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Colt Con 2016

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Starting on Thursday, April 7, at 2:00 pm, Friday, April 8, 2016, at 10:30 am. And it ENDS Saturday, April 9, 2016, starting time 9:00 am (PDT) in Las Vegas, Nevada. LOCATION. We are in the Penthouse Suite of the Aria Hotel. And here, Circle of Legal Trust will have its 4th Annual Convention of experts and lawyer mentors.

A Brief History of the Circle of Legal Trust

Circle of Legal Trust is a lot different than a lawyer marketing group, in that it is run by real lawyers for lawyers. It started out solely as a Google Hangouts On Air program with weekly Youtube show, and grew to an international organization of lawyers helping lawyers understand the algorithmic and other issues of the day, such as Google Penguin, Panda, Venice and Pigeon.

Our Elite Lawyers and Speakers Are at a Highly Advanced Level

Conrad Saam, Eric Enge, Bill Slawski, A.J. Kohn, and even intellectual and technical powerhouse, Andre van Wyk. Most of our lawyers know a lot more about the inner workings of Google, Yahoo! and Bing than your average Joe.

We as fellows got tired of seeing our fellows in the legal community getting taken advantage of by these absurd lead gen companies. Or it may be some other organization run by NON-ATTORNEYS.


The goal? Taking your money for little, if any, real results. We knew there had to be another way, so continued to grow, but opted to keep membership free with high standards, and have lawyers offer up their time to learn and mentor, rather than charge a membership fee.

Only free and accepted members are admitted to the Circle of Legal Trust and its inside opportunities, so don’t even ask if you can be a member of money. The terms are located here. Non-Circle of Legal Trust members can still attend the seminar for a fee. Still, they will not be invited to the off-schedule “Mastermind Meetings.” There we meet and potentially discuss our secrets and other advanced, cutting edge ideas. And these are typically brewing up over at the major search engine corporations.

This is an Advanced Course

This is not a convention for beginners to online marketing and technical optimization. So instead, this is a convention for advanced SEO professionals who are ALSO lawyers. But they have decided to take it upon themselves to know just as much or more than the SEO “professionals” that they hire.
The convention is extremely careful about who they invite to speak. And typically, it vets each speaker beforehand on Google HOA before our full board of “Originals.” If you are unfamiliar with technical terminology or just beginning, don’t worry. This event is not until 2016. So that means you have time to attend our video hangouts, and take our basic course of instruction, usually taught by Platinum level guru, Andre van Wyk.

What We Can Help With at Your HOA

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.

Don’t get sucked into a sales and marketing time-waster. That is a money-making venture for a bunch of nonlawyers selling directory listings and leads. Instead, enroll in a program run by real lawyers with years of experience. Let us teach you how to:

  • Do your own website optimization,
  • Vet and lead your own in house team,
  • Form traffic and lead generation relationships with other lawyers who don’t want to build their house on another’s “rented” real estate,
  • Find another way to get clients and brand your services, besides the internet.

New Sponsors

Battling the Dark SideWe are excited to announce that the administration of this entire event will be sponsored by Personal Injury Warriors International this year, and the event will be focused on tort law online do’s and dont’s in addition to our normal programming.

Why the Personal Injury Law Theme for 2016?

Turns out that the vast majority of our lawyers are personal injury law specialists and trial attorneys, so it made good sense to have our 4th annual event cater to our most loyal membership base. Of course, most of what we teach applies to other fields of law.

Non Personal Injury Lawyers Interested in Referral Agreements Should Hit this Event Up

The relationships that a non pi lawyer can develop through C.O.L.T., as far as case referrals are concerned could mean the:

. . . difference between finding a TRUSTED lawyer who actually pays the referral fee, or getting stuck with a shyster who tries to reduce your fee, or who does not pay you at all.

Applying for Sponsorship of the Circle of Legal Trust 4th Annual Las Vegas Convention

Contact Michael Ehline at michael@ehlinelaw.com for banner and other sponsorship opportunities. Currently, we do not have space for large booths. If you have a card table sized set up, or are a vendor, first make sure your services directly impact the ability of the lawyer to get more clients and we can make alternate space arrangements.

We Are Looking For Cutting Edge Talent as Guests, Not “Sales Spiel”

If you are an SEO company selling directory listings and leads, we probably don’t want you here. If however, you are a self starter, self made, a hustler, on your own, perhaps struggling, but reliable, good, we probably want you here. We are looking for people like Max Minzer, William Rock, Joe Mass and Chris Dreyer. These are the ones you want to have on your legal support whitelist in a FUD situation.

  • We Want To Interview You in an HOA

When we separate the wheat from the chaff with interviews and Q & A sessions, we quickly rule in or rule out who we wish to Whitelist. These are people who are legit. These guys are vetted in advance by either Andre van Wyk, David Slepkow, Anthony Castelli, or Michael Ehline, you will then be expected speak during at least one Google HOA, and explain what makes your directory better than the guy (the markup, the overall content, backlinks, offerings and distinctions) at the big search engine marketing company, for example.

The Goal is “Trust”

We cannot be more clear about one thing. This is not intended to be a money-making venture for the promoters of the event. If we break even we are ok with it. What we need is to develop a true “Circle of Legal Trust.” Leave your cynicism at the door. If you have a sense of fairness and justice, these are the people we want.

If you need to apply for an exception as far as attendance rules are concerned, that’s ok too. Examples of otherwise qualified would be an honorably discharged service-member who is also a lawyer. Or, for example, paralegal or legal secretary. But there are more exceptions. And these are considered on a case by case basis.

We can have a quick hearing amongst the “Originals,” and usually dispose of the matter quickly, assuming you are otherwise qualified.

Applying for Admittance

Pricing for seminars and rules for speakers to follow in more detail. Right now, this is what we have subject to potential changes.

Schedule 1 – Members of Personal Injury Warriors = $200.00.

