, so they must be fake according to our algo,” or words to that effect. Seriously? So I explained that we recently had done some charities, outreach and email campaigns to: “check us out on Yelp!,” just like we thought Yelp! wanted. The response, classic.

“Just add our badge to your site and don’t ask people to check you out anymore.”

Seriously? Of course, an advertising rep will “contact you shortly.” In other words, drive traffic and PageRank to Yelp! and maybe a few of your reviews will go live if all the other secret sauce factors are present. OR just spend a ton of money on Yelp! ads, and we will send you Elite Yelpers as clients, and their reviews will go and stay live?

If not, we have a deal with Yahoo!, and good luck seeing your results for local search display there anytime soon since they are now driven by Yelp!

Well, at least I have another reason not to use Yahoo! anymore. Ok ok, have you made it through the minefield of factors above as a CONSUMER? Or do you want justice on Yelp!?  Well, if you are an active Yelper you know hat I mean.

And no, don’t think you can get elite Yelper status and make tons of money. If you get caught selling reviews, you are toast, and so are your reviews. I personally suspect that many of the elite Yelpers do profit handsomely.

I would too if I had an algorithm that basically made it impossible to rank on my site unless everyone was paying me, or increasing my click through rates. I mean, its no wonder that brick and mortar locations have been blown out in favor of Yelp! Google and Yahoo! favor sites that get a lot of traffic, right?

If You Can’t Beat Em Join Em?

Many law firms are using Yelp! paid search now. But the stories I am hearing are that when the ads stop running, reviews start to disappear. Am I sure it is just a coincidence, right? I mean, Yelp! has been sued many times, and courts have thrown out the cases, right? So if you are bold enough and rich enough to advertise on Yelp! maybe? Maybe then you will be at an advantage, maybe not. Some say you lose it all unless you keep paying for advertising.

What About Consumers – How Can they Benefit from Yelp! and Avoid Court?

Ok, now that you see the roadblocks preventing success for a business owner not willing to pay Yelp! money, you can see that it may not be worth it for you to bother with Yelp! as a business. Espresso Translations provide legal transcriptions for fast-growing businesses and they can be a better option if you want to avoid any major legal problems for your business.

But I am going to include a personal consumer experience I had with South Bay BMW, who our law firm had leased a car from, in order to show you how we were able to recover $1,000.00 instead of going to small claims court. The screenshot below has the history of our interactions with BMW Financial and the Dealership itself.

The Negative One Star Yelp! Review of South Bay BMW

Consumer Review on Yelp!

Lucky for me, my negative review went live long enough for the South Bay BMW reputation management person to reach out to me. Unfortunately for South Bay BMW, the review was not buried by Yelp! until after the problem was resolved. Here is the link to the actual page to South Bay BMW on Yelp!

As you can see, my review is now buried. So because of Yelp! deciding it was either fake or offered no value, it was sent to cyberspace. Obviously, whatever the reason, my suspicion is if BMW had seen the review was buried under the NOT Recommended Reviews section, I would not have resolved this.

Why do I say that?

Simple, I have left many messages with BMW and had many phone calls and basically was BLOWN OFF. It was not until I publicly stated my concerns that the following events took place.

You can read Brodkin’s response on Yelp! Oh wait, the review was buried by Yelp! so maybe not.

But go ahead and see if you can find it here:

643 other reviews that are not currently recommended

Of course Yelp! says that something like 75% of reviews are recommended right? Let’s see if that is true for BMW. Do the math.  403 reviews are recommended and 643 reviews are not.

Maybe Yelp! meant that 25% to 35% are recommended. And maybe 75% or so are not? I can’t figure it out. Can you?

Does your head hurt yet? Mine does.

Anyways, you can see the frustration that has prevented MANY other lawyers and me I know from sending Yelp! one dime as a business owner. Even as a consumer, it appears that Yelp! is biased against business owners who are ALSO consumers.

Noteworthy here is they say there is a potential conflict of interest in letting the business class with a Yelp listing becoming “Elite Yelpers.” I have had shouting matches with Yelp! salespeople over this. And they promptly point out that back in 2008, I tried to review my own business.

The first problem is, it is not my OWN business. It is a law corporation that I MANAGE, and that has also represented me in the past. But ok, fine, the review is buried.

Now what? Mostly, the second tactic they are using is assuming facts that are simply not true. So they will say the algo assumes it could actually be our firm that did the reviews. Back then, our business, just like many other online and even offline businesses were clueless about Yelp!

In fact, many companies had clients create Yelp! accounts on the spot, such as with Yahoo or Google email. So in our case, as clients with no email accounts picked up their settlement checks, we helped set them up. And they reviewed us right there from our PC and IP address.

And I believe this was a pretty normal practice in years past. Of course, most of our clients have jobs, and barely have time for Facebook, let alone time enough to act as professional Yelpers.

In any event, it is now safe to say that Yelp! has a say in what your business model must be if you want to rank online. Basically, you now must make sure that your clients Yelp! a lot. Otherwise, their review of your business will be buried.

Of course, Yelp! says your clients cannot be your friends or even peers? Well, what they say is basically a vague and ambiguous, subjective test. After all, other Yelp articles suggest you should follow and add people who have or may review you in the future.

So it appears that this gives Yelp! a lot of leeway.

And that can easily lead to them strong-arming consumers. So perhaps you buy advertising in order to make sure Yelp! won’t hurt you. And this could be when a manual reviewer at Yelp! decides that you are in violation.

In fact, Yelp! has even gone so far as suing a lawyer, for inter alia, having friends with other businesses review his law firm. And which Yelp! apparently assumes is a “fake review.”

Was I Able to Use Yelp! To Get Money and Avoid Court – Yes and Here is a Screenshot of the $1,0000.00 Check

Yelp! says you cannot pay to have negative reviews removed. I guess they’re right, since Yelp! went ahead and UN-recommended by a negative review of BMW on their own.

But before that happened, Mark Brodkin and I had come to a resolution. And I first wanted to thank him for seeing what went down here and fixing my problem. So yes, Yelp!, along with some lawyering, got me what I feel is a fair resolution. And no, at no time did Brodkin ever ask me to remove the review, and I have not done so.

  • Legal Disclaimer

With that disclaimer out of the way, here is another one. Don’t think you can just write a negative review and face no consequences. Don’t consider anything I have said as being legal advice, either. IT IS NOT!

You can be sued for defamation, and Yelp! in particular. And probably even BMW would not hesitate to sue you unless what you say is truthful. Heck, even if it is truthful, they could always sue anyways. Why not, maybe they can force you into a lot of legal fees and troubles.

For some, going to Court may be a better option. After all statements made in pleadings are generally not considered defamatory for purposes of litigation. Is this making sense for far? In any event, I have now provided you with a consumer experience.

And this was about a legal issue I had with a company. And technically you could check me out here on Yelp! where you will see 22 reviews buried, and seven are live. Interesting to note, every-time I speak with a Yelp! rep and decide not to buy ads; another positive review seems to disappear. But I am sure that is just a coincidence.

Oh wait, let’s get back on track here. Here is a copy of the check from South Bay BMW.

  • Copy of the $1,000 Check from BMW

Here it is.

Success Using Yelp!

I personally think I got lucky here because I doubt after the review was buried by Yelp! I would have had any negotiating power with BMW, or at least it would have been seriously diminished.

Was it worth my time? Probably not. Did I learn enough about Yelp! To know that Yelp! is skewed towards what helps Yelp! and only Yelp!? I think so.

Could someone come along with a fairer algorithm and take out Yelp! I certainly think so. And if you are a programmer and or developer, I want you to reach out to me asap!

  • Other Closing Thoughts

First of all, this is just my opinion, and it has not been tested in court as far as I know.  But Yelp! decides what reviews, both negative and positive, to recommend. So I believe it may be opening itself to a lawsuit on many levels.

Here, t
he internet law shields a site like Rip Off Report when it republishes something from a third party about you. But when a third party advertiser decides when and if that review is “Recommended,” could a Yelp! type company loses the shield?

Could Yelp! Be a Party to the Review and Have Liability?

Well, could it be a party to the review? So what about if Yelp edited the bad review about you, or skewed it one way or another? Are there any lawyers who agree that recommending something false or defamatory could be a bad act?

I am going to reach out to Yelp! and I invite Yelp! to respond to my invitation and will gladly print their point of view.

The bottom line, many consumers and business owners are fed up with Yelp! and believe it is unfair.

You, as the consumer, must ultimately decide if you think the system is fair. One thing is certain, a single-use account, will often see reviews go “poof.”

So as a reviewer it really even worth the time?

Please comment and chime in. I want to hear about your Yelp! successes or failures. Let’s attempt to unravel the positives and negatives of Yelp!

Rest assured, Circle of Legal Trust does not sell advertising and is a noncommercial, informational organization of attorneys who help each other and consumers. The goal is a safer, fairer playing field for all comers.

Understanding Google and Negative SEO Against Attorneys

Table of Contents:

Learn about how blog networks will kill your rankings

Michael Ehline Speaks on Content Networks aka PBN’s.

By Michael Ehline – First, let me apologize for not posting anything new or exciting recently on the Circle of Legal Trust blog.  I have been swamped trying to thwart incessant negative SEO attacks against our law firm’s website. In the process, I believe we have come up with an approach for identifying who some of the/our attacker(s) is/are.  So now you have a chance to win the skirmishes and battles. All this is to prevent evil to your brand.

Unfortunately, the war can never truly be won until Google disallows bad actors from harming the search results for top ranking sites. Until then, there will always be an environment of fear, uncertainty, and doubt for those accustomed to Google’s more stable algorithm of the past.

So for most lawyers like me, it is no accident that you fell on this aggressive attorney’s treatise on this more and more popular topic. A few bad votes from bad neighborhoods can easily cost your position on Google.

The Discussion and Test Site Will Be About https://ehlinlelaw.com/ A Statewide Personal Injury Firm Based In So Cal

The Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC, is a personal injury attorney firm brand based in Los Angeles, CA. The domain has been live for about eight years on the www. Most of our clients are car accidents, cruise ship, and motorcycle injuries, victims. Primarily these customers live in the Northern and Southern California judicial districts.

When we lose a position for those above terms, it affects our ability to meet our bottom line. Since assisting seriously injured victims is what we do, we were ill-prepared for the havoc of post-April of 2012. As one of the first 5000 or so members of Google Plus, we were already engaging in social media.

So before Penguin broke, we had already created a brain trust of top-ranking attorneys on Google Plus. Eventually, the outcome of these efforts evolved into the Circle of Legal Trust. Now, our site and others are starting to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of Penguin. Now enter the advent of aggressive, negative SEO.

Here, we will discuss the tools that your law firm should be using to find malicious linking to your right site. Then we get into obtaining contact information about the attackers (not always possible). Afterward, we look at spotting patterns, link spikes, and poor quality sites, both law-related and non-specific sites.

I will also cover how to get rid of the wrong links. Some you may have intentionally or unintentionally built to your law website.

NSEO INDEX

I am also proposing the creation of an index of suspected negative SEO networks. So now we can have a blacklist to quickly identify bad links and bad link networks. (we will include a link to our current “Google Links Disavow List” at the bottom resources later today.)  So get me your disavow lists.  And let’s compare notes and share. That way, we attorneys can help each other take down these negative SEO networks.

So moving along. Any law firm that keeps getting loaded up with “exact match” anchors from “low-quality sites” needs to read this comprehensive treatise. Who knows, maybe Google will do something about this if enough of us legal beagles start spreading our tragic stories.

Why The Circle of Legal Trust?

The Circle of Legal Trust has different levels of membership. The attorneys in the highest levels are the ones who want to take control of their online presence, need to have their finger on the pulse of search, especially when it comes to an understanding the semantic web.

The attorneys at the top-level become mentors to the newer attorneys seeking to get the “Law Degree” in Attorney Search. Our terms of use and rules, among other things , mirror the Google, Bing, and Yahoo! Quality Guidelines.

A Loose Confederation of Lawyers

As a collective of lawyers, we can act as watchdogs both when it comes to what the search engines are up to, and help oversee each others’ websites when evildoers are attempting to manipulate Google’s constant changes to harm us. We don’t want people linking to our sites unless it is a legitimate vote, earned through a trusting relationship.

I know, for example, that when injury attorney, Anthony Castelli, links to my Gplus profile, or our firm site, that it was not a “guest post,” or some other artificial link. It was not an attempt to manipulate Google’s rankings. Still, instead, it was because he trusts me, he knows I understand attorney search and the quality guidelines and feels confident he is not linking out to a bad neighborhood.

Voluntary Linking?

He knows my firm, and I have an excellent reputation for recovering significant monetary verdicts and settlements. Yet, I still make time to strengthen the public perception of the legal profession by my volunteer work with the Circle of Legal Trust.

So if he wants to link to our law firm voluntarily, he chooses the topic and anchor text, not me, and all I do is just be me. It is a real vote, and I did not even need to campaign for it.  It was just me.

Light Years Ahead

Since COLT members are collectively light years ahead of most other attorneys in their web rankings, we all become unsuspecting [till now] targets of unsavory SEO companies. Often they may have clients (other attorneys we compete with). So those who lost a lot of rankings when Google got smarter about detecting bogus and manipulative links.

As we continuously improve, they do a few negative SEO attacks. And we disappear or lose rank. So the SEO people these firms may be paying, charge from $500. Or maybe even $10,000 per month.  To keep a windfall of money like that coming in, these SEO people need to show results to keep that unjust enrichment coming in.