Schedule 2 – Members of Circle of Legal Trust = $100.00.

Schedule 3 – Attorney Invitees and Other Guests = $500.00.

Schedule 4 – Sponsors and Vendors = Contact for rates and opportunities.

There is a $50 discount for all attendees who book prior to September 1, 2015.

Las Vegas Convention 2015 Comments and Observations

Money Shot

The Group ShotWell, it’s over, and 2015 Circle of Legal Trust LV is back to blog posts and Hangouts on Air till our next Hang Out In Real Life (“HIRL”) It did not go off without a hitch, however, due to the technical difficulties involved with Google Hangouts hanging up, not letting people in, notifying, recording, etc. Timing each speaker is also difficult if a speaker goes over, for example, when the next HOA and individual speaker is in cue.

One of the newer attendees who has not followed our international group till recently asked why we even bother with the HOA. Well, let me answer that first. This organization is based to a large degree on the Google HOA. Always has been. Many of the attorneys, speakers. And viewers are often in other locations around the world and they are needed in order to make this work. However, having learned from this, I am going to speak with Ronnie Bincer about the issues we had, and come up with a solution for next years convention.

Tilley comes through

The good news is, Bill Tilley was on hand with an HDMI cable, and we were able to tap into the suite big screen TV and use it as a monitor with our computers. More than likely, next time we will video record the sessions, and simulcast as an HOA, assuming Google does not work out the flaws in the HOA system.

The Group

The “Originals” In Person

This year we had a tight group. Original voting members, David Slepkow, Michael Ehline, and Tony Castelli showed, which was super awesome. Slepkow in particular, has benefited greatly from the “Personal Injury Warriors” section of the Circle Of Legal Trust, and we think this next 2016 year, he is really going to hit some more great web traffic in Rhode Island and Mass. And all this from his efforts implementing our ever evolving quality guidelines.

Tony was looking fantastic, and we had an opportunity to discuss his main website schema markup and local presence, including “City Center,” and what it really means.

 Gold Member Attendees

Matt Dolman, Jason Kupperman and Seth Price all made it. honorary attorney, and web developer Andre van Wyk, had connectivity problems and was unable to attend. Steve Sweat was able to show via HIRL, but the HOA feed failed, and he too got knocked off the live feed.

Dolman came through, however, with the help of his former Army Airborne administrator, Mr. Kupperman. How you ask, did they come through?

These two illuminated members made sure we had our convention in the Penthouse Suite of the Cosmo Hotel, LV. Most of the pics on this post, are of us in action, in that fine penthouse suite. So as you write your press releases, and news about the event, I would appreciate it if you would shoot the Dolman Law Group personal injury attorneys a link or two, and give them credit where credit is due. The event may have been free to you, but it cost the rest of us busy attorneys who contributed, and their staffs a pretty penny to make this work.

Matt is one of our very first legit members, and he is presently under consideration for induction as a voting “Original.” If you wish to provide some input as to why, or why not he should be moved into a position, like Sgt at Arms, S1, S2, etc., please provide your comments below.

Either way, his collaborative efforts have earned us a great friend/member, and his law firm, some unusual traffic, and rankings. And that is what we are all about: “Lawyers helping Lawyers.” Thanks again, Matt and Jason.

Seth Price, working socialite and legal genius

And of course, it goes without saying that Seth encouraged me in a big way years ago to get these conventions going, and now they seem to have a life of their own. And that is just fine with me. This organization is a team of enlightened lawyers. It is our mutual energy and determination that has gotten us so far, so fast when compared to the larger organizations that seem to put profits over members.

Seth has been a great coach and mentor to me in particular, and I, for one, am thrilled that such a caring, selfless fellow is part of our venerable membership pool. Hats off to the Gold Members!

Hang Arounds and Pledges in Attendance

We had two special guests and prospective members show for this experience. One of them, Bill Tilley, discussed above, is a non-attorney. But remain heavily involved in online legal case funding. So we believe he is a good fit for our group. Last, we look forward to his further association.


Next, the man who invited Bill, we had Christopher Levinson of Vititoe Law Group (prior firm was Masry & Vititoe) in attendance.  Many of you may know Vititoe as one of the attorneys in  Erin Brokovich matter. I mean, you can’t get much cooler than that. And the cool thing is, Chris is a social media powerhouse, with over 130,000 followers on Twitter alone! Holy cow. Even Slepkow could learn a thing or two about social media from this amazing person.
Attorney Jeff Nadrich also showed, and as always, it is great to see an old friend. Amazing how fluctuations in the SERPS can bring people together.
The Nitty Gritty, Our Expert Speakers in Attendance

Saam and company

This year, we had some real winners speak. Unfortunately, the video Youtube feed had trouble, and I fear we lost some real gems. But in order, we had Conrad Saam discuss ways of tracking the cost of each client about the benefits of getting them. He spoke about methods of lead tracking on your website to help you get a handle on your budget as well.

Conrad is a fantastic guy, who like me, is willing to take some time off now and then to head to a Las Vegas machine gun range, and take out some paper targets. He is also part of the original AVVO group, and is now a freelancer at Mockingbird Marketing, helping lawyers get more presence online, of course!

Next, we had Chris Dreyer, my good friend over at AttorneyRankings.org. Dreyer works closely with me, Tony Castelli, as well as Matt Dolman, and I can personally attest to the fact that he is an honest, motivated, and skilled individual. He helped me with banners for the HOA, and he was number two in our line up.

He discussed the evolution of mobile search, its future and the necessity of testing, and improving site speed in anticipation of Mobilegeddon (Read More.) If you are in a pickle and like it when the guy you hired responds in a timely fashion, I suggest you follow him on Twitter and perhaps request a quote.

I feel that his strong-suit is a brand building and PR marketing, and that is of supreme importance in this day and age, as most of our seasoned guests know.