Even the law firm’s in house SEO people have to find a way to recover from Penguin FAST. So they will be picketing a McDonald’s for a pay increase for flipping burgers lickety split. And since it is so hard to get a natural link on a contextually related, themed site, why not just spam people? So pay someone a few dollars to blast a bunch of wrong links to each competing site on page 1.

M.A.D.D.

The Nixon doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.D.) is alive and well. Why is that? So for example, you scale your client’s site back onto page 1 using NSEO against your competitor. Sure, it will probably ignite a war of mutually assured destruction.

After all, every firm on page one will start firing back at the firm that took over page 1. But who cares, so long as you can show a flow chart that your firm’s site popped back up and keep that check coming in.

So while it is a blessing to rank well on Google, and have a group of trusted attorneys who have vetted each other giving each other a helping hand, many SEO companies exist and other bad actors.

And they would rather pay $5 bucks to someone to blast one of our sites with bad links from Xrumer, for example. So now, they can trash your site and pop up above your site. All this, rather than engage in proper online ranking strategies. Getting this so far? If you can knock out the first page firms, and you are at the top of page 2, you go back to page 1. Simple!

Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Ranking on Google

So eternal vigilance in tracking your incoming links is now a mandatory, daily job, unless and until Google closes the negative SEO floodgate.  I, for one, as a Google stockholder, am extremely dissatisfied that Google allows quality sites to be destroyed by negative SEO essentially.

But at least Google has provided the ability for aggressive, vigilant attorneys to recover and defeat negative SEO. But only if you have the time, desire, and it is affordable. Or you may simply ego-driven to be the best, like me, you can stave off some of the effects of negative SEO.

Tough Choices

For now, many attorneys face two stark choices: (1) Watch your site like a hound and battle spam and malware attacks daily; (2) Invest more money into Pay Per Click and give up on the organic search altogether. For those of us who ignore PPC when we search Google, we strongly see the value in a powerful organic presence and brand and look at PPC as an adjunct to fill in the blanks if we don’ get what we want organically or via Google+.

Thinner Wallets

Unfortunately, now the money we would have spent on PPC is being used to pay off negative SEO sites that blackmail us. And other resources must now be used to pay dedicated staff members to locate bad links. So now our attorneys may eat up billable hours doing DMCA takedowns. Policing sites that are hurting, and scraping us isn’t something we should have to do.

So although PPC use does seem to increase when Google tweaks the organic algo, the bid prices are now so high, that we now must focus all our energies in getting back our organic rankings. We have to use our other resources as a mobile fire brigade.

Our PPC budget is now eaten up entirely – and some – by our efforts to eliminate or reduce the negative SEO. So this is a story I hear more and more from larger firms, and why I am writing this piece. So while I support getting rid of spam, etc., and I like PPC  (It is has doubled my stock values since Penguin was released :-).

Do I Want to Rely Upon PPC?

I do not want to rely 100% on it, nor do I solely rely upon organic search. But now I am seeing a mass exodus of attorneys in my circles, from Google PPC moving to Bing and Yahoo Paid Search! Stories range from “it looks like Google is trying to force us into PPC with these algo changes.”

Or it could be “with the increased bid prices, despite using Google PPC for 15 or more years, we could not afford it. And the leads were lower and lower quality” as PPC became more competitive and expensive.)

PPC as a Last Resort Till You’re Broke?

I could be wrong, but it seems like Penguin, in particular, has made Google PPC a churn and burn tool. I mean, firms are trying to save their Google ships from sinking. In the end, they spend whatever money they had left and felt that they had to give up or were being “Scroogled.”

Stock Prices are Going Up!

Whatever the reasons, numbers don’t lie, my Google stocks have doubled, and I am going to do whatever Google says to do, and go with the program.  Once I commit, I am in it for the long haul. Below is an example of how you can kill your competitors.

Example.  Attorney A, B, C rank ok in organic. As in number 1, B is number 3, and C is at the top of page 2. Attorney C knocks out A and B from organic SERPS with negative SEO and rises above their old slots and maybe takes slot 3, or 4.

Attorney C takes over the first-page organic slots and A and B, for what amounts to $45.00 worth of bad links. Attorney A and B are now forced to bid entirely all their marketing budget against thousands of other people who have Higher PPC Quality Scores, whose sites are specifically optimized for PPC conversions and placements.

A and B spend $50.00 per click for several months, and get low-quality calls and leads and are even bidding on negative keywords they didn’t want and have to block, and simultaneously risk blocking a word they wish to bid upon.

They Gave Up?

A and B scrap their web sites (just give up) and spend 50k a month for a few months on Google PPC, using up their entire yearly marketing budget in two months. The leads they do get from PPC are not at the same quality level as what they had gotten from organic, and they are starting to get angry.  They finally realize that they need to find another way to market online and that Yellow Pages and bus stops are no longer effective.

Many of my friends realized in about June of 2012 that they would, as a matter of budget, have to turn to Bing and Yahoo PPC combined, and are at least able to [still] get some business. They would rather use Google. But now only huge firms can afford PPC.

And SEO “experts” also can constantly attack PPC competitors with highly advanced PPC click farm attacks and control the first page of the organics and PPC.

Fighting Spam and Not Working?

So now you are spending an inordinate amount of time doing click disputes to Google. My attorneys who are active in running their marketing departments at the Circle of Legal Trust have relayed to me that both Yahoo! and Bing are MUCH more likely to honor a click fraud dispute than Google.

So for many of us, assuming we want to be recognized online, we cannot effectively do everything, and none of dare use or trust organic SEO or PPC click management services like Reach Local. In fact, I personally believe that I was deceived by their salespeople in an ongoing dispute, and have the documentation to prove it.

Stark Choices

So we have to make stark choices. I hope that Google will see my evidence below concerning the significant and continuous attacks on our law firms’ site. I hope they look at the actual IP addresses and email addresses, emails, and lists of black sites that are improperly trying to hurt and are hurting our law firm’s organic rankings.

We are also going to show you, the average solo attorney or a small firm with a shingle out, how to get rid of bad links. We know not whether we can demonstrate to Google how their new policies are forcing businesses in a tough economy to focus efforts on defeating attacks, rather than focusing their efforts on adding quality content and improving search results with fresh, quality content.

But we can help you protect yourself. We are just barely surviving, but remain confident. Negative SEO has become so prevalent against our site, and many other legal sites, our main thrust, and the focus of many law firms have gone from getting good links, to removing and stopping the bad links! My how times have changed.

So What is Negative SEO?

Back in January of 2013, I wrote a pretty comprehensive article about negative SEO and lawyers here.  For the purposes of this article, we will try and confine our discussion to bad links. But in reality, it can be achieved by malware attacks, hacking that redirects and cloaks, and any number of other methods discussed here at the bottom.

So for this article, Negative SEO is the process of building bad linking signals to a website, typically the website of a competitor that has risen above your site, for example, in the search engine results position (“SERPS”).

No One Can Harm You? Not Anymore?

Building exact match anchor branded, dirty, or naked anchor links from low-quality sites is the primary and cheapest method. So that is what most evildoers utilize to hurt your rankings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo! Although in the past (2006), Google had said a competitor couldn’t build bad links to your domain(s).

There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.

Our search results regularly change as we update our index. While we can’t guarantee that any page will consistently appear in our index or appear with a particular rank, we do offer guidelines for maintaining a “crawler-friendly” site. Following these recommendations may increase the likelihood that your site will show up consistently in the Google search results. (Read more here.)

As far as 2006, while although Google admitted that it was possible to take out a website with bad links. But they made clear that this is almost a non-issue. But then, a month or so before the first iteration of Google Penguin, in about March of 2012, Google silently changed its written policies. Now they say that it could now be MORE possible for a bad actor to harm your website.

Google Works Hard?

Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages. (Read more here.)

Penguin Give?

As an attorney, this new language tells me that Google was honest that there would be some more “give” with the new Penguin algo in April of 2012. Interestingly enough, it was right around this same time.

So our main site received a considerable link spike of exact match anchors for terms we already had been number one, page one for years. And these came from a vast network of Indian, Russian and Swiss-based directories and low-quality forums.

So it is almost as if someone on the inside at Google had tipped off some SEO webmasters of a shortcut to number one that was about to be unleashed.

Of course, back then, we didn’t even know about tools like ahrefs, majestic, or MOZ tools. And we rarely used WM tools, and frankly, it was a waste of time, since it does not tell you the individual pages and file extensions where the bad links are.

So we didn’t discover this information as to the dates the massive March 2012 link spikes occurred, until after the first release of Penguin when our site tanked, and desperately searched for, and located effective tools to help us identify negative SEO and bad links in general.

How Do I know If I Lost Organic Ranking

For you noobies, you may already know just by doing a Google search, or from your phone has stopped ringing. But there is an easy way to check your traffic, either by using Google WM Tools or by using any number of the paid tools we discuss in this treatise.

First, think like an attorney and do some reason and deduction. When was the last Penguin update? We know from Google that the last Penguin update was “Penguin 2.1 (#5)”, on October 4, 2013. So let’s look at our traffic flowchart and see what happened to our website here:

DMCA and other takedowns for Penguin

Screenshot of Ehline Law WM Tools

Ok. So from a traffic point of view, we lost about a thousand impressions starting on October 4-5 and lost about 30 real clicks a day, until about October 8, which saw a sharp increase in traffic and then in started to fluctuate. As of today, it is down down down, and that has coincided with a steady flow of exact match anchors from foreign language porn and Cialis sites. Unfortunately for us, the traffic we are now getting is not for what we are selling, but for our how to become a lawyer with no law school tutorial on our site.

You see, we have great content. And we get traffic from all over the place. (Social signals, past clients link to us from their blogs, Circle of Legal Trust interactions, etc.). So this chart by no means represents just organic search impressions for our valued terms to keep our business alive.

So any net increase in traffic displaced our keyword terms, and other tools like Serpfox, show we fell off the map for terms like ”

Los Angeles car accident attorneys

, “and ”

Los Angeles personal injury attorneys

” compared to where we were before (Page 1, Slot 1, to page 3.)

Based on the timing and history of the Negative SEO links to our site, we see a direct relationship. So using the WM tools chart is not an exclusive factor in making our determination that Penguin is hurting us big time. The sharp drop in business and money terms and timing of the releases say yes, it was Penguin.

Other Factors that May Explain Our Apparent, Sudden Bounce Back In Traffic But Not For Search Terms

As soon as we heard Penguin was released in 2012, my team went to work and watched our SERPS. We started reading articles about “link dilution.” Interestingly, we discovered that the various link detection tools were only being used by big SEO companies.

After using these excellent tools, we made the history of our domain. Next, we identified a massive spike in our BL profile for links containing the terms “accident” and “car accident.” And, using tools like SERPFOX, we were able to see that we lost rankings for all those same terms post-Penguin.

Giving Up To Get Back

So we stopped adding valuable content, stopped researching ways to make a PPC campaign more effective. And we even canceled client meetings. After that we went back to work on our site. We spent several days doing DMCA Takedowns. (and still are doing them almost weekly). And we began putting site owners and hosting companies on legal notice. And for all harmful sites pointing to our domain, we did a disavow, not just a DMCA.

With the most recent Penguin, we dipped again and spotted a new attack that almost would have been overlooked by us, had Eric Enge not told us about foreign language sites. We found that digger deeper into these sites, that although they look English, they are French, Russian, etc.

Doubling Efforts?

So we doubled our efforts. Amazingly, within a few weeks of doing this x 2, starting around October 29, 2013, it started working. Shockingly, we began to see our rankings return A LITTLE.

Eric Enge said in our Las Vegas seminar that we have to wait to recover, until the next Penguin update. My only theories are that Google recently changed their recovery policy to be more dynamic. So it went back to like it used to be in the happy times. But perhaps Penguin was still running. And maybe it noticed that many of these bad links had been shed during the algo run.

A Consistent, Unrelenting Negative SEO Attack is Akin to Plugging a Dam With Your Fingers

Plug it

Plug the dam – Not

The bottom line, since April of 2012, we have been in a constant battle with negative SEO. When we get links taken down, we move up. When a new attack begins, we go down. So we are probably not the best example site since there has not been a period where we have been bad link free. It is akin to plugging a dam with your fingers.

You plug one hole with your finger and a new leak springs in another area of the dam. But we are an example of a site that is spending time trying to defeat attacks. So rather than better our site (but isn’t cleaning bad links bettering your site?), we are defending NSEO assaults. So this is probably the best explanation as to why we have not disappeared altogether. Who knows?

So What is an Exact Match Anchor?

As you probably guessed from reading above, an exact match anchor is simply a string of keywords. So it could be: “Personal Injury Attorney,” “Car Accident Lawyer,” or some other set of words. The key is that searchers commonly use them to find an “injury lawyer,” for example, when they type a search query into Google.

But it could even be a single word like “Accident.” It used to be the case that the more exact match anchors you had to your site for the same term, the higher it would rank for that specific term. (See also “Google Bomb. “). But even as far back as 2006, it was known that a link from a blacklisted, or porn site, would probably hurt your site – but rarely did.

During the time, Google had been striving to give more credit to themed, contextually related external sites, and basically seemed to treat links from non-themed sites in more of a neutral fashion.

When Penguin was finally released in April of 2012, it sought, inter alia, to identify too many exact match anchors to your site as unnatural. And it reduced the rankings and value of both the sending and receiving site. It worked(s) in tandem with Panda.

Testing Doesn’t Lie

Based upon our testing, if your link is on an over-optimized site, even if it is NOT an exact match money term, you still get punished. Google says it is not a penalty, but an algorithm change from which you can recover.