And no, it’s not Zoolander. Next in our lineup was Andrew Orlander. Andrew spoke about methods of tweaking your site, and its signals to generate more leads. This was a great session, with lots of Q and A. Unfortunately, the feed did not work. So we lost the Youtube feed. But the good news is that Andrew will be writing a follow-up article. And that will be available on this site soon.

Andrew is a mover and shaker in both the medical and legal web field. He and his services are perfect for the discriminating personal injury attorney. Also, he can help you get an expert mention on a true medical site. Plus, he helps doctors and personal injury lawyers meet and break bread. And of course, he does not just help in the injury field. So I recommend you learn more about him here.

Big Joe

The next speaker we had is Joe Mas from searchdex of Texas. Now, first, I have to say, Joe is a gentle, caring, and genuine guy. He traveled to Vegas. All this, to meet us. And this was because he saw how well we got on from viewing and attending our Google HOA’s.

The areas he spoke on were among other things , gaining insight on how technical SEO impacts every area of online presence and ROI. In particular, he discussed ways to reduce PPC costs drastically, organic growth through search, and quality of leads. Joe also highlighted the technical points of evaluating the health of a site and how it affects ROI. He also took a lot of questions. And he even went over a site markup to show us how it all works.

Above all, Joe understands back end, and he has helped me with my htaccess redirects. So I have first-hand knowledge that he knows his stuff. You can also check him out here on Google Plus.

The last speaker was me, Michael Ehline. I went into the details of Negative SEO. I discussed how NSEO is the new way for some SEO companies to rank your competitors, and how it drove up PPC bid prices, causing a lot of former heavy PPC users to rethink Google PPC. And possibly they will switch to Bing or Yahoo! PPC. But perhaps it has exhausted marketing budgets and shut down a lot of businesses.


I also went into methods of spotting an NSEO attack; our new Web-O-Trust disavow file blacklist. (now in beta testing). And I also teach how to deal with SEO hosts overseas, such as OVH, who don’t honor US copyright laws, or DMCA takedown requests.

I also went into a theoretical discussion on the disavow tool and its limited usefulness until such time that Penguin is run real-time, or dynamically. I guess my take away from this is going back to advertising on the side of a bus. But if you do, you are probably going to go BK sooner than you think.

This post still has legs. So if I missed something, contact me, and I will add, edit, etc., as needed. I want to thank all of our sponsors and attendees personally. Thank you all for helping make this a success. Also, I am accepting donations and speaker applications for next year’s Circle of Legal Trust Convention.

This next convention will be the culmination of learning from the mistakes of past sessions. And funding will be better. But I will need help getting this off the ground. After all, I still have to run my cases. Lawyers who can donate staff time are wanted.

We need help with banners, meeting places, catering, etc. Also, donors get a prominent place on the event sponsor page. Last, they get a juicy mention and link back to their profiles.

So feel free to use the contact form to get hold of me. The event will also be sponsored by “Personal Injury Warriors International.” So anyone who wants to join up now, and who does PI law, will be given a free listing. Next, they get posting privileges here. www.personalinjurywarriors.com.

Semper Fi. And many thanks for your support. See at the Hangout on Air soon!

Legal Ramifications of Google Admitting Some Sites “Excepted” From Algorithm Changes

Muno Ehline

Michael Ehline of the Circle of Legal Trust (COLT)

By Michael P. Ehline, Esq. – Most of us who are members of the Circle of Legal Trust, are aware of the definition of a “Whitelist”. Many have questioned why some websites, regardless of their quality, never seem to lose organic rankings or get hit by algo shifts, such as Penguin and Panda. This treatise intends to point out “negative SEO” done and the search engine level. It’s called whitelisting. And it touches other damaging traps for the unwary that can shut your site off from Google and Bing. This really should come as no surprise to anyone. So the questions remain: Is claiming that the search engine “exception list” is not a “whitelist,” and vice versa, ethical, or legal? And is the previous denial of their existence and SERPS favoritism an unfair business practice?

We Rely Upon the Fundamental Fairness and Promises of the Engines to Not Rig the Results

The engines all say that buying Adwords won’t help your organic ranking and vice versa. They say that engaging in white hat SEO is the only way you can achieve a good ranking. They say “negative SEO” is virtually impossible. (I beg to differ and on many levels) And basically, they imply that the algo cannot and does not show favoritism, for lack of a better word. In

California, Business and Professions Code Sec. 17200 et seq, covers unfair business practices. And this includes things like false advertising, etc. So if a jury finds against Google in the pending European case, this could end up in California courts. And it could end up in any state that regulates false advertising.

So this is a huge issue for my favorite company. And I am a G stockholder. Most of all, I write this with great dissatisfaction of what this could do to my stock prices.

Is Fairness in the Algo What We See?

We see larger sites that employ lawyer “blog networks.” (and also have a rather large PPC spend). And we see the sites they control and optimize for attorneys, etc. And these are lawyers who keep on ranking, no matter what new penalty comes down the pike to switch up the algorithm. (read more.)

But when real attorneys who are outside these networks, and who also employ similar tactics, we see them disappear from the SERPS altogether. So what the heck is going on? Is this all a conspiracy theory, or hype, or just paranoia, or all of the above?

Sites on the “Exception List” Don’t Get Hit – CONFIRMED

Google and Bing reps both admitted at SMX West in San Jose that this has been going on since last week. And they have lists of websites that should not be hit by algorithms. They call this the “exception lists” And in more general terminology, they would normally be called Whitelists.

Did Google Accidentally Leak Discovery Relevant to an Ongoing Dispute at a Conference?

Several of my attorney friends think that someone screwed up. There is a legal battle overseas, where a major contention is that Google plays favorites with certain sites by excepting them. But this honest and apparent accidental disclosure, took a conference at SMX to reveal this.

I bet Google starts sending its engineers and speakers to a legal course from now on. Google is currently involved in a legal battle in Europe.  And while this unexpected revelation was not intended to be harmful (to Google), it just could be.