In fact, Google even sent out notices via Webmaster Tools, informing many site owners that they had unnatural appearing links. So they could have a chance to restore their site’s value by getting the crappy links removed. But many people were unable to get many of these now “unnatural” links taken down.

Naturally Obtained

After all, they were naturally obtained. And the parties linking back either refused to remove them, or wanted to be paid, or simply did not respond to multiple removal requests.

There was no link disavowal tool yet for Google, and Bing already had one of their own, beating Google to the punch.  While Google debated internally on a disavow tool, Matt Cutts said that some webmasters might be better off trashing their poorly linked sites, and starting over!

If you’ve cleaned and still don’t recover, ultimately, you might need to start all over with a fresh site, Matt Cutts said.

Reading some of the comments on the site link above containing that quote, webmasters and site owners were none too happy, and they almost universally and desperately called for a Google “links disavow tool,” and even for Matt Cutts’ very head.

Low Value Sites Taking Over?

In the meantime, Wikipedia and new, one or two-page sites with little to no links started to dominate the first page results for major keyword searches. And many businesses who relied upon their search presence went under or had to lay people off. So strategies had to be developed to get rid of bad links and recover.

Many started over from scratch. I am proud to say that Circle of Legal Trust led the Herculean effort at saving our members’ branded, time tested sites.

Google’s Official Position – Negative SEO is It’s “Rare”

Matt Cutts, Google’s representative, has said that negative SEO is “rare”. Considering there are millions of sites and only ten or so organic slots on page one, I agree. But I disagree that it is rare as to those previously top ranking sites that have been blasted to the back page of Google.

I have personally felt and am still feeling the effects of Negative SEO on our brand and our law firm. We have consistently been on page one for many key terms and phrases for at least seven (7) years, and even have maintained a PageRank Six (6), for several years.

It was not until these huge link spikes, and foreign blog networks started to blast us with exact match anchors in about March of 20012, that we suffered. We no longer enjoyed the “Glückliche Zeiten “.  Advances in spamming technology made it far more possible than ever for your boat to get sunk. And we have all seen many first page companies fall.

Even doing a cursory backlinks check on personal injury attorney websites that historically had used to be on page one, I have seen this same pattern.

Too Many Same Match Anchors?

Tons of exact match anchors were blasted to their sites starting right around March of 2012, right before Penguin, Panda, and Hoard hit. What surprised me more, is that it appeared that many of the sites that ended up taking over those ten slots on page one, emanated from legal blog networks, such as Findlaw’s Firmsites.

Enter the Negative SEO Industry

There are also numerous reports of other non attorney sites getting hit and disappearing, as well as documented tests proving how easy it is to destroy a high ranking website for $45.00. A whole new industry of negative SEO companies has arisen, using old directories and blog networks that used to do well in Google, to link out to your site to hurt you in Google.

They do it, so you will pay them to remove the links (aka blackmail/extortion). And this gets done to help your competitors hurt your site. They even will have a link to Paypal to remove the link on the “contact us” page. Genius! (I will show you some screenshots below along with an estimate on how much it has cost us to pay for removals of our links from sites we never asked to be in)

And of course, around that, a whole new industry of “link removal” has risen up like a phoenix. So if it is so rare, why does it cost me and others hundreds of thousands of dollars to deal with? How can you focus on building a quality site, when all your efforts are now focused on keeping what you have?

The Mantra?

The Google mantra became: Really good sites would get natural links and you should be fine.  But as Pot Pie Girl correctly pointed out, and I will prove in this article, beyond the intentional negative SEO, there is indirect negative SEO. “You get scraped, copied, syndicated, spammed, and so on and so on. Those perfect sites that linked to the original article and your post also get scraped, copied, syndicated, and spammed as well.” [Emphasis.] (View Source.)

So, in my opinion, negative SEO hurts Google’s reputation and bottom line, and it hurts primarily people who were on page one. Sure more people turn to PPC. But the keyword bid prices for law firms are so high, many stops using it soon after that.

In any event, why would somebody do negative SEO on a site that was on page 3 of Google? Of course, it’s “rare.” It can be the result of unintended acts, as well as intentional acts by third parties.

AND from a site owner intentionally spamming Google. The algo does not discriminate. So is it fair to let sites get wiped out from these attacks? Wiser legal minds than mine could answer that:

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” (Sir William Blackstone.) Hopefully, Google will revisit what is happening once they read this comprehensive report on the disastrous effects of negative SEO on innocent lawyer websites.

Look for Exact Match Do-Follow When Cleaning Your External Links Profile, Unless You Built a Lot of Spammy No Follow Links

What is a do follow versus a rel=”no follow” link? Simple, a do-follow passes “link juice” (learn more), which directly affects ranking. A rel=” no follow” does not pass link juice and only indirectly effects SERPS (an example would be that a site with zero rel=” no-follow links” looks unnatural to Google.)
Matt Cutts has already made clear that no follow links will not hurt you unless you have a lot of spammy (eg, exact match anchors), links. Or links from obviously bad neighborhoods are also bad. (Defined as a web page that has been penalized by a search engine (most notably Google)) So these sites were using shady SEO tactics, such as hidden text or link farms. Now they are pointed at your site on a large scale!. (Learn more about rel=”no follow” here.)

How do I Tell if a Link is Rel=” No Follow” or Do-Follow?

Ok, how is a basically trained attorney going to identify these do-follow or no-follow links? Well, don’t be alarmed first of all. So to begin with, no tag or identifier exists that says rel=” do-follow.” All links are automatically do follow unless the landing page itself gets no-indexed. So unless the URL is set up as a rel=” no follow” link with attribution is do-follow. Incidentally, there are also attributes like rel=” vote for” and rel=” publisher.”

I am chuckling because you are still left holding the bag trying to locate them quickly, right? Wrong, ahrefs, and all the other tools have a feature that allows you to identify and even filter out no-follow versus do-follow links. You can also use your mouse and right-click view source and the to an edit “find” in your toolbar editor and type “follow” and look for the links on the page. Below is a screenshot of how to filter the search to locate only the do-follow links feature on “ahrefs.”

You would simply login to ahrefs, and enter your url in the explorer box, and then in the left under BACKLINKS, click “Anchors”.  This will cause all the referring anchors to display, At which point, you click “DOFOLLOW” (See below.)

re="no follow" screenshots

Helping lawyers find no follows

Of course, you can also keep the anchor link search at default “all”, shown above. And in that case, ahrefs will simply show you an anti box next to each link to your target site. Here is a screenshot:

Ahrefs no juice passedExample of a search on ahrefs for lawyers seeking no follows

In the example above, you can see the anchor text “www.ehlinelaw.com,” is just a naked anchor from Scoop.it, so you are ok.  No need to disavow or try and delete that one.  You may even get some traffic to your site. Cool!

How Do I Find the Offending Site Owners and Hosting Company(ies)?

Great question.  Most of the time, they are privately registered. If not, they are different sites. So make sure to use the Google Translation Tool when you send a takedown.  In any event, we like to use http://who.is

Just enter in the URL of the offending site, and you will generally get domain registrar info, hosting info, and SOMETIMES the actual email contact of the site admin and owner(s). Most of the time, these are bogus email addresses and a waste of time. Sometimes you get lucky and get a response, as you will see at the bottom of this report.

Enter LSI as a Game-Changer

Some people did trash their crusty old sites. So many started over with new sites, and in most cases, and for all intents and purposes, unintelligible LSI written legal pages became the new backlink for law sites. In effect, write a page like Carl Sagan, or William F. Buckley Jr. spoke, and you will rank high.Ok, now that you get that let’s get back to brass tacks.

Is It Really Negative SEO or Is It Bad Content?

Great question, right? I mean, after all, you don’t want to go removing all your link signals, if it is perhaps the Panda punishing your site for duplicate, thin, redundant, or semantically poor site.

I would say in many cases, and it is terrible content.  But think about this for a minute. See if the stuff linking back to you is written anything like an over-optimized site. If so, you got trouble, buddy. So as you read the articles and content in the link snippet area that connects back to your attorney site, what do you see?

Do you see constant, repetitive words like:

“If you became seriously injured in a Los Angeles bicycle accident, accident lawyer attorneys for crash law are here to help at 888 SPAM-MENOW.” This is called over-optimization, and it used to work VERY well to alert Google as to the nature and intent of your domain.

If you see stuff like that on your site, or the site linking to you, no matter what kind of link, be it naked, branded, or exact match, get that link taken down by hook or by crook! Rewrite your site using the same natural language that an intelligent lawyer would generally use. (yeah right – no write like William F. Buckley Jr.)

Use semantically related words and phrases. Make sure sites that link back to you do this as a matter of common practice, or don’t rush to get that link! Understanding this so far?

It Could Be Both Bad Links and Bad Content

As noted above, it is possible that your site got a double whammy. So obviously, you need to be very careful. You need to look at the sites that are beating you and look at their content, backlinks, and other user signals and reverse engineer this. So don’t go running out disavowing links. But DO remove duplicate copyrighted content! Especially if it has links pointing back to your site.

Effect of the Google Links Disavow Tool

So many misguided webmasters try and sell us lawyers on the concept of simply disavowing the bad links. After all, so far, there has been no downside. But not so fast.  As will be discussed infra, Google does not even guarantee they will ignore all the bad links, and they even encourage you to get them taken down yourself.  For this and other reasons, I have VERY little faith in this tool.

How to Find Exact Match Anchors on Your Legal Website

Where are These Exact Match Anchors Coming From?

  • Ezine Type Sites
  • Press Release Sites With Do Follow Exact Match Anchors
  • Lawyers.com or Findlaw Sites that Constantly Get Scraped
  • Do Follow Wiki Sites that Allow Public Edits
  • Social sites that get scraped
  • Do Follow Forums
  • Do Follow Blog Comments
  • Cialis and Viagra Sites
  • Other sources -Porn, Russian, Chinese and foreign language sites of all types
  • Site-wide Sidebar or Footer Links on ANY of the above sites are instant death.

Efforts at Mitigation Must Follow An Understanding of the Types Sites That Google Does Not Like

Ok. So first let’s wrap our brains around Google’s hammering of Ezine in 2012.  Google basically said that article republishing sites are really not themed, most people don’t go to an ezine to find, say a lawyer.

And they are really just used to manipulate the SERPS, while offering no real value when they flood non themed sites looking for content filler, with duplicate articles, on say, their pool cleaner site(s). Incidentally, knowing this, if you are a negative SEO company, this is the first place you go to try and hurt someone right?

Ezines

Of course, if you used exact match anchors in your ezine author’s box, and your articles were shared across a blog network of dry cleaners, porn sites, and other garbage sites, that definitely hurt and is hurting you. Imagine having links like “personal injury attorney” from a pool cleaner site.

Especially links from a pool cleaner site that was probably exclusively created with scraped or shared articles is terrible. No thanks. Penguin would hurt both the sending and receiving sites.

Attenuated Relations?

The contextual relationships between both sending and receiving sites are too far attenuated. (Penguin FILTER!) Besides, it is merely a duplicate article. (no value at all.)

So for our law firm, to mitigate, we immediately, within days of chatter about Ezine getting hammered in 2012, deleted our article sharing accounts on ezines, and ArticlesBase, despite all the traffic and lead generation we got. We decided we could see where this was headed. And we would rather not argue.

Lucky for us, the few sites that did pick up our articles were mostly rel=no follow.  But the ones that left the links as do-follow were usually cooperative in removing our articles with no real hassle other than the time it took to contact the webmasters. We did this within weeks of Penguin breaking in 2012.

Lawyers.com and Findlaw

This is a huge problem that was addressed by Pot Pie Girl, supra. Authority sites get scraped constantly, along with the links.  So this means now you have the ezine effect, with potentially hundreds of websites copying and pasting your content ad infinitum into a never-ending supply of scraper sites. There are only a few ways to deal with this, as will be discussed, the big question will be whether you own the content, or not.

Sites like Chimyen copy and paste every lawyers.com article and blog post onto their sites along with your links. (of course, it is a privately registered site.) Google knows it is a BS site. So the links to your site from them hurt you now. Understood? Hello DMCA. And this is when you use the DMCA.

Wiki Sites

Lucky for you, most of these sites allow public edits.  Many are do follow, unfortunately. So the best thing to do is remove your links and ALSO disavow the site, just in case it comes back again. This is the same firm, we opine, as they are still spamming the term “accident.” I posted a screenshot of this link scam set up below. http://www.lsi.us.es/~wiki/dsdm/index.php?title=Evaluate_Car_Insurance_Quotes_United_Kingdom&oldid=1014194

Evaluate Car Insurance Quotes United Kingdom - RedDSDM 2013-12-11 16-16-57As you can clearly see in the example above, it looks like a decent article and would probably pass ezine community edits, etc. But it is on a foreign-language site. Obviously, to Google, this is spam, as an English article on a French or Spanish site, it adds no value whatsoever.

PURE BS?

Besides that, the wiki site itself is pure BS. It is filled with a bunch of commercial links and scraped content.  Even after we created an account and tried to remove our link off of this garbage site, the “wiki edit history” keeps the link on the site. So all we can do is disavow and pray Google will ignore it. We get links every day from garbage sites like this, and it is hurting us.

Social Sites that Get Scraped

It is common to see articles and news clips get scraped onto crummy networks of news aggregators with your links. Disavow when you find me to be safe.

Do Follow Forums

For years, there were primarily Indian based companies trying to sell people links from forum comments. Paid programs exist where people can mass submit exact match anchors to multiple websites. You need to disavow and contact the site owner who was spammed with your links, and do whatever you have to to get them removed.