Also, the term “whitelists” has been used with the European corporate counsel, who complained about Google in 2006. When the complaint was filed, it involved how some vertical search engines. Some got hit, and others did not, which is now being handled by the commission.

Attorney Julia Holtz, Google European corporate counsel in Brussels, said, the company does not “blacklist or whitelist” any websites. This brings up the question, were they truthful then, or are they truthful now? Is an exception list different than a whitelist?

What is the Difference Between a Whitelist and an Exception List?

What Google will say, is that it is not a “whitelist,” but rather it is an “exception list.” And this equates to the same thing in my mind, with Google making exceptions for individual sites. And this it has admitted. Supposedly there is no list for the latest Panda updates. But it may be made for sites wrongly demoted, which was a mistake in the algorithm that caused the drop.

That sounds fair to me. But the underlying question is why play hide the ball? Why not just have the lawyers admit this in legal proceedings. Why has this come out at an SEO conference? Clearly, someone screwed up.

Do No Evil?

My guess is overreaching counsel made several strategic and tactical errors here. I wonder what their hourly rate is? Maybe Google should hire me? I bet they would never get taken down for being a monopoly if they retained a few lawyers and me from the Circle of Legal Trust. Anyways, one of the main things about the complaint made by the Foundem is about being “honest.”

The claim made by Foundem was that Google was “unfairly manipulating results.” But Google claimed they did not change results manually, ever. What Google said, was that they could not change the results for Foundem’s, due to the algorithm.

But that does not seem to be true since it seems like they can do this. And aren’t algorithms manually created? Also, didn’t they finally admit that the algo is manipulated to develop exceptions? If I was on the jury, that is what I would find.

Google might find that the recent admission may not help their case in Europe. A good attorney can put this latest admission from Google together with the manual changes. One of the remarks claimed the spam team “is willing to take action manually if we get a spam report of off-topic porn and things like that.

So the judge would see that there is at least reasonable doubt about Google’s claims that they are not manually changing results.

Did They Cut off Their Nose with Their Latest Admission?

Honestly, I don’t blame Google themselves. I blame their lawyers. I have seen how defense lawyers play hide the ball, tick off judges and juries, etc. And this is precisely how and why many great companies get nailed with antitrust lawsuits.

And unless their lawyers have at least as much experience living, eating and breathing the algo like myself, for example, they are JUST lawyers. So unless they are constantly testing, learning from non-Google personnel and sources (SEO Moz, etc.), their defense attorneys are at a distinct disadvantage. And it would be no different than a general practitioner handling a quadriplegia case IMHO. Think about it.





Circle of Legal Trust Las Vegas With Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen, Etc.

It has been a while since our last Las Vegas Convention. Many of our attorneys have seen dramatic increases in the search engine results. And this is all a result of embracing the COLT quality guidelines. Of course, these mirror those of Bing and Google. At our last seminar/ HIRL (“Hangout in Real Life”), we had a full day of speakers and workshops.

One was with Steve Sweat and Andre van Wyk showing us all how to do our e-book and PDF magazines. After that, Dave Amerland, Eric Enge, and Mark Traphagen were detailing the overlaps of the semantic web. And they went into the best social media practices, etc.

It was a killer of a seminar, and we all learned a lot. This time, Eric Enge, Traphagen, is going to be on again. Eric is going to go into some more good stuff, as well as some new speakers. Check out the list of activities I have prepared so far.

Convention Times, Dates, Locations

Also, this remains a one-day convention starting at 10 am on April 25, 2014. It will go as long as it goes.  We will take a lunch break at noon, and it will be a HIRL. (Hangout in Real Life), like the last one.

The location will be at the Richard Harris Law Offices located at 801 S 4th St Las Vegas, NV, click here for directions.  Of course, locations can also change, but till now, we thank Richard for hooking us up.  Make sure to check out his website, and maybe even add a good word or two about him on his reviews, and add him as a friend on GPlus.

Speakers of the Day and Times

1. Dan Goldstein 10:30 am.

2. I have Eric Enge down for 11 am Vegas time. Mostly, he will be speaking on a variety of relevant issues to building your brand. And he covers getting ranked. But he emphasizes using white hat SEO techniques. Consequently, I will add more here after I hear from him tomorrow.

3. Traphagen 12:30: (Can someone send this to Mark, as I seem not to have his email address?)  So we all know him. And he will be speaking on some relevant topics. Hence, I intend upon getting the exact topics from him tomorrow for posting here.

4. Conrad Saam is down for 1:30 pm. Topic “10 Flagrantly Obvious Secrets of Online Marketing” – He will be there in person. And Castelli is going to talk to Dan Goldstein and get his topic and time

5. Andre van Wyk is on at 2:00.

6. I have the president of 24-7 Press Release. Mike Iwasaki, on at 2:30 to discuss Co-Citations and Co-Branding using press releases and the irrelevance of no follow versus do follow in many situations, as the semantic web becomes more intelligent.

7. What are Andre’s times and topics?

8. Does anyone know if Bincer wants to do a 30-minute HIRL with us? Anyone else who wants some exposure from the right side?

7. Does anyone (Tony) have the complete list of attendees who will physically attend and their hotels?

Hotels – Where Am I Staying?

Myself and Seth Price are staying at the Palazzo (Go here.) Not sure on Matt Dolman.  Contact Seth to find out about discounts, etc. Ours even coincides with AVVO, so there may be people who can get breaks.

Physical Attendees so Far

Richard Harris, Matt Dolman, Michael Ehline, Alan Beck, Seth Price, Jeff Nadrich, Tony Castelli, Conrad Sams, YOUR NAME HERE.

When Am I Arriving?

I am coming in on the evening of the 23d. And I am leaving on the evening of the 26th. But attorney Seth Price will be there Wed-Saturday.

Extra Curricular Activities

Of special interest, I am planning on doing the full-auto machine gun range the day prior, on the 24th, with Alan Beck. Alan is a Title 42 Section 1983 Civil Rights attorney in San Diego. Also, he has won Second Amendment cases in the 9th Circuit. Noteworthy, Castelli is going with me. Also, Alan is a former U.S. Marine.

So he may do a mini-workshop on the human right of self-defense. And he likely will cover defense against government overreach. So is anyone interested in attending? Most of all, it will be a blast.

Attorney Marketing | How and Why Link Schemes Don’t Work Unless Your Findlaw?

I wanted to start with just an opinion here. It is my opinion that Findlaw is unfairly gaming Google by taking advantage of Google’s new policy of discounting links from sites that are unrelated in content to the target site.

For example, Findlaw sells lawyers “Firmsites,” and blogs, and hosts for them. All are related, as they are legal sites. Following this so far? First, many bloggers have long complained about Findlaw’s alleged sordid history. We hear stories of them of gaming Google by selling links, calling it anything but that! Now we are talking about a very advanced automated blog network (no true authorship signals, etc.)

Do Paid Attorney Blog Networks Get a Google Pass

Google has explicitly stated that it hates blog networks that are paid and not real votes (discussed below). And this is because a huge SEO company like Findlaw, or Scorpion Web Design, can easily create a huge network of sites. (customers pay lots of money for Firmsites, for example) And then they spin LSI content with in house content spinners. And this is how they blast them across this huge network of interlinked sites.

The Network

In other words, you pay them to make you a site, and they add other law firm’s content (actually content written by Findlaw writers) to your site and blog roll. So they can get even more money by making you pay extra to be part of the “network.”

You pay them to help them use your blog to help them make more sales. My opinion is that this is simply selling links. And this is a big no-no. But let’s look this some more: My research has shown that “non-legacy” legal sites are ranking number one on the first page of Google, for terms like “Los Angeles, personal injury attorney.”

The problem is, if you or I tried to do this (get people to pay us to build their blogs and then link them all back and forth to each other), we would be blasted into cyberspace. Where is Matt Cutts on this? How can a company not gaming the system, survive in a Panda/Penguin environment?

This raises several questions: Does Google give large SEO companies like FL a pass? I mean, all the sites are usually on the same server, and it is clear from my perspective these links are not legitimate votes. Most people in the early stages of learning how search engine algorithms work are tempted to test what they have learned. This can include buying fifty or one hundred domains to link all to the main website. Some people come up with a complex plan that does work for an amount of time but does not last. But here, the Findlaw Blog Network seems unaffected.

One company, Dejan SEO, analyzed a large amount of link data from between 2005 and 2011 to see what the results were with this type of domain owner. What was found is, it did not work, attempting to influence Google’s algorithm. When this tactic manipulates the Google algorithm of link graphs and its signals, the result will be a waste of time. Plus, it ends up in the loss of funds and results in Google penalties.

Opting for a link scheme to bolster traffic is one of the shortcuts that can easily get discovered. This shortcut can be found by an algorithm or through human review. But here, it has been working for months, and the internet is so far silent.

These sites rose quite high from obscurity post Panda and Penguin. So this is a bad result, not a “real” vote. And it’s just as crazy as having a Wikipedia show up as the first result in almost every organic search, in my opinion.

Here are other methods used by gamers that don’t work like they used to.

Simple Content Networks

Content networks consume a large portion of the web and are growing fast; Panda also consumes them. The cost is moderately low when implementing the following basic steps.

  • Register Domains (coupons for cheaper pricing can often be found).
  • Purchase cheap hosting with WHM
  • Batch install CMS (one of the most popular is Word Press).

Content is the next step, content can be from:

  • Cheap article writing
  • RSS Feeds
  • Scraping
  • Spinning

Linking the sites is the next step in the plan.

  • Flow Page Rank
  • Collect Ad Sense money, sell links and link your main site

Due to the low setup cost and uncomplicated level is why there have been many low-quality websites show up in Google’s results over the past five years. When the person then starts to diversify IP addresses and to use quality content, along with designs, the cost will be more to operate the domains.

The cost will be much more expensive, and there is still no way to know that your plan will be successful long term.

Sophisticated Content Networks

I believe that Findlaw SEO tactics are just more or less, a sophisticated content network. Panda rooted out most of the artificial low-quality content sites in 2011. But there still can be some found that are ranking decently. One has to question if the unsophisticated level of schemes has gotten more advanced.

And I think the evidence proved that the Findlaw blog network is just that, and VERY very sophisticated content linking scheme. What is happening is that some of the content setups have reached an in-between stage, which causes them to be more real and even have some useful information. And this makes them more difficult to be killed off, but not impossible.

Google is resolute on ridding the web of these content farming sites and has enlarged the range of elements they use to determine if a network of websites is a real or simulated link scheme designed to influence rankings.

But Google makes a lot of money off of Findlaw. Will this influence the spam team’s decision? Website owners that still attempt to try link schemes will find it almost a guarantee that at least one of the elements used will be found by the tactics Google is using to ferret out these sites.

Link Buying Invitations

There are many invitations from networks that invite people to buy links, sell links, link exchanges, and paid to blog. One of the things that will be seen within their pages is information about Page Rank increases. These are red flags for the spam that Google is weeding out in low-quality content website networks.

Domain Information and Google

Google, as a domain registrar, can access information data about any domain they choose. The considerable amount of data they can access means they can compare ownership, contact details, domain naming patterns and TDL consistency.
The thought of using expired domains for your site will not help. So this is because Google can determine ownership. They can tell whether it is new ownership or if it is the previous owner restoring or re-registering a domain.

Private registration for all of a person’s domains is not a solution to avoiding Google since it shows a pattern, and including other parts of the scheme can result in red flags.