When these Indian companies had their networks outed as spam after Penguin, many converted their systems over to paid negative SEO machines. So they probably have not suffered much.

Do Follow Blog Comments

Same as forums.

Cialis and Viagra, PORN It has long been known by Google that Cialis, Viagra, and porn, are highly spammed topics.  So if a negative SEO company can get YOUR law firm’s exact match anchor onto a few of these sites, you are toast.  His client pops up above yours, and you disappear from the first page for that keyword unless you are very aggressive and get Google’s attention.

So if you see sidebar or blogroll links, or if the entire site or page itself is dedicated to these topics, contact the site owner right away, as he may have been hacked, or at least let him know you are going to disavow the site unless your links are removed. http://exthoughts.com/article.php?id=20657

Other Sites – Porn, Russian, Korean, Chinese and Foreign Language Sites

Identifying a Low Quality Site Using Tools

Ok, so now what Mike?  There are a lot of ways I can get hit, but how do I even know?  I am busy running a law practice and pay someone else. What do I do?  Well, for me, I want to do it myself, since it could be those very people you are hiring who are using bad tactics that got you here. Or maybe they are not as savvy and sophisticated as they need to be to get a clean site.

So you can hire Eric Enge, or you can learn how to protect your own brand and use Eric as a consultant till you learn.  The only other person I can recommend is Andre van Wyk.  But for those of you with brass balls like me, you learn. So keep on reading.

Ok. So Now I have Identified What Types of External Links Google Doesn’t Like But How Do I Find Out If This is Happening to Me?

I am glad you asked.  So first, as discussed, there are several tools out there, from Majestic SEO, ahrefs, Open Site Explorer and so on.  They all offer a pretty much worthless free link tool that shows you a few of the links they found, as well as the anchor text, in relation to your site. And they all offer much better paid link detection platforms.

None of them seem to find all your external links, as they all DO return a few examples that one other detection platform may not return.  Google WM tools also offers snapshot of your backlinks, but fails to show the actual landing page, or anchors of the links to your site, so it is pretty much worthless too IMHO.

We Use Ahrefs Paid Tools, So this is What We Will Use Here

So for this query, you create a paid account with ahrefs.com, and then type in your site url.  Now there are several ways you can crawl your site. You can set it up to crawl only the externals pointing to your landing page itself, or you can set it up to find links to all pages on your site.  So for purposes of this tutorial, we are going to crawl for all links to each child page and the home page of our site.

*.domain/* is what you would use: See image here below >>>

ahrefs domainDomain

So go ahead and enter the url of your site into the explorer bar. Then click “Search Links.” Next step is to click “Anchors” on the left column.

Other Examples of  Attacks Against Our Law Firm Web Site

So using the tool above, searching anchors, you can find all the sites and the terms they link to you with. Although Google asserts these attacks are rare, we beg to differ.  Our rankings virtually disappeared compared to what they were, after these concerted attacks.

Bad Neighborhood Blog Networks.

(Typically a network of multi purpose blogs that are now being used to hurt sites, instead of helping them. Could be your own scraped content, or just a sitewide link on a bunch of PR0 sites that are probably already de-indexed or filtered by Google)

Ex. It would be a company that charges approximately $5.00 to $500.00, to blast scraped or user even generated articles to hundreds of sites that all use the same template, content and backlink blogrolls.

Here is a screenshot from a link to a very spammy template page we successfully had taken down on hundreds of sites using the same template:  http://car-info.netne.net/Motorcycles/Protective_Gear_On_The_Rider_And_The_Bike__otorcycle_Awareness_3965.html << We are in the process of doing a DMCA on this site now but wanted to be able to do a screenshot first.

Automated Domain Farm

Example of a Domain Farm

As you can see, this is a non-themed site that probably made someone a lot of money from ranking different types of sites selling sidebar backlinks that use scraped content as “filler.” Probably made someone money before Penguin, but now acts like a boat anchor on the rankings sites that it links to. The articles to our firm website are versions of ours but have been slightly altered and filled with multiple exact match links to our site. Clearly not done by us, or at our behest, but Penguin sure would think it was ours.

By the way, this is day two editing this article, and here is the response from the sending site’s hosting company. Site taken down, Victory!

DMCA Takedown Notice (submitted from website)

Inbox
x
Hosting24.com <abuse@hosting24.com>

11:58 PM (10 hours ago)

to me

PLEASE DO NOT EDIT THE SUBJECT OF THIS EMAIL!

************************

REPLY HAS BEEN ADDED:

************************Hello ,Listed abusive account has been terminated. Thank You for taking the time to report this.It has been my pleasure to assist you today. If you have any further questions or concerns feel free to contact us again.Best Wishes,

Jillian N.

Help Desk StaffBusiness Enterprise Hosting Media

www.hosting24.com********************

ORIGINAL MESSAGE:

********************You have 24 hours to remove our copyrighted content here:

http://car-info.netne.net/Motorcycles/Protective_Gear_On_The_Rider_And_The_Bike__otorcycle_Awareness_3965.html

The Blame Placing

Later, in our email screenshots with the owner or controller of this network, it is revealed that someone, anyone can blast anything they want on a network of hundreds of partner sites. He alleges that it was done by someone else, another law firm in another state. He even provided me with information about who he thinks may have done it, that I forwarded to Eric Enge and provided the screenshot below.

There are many other sites in this same network that all HAD the same exact article and links embedded on them with the same exact template.  Most have been taken down at the host level, due to our aggressive tactics in notifying hosting companies and threatening copyright actions. At the bottom are the email screenshots with a list of other links on this network that took us months to take down. And of the colloquy between the admitted owner of many of the above domains and me.

Other Examples:

(porn sites with membership, dry cleaners, and other wikis with old publishing platforms or compromised interfaces that allow public edits with or without user logins.) Typically, although many of these sites have zero PR, and are probably deindexed, Google still counts the links from them.  This is why I do not believe a DMCA is even enough to clean up your backlinks. Assuming Google counts links on deindexed sites, even a DMCA cannot help you!

You have to get the content and the links removed to have security and peace of mind. Here are some examples of some screenshots of nasty sites that are linking to us that we do not want in our backlinks profile for the term “accident,” a highly sought after the key term for a catastrophic injury law firm!

Directory Listings:

  • Here is one with broken contact info and private registration. http://www.linkcross.info/index.php?c=44&p=51 <<< Disavowed since that was all we could do.

Directory Networks. This is typically a network of old school PHP directories that are paid or scraped listings of lots of businesses. (They typically use exact match anchors. These are for terms you already rank for. And this is to try and hurt you and make you fall.)

Neg SEO people use mass submission programs. And typically they blast exact match links to thousands of directories all at once. And they do it for the same term. Obvioulsy, this will create a huge link spike.

This, of course, will simultaneously trigger a Google filter that hurts your rankings. There is a screenshot below of directory listings we do not want. We did not pay, or ask to be in any of them. And we have repeatedly contacted owners from the data in the whois web reports.

Scam Directories that Put Links Up and Then Demand Payment to Remove the Links

At the other extreme, are these directories that started adding links with terms you want to rank for. Typically, when you go to the Contact Us, it takes you right to a “Pay $20.00 to remove your link” form. I can attest that we have spent at least $15,000 doing that in the last year and a half.

Below are screenshots of the site’s “contact us” forms. Also is the demand for payment of just a few of these sites. And oh yeah, we DID NOT ask for these links. Nor did we pay or do any reciprocal campaign. These are PURE extortion sites.

Scraper Sites:

Here is an example of Chimyen, a very low-quality scraper site that hides all of its contact data on who.is. And that scrapes content from my lawyers.com blog posts and the anchor text. It was killing me—every time I do a DMCA takedown on one of my posts, ten more pop up. So I disavow the entire site. And I keep on trying to get the content removed.

Example of content scraped:

Scrape

Scraper site

This is one of the many sites that duplicate links and content that Google probably thinks our firm has something to do with.  But here, the source was on lawyers.com. We went so far as to delete the article off of lawyers.com, but it is still on Chimyen, and there is no way to content the site owner. Trust me, and we have TRIED.

Advanced Negative SEO Is Designed to Appear to Google that You Definitely Put Up The Links

Here is an example on a POS Cialis site, that any manual reviewer would say we created. http://exthoughts.com/article.php?id=20657 You can see that this company is targeting our home page for “accident”.

Neg Seo Spam

ADVANCED SPAM

In the example above, starting in about November 2013, a string of articles like this started popping up in a hrefs linking to us for the term “accident.” The article seems like it makes sense at first glance. But when you read it, you are left scratching your head as to why it is on a Viagra site. But even more confusing is why anyone would link to a lawyer’s home page for the term “accident.” It is not defined on the lawyer’s homepage. It just is too slick.

It doesn’t make sense. Accident, in connection with personal injury, is not the same as it would be in connection with drugs like Cialis. In any event, a dictionary definition would be a better page to link to for this search term.

And that link does not even need to be there anyway. So this is precisely the kind of reverse-engineered negative SEO that triggers as suspected spam. I am no dummy. But as far as these tactics go, the level of sophistication is impressive.

This individual made me look hard. I had to read the article and look at the theme of the site twice before I recognized it as an unnatural link.

Cloaked Doorway links.

Here is an example of a link to our site we did not request that is buried in a porno site. It appears the Negative SEO company has hacked into a porno website and cloaked our link underneath images. http://udycomidec.comeze.com/p-government-building-san-francisco.php

If you click view source, you will see our links embedded into the porno site: “<p><a target=”new” href=”http://ehlinelaw.com/” >Ehline Law Firm | Aggressive California Accident Lawyer | Los …</a><br/>Serving San Francisco, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Orange.”

Whether to Use the DMCA or Disavow Tool, or Both, Depends Upon Many Factors

The Domain Copyright Act, or DMCA, can be a very effective tool for eliminating your content that you own from the Google index. Many of this scraped content contains harmful links to your legal website. Also, it creates a duplicate content penalty issue for your site.

The question to ask:

If it is your stolen content and you can prove it? And if you can, this is the best way to have the content and links deindexed. Google also takes steps to notify webmaster who is in violation.

Google will explain to them that their page was just de-indexed. Next, they will typically have to respond to a ticket that the page was ultimately deleted by that webmaster. Then Google closes the ticket(s).

In other cases, we have heard reports that Google also notifies the hosting companies.  (which we recommend you do first before notifying Google, Bing, and Yahoo!)  Normally the host will take down the entire site until your content is removed.

But as I discussed above, Google does count links in other de-indexed content with respect to blog networks. So why would it not still follow links in a copyrighted article that has been de-indexed, but not removed?

Are you getting this? Disavow for good measure. But don’t take your eye off the ball. Get that content pulled down!

MUSCLE

So obviously, the DMCA provides the optimal muscles to remove content with bad links. Whether or not your article or copyrighted works were scraped from your article the Findlaw blog network, or the Lawyers.com legal blog matters not. After all, there is a chance the hosting company will force the scraper network to permanently take down your content.

So that should pretty much cover the DMCA as a tool. Soon we will go into detail on our view of the proper use and effectiveness of the disavow tool for all the other links that suck. But what about compensation for all the money you are spending to maintain your site?

You Have No Legal Basis To Demand of Someone To Remove a Link in Most Cases Unless You Own the Content The Link is Embedded in, or Do You?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act makes it clear that merely linking to a website is not illegal. And that even bad, false and defamatory content posted by third parties on a first-party site such as Yelp, for example, affords Yelp! protection. (Source.)

Anonymous Lies Ok?

Even anonymous reviews are deemed protected as far as the site where info is posted goes. This seems true unless the owner of the site itself is the person doing the negative reviews and negative SEO links.

In fact, there is a process in place to sue the actual party who posted the information. So, assuming they are not hidden underneath proxies and tunnel servers, etc, you have a chance. (Read more.)

In any event, at least one court has ruled there is no cause of action for trademark dilution, infringement, or unfair competition in those cases. Good luck if that is your argument.

Below are some snippets taken from Out-Law.com that explain what you cannot sue for with respect to backlinking:

“…hyperlinks do not transmit a work, (to which they link) they merely provide the viewer with information as to the location of a page that the user can choose to access or not. There is thus no communication of the work.”  (source) … “Just as an improved search-engine that improves the ability of users to locate material for which they are searching should not be required to obtain permission as a matter of copyright law, so providing links or access to material already publicly available should not be regarded as an act that requires any authorization” (source) “… every internet user enjoys access to the work simply by learning the uniform resource locator (URL) the court held.

The hyperlink technique obviates the need to enter the URL manually and merely provides an easier and more convenient way to use the internet.” (source) “… Kranten.com successfully argued that such deep linking to other sites is a widespread and commonly accepted practice on the internet and because, as in UK law, news articles can be copied for the purpose of reporting current events, provided there is sufficient acknowledgment.” (source) [Emphasis]

Other Arguments Creating a Potential Right of Action

Since negative SEO is a relatively new phenomenon that Google is allowing at a level it was not allowed at before, it stands to reason that a creative attorney could sue the company selling the negative SEO services, as well as any co-conspirator.

In fact, many negative SEO companies are selling you the right to destroy the business. And with it, you can ruin the business models of competing for law firms.

Unfair Business Practices – Tortious Interference With Business

In other words, this is probably an Unfair Business Practice Under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 et. seq. And it remains such bad faith, it seems a court could easily find an exception to punish bad actors with unclean hands. For example, some NegSEO companies will cloak the external links to your law firm site, into a porn site.

For example, and try and make it appear as though you did it!  This can also damage a lawyers’ non-virtual reputation. And it could get him or her into trouble with the State Bar. Something has to give.

Identity Theft

Remember Google punishes negative SEO based upon the premise that YOU did it. You built these bad links to your site. And Google promises to even assist law enforcement in their case against you.

Identity theft across state lines would entail the FBI getting involved as well, would it not? There may even be a private attorney general’s statute for you to recover attorney’s fees against Google for allowing negative SEO to be prfitable, if you were a smart advocate.

Other Ideas to Sue Bad Actors for Bad Links

We are still on the fence whether or not other claims could. And this could be sued upon like intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent and intentional interference with business, and so on. Because a link is not a protected trademark, it’s more akin to a library index card. But that does not mean the so-called “library index” cannot be used as a tool to hurt someone’s website intentionally.

It’s easily done, reducing its ranking, and overall brand value. Most of all, we think negative SEO has opened up a test area for lawsuits. But this does not mean you should not mitigate.

Mitigation and Why the Links Disavowal Tool Is No Ace in the Hole

You can try and mitigate by disavowing the votes to your site using a special tool. Google has already said there is no guarantee they will ignore the bad links.

External Links Profile Mayhem

And to top it off, the links will still appear in your overall external links profile. So you never really can monitor your true ratios of types of links until those links are gone. (View Source.)

A copy of what a disavow chart should look like

Please note that www is actually a subdomain of http://mydomain.com. So when creating your disavow file for uploading, make sure and make BOTH domain:www.mydomain.com.  And also use domain:mydomain.com on the list.

Get it? If not, I will be including a link to our current disavow blacklist below.

Please note that some of these sites are no longer alive. Or they may have removed our links. But I am not risking taking these sites off the list. These are sites we feel are bad.

When All Else Fails Return a Hard 404 and Delete the Targeted Page From Your Site

A hard 404 error returns a page not found. Inherently, Penguin seeks to punish a page ONLY for the terms it overoptimized. Did your “car accident” child page lost rank after a Negative SEO attack?

So now it does not recover. What next? You can ask the people who linked to you with GOOD links to like to a new page on your site for “car accident.” Then you can delete the old page and return a 404 page not found. But NEG SEO people typically target the first page of your site.

And this is true since most sites rank their home page for most highly sought after searches. Obviously, you do not want to return a 404 error against your main page. So you cannot always use this doomsday approach.

Evidence of an Ongoing, Current Negative SEO Attack Against Our site for the term “Accident”

This particular attack that we think started around November of 2012 is part of the foreign language Cialis ring. And obviously, it’s being done by a pro. They use the same templates for the most part. But they also mix it up. And they throw stuff on any foreign site. So they look at sites with open code or security holes, or lack of administrators to clean up spam.

I am now able to recognize the writing style. It is probably German or Swiss, based upon the translations and way certain words are reversed. I only know this due to my experience in foreign languages regarding male and female, formal or informal.

They are Spun

On one of the articles, on one of their sites, you can tell it is a bunch of spun, scraped content, combining divorce law, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc., all garbled and non-sensical with legal terms.  It also links to one of my friends, Emery Ledger, an attorney in Newport Beach, California, and to our firm’s website with the anchor text “accident” once again.

This is a very persistent negative SEO company, or in house SEO person. And I have actually been able to get his IP address(es) (assuming he is not using a proxy, etc.), and email(s) contact(s) from a few of the sites he has spammed with links pointing to us.

Haters

We believe we have traced this person and connected the dots to another lawyer who dislikes both Emery and me personally. And we are taking steps to deal with this at the California State Bar level.

operation payback

The screenshot above is blurry so here is a copy and paste.

“RE: Feedback from Attorney Michael Ehline

Inbox
x
admin FLV <admin@flvhosting.com>

Nov 29 (12 days ago)

to Attorney

Hi

Thanks for pointing that out

Here is the email address

sreymeixi@hotmail.com

ip 69.163.37.124

Good luck

We will be deleting all content from this user account and advising of security changes needed to make

Mike McGuinness

www.flvhosting.com

Help Desk

<p”>www.flvhelp.com

1-888-409-3500

Skype flvhosting

|  FLASH VIDEO HOSTING |APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT | FLV FLASH SOFTWARE | Hi DEF ENCODING |  

From: Attorney Michael Ehline [mailto:michael@ehlinelaw.com]

Sent: Saturday, November 30, 2013 1:25 PM

To: admin@flvhosting.com

Subject: Feedback from Attorney Michael Ehline

Department: Violations

Message: There is a person spamming your site and mine who is scraping our content. This is pure commercial spam. If it is not deleted we will disavow the site and use the DMCA. Here is the offending account. We would appreciate it if you would give if the e mail contact of the spammer so we can sue them. http://www.urbantelevision.com/blog/10937/driving-in-my-car-beep-beep”
As seen above, we got an IP and email to the actual spammer.  Our research on sreymeixi@hotmail.com revealed accounts set up as a man, and woman with various user names on easy to access spam sites throughout Russia, Germany, and other European countries.

Now, I have no way of knowing if this is a false lead. But we believe that in conjunction with the other evidence, the source was reliable, and not in a conspiracy.  So we researched the IP further, and among other things, we discovered that the IP range has been blacklisted for spamming on at least 20 domains. Sound familiar?  Check it now here.

The Evidence

Here are a few shots of this spammer’s work against us on other sites. You can clearly see the level of sophistication of this spammer.  And this really makes our site backlink profile look like we are a bunch of semantic dirtbags. Of special interest, in this below example, we have contacted the webmaster of AliceOcean at least 6 times with zero response.

It is so far removed from anything personal injury related. Yet it again uses the term accident with our home page link embedded into it. What on earth does a law for have to do with making a “spa more inviting.” Again, this is clearly being done to hurt us. Then when you look at the site itself. It has a bunch of random commercial links for home remodeling.

EXAMPLE OF A PBN POST

Clearly not a topical or theme relevant site. Clearly goes against everything I have been teaching my COLT members to avoid for almost two years now. Exactly what Penguin seeks out. Check it out:

Alice Ocean Negative SEOAlice Ocean Negative SEO

Here below, is another example from the same negative SEO spammer and it is really a whopper.  It is a Korean Language site.  A church for crying out loud.  You really couldn’t go much further off-topic from a personal injury attorney than a church. I mean, are you kidding me? Does Matt Cutts or Eric Enge really think I would ever allow this kind of crap?

Korean Church Negative Seo

Notice that this site uses the same template and comment section as the Alice Ocean Negative SEO site above it? Me thinks we are zeroing in on a blog network. In fact, this guy is so smart; he is even placing our links on a mirror, clone rel=”no follow” sites for the same anchor term “accident” here:

http://www.big-beggar.info/web/blog/show/blogid/26844/id/13670

http://big-beggar.com/web/blog/show/blogid/26844/id/13670

Here is another one for a Los Angeles accident attorney that talks about Chicago and mentions Pennsylvania divorce law, and even mentions one of my friends in OC. So this has got to end.

exboard - Outlines For Rapid Programs Of Accident Attorney 2013-12-11 18-22-27

Compare and Contrast

So after seeing the above screenshots, and comparing the content on our site, blogs and history of links to our site we knew it. For one, we do not put out this kind of content historically.  So this is poorly written, is usually placed upon a porno site, dry cleaner site, Korean church, or some other Russian Language Site.

What is advanced about it, is that a manual reviewer would probably assume our firm is building these links. After all, they are an exact match; they are being built “slowly.”

So perhaps one poorly written, scraped article with bits and pieces of content from other legal sites is the method to fool Google and hurt others.

Montage

In essence, these articles here are a montage of legal websites all spun into one article. So it looks plausible that we built that. But in the words of President Obama, we “didn’t build that, someone else built that.” The proof is below.

The E-Mail Colloquy Screenshots

Below, per the advice of Eric Enge, I am presenting what I believe is an extreme case of a deliberate and insidious, multi-faceted attack against the Ehline Law Firm.

Fake Accounts on Article Sharing Sites

One big problem is the deep thought taken by bad negative SEO companies to hurt top ranking sites. As I will show later on, one-way SEO companies try and spoof Google into hurting your domain, is to make Google’s manual reviewer believe it is you doing it. They want Google’s people to see you as the building the exact match anchor texts to your site. How this was done to us is astounding. And it really hurt us.

How do we know it hurt us? Because once we contacted each article sharing site owne. After we got the scraped and stolen articles removed, we popped back up for terms we had lost. Those terms contained the anchors, or related anchors to those queries.  How can we prove they were not our firm or my accounts?

Simple, the site owners themselves verified in writing that someone else was doing this, and pretending to be ME! In a few cases, I got IP addresses and emails. So I am going to provide them below. And this is gathered not just for you. It’s also for Matt Cutts and the Google Anti Negative SEO Team.

More Proof – Article Sharing Accounts Were Set Up In Our Name By Use of Fraud and Deception – Identity Theft

So you still think we are the source of all these shared articles Google? Hear from the actual site owners and see what they said and didn’t say about these article sharing accounts that they deleted for us.

First we have the honest webmaster approach from ezinemark. Next we have the neutral response. Last, the blame the messenger. (The standard Findlaw response.)

EzineMark 2013-12-11 14-41-50

articles.al.lv Contact form: - Negative SEO Spam - issuethewrit@gmail.com - Gmail 2013-12-11 14-25-26

Your People Did it Not Me Excuse?

Here is one guy who swears our law firm’s “SEO Agency” did it. But he refuses to give us the “results of his investigation.” And he said he was reporting us to Google as “spammers.” But he linked to us and stole our copy! All these threats and insults came after we demanded he stop stealing our copyrighted content. Finally, he did agree to remove our content.

He must have learned how to deny deny deny from Bill Clinton. Keep in mind; we have never hired anyone to submit articles on sharing sites.

If we had, we would be able to log in and edit. Simple common sense.

Ezine9
Scammer

Here is the first e mail to the Hosting Company

DMCA Takedown Notice: http:::society.ezine9.com:ehline.htm - issuethewrit@gmail.com - Gmail 2013-12-11 14-30-09

Slanderous Defenses

So despite the slanderous allegations of ezine9, it appears they were using the CYA approach.  So when a lawyer sends an email, I guess denial is the game one plays. If we had placed these articles, we would have simply logged in and deleted them.

To Catch a Thief?

Obviously, this is a scraper site. Lesson learned, people get angry when they are caught. So try and be as civil as you can when asking them to stop violating your property rights.

Here is our email back and forth between that site we suspect that responsible for all these bogus domains linking back to us with exact match money terms.

1 - Emails DMCA Takedown Notice - issuethewrit@gmail.com - Gmail 2013-12-11 18-37-49

As you can see above, all of these links are to a bunch of PR0 sites. I know this is the guy who is running the pay to post as I contacted him via the pay to post form. This is the only method he would respond to. So it goes on below.

The Heated Replies

And it gets heated. First he directs me to an old article that reflected Google’s pre Penguin policies on negative SEO. And next he admits that it is not me or my firm blasting the stolen content, but some other person

3 - DMCA Takedown Notice - issuethewrit@gmail.com - Gmail 2013-12-11 18-45-20

As you can see, finally we are getting somewhere. But he still hasn’t given me the contact info or IP address of the spammer. At least I can prove to Google that our firm is not responsible for this garbage. Now if they could only tell their algo that. In any event. We were able to knock out hundreds of these sites.  But we stand ready for the next attack.

The Pay to Remove Your Directory Link Scam

As discussed above, rather than get rid of low-quality directories, enterprising scumbags found a way to make far more money than were selling directory listings to spammers.

As I said, we were loaded up with over a thousand exact match directory listings in a HUGE link spike starting in about March of 2012. It just does not make sense that negative SEO would start so soon. After all, they changed their policy in March of 2012. And that was just a month before the first iteration of Penguin.

Example Site:

ray@3sfmedia.com

Dec 4 (8 days ago)

to me

Please use following page to get link removed:

www.dmozing.com/remove

As you can see above, in response to a link removal request, this site directs you to a file extension that leads to paypal.

Here is one that makes you wait 3-4 weeks to remove the link you never asked for, or pay to guarantee removal now!

CostDirectory.com Contact Form : Attorney Michael Ehline

Inbox
x
Helen at HitTool.com <helen@hittool.com>

Nov 5

to Ehline
Images are not displayed. Display images below – Always display images from helen@hittool.com Hi Michael Ehline, We are working on remove link requests. Your link will be remove within 3 – 4 weeks, in the order it was received.If you need your link to be removed within 48 hours, then we can do the express removal for only $5 and payment can be made via PayPal.

Best Regards,
Helen
Customer Service

From: Ehline Law Firm issuethewrit@gmail.com

Date: November 4, 2013 2:20:47 PM UTC

To: Helen at HitTool.com <helen@hittool.com.
Subject: Re: CostDirectory.com Contact Form : Attorney Michael Ehline

Name: Attorney Michael Ehline
Email: michael@ehlinelaw.com

Content:

We will pay you right now to remove this outdated link and listing, or turn it to rel no follow. Otherwise, we will proceed to use the Google and Bing ”Disavow tool”.

Los Angeles Injury Lawyer – Ehline Law Firm
https://ehlinelaw.com/

Ehline Law, Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, is not just a Los Angeles accident lawyer. We are elder abuse lawyers and tort law experts—dog bites.

http://www.costdirectory.com/law/personal-injury/

{#HS:14244854-34232#}

Ehline Law, Injury Lawyer  <issuethewrit@gmail.com>

Nov 5

to Helen

What is your paypal? I will pay extra to get it done immediately.