Hosting Information and Google

There is a similarity in hosting characteristics in content networks that Google can compare server information and C-blocks, which includes the hosting company, geo locations, and server type. What this will mean to the person with a large number of sites and a link scheme is expanding name server information and rotating IP addresses to a higher level. This is both time-consuming and expensive.

Content and Google

Websites are observed by Google for historical content changes and the frequency of updates, due to Google’s capacity to track changes over time. Google’s index is very refined in its approach to websites.

The Panda updates have been consistent in sorting out content duplications, spun articles, and article automation. Google knows that natural websites will grow gradually over time, where the low-quality content website usually will generate content fast. But then it will slow down unless you use an automated content scheme.

There are simple things that are a giveaway to Google. After all, they have a large database of addresses, organization business. Next, contact information in Google Places, Google Maps, and other services can compare this data with information that is on sites they suspect of scheming. One of the other things that Google knows is that blog networks do not usually have “About us” pages that have staff profiles, contact information, telephone numbers, or local maps.

Other signals alert Google to fake sites, like watching the topical regularity and mixture of content. Google can determine the reading level of content, the presence or absence of citations, references, so qualitative analysis is a matter of how Google looks at a site.

The content types allow it to determine if it is commercial content, a blog, forums, news, academic, or social networking sites. Identifying information can be included in the content, but it can also be in the images and media on the sites, including file naming conventions. When the content is not consistent, the site can be flagged by Google as fake. Google gives a clear flag to sites that do not have any buy, connect, signup, rates, subscribe, or anything of that nature.

Google Link Signals

The algorithm Google remains based on links, and for this reason, it is clear that Google understands links completely. Internal links are analyzed 301 redirects hidden links, and outbound links. Sending the wrong link signal can be a bad choice.

utbound Links and Google

Outbound links leave a footprint when people attempt to manipulate rankings. All this starts from the anchor text that is used and consistently using the “exact match phrase” links, without using non-anchor text links, like click here and read more; your site can be flagged. The location of the links and the ratio of follow and no follow links on a page can be responsible for another flag.
Breaking the pattern of normal link patterns can cause unnatural links and cause a flag to be triggered.

Google’s Thoughts on Inbound Links

It is becoming more common to see inbound link signals; Google will look at how trustworthy the inbound links are, the topic of the pages, and websites that are linking to the site. When the inbound links are forums spam, blog comment spamming, or hacked sites, Google will know, and there is no chance of a long term linking scheme. The other things that Google will look for are placement velocity, link placement removal spikes, the quantity and diversity of the inbound links.

Using Related Websites

So this is how I believe Findlaw is benefiting. So look at it like this, the available link metrics assist Google in forming a picture of your website. That way, it can understand the relation of your domains using cross-site interlinking patterns, cascading Page Rank low, and Page Rank sources that have common elements. Google wants to see your content on related sites. But Google is interested in how you got that content.

But merely paying to be part of a content network is bad. But look to see if it is trying to manipulate your link weight with a certain percent of no follows, do follows anchor, etc. Many do it, but this is a dangerous shortcut, in my opinion. So be careful.

The Technical Elements and the Site Architecture

Without using manually created websites in various ways and using several technologies, they leave a footprint. When Google looks for low-quality content farms Elements, Google is used and includes consistency in the CMS platforms used, consistent themes, plug-ins, the page extensions, such as HTM, HTML, PHP, or aspx, URL structures and URL rewriting rules.

Even when the site is manually set, there still can be an amount of recycling and this is common in the navigational level, the file naming conventions, and the CSS classes. Looking at the footer is often a way to tell if a website is a part of a network since this is regularly duplicated or overlooked during the coding.

Google Focusing on Social Media

And although this is part of the matrix, one of my blogger buddies, smokes every site on the FL blog network. He does so with his social profile, has over 140,000 backlinks from mostly related sites. (unfortunately, mostly anchor text though) And he is getting ruined by these Firmsites that rose to the top as soon as the new Panda/Penguin updates went live. He came to me and said he thinks that Google is paying off sites like FL with this new algo update, because of the revenue Google gets from selling ads to FL.

Could that be true? Well, I looked at the social profiles of many of the FL sites that rank, and I could not find any who even had a Google+ profile, so I will say: “seems fishy.”

In 2011, Google has focused on social media and uses it as a way to verify people and businesses. They use it to determine the influence of the business or person, and with Google + flagging potential spam and validating valuable resources will expand. But with the new algo that only wants a 1-3% anchored text profile. Otherwise, it is not natural. So now the new site with a better profile weight. (since now everything Google said you were supposed to do, like use anchor text is suspect as an SEO effort instead of a vote) This will easily beat a legacy site. The FL Penguin and Panda defeating backlinks make this happen rapidly.

Data Google Has at its Disposal

Google has a tremendous amount of browsing and behavior data at its disposal of internet users and websites. This makes it easy for Google to determine the manipulated or low-quality content site, the high search result bounce data, and other flags that are generated with their link graph analysis algorithm.

Who Your Competitors Are

The content farms will find their competitors. The farmers are people trying to manipulate the system. And they want to be above you in the results. So there is a chance, even with the most sophisticated setup of your scheme being picked up by a competitor and reported to Google.

If you think Findlaw has created a sophisticated interlinking blog network, you can report here.
Google might penalize your website when they do a quality review. So the Google spam people keep the information, and you will be required to explain in detail what you did to fix the problem. But prior to a reconsideration request to have a successful website you have to work at it. There are only two choices: 1. do things the right way this time or 2. find a new scheme and risk being penalized by Google again.

Wrapping Up

It is getting harder every day to play against Google’s algorithm, unless, apparently, your Findlaw, even though Google has made their intentions clear. G will improve upon the evaluation of content through authorship signals. Let’s hope so, since the only authorship signal I see here, is that FL is authoring content, sharing it across sites of attorneys who probably don’t even know each other, and making a killing off parasitic sites. Google plans a more intense assessment of the social graph. And it plans the improvement of understanding the semantic qualities of content on the internet. Let’s see if they nail FL, or give them a pass.