Helen at HitTool.com

Nov 5

to Injury
Images are not displayed. Display images below – Always display images from helen@hittool.com

Hi Michael,You may send payment to our Paypal account at paypal@hittool.com . Please let us know if you need more info.

Best Regards,
Helen
Customer Service

I am still trying to locate some examples of screenshot of Paypal forms many of these directories have at “Contact Us,” directing you to pay $20.00 to get your link removed. Trust me; there are a ton of them. I will add some screenshots shortly.

Backdating Listings and Articles to Make it Look Like The Site Owner Did It

In any event these NSEO evildoers are smart, they will backdate the posts and listings to make it look like they were added years ago, and do anything else they can to make it look like YOU did this, that it is an old listing, and not them.

They want your BS links to look “natural” since the goal is confuse the algo into hurting you for gaming Google.  It is more believable if it looks old and manipulated. Get it?

Resources: Ehline Law Firm’s Link Disavowal Blacklist.

Matt Dolman Flies to California for Circle Meeting!

Circle of Legal Trust Using Social Media to Bring Attorneys Together

By Michael P. Ehline, Esq.: Many of the members of the Circle of Legal Trust are aware that we are still a fledgling confederation of attorneys.

But when it came to my attention that several contributing members were unhappy that their competitors are making entreaties into joining the Circle, Florida injury attorney Matt Dolman and I decided to get together. We wanted to meet to draft some rules for submission to the originals for consideration. Of course we ,needed to plan the trip around a boxing match. You see, we are both into the martial arts and pugilism. So we waited till the Brando Rios fight in Los Angeles County.

The Gist of the Rules

We have only decided upon an outline, but the most important rule is that any new members who are also located in the same geographical area, and practice area, as an existing member, will need to: (1) Pass a Vote of the Originals; (2)Can be vetoed by any member who is geographically infringed upon by the new pledge. This will please David Slepkow, we hope.

The Meeting

First, I gotta say, Matt Dolman is a beast. Look at this picture of me standing next to him. Mind you, I am a lean 165, and work out with heavy weights 4 days a week.

Dolman was huge! We are hoping our next meeting will be in Maui or Las Vegas and we ask that Circle members help us research universal CEB credits so we can all get credits and have a seminar.

So anyone else who wants to help, please do so!

Latent Semantic Indexing and Connecting Similar Words Expanded With “Wrongful Death Attorney” Example

Latent semantic indexing, also known as “LSI” (defined here), is a part of the Google algorithm. And to less of an extent, it’s part of the Bing indexing algo. And that assists in the search engine(s) in providing the best search results. Many lawyers who frequent this site, saw a significant drop in around April of 2012, due to many things, but due in large degree to overoptimization with “money keywords.”

Connecting the Fatality or Death of a Person With Similar Words

The experts from domestic violence defense attorneys serving Parsippany, they say that algorithm allows Google to connect similar words that are related to a specific topic. When a page is about “wrongful death” and “wrongful death attorney,” and optimized for this the term, other words should exist on the page with a connection.

The search engine can recognize the pattern of the pages to connect the other words with the topic of wrongful death. You can take the route JD Injury Law, APC in San Diego took by using keywords such as “fatality, killed, negligence, collision, medical malpractice, consortium, and punitive damages for wrongful death.”

The term “wrongful death lawyer” could be used much less on the page and those words should get thinned out with other words like: “legal wrongful death counsel”, “wrongful fatality expert”, “personal injury lawyer”, “fatal accident attorney,” (defined here), or “injury lawyer.” When the writer and the webmaster understand this connection used by the search algorithm of associating related words, it allows for better content and better ranking.

Connection Between LSI and Better Rankings?

Yes, there is. Here, a writer who can create content that is relevant to the mood and desires of the searcher. So if they understand LSI for search engine optimization, their pages rank higher in the search engine results.

One of the changes is normal in the past keyword density was between 5 and 7%. Now with the latent semantic indexing keyword density of between 1 and 2%. So now, this has become the expected norm. So changing writing style for wrongful death cases and wrongful death attorneys with more synonyms can make the article more inviting. And that way, the reader and search engines get fed. So now, you have the user engagement to rank the article high in search results.

Ranking for Terms Like “Wrongful Death Attorney” is Easier With LSI

Backlinks are still important, but without LSI, you are depriving the target site of a large majority of its ranking potential. Use LSI, and you can be a winner too.

Circle of Legal Trust Vegas Convention Syllabus

We are proud to announce that the Vegas Convention will be held at 801 S 4th St, Las Vegas, NV 89101.special thanks to Richard Harris and Seth Price. Also, if you have questions or wish to attend, call me on my cell at 310-593-4871.

Ehline will fly on the evening of 12th, will be there all day and night 13th for the seminar. Leave for DC early in the morning of the 14th. So I need you to reserve your spot now, so we know how big of a room we will need.

Also, please read below and contact me immediately. Seth Price may be here earlier than that, I believe. If so, he can start networking with members and come up with something he wants to talk about that can help us get traffic, etc.

 

The Fight Night

As far as Matt Dolman, we are supposed to go to the fight on the evening of the 12th in Vegas, as I recall?

Right? And you guys are all invited assuming you can get tickets, which I believe Matt may have a connection. Seth and I will be getting rooms at Bellagio.

On the morning of the 13th: All of the meetings will be simulcast on Youtube. Bring Google Glass if you have it.

  • First. 9 am – 10:00 am I will go into basics of site architecture using WordPress. Here we will discuss proper titles, headers, footers, page layout, and crawl-ability. We will show you how to delete title repeats in posts and pages, and so forth. Cleaning up your sites on the spot. (bring laptops Discussion)  I will intro some basic techniques on brand building on the semantic web. Discuss brand mentions over links. Could it be the new link?10:15 – 10:45. We will detail basic LSI, and where to get ideas for LSI writing to incorporate into your style. (What is LSI and how to use it)

Example:

Title:

Clearwater Personal Injury Attorneys | Get a Free Legal Consultation Now

Description: Suffer a catastrophic mishap in Clearwater? Speak an award-winning multi-million dollar personal injury accident lawyer at Dolman Law now. (727) 451-6900.

Speak To a Unique and Experienced Clearwater Injuries Lawyer Now

Personal Injury Lawyer Clearwater, Florida and Adjacent Areas

Suffering a personal injury can be a life-altering experience that is typically for the worse. In case you were racked by a vehicle collision that led to a brain clot, slip and falls or a post surgical procedure by a negligent medical practitioner, you cannot represent yourself and expect reasonable compensation from a bad actor. That is where we as premises liability lawyers come in. We have set ourselves apart from other firms. Read on and learn how.

Why Choose Us Over Another Clearwater Personal Injury Law Firm?

Dolman Law Group has been serving residents and victims who were passing through our town, for over ten years. Also, as a result of our uncompromising service, we have been awarded the coveted Circle of Legal Trust Patch. And that means our peers vet us as having the highest levels of trust in the legal profession.

The Cutting Edge

It also means we are known for using cutting edge technology to stay in touch with our clients and keeping them abreast of the latest concerns in their case. That’s whether it is still in the insurance claims process, or during litigation and trial. Additionally, we have been accepted into several honorary societies and have been admitted as one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.” We are also accepted as “Million Dollar Advocates,” putting us in the top 1% of negligence law attorneys.

When you lose a wage earner due to a fatality or are simply down and out recovering for a spill on a motorcycle due to the negligence of an unreasonable individual, or a big corporation, attorney Matt Dolman is at the lead and supported by his large staff of paralegals, legal secretaries, and attorneys. We want to render legal aid to you before you make a mistake or say the wrong thing to an investigator or sneaky liability insurance adjuster.

We are grateful to our excellent organization of Clearwater-based personal injury lawyers for giving both our potential and current clients top-notch legal services. Our law firm has been committed to solely representing individuals who were afflicted with personal injuries, and wrongful death fatalities since __________.

Our proud and respected law firm has achieved impressive results in a motor vehicle accident, truck crash, medical malpractice and other incidents where negligent acts of another made a happy go lucky individual into a part, or permanently disabled victim.

Call for a quick, easy, and cost-free telephone call at (727) 451-6900. So if you hire us as your legal advocate, we will be your champion. You will rest assured that we are in it to win it. Accordingly, to earn your trust, we offer a no recovery, no fee promise. So this means you pay us nothing until we achieve a payout to you.

  • Discussion with Jason Brick on the above example, and Proper LSI Writing techniques – 11 am – 12 pm

Break. 12:00-1:00

Eric Enge- Negative SEO and Identification and Healing: 1 pm – 1:30 pm

  • Dealing with bad links and bad copy (Penguin and Panda). Open Discussion. 1:30 – 2:15. Also, Eric has earned the respect of Mike Blumenthal and Matt Cutts. And he is a winner who graciously set aside time for us despite a previous engagement.

Amerland and Traphagen Together – 2:15-3:00 and 15 minutes for discussion.

  • David Amerland goes deep into semantic web and his award winning book. And Mark Traphagen puts it together explaining “authorship” and its relationship to the semantic web
  • Allow 15 minutes or so for questions for youtube and live audience till at least 3:15.

3:15 pm – 4:00 pm PDF Publications and Treatises: Steven Sweat and Andre van Wyk via HOA

  • How to create your own digital PDF magazine or e-book with ease, and they unveil the first edition of the COLT Journal. Steve will have his laptop and software and can screen-share with us. (awesome)

4:00 – 4:30 Anthony Castelli on Creating Awesome Law Firm Videos Using Hangouts and Youtube – Interviews, banter sessions, q, and a, backdrops.

4:30 pm – 4:45 pm Building Alliances: Building alliances and how it fits into co-branding.

Open discussion and break.

5:30 pm – 6:00 pm Hangouts On Air Via HOA, Ronnie Bincer on How to do a Hangout on Air, and how to do a private hangout.

6:00 – 6:15 – Press Releases 24-7 Mike may or may not make this. But 24-7 Press Release is to discuss brand mentions with press releases and forgetting about do follow juice from self-promotions, as we move forward.

6:15 – 6:30 – Content Curation and Various Social Signals Neil Ferree via HOA? Or in person?

Secondary Effects of Social Media – Referral Fees. Of special interest, Membership in the Circle of Legal Trust is the Gold Standard. You know you won’t get taken by a brother. And people who link together, stay together.

Anything else you need? We still need to pin downtimes.

 

Las Vegas 2017 Circle of Legal Trust Convention – April 20, 2017-April 22, 2017

Place – Palazzo Hotel Banquet Room – Starting Thursday, April 20, 2017, at 5:00 PM and ending April 22, 2017, the Masters of the COLT will lead off our annual Las Vegas Con.

Unfortunately, this year it is not free. Tickets are available for a small cost of $250.00 each.

Also, this is a closed session, non-invited guests and non-members need not apply. This means you must first speak to a COLT member in advance if you are a non-member to gain admission.

As an aside, you may have noticed that COLT went underground. Honestly, I was tired of helping SEO companies that offered us nothing, learn our techniques for web sustainability.

The good news is that our closed group will bring back a few older members and allow our sponsors to dig much deeper into brand building and market reach.

HOW DO I PAY and RESERVE A SPOT?

Presently, you may mail a check or use Paypal. These are the only methods of payment. In order to use Paypal, go here:https://www.paypal.me/coltcon

To become a paid sponsor go here > https://circleoflegaltrust.com/circle-of-legal-trust-convention-las-vegas-sponsors/

Where is the Syllabus?

Who Are the Speakers?

Will We Use Video Feed?

This is an Advanced Course.

Presently, I am building a syllabus of speakers. In any event, I will be speaking on the latest negative SEO attacks and their effectiveness. Also, I will cover the benefits of journalist outreach with Michael Iwasaki. In other words, without expert status in your profession and topic, it is highly unlikely your firm or practice will survive online. The question is how to affirm your status for long-term sustainability.

This is not a convention for beginners to online marketing and technical optimization; this is a convention for advanced SEO professionals who are ALSO lawyers. Most of all, these are people who have decided to take it upon themselves to know just as much or more than the SEO “professionals” they hire.

What We Can Help With

Here we will audit your website, links profiled and Flesch Kincaid writing and scoring, and help you understand what you need to know. You cannot become a Marine until you have been through boot camp, so enlist now and help you help yourself become an internet and marketing, legal warrior.

Speakers Have Included:

Dan Goldstein, Esq. – Owner of Page 1 Solutions and expert at alternative media and brand building.

Conrad Saam – An AVVO original, and expert at attorney marketing. His specialties include site audits and market research studies.

Michael Ehline – Expert at negative SEO reconnaissance and mitigation. Other specialties include document sentiment and readability scoring.

Chris Dreyer – First of all, the most honest and credible lawyer marketing helper in the Mid West. Also, Chris and his assistant Steven Willi are expert document coders. And they also have proprietary Content Management Systems designed to appeal to busy lawyers. Chris has led the way at alternative uses of media. And this is including but not limited to Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat marketing.

Joe Mas – Joe is a special technical expert at understanding and implementing JSON and other Schema.

Andrew Shaffer:

Andrew is a true coder. He writes algorithms and apps and he helps us Understand Semantic Search/Writing and Hummingbird Theory.

The list of past speakers is too long to include here. If you want to book a spot as a speaker, contact Michael Ehline at www.ehlinelaw.com. Seating is limited. We normally have small meetings in a hotel penthouse. Also, each guest and speaker must be cleared by our Sergeant at Arms, Tony Castelli.

If you think you have what it takes to attend, reach out at any of the above contact methods. Also, sponsorship is another method of supporting our efforts. Last, the Journal and Accident and Emergency Medicine for Tort Victims will be giving out the Personal Injury Attorney of the Year Award. A few years back this was won by a motorcycle accident lawyer in wakefield ri. And this will be in Association with Personal Injury Warriors International.

So this has truly become a worldwide organization with many PI lawyers involved.

Is DUI a Dui a Tragic Cause of Passenger Car Crashes?

Yes. One of the most tragic causes of accidents on the road today is drunk or influenced driving. Despite all of the warnings and research, drunk people still get behind the wheel. Car drivers are under the influence every single day so if you find yourself involved in a car accident, you must consult drink driving solicitors immediately.

According to many criminal record expungement law services, these accidents represent a large portion of the crashes across the country every year. Also, they represent both civil and criminal offenses. Unfortunately, this remains a reality. But it’s a sober reality that hopefully most drivers never have to face.

Violating the Law

If someone is drinking and driving, they’re violating California law. The California Vehicle Code Sec 23152 states: (a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle. Learn about bail bonds for driving under the influence.

The law is also clear about what driving under the influence is and isn’t. According to a owi lawyer even a bicycle is a vehicle that can get included as a crime. Even a bicycle is a vehicle that can get included as a crime. California Vehicle Code Sec 670 states: A “vehicle” is a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device. So it gets moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. There are many vehicles capable of creating a DUI case. And it’s just another smart reason to drive sober.

Sobering Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012 over 10,000 drivers were killed due to drunk driving across the country. The rate of death in the state of California is about 0.28- lower than the national average but still high in overall traffic fatality rates. Unfortunately, it is sometimes a dangerous road out there for drivers.

In higher traffic areas, such as the Greater Los Angeles Area, there is a higher than average rate of DUI accidents. Unfortunately, this could include multiple cars and possibly pile-ups. DWIs cost far too many lives, especially for vulnerable car and motorcycle motorists. Due to high rates of speed and poor control, often there are severe issues commonly caused by such accidents.

Acting After an Accident

After such an accident, it is important to act quickly. Seek immediate medical care and make sure to document as much as you can at the crash site. Also, the drunk driver should be held accountable. The driver may be facing criminal charges for a DUI or DWI. Make sure to contact The Jones Firm for the best legal information for these cases.

But there should be a civil punishment for their actions as well. And if proven, the DUI driver shall be held responsible. Your actions could prevent another accident down the line. And that could very well save another family heartbreak.

Making sure that you have an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer by your side is one of your first steps. A legal expert, such as one from the Ehline Law Firm, will be specialized in car accidents.

DMV Penalties

The driver under the influence can be faced with civil penalties if the victim decides to proceed, criminal charges from a prosecutor for their actions, or the revocation of their license by the DMV.

Watch below to see an example of a DMV administrative hearing:

DUI drivers have ten business days to request an administrative hearing with the DMV, they can also call to get bail bonds in Hartford County. Also, if they refuse, they face a permanent suspension of their driver’s license. And this is through automatic suspension. Unfortunately, for a DMV hearing, normal court rules of evidence do not apply.

So the accused is not allowed to plead the 5th Amendment. Hence, the accused could be coerced by a prosecutor to imply guilt accidentally. The hearing officer needs to verify that the arresting agency had a reasonable belief that the rider was intoxicated or under the influence. And there must be evidence the accused committed the offense. Last, it must be shown the arrest was lawful.

The last thing the hearing will determine is if the driver had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher, as seen in CVC Section 23152. The unrepresented accused will often lose the hearing. So they may have to pay significant penalties, both financial and otherwise.

Criminal Prosecution

Many accused drunk drivers are arraigned and accused of their alleged crime in open court. And they also face a potential bias by possible jurors, as well as other drivers. And this is not to mention the police. If you are ever prosecuted, you should always take the bail option if it is available, check the local bail bond providers who can help you.

Many accused of such a crime feel as though they have nowhere to turn. And they can face up to a three-year probation, AA meetings, fines, MADD classes, trash pick up, or other penalties for a first offense. And this is when it caused no injuries. To understand how this legal implications work when the offender goes out on bail, see here the local Bail Bonds Digest news.

If the accident caused injury or death, the accused could face severe penalties. Drinking and driving is such a severe issue on the road that you should not expect any sympathy and opt to find a one of the many bail bondsman near me.

Civil Claims

Even after facing the DMV and the criminal court, the accused may also face a claim in civil court. Also, those injured by the drunk driver could testify in court for liability questions. And the accused could be sued for not having insurance or not having enough coverage. The victim is likely to ask for their pain and suffering, medical bills, and therapy to be covered by the other driver.

Avoiding Drunk Driving Accidents

By no means a foolproof process, there are some manners to avoid such an accident in the future. According to the massachusetts traffic accidents report, Keeping an eye out for drivers making wide turns, going into both lanes, sudden braking, driving very fast or slow, driving the wrong way, or other actions can be considered telltale signs of drunk driving.

But remember not to drink at all. If you do, make sure to have a designated driver or call a taxi, limo, or bus.

Contact a Legal Professional

Skilled attorneys have seen it all and are ready to help. If you have been injured in a severe DUI alcohol car accident or were accused of such a crime, Ehline Law can help.

Lawyers.com Goes No Follow?

Lawyers.com goes no follow

Lawyers.com really goes no follow?

Love or hate Big law, sites like Findlaw and Lawyers.com likely would not exist or have grown into what they are today, under the current algorithms and systems. But Findlaw, for example, was a really cool site. However, they became ultra corporate and used their leverage to carve out exceptions with Google. In my opinion they would probably not honor these types of exceptions for their own clients.

Other non-www companies found ways to use their real-life presence to grow online. One such company is the parent of lawyers.com. Now, Lawyers.com is an example of a site that lists attorneys from an established Directory, Martindale-Hubbell. With the help of the Lawyers.com site, the company has profited handsomely.

Who Built That?

And this is mainly capital from lawyers who link to their websites from the site. For example, they write articles and will add “contact us” citation and social profiles. And these are then approved by the editors/. After that, they go live on the site.

So in the wake of Panda and Penguin, many web site owners who host content and are irresponsibly converting vouch-able links into rel=” no follow” links, under the mistaken presumption that Google will penalize them if they leave them as do-follow links. Or, as some would say, more insidiously, they are Page Rank sculpting. (What is PR sculpting?) Well, this by using articles and work from others as a method to manipulate Page Rank within their sites.

Discovery

So when I was recently editing some of my old posts on the lawyers.com blog and noticed when I saved my changes, that lawyers.com went ahead and automatically added the “rel=no follow” attribute, destroying much of the value of my indexed and socially shared article. So, in essence, I wrote the article on the lawyers.com blog. Next, I helped the page grow in value. I did so by sending traffic to the page with my social indexing and social signals. But now all that “link juice” was being hoarded by lawyers.com. Because they turned off the trust flow to my web properties and sources of authority, it hurt my traffic. Before I go further, let me give you some background of this” rel=no follow” attribute, and distinguish when a no-follow link is and is not appropriate.

Here is a snippet I found of one of my blogs. Right-click “view source” and see the naked code and look for no follow:

The experienced personal
injury bicycle attorney Matthew S. Norris about auto accident cases has dealt with this type of situation and knows that building a strong case
and dealing with them aggressively means getting the injured victim the amount of compensation they
deserve. Contact <a  rel="nofollow" href="http://losangeles.ehlinelaw.com" title="LA Law">Ehline</a>
to speak with an injury lawyer now.<br />#160;
						<div style="clear:both">&nbsp;</div>

Above is the code from this article here:

Michael Ehline Automobile Accidents Law Blog on Lawyers.com

Bicycle Accidents Can Cause Lifelong Changes

Photo of Michael Ehline

Riding a bicycle on the road can be a dangerous challenge and bike wrecks can have lifelong changes. These changes can include ongoing medical care that will be needed, the can cause the type of employment to need to be changed and can have a devastating effect on the family.

…..

EXAMPLE:

Bicycle accidents that can cause lifelong changes also mean ongoing medical care, loss of income and other changes, after a negligent driver causes a bicycle crash in Los Angeles, or Sacramento cities.  Getting paid is not easy. When this happens insurance companies will often try and settle quickly or try and blame the cyclist for the accident rather than pay the amount of compensation the rider deserves. The experienced firm has dealt with this type of situation and knows that building a strong case and dealing with them aggressively means getting the injured victim the amount of compensation they deserve. Contact Ehline <<<<<< to speak with an injury lawyer now.

As seen above, the anchor text is “Ehline”.  Clearly, we are not trying to manipulate for any particular key search.  We let Google decide how to treat the juice.

History of Rel=” No Follow” From an Injury Lawyer’s Perspective

In the early days of the web, it was effortless to rank a website. An intelligent SEO person could simply find a high PR blog with open commenting, and add exact match anchor text into the comments.

So for example, one could find a dry cleaner blog, and post a comment like “great article, and by the way, if you ever need a car accident attorney [<<< that would be the link], we are here to help.” That exact match anchor would typically cause your website to rank higher for that search term “car accident attorney”. Get it so far? So Google, along with Yahoo! and Bing decided to come up with a solution to try and cut down on this “comment spam” and devised an attribute that a webmaster could add to links that he or she could not vouch for, or did not trust.

No follow also was supposed to be for non-Google PPC links that you paid for from other sites, such as “sponsored links,” paid footer and sidebar links that were sitewide, etc. This attribute, called rel=”no follow” (A history of no follow here), was designed to help control spam by preventing the trust and authority of PageRank, or, in essence, the vote, from counting.

Th effect of this feature prevented the links  from garnering the trust and authority that a normal “vote” would have. You see, links to your website from another site are treated as votes.  It used to be that the more votes you had, the higher your site would rank in the SERPS, or if you prefer, the search results position on the Google results page.

High-Quality Links

Presently, Google changed the way it handles links, and instead, Google is looking for quality links as opposed to massive quantities from unrelated, or irrelevant themes. Thus, a do-follow link from that same dry-cleaning site today could act like a boat anchor and sink your rankings for that exact match term. But that same unrelated link could also harm the sending site, not just the receiving site.

In fact, Panda looks for this on pages themselves. Also, it seeks out over-optimization and thin content. And Penguin analyzes whether there are “too many” exact matches coming to your site from many other sites, assuming that most webmasters who cast a vote, will typically not use the same match anchor. For example, site A may only use a link text anchor to your site like: “personal injury attorney,” and the webmaster from site B would probably use: “awesome personal injury lawyer,” etc.

Logic

It is logical to assume that both webmaster A and B would use the brand the most, in any event. So normally, links containing the anchor text “Ehline Law Firm” would probably appear to your site the most from most sites.  But many exact match links that contain “personal injury attorney” could kill your rankings for that term under the current algo. Of course, sites linking out to with too many exact match links also can become suspect as ghost sites, or content farms by Google.

Back On Track

This gets a little away from no follow, but now I will explain the relationship.  Many lawyer sites, like lawyers.com, HG.org, etc., lost a lot of traffic and search engine placement. All this happened post Panda and Penguin. And it started converting the links pointing to their customers’ websites to rel=” no follow,” under the mistaken impression that their rankings would come back.

And this is because their in house SEO people had no idea how to deal with these new algorithms. So they assumed that linking out made them look like they were selling links, etc. And because of this, they went ahead and threw out the baby with the bathwater. All this, rather than analyzing what Google has said, and what Google, Bing, and Yahoo! This step was taken in some cases. But it was not true with all or every business. And this was due to the mixed signals about “guest blogging” from Matt Cutts.

Who Cares?

Some webmasters assumed no matter whether you can vouch for your clients, in this case, practicing attorneys who pay a lot of money to use lawyers.com blog and their listing services don’t matter. So for them, it is better to make everything rel=” no-follow.” So this caused many law firm sites that were getting great link value in the form of PR authority to lose overnight. Their hard built and earned trust was gone.

People getting cut loose and the ensuing panic became so bad, that Cutts actually re-stated his position on Guest posts. (read here) Basically, the rule is that is the author posts something that is of value and highly relevant. But it must not be submitted for the “sole” purpose of getting a link. Because that would be an effort to manipulate rankings and Page Rank. (What is PageRank?) So it is good to remain a do follow in that case.

Matt Cutts Says Guest Posts/Blogs Cannot be For “Sole Purpose” of Ranking Manipulation See the Video

Clearly, Cutts Said:

It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google, and they’ll continue. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

I’m also not talking about multi-author blogs. High-quality multi-author blogs like Boing Boing have been around since the beginning of the web, and they can be compelling, wonderful, and useful.

Hi Lites

I want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article. (Source.)

So What Next?

As shown in the video above, Cutts is sick of the press release, or purely promotional type posts passing value. So if your “sole” reason is to get juice, then no follow must be added.

One way to show you are not seeking a mere backlink for ranking is to make it a naked or a branded link.  You rightly should get authority from an HQ post, and that is what Cutts wants. What he does not want, are thousands of exact match anchors in spammy, thin, promotional snippets about your firm that are constantly flying off of the lawyers.com blog

And this should be a no brainer for lawyers.com to implement. But then again, that requires having a vetting process and editorial procedure, similar to what Findlaw employs. I note that Findlaw does not place content on their site that would ever need a no-follow tag.  They only allow great content.

So assuming you contribute something of value to lawyers.com, are a vetted client, and not posting a link filled and a purely promotional press release, there are ZERO viable reasons for disavowing a client who paid you to edit his materials and list him on your site. Also, n this case, the site itself is an attorney rating and listing site.

Martindale is the Gold Standard?