Having a successful link matrix, you will need to invest time. Also, energy and money must be spent on a white-hat SEO campaign. How to do this? Ensure that you or your SEO people like me recognize fake sites. And use sustainable practices. But make sure to expand content development power. Most of all, when these are followed you’re golden. After all, when SEO is done in the right way, your links are safe. If you want to learn more, you can visit me at G+.

COLT Second Annual Convention

Despite the HIRL/HOA technical issues surrounding the recorded part of our convention, it was a resounding success.  We have several new “Hang Arounds” who are seeking admission as full patched members and one drove from L.A. to Vegas and went back afterward .  So I saw a lot of dedication and commitment, which is awesome.

One interesting part about this year’s H.I.R.L. is that many attendees have probably never done a video conference like this. So I was able to spot some of my weaknesses in not recognizing that only a few of the Originals understand the HOA.

In any event, we did a round table in the conference room at personal injury attorney, Richard Harris’ law offices in Las Vegas, NV.  Why is this particularly interesting? Well, because it gave me the ability to analyze the strengths and limitations of a HIRL under the pressures of production. I mean one on a less than “Sundance” style  budget.

But first, let me tell you about this personal injury law firm that volunteered their use of a gigantic conference room, catering, and with the volunteerism of accident lawyer Seth Price, in their huge, sprawling law office.  This was really great because we were able to meet at close quarters, mix, exchange pleasantries, cards, and handshakes.

Of course, in more detail below, I will talk about some of the drawbacks to such a close quarters H.I.R.L. Check out this picture of the exterior of this mammoth legal facility. We used one of the many conference rooms within the facility.

Any injured client would be proud to be represented by such as successful firm. Clearly, they are doing right by their clients to have been so generous in loaning us a room for almost 8 hours!

The Location of Our Convention | Injury Lawyer Richard Harris’ Law Building

Sponsors of Circle of Legal Trust - Catastrophic Injury Law BuildingLaw Vegas Personal Injury Law Offices of Richard Harris

Observations About Audience Participation In a Full Conference Room

Various attorneys watching Google HIRL Video

The oval table.

Unlike most hangouts, this was a HIRL, or
href=”https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chat/cmr8AgtToTg” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>“Hang Out in Real Life”, <<< Click. What this means, is that listeners and watchers at home could watch the H.I.R.L. on their computers, and physical attendees could also view the H.I.R.L. while seated around the conference table, and be able to see the online slides, and graphics, as well as the video streaming of the speakers themselves, that are just sitting across the table.

What is the Format of a H.I.R.L.?

A HIRL, like any other H.O.A., is designed to be a 15-30 minute presentation by a physically present speaker, or a speaker at a remote location by use of streaming live video and audio. Typically there is a question and answer session at the end of the slideshow. Then there is an oral presentation by the guest speaker.

Well, unfortunately, this is still a new technology to non-plussers. And some of the chaos that befell us is partially my fault for not knowing how a H.I.R.L. must be run.

A conference in a large chamber room, enabling the sounds and voices of others to cause great feedback, too many computers tapping into a single wifi connection, Plus physical attendees asking questions to the speaker mid-sentence, and so forth. So I came to some findings and conclusions.

Finding One – Let the Speaker Finish His Presentation

  • Finding 1. Let Him Speak. First, for you attorneys, for example, when a trial lawyer speaks at a seminar, he makes his presentation, and then after that, there is an open discussion.  I believe we called this the Socratic Method at law school?
  • Conclusion. In a H.I.R.L., we have limited time, and each speaker is scheduled t speak at different times, and many of them are volunteering, despite the fact they are celebrities in the Google Community.

We did have scheduling misunderstanding due to time zone issues. (Eric Enge and Mark Traphagan are on the East Coast Time Zone, Las Vegas is not) But we were able to fill in the gap. Actually, we had the speakers present out of order. So it was like a court. Just like experts and other subpoenaed witnesses at a jury trial.

A few attendees not familiar with the Google H.O.A. format asked questions during the initial presentation. But more problematic, their interrogatories were not heard by people at home. This is because questioners were too far away from the speaker. So the microphone failed to pick up the questions.

Audience Too Far Away

For example, when Dan Goldstein was making his presentation. Notice when the viewing audience could not hear the questions. So for a great part of the video, you can listen to mumbling. And then Goldstein is attempting to answer questions that no one else can hear.

Finding Two – Limitations of the Hangouts Require Special Technical Accommodations

  • Finding 2 – Hire Ronnie Bincer First I know this sounds crazy, but Google keeps tweaking the way Events and Hangouts work.  It is also more difficult to run an HOA from your Place/Community. This is opposed to running it from your profile.

Ronnie Bincer keeps up on this stuff, and he has led us in an HOA once before.  I should have contacted him at his Google Plus contact here, prior to running the HIRL. For an example  of just a few problems.

  • Looking Dumb – The first 15 minutes of the part one raw video below I am trying to figure out if it is recording or not since there is no “record button” anymore (turns out it was recording and I look silly)
  • Avoiding Audio Feedback and Delay-. If I had spoken with or looked at Bincer’s blog, I would have known that having all the audios on, on all computers within the confines, would cause feedback. So we have to cancel the audio out.
  • One wifi Connection Not Enough For Multiple Users in Real Life – I am sure more than a few computers can tap into one wifi connection at a particular location. This is due to the video streaming larger video files. We quickly determined that next time we should feed the MC’s computer to the large T.V. monitor. That way all attendees have one more computer for the live speaker. And then they pass a mic around for attendees to ask questions. This is one of the limitations of streaming in close quarters for sure.

Obviously, we need to edit the raw video and try and salvage the tape into something that doesn’t make us look the Three Stooges.  In all events, it is imperative that live attendees at a conference with greater wifi capacity need to mute their computers.