They think they are. And Martindale prides itself on providing the best lawyer database in the world. So for many years, before attorney rating sites like AVVO and Findlaw, Martindale Hubbell was the gold standard. And it remains so with the old-timers (Learn more about the decline here.)

And it would be false advertising for them to promote a non-attorney as an attorney in any event. So there is no way Martindale or lawyers.com can’t vouch for you if you are an admitted, active attorney in your State Bar.

So What is the Probable Reason Behind Lawyers.com Silently Adding the No Follow Tags to Attorney Blog Posts on Their Site?:

  • Link Juice Hoarding: One potential theory being tossed out by a few COLT members is that Martindale was just bought out. And that within days they went no follow to hard link juice. I note that zero warning was given in advance.
  • Fear of Google:

    And this is probably the greatest reason. After Matt Cutts’ video, they may have thought that their attorney blog is a “guest blog,” as discussed in the Cutts Video. As also discussed, if that was the reason, it was a wrong reason.  These are REAL attorneys who are contributing valuable materials. If there are purely promotional posts, it is up to lawyers.com to police the site and institute quality guidelines, as does Findlaw.com.

What Are My Legal Rights Against Lawyers.com?

We are all lawyers, so we understand fraud, false advertising, etc. But we also understand how to vote with our feet. Lawyers.com needs to change with the times if they expect to compete with Findlaw and other sites. Cutting off-link juice without even telling us savvy and sophisticated attorneys were rude and a change of the material terms of my contract with them. Here, I was induced into the contract. And I contracted because of the trust and authority that posting right to their blog gave me.

Changing You Into Someone Not Vouchable

It was later changed to no-follow and concealed from me. Forum selection clauses can be challenged when fraud is a factor in the case.  Whether this is a case of fraud or clear breach of contract depends upon what a court or jury might say. It could just be the case that this was all an unfortunate mistake or misinterpretation of the latest Matt Cutts edict. I elected to give LDC notice of the breach and time to cure before I take any drastic action.

Notice of Breach and Time To Cure

A note to the reader. Above all, generally, the written contract covers the four corners of the writing. And if it says that LDC can change their site when they want, that still does not change their duties to you. These duties can arise from a written, oral, or acts in furtherance of altering or amending the agreement. Or there could be a change in service you were never informed.

As a matter of the fact that when you buy a service that contains A and A then later changed to B under cover of darkness, you no longer are receiving the benefit of your bargain. Evidence like keeping the change secret certainly is convincing to a jury. It could help them in determining the state of mind of the breaching party.

Also, some companies like Findlaw are headquartered in states where false advertising laws favor the dishonest party when compared to the consumer protection laws in California. So this is when you have to get creative. And you probably will use the argument that fraud in the contract makes it an “illegal contract.”

After that, if you prevail, it’s unenforceable as to the forum selection clause or Findlaw Master Services Agreement. Lucky for me, California often overlooks unfair clauses in cases similar to the one at issue here.

That being said, these are great sites if they are sending juice to your site. So at the end of the day, it would be better to try and cure the breach. And you also want to mitigate any damage they are doing to your rankings by turning off your juice.

My Conversations With Lawyers.com

The above is a synopsis of my conversation with Andre Franklin of lawyers.com a few weeks ago. He listened intently and was nice. He had no idea about any of the changes.

The Promise

And he promised he would get back to me the following Monday. That same Friday, I instructed our members as to the silent changes. So I told them about the shady, at lawyers.com and we all assumed the worst, that lawyers.com would go the way of other human edited sites like hg.org and others that once provided such a valuable signal of trust.

I also discussed the fact that even directories like yahoo! and DMOZ were do follow as they are human edited and the links are thus, “vouched” links.  I expressed my fear that lawyers.com has turned off its trust for us lawyers, but still trusts the checks we write then every month. How ironic.

Heard Back!

In any event, I heard back from Andre Franklin last week, and he explained that I would be one of the first members to have the rel=” no follow” restrictions lifted, and the due to my call and complaints, that they were advising a new editorial policy and expecting a call back.  Today, Wednesday, I still have heard nothing, so I sent Kathy, an employee there, an email seeking advisement.

She responded that:

Hi Mr. Ehline – I just followed up with my manager, Andre Franklin.  He advised that he is speaking to the appropriate parties and awaiting the updated blog policy. He will reach out to you as soon as he has more information.”

So although it is not a done deal, my efforts in mitigation seem to have moved the ball. And the benefits of me being able to argue not just for me helped. But on behalf of all of you, it makes a difference. So I would rather have lawyers.com as a friend than an enemy.

And perhaps, we lawyers finally can speak as a unified voice when it comes to us vouching for sites that take our money and cut off our benefits.

This is an evergreen article. So expect updates soon. This story has legs.

COLT Con Las Vegas 2016 Was a Stellar Hit

Advanced Groups

Circle of Legal Trust Convention 2016 – Round Table

For the fourth year in a row, some of the most influential attorneys in the world of online and digital marketing attended Trust Con 2016. Additionally, some of the top experts in coding, site architecture, Local and Blended search either presented live or attended by Google HOA. The round table discussions and small group setting helped vendors, experts, and the lawyers understand the concepts, theories, and case studies. The energy and vibe were family-like. Tony Castelli, Dave Slepkow and Matt Dolman are always a welcome sight after another year of battling for web traffic.  The key to our success is that our fellow members know they are not going it alone when faced with all these new algorithms and sea of changes in how to build and maintain a web property. I want to thank everyone for their efforts at making this happen.


Special Thanks

Image result for dolman law groupAt the outset, we wanted to thank Matthew Dolman of Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, Florida, for setting us up with a Penthouse meeting room at the Aria Hotel, Las Vegas. Dolman also had refreshments and an abundance of spirits brought in for the attendees. He spared no expense to make this event special for everyone who showed. We all had the best possible quarters to rub elbows and break off into tutelage groups.

 

Next in line for special thanks is Bill Tilley over at Amicus Capital. They catered in sandwiches and other goodies. Bill also helped out with the video and audio, and he is really a good sport.

Page1Solutions

I also wanted to thank Dan Goldstein over at Page1Solutions. He also helped with bringing in great food for all the attendees. Additionally, Dan taught us about weening ourselves from online marketing, as it becomes less profitable for most firms. Of course, he also taught us about These sponsors went the extra mile for us to keep the event free. Now reach out to them and send them some traffic!

I would say this is probably the best event we have had so far. I personally think that 3 days is a long time, but I also understand that giving large breaks and later start times means that people can also enjoy Vegas a bit. We will have a follow-up HOA to see about ways of improving the event.

Special Thanks to all the Vendors and Others

Chris

Chris Dreyer

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of Chris Dreyer, and Trevor over at Accident Data Center. Learning about the Google learning machine from

John Base

Mr. Base

Johnny Base was a highlight for me. I for one really enjoyed the conversations on “linking out” and how advanced markup is so very important in the days of modern search. There were also some really great discussions by Seth Price on local search.

He really nailed a lot of the key issues facing attorneys about NAP data consistency, and other hyper-local necessities. We also inducted several new members, and we are already planning next year’s event.

Saam

Conrad Saam

Conrad Saam also attended remotely, and as usual, he had a wealth of knowledge to share with us about finding 404 errors and fixing lost links, etc. He is an expert in the use of tools like Majestic and Ahrefs. Conrad didn’t make it, but thanks to a partially working google HOA and a cell speakerphone, we achieved the mission.

Andrew Shaffer – Principal at Accident Data Center

Andrew Shaffer proved his genius as a coder and this is one guy you should have attended the event, just to meet. I enjoyed hearing his perspectives and where he thinks the future of search is headed.

 


Awards and Accolades

Joseph

Joe Mas was awarded best speaker award. It was a close call, but Joe took it this year.

 

Joe nailed it with his great spoon-feeding abilities. His expertise in JSON coding, understanding semantic text, and how it ties into personal injury law firms was simply phenomenal. Congratulations, Joe, for the award! Moving on, we also had many outstanding presenters.

 

2016

Circle of Legal Trust Convention 2016

It would appear that the organization is becoming more and more a personal injury attorney related organization. But I, for one, would like to get everyone in any legal profession involved. There are too many ways we can help each other. Reach out if you want to learn more. Contact me over at Ehline Law Firm here.

May 13th to May 15th COLT Convention Las Vegas

antedCircle of Legal Trust Convention Vegas
So just when you thought you were done staying on top of the SERPS and building your multi state referral network. Circle of Legal Trust, in association with Personal Injury Warriors International, Hereby announces the Third Annual Law Vegas Convention from May 13-15th.

WHERE?!  The PENTHOUSE SUITE OF COSMOPOLITAN HOTEL LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Various attorneys watching Google HIRL Video

The oval table.

DAY 1. Dinner, drinks and meeting.

DAY 2. Vegas HIRL (Hangout in Real Life) Guest speakers at this HIRL (Hangout in Real Life) will include attorney Michael Ehline, Steven Sweat, Anthony Castelli, Andre van Wyk, Chris Dreyer and many more. We are expecting Dan Goldstein as well, so this should be a real, mega whopper.

This event is not just for PI lawyers, far from it. It is only that right now, Circle of Legal Trust has enough lawyers who practice tort law to set up a nationwide and even worldwide association of experienced tort lawyers. However, the organization is growing in members of the family law and criminal defense bar.

DAY 3 – Late morning drinks and poolside chat on advanced tactics and basic elbow-rubbing with marketers and lawyers.


Things that Will Be Discussed At the Third Annual Circle of Legal Trust Las Vegas Convention HIRL on May 14th

There will be many matters important to struggling post Panda, Venice, and Pigeon, and Penguin, Fwashew, discussed, starting with inter alia:

Scroll down for program and topics.

May 14th

  • Conrad Saam

    Conrad

    10:00 am to 10:45 am. Easy and Effective Methods of Tracking Cost Per Client with Conrad Saam: In online marketing, lawyers very rarely get what they wanted. And that’s because they very rarely know either how much they are getting. What does Conrad mean? Despite collectively spending hundreds of millions of dollars across every online marketing channel conceivable, it is the rare law firm that can answer a simple question. How much do my clients cost?
    And without knowing how much clients cost, you can’t evaluate the efficacy of any given marketing investment. So the solution is mind-numbingly simple. But it requires the deployment of easy to use infrastructure. And it also needs an internal discipline to assess performance.

  • regularly

  • Chris Dreyer

    Chris Dreyer, President and Founder of AttorneyRankings.org

    11:00 am to 11:45. – Chris Dryer – “Shifting to Mobile Search for Lawyers” This internationally famous Online Public Relations Expert discusses the expansion of mobile search for lawyers. And he tells us about the necessity to make the switch now.

  • Andrew Orlander

    Andrew Orlander

    1:00 pm to 1:45 pm. Andrew Orlander –

    Generating More Leads from Your Website”

  • What makes a good website in 2015
  • Knowing the Rules
  • How to know if your website has a penalty
  • What you can’t do in 2015
  • Best Practices for Improving Rank and Domain Authority
  • Strategic Engagement – Content Marketing
Joseph Mas

Joseph Mas

4. 2:50 pm -3:45 pm – Joseph Mas – Impact of Technical SEO on ROI.” Summary: Gain insight on how technical SEO can impact every area of an online presence and ROI. Areas to be discussed include: increased marketing reach, branding, drastically reduced PPC costs, organic growth through search, and quality of leads and reduced junk leads. So Joe will highlight technical points and give insight as to what items should be considered when evaluating the health of a site. And he’ll cover why and how it affects ROI.

Learn about how blog networks will kill your rankings

Michael Ehline on Content networks

5. 3:50 p.m. -4:50 pm – Michael Ehline, Esq.Open Discussion on DMCA, Defeating and Stopping Negative SEO, Domain authority for lawyers and firms 101 with Michael Ehline. So below is an easy to understand discussion.

  • Individual authority for practitioners;
  • Brand authority;
  • City “centroid” for lawyers wanting to rank for major LOCAL keyword terms in large locales like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc, and/or Maps;
  • Future of Google Plus
  • Public Relations; how to do it.
  • Reporting/Recording Infrastructure
  • Unblocking Majestic
  • Latest Neg SEO attacks and Suing Spam Hosts Like OVH Canada, France
  • For example, one way to build your brand is community outreach in the local city. So Google may just have inadvertently helped a lot of charities by rewarding community outreach. But we are going to talk about the various communities both on and offline. So now we can avoid getting in trouble for overdoing it. So we must focus on MAINLY answering questions most consumers would likely ask.
  • Also, a major part of community outreach is public relations. So we are going to talk about what works well. And then we’ll see what works sort ok. After that, we’ll see how this contributes to brand building. Most of all, this is the name of the game. (David Jones from Splash Press, and Michael Iwasaki, a founder of 24-7 Press Release. Both are being asked to speak on this.)

Also, I have learned a lot from Carter Maslan, former head of Google Local, over the years. So I am trying my best to get him to at least attend by Google video feed at the very least. As always, I am reaching out to Eric Enge, Goldstein, Andre, Dreyer, Price. And perhaps we will even get David Jones with Splashpress Media.

So we will update this list and invitation as more data comes in.

We're here for you, and we look forward to seeing you at the next Podcast!

Based in Marina del Rey, CA, Circle of Legal Trust in an international organization of referral and referring attorneys.

Contact C.O.L.T.

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4640 Admiralty Way #500
Marina del Rey, CA
90292 US

Opening Hours

  • Tue - Sat

    9 am - 5:00 pm

  • Sun/Mon

    Closed

  • Lunch

    11.30 am - 12 pm

Call for Reservations

+(888) 494-5015


Bookings from 12:30pm - 1.30pm