Imagine a thousand people at a wifi H.I.R.L. and trying to eliminate the one mic with feedback.


Get technical updates on HIRLS and mute the microphones till your turn comes to talk.

Raw Video of The Seminar – Part One

Please Start at 15:13

You can see in the raw video that we started to get rolling along pretty good after we ironed out the basic stuff. So I feel confident we are going to have an even better seminar next year.

New Blood to the Circle of Legal Trust

Without naming names, we had some new prospects come to the seminar. We had one attorney come from Oregon, one from L.A. And others traveled from the South and Eastern states. I was proud to see all the interest.  Some people get it. And Sgt at Arms, Anthony Castelli, is working with these new prospects. His job is to get them snapped into our elite organization of legal warriors.

Rollout of Paid Services

Although each member must be free and accepted, and membership itself is merit-based and free of monetary charges, it is not free for my developers and me. When I started this, I always wanted it to be self-administered by me and a few Originals. But there are too many people wanting to join.

For me to maintain human edited quality control, Andre van Wyk and I are coming out with some new paid services to help offset costs. And that way we can hire more help to build out our various online publications.

  • “COLT Journal” Magazine Advertising – We announced paid advertising slots for our Legal and Marketing journal, that is multi-state, multi practice. (this is available for members and outside vendors)
  • Personal Injury Warriors Magazine Paid Ads – Due to the fact that PI is the most competitive law practice in the united states of America, we have a stand alone PI practice magazine that is also now selling paid slots for outside vendors and inside members. Both COLT Journal and PI Warriors are going to be pushed to online apps and distribution channels.
  • Mastermind Group Memberships

    – We are also offering additional services for members only.

  • This will include the ability to receive a place of recognition on our Circle of Legal Trust Attorney NAP Data Directory currently being developed by Andre van Wyk. This is a White List of Trusted Colt members that will act as a data provider to Google. We offer three levels, Mastermind gets the top of the page, by order of who purchased first (first in time is first in the right)
  • Mastermind: Top Slot. Includes a 1. NAP Data, 2. Graphic or photo, 3. link to your site and COLT user profile, 4. A short law firm bio on the page.
  • Gold: Middle Slot. Includes 1. NAP Data, 2. link to your site and COLT user profile.
  • Free: Bottom Slot. Includes 1. NAP Data, 2. (COLT Members only)
  • We will also offer use of our “List Serve” that is also being developed so lawyers can share leads and private communications off of the Google grid.
  • Also, Eeach Gold Member gets an ad placement=. So this is regardless of whether they provide an article. But current, non paying members will still be able to provide articles free of charge.
  • Mastermind members will also be eligible to participate in our PRIVATE once a month Q&. This is an HOA with Andre, myself, or another invited expert.These will be private, one hour sessions where we discuss things we don’t want our competitors to know.
  • Eligibility for Elections

    – Members who pay dues will also be eligible to participate in awards elections. Yes, that’s right, elections to promote extraordinary members who pay dues and participate in COLT. Each year, we promote paid members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty with accolades and awards. We will now award outstanding performance in the following categories: For all practice areas of law (injury, divorce, criminal law, civil rights, etc., will each have their own award), as follows:

  • Litigator of the Year,
  • Trial Lawyer of the Year
  • Law Clerk of the Year,
  • Marketer of the Year
  • Most Sef-less Lawyer of the Year.
  • All Originals will maintain voting rights regardless of payment. And this is due to their original loyal involvement. The awards will come in the form of a press release, write up and banner on you Web-O-Trust Profile. And you can get the membership banners added to your website. We are designing patches presently.

    How Much Is MasterMind Membership?

    • $1000 per year. If you have any questions, contact Andre van Wyk, or myself, if you wish to contribute funds and become a “Mastermind.” That way we will discuss further via email. The buy-in for Mastermind is $1000.00 per year. The products and services are rolling out now, and some are already available. And I almost forgot, all masterminds will be listed on our prominently located “Mastermind List” along with a lawyer picture and citation back to each lawyer’s website. This will be posted on the Circle of Legal Trust Website, linked from the Home Page. We will be promoting this list as well. You also get an upgraded patch for your website and emails telling the world you are at the pinnacle of C.O.L.T. membership.

    How Much For Gold Membership?

    • $60.00 per month, payable by PayPal only, or paid in full by check. Here is what you get. Gold includes all public H.O.A.’s except the Mastermind Private Monthly Sessions. You still get all your free services, including your patch, but you also get a special GOLD patch for your site.
    • How Much is “Free”?

      Free means no money.  Free members are eligible to post on the legal torch in addition to all the free services, like the Web-O-Trust whitelisting network, posting to our magazines, and H.O.A.’s. The cost for blog maintenance will be $30.00 per month, and each member will also get their user profile with a citation back to their sites, social profiles, and blogs just like web-o-trust, but connected to press releases and articles on their Legal Torch blog.

      Announcing Revisions to Legal Torch

      After the consultation, I have decided to move forward. We will be using one website for promoting COLT. So our services and our members will use one platform ONLY. So we are going to go with subfolders. And we will interface more like lawyers.com to join.

      Charges for Blogs Maintenance

      The use of that site will come with a minimal fee of $30.00 per month. This will cover the costs of editing and maintenance. (No exact match anchors allowed and must be original. Also, it must be non-plagiarized content.) Again, the cost per user will be $30.00 per month. And each member will get their user profile with a citation back to their sites, social profiles, and blogs.

      Moving the Question and Answer Forum

      The Questions and Answer Forum, Attorney Directory, and advanced products will now be accessible only via the Circle of Legal Trust.

      In Conclusion

      We all feel that we need to use the Circle of Legal Trust for other services and that we can get much more benefit as a whole by the use of one brand. In closing, I wanted to thank everyone, and I will update this evergreen article, as more things start to materialize.

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.

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