The Busy Lawyer’s Online Marketing Update – March 9, 2016

We know you are busy so we did the reading for you.  Our team of more than 50 search marketing experts shares the most important news that attorneys need to know about online marketing and web technology from the recent past.

Facebook Making News Feed Algorithm Changes

Friday, February 5, 2016 by Kathleen Henzel (@kath0501)
Facebook said it was going to change the News Feed algorithm so that the posts you are not interested in are less likely to appear at the top. Previously, the order of your News Feed was based on how much you like, comment, click or share similar posts.

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Illinois Lawyer Sues Avvo for Using Her Identity Without Consent

Monday, February 8, 2016 by Guy Loranger (@CWContentTeam)

LawyerProfileA Chicago family law attorney has brought a putative class-action lawsuit against Avvo, the ABA Journal reported in early February. The lawsuit contends that Avvo’s online lawyer directory violates Illinois’ right of publicity law, which prohibits the commercial use of a person’s identity “without having obtained previous written consent from the appropriate person or persons.” In other words, she claims that Avvo has posted a profile page for her – without her permission – and profited by selling ads to other lawyers that can appear on the page. Avvo’s chief legal officer called the lawsuit “bizarre” and “ludicrous.” Read the complaint here and form your own opinion. As the ABA Journal points out, a similar lawsuit is currently being litigated in a federal court in California. Avvo’s business model clearly is at stake. Keep an eye on these cases in the months ahead.

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Attorney Blogs That Are Separate from Their Firms’ Websites May Not Be Subject to Legal Advertising Restrictions

Friday, February 12, 2016 by Greg Froom (@FroomG)
BlogTypewriterAttorney blogs that are separate from their firms’ websites may not be subject to legal advertising restrictions under California’s Rules of Professional Conduct — even if the blog items discuss legal topics, so long as the blog doesn’t “directly or implicitly express the attorney’s availability for professional employment.” That’s according to a proposed formal opinion that the California State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct submitted for public comment in mid-February. While the opinion opens the door for lawyers to write blogs regarding legal topics on separate sites unfettered by advertising rules, it also underscores the need for attorneys to ensure that they hew to the rules of professional conduct when posting to blogs hosted on their law firm’s website.

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Google Will Serve Four Text Ads Instead of Three

Friday, February 19, 2016 by Eric Reiss and Mike Wice (@Consultwebs)

PPCTouchscreenOn February 19, Google modified the search results pages on desktops so that text ads no longer appear in the right sidebar. Meanwhile, Google will serve four text ads instead of three in the mainline area above the organic listings for more “highly commercial queries,” such as “New York City personal injury lawyer.” Additionally, three text ads will show at the bottom of the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). The impact of this change is still being analyzed and may only be minimal, since the change only affects desktop searches, which are less than 50% of all searches. The suggested reasoning is a greater push for mobile ease of use, as the ads on the right side of the page would not show up for mobile users. Nonetheless, since organic SEO listings are now pushed down in search results due to the new four-ad Google Ads block, law firms may want to consider increasing their Google Ads spend.

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Snapchat’s On-Demand Geofilters Could Be New Marketing Opportunity for Creative Firms

Monday, February 22, 2016 by Corrie Benfield (@copydesk)

LocationPinThe visual messaging app Snapchat, which boasts 100 million daily users, recently announced a new marketing opportunity via On-Demand Geofilters, which companies could take advantage of to target Snapchat users at a particular location and time. The move has big implications in the marketing world, with raising the possibility that On-Demand Geofilters could be the next Google Ads. The way it works is that Snapchat users can choose from the geofilters available in specific locations to overlay the visual messages they are sharing, meaning the more creative a filter is, the more exposure the advertiser may receive. Creative law firms could take advantage of this feature to build brand awareness within target audiences. Think: A geofilter that overlays a sombrero and a mustache onto photos sent during a margarita festival, with a message from a DUI attorney saying please drink responsibly.

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Facebook Introduces New Options for Users

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 by Mike Zellmer (@michaelzellmer)

likethisFacebook rolled out options for users in addition to “Like,” “Comment” and “Share.” For situations that require something different, Facebook now offers “Love,” “Haha,” “Wow,” “Sad,” and “Angry.” In addition to the flexibility that Facebook users now have to share more of their emotions about particular posts, the company will be able to collect additional data about users and their posts. Businesses, such as law firms, may be looking for more ways to get “Love” and “Haha” interactions with their profiles, and perhaps not so many “Angry” clicks.

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PDFs in Google Search Results

Thursday, February 25, 2016 by Stephanie Caudle (@StephRCaudle)

PDFIconA question was asked in a SEO Google Hangout about the difficulties many companies have getting their PDFs indexed. It has often been asked if the same information you have in a PDF should also be included on pages in order to ensure the information is indexed. John Mueller of Google confirmed that PDFs are indexed just like other pages on the site; however, because PDFs are not updated as frequently as html pages, Google does not refresh them as quickly.

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It’s Vital to Understand Social Media Marketing Fundamentals

Monday, February 8, 2016 by Diane (@pazdiane)

Social Media Strategy

“Social media marketing is both a bane and a boon to business owners,” says this article. When done right, it can lead to more customers, more traffic, and more conversions, and it’s here to stay. It’s vital to understand social media marketing fundamentals, which means you really need to know your target audience to blend of social channels that provides the highest return on your efforts. Always find relevant news articles and videos that you can share with your audience. The more you engage your audience, the more you can build trust, brand visibility and referral traffic. Adapt strategies based on competitive research and try new things, follow new trends or innovate, because it can create opportunities to promote your page.

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Update on Google’s Dreaded Penguin 4.0 Algorithm Update

Monday, February 29, 2016 by Joel Morrison (@JoelGMorrison)


The SEO community has been waiting with bated breath on the announcement of Google’s dreaded Penguin 4.0 Algorithm update. Last reports from Google’s Gary Illyes was that their engineers were still testing, but it’s believed that its implementation is imminent. Google’s Penguin Algorithm targets links that come from poor-quality sites, have little to no relevancy to the backlinked site, have overly optimized anchor text, are paid for, and/or are keyword rich.

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Google Might Remove Unverified Google Plus Pages

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 by Robert Padgett (@robertcpadgett)

LocalComparisonGoogle might be removing unverified Google Plus pages. This should make the process of removing duplicates easier for some firms since it would mean they wouldn’t have to deal with any duplicates that weren’t verified. Some people have also reported Google removing listings that have been reported as closed.

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Watchdog Groups Are Cracking Down on Fake Online Reviews

Friday, March 4, 2016 by John Damron (@Consultwebs)

5StarSelectionWatchdog groups are cracking down on fake online reviews. It has never been more important to amass positive reviews of you and your firm online. Facebook, Google, Yelp, Avvo,, etc. There is no shortage of venues to choose from. While Google may be considered the top avenue on which to focus, other websites also curate and promote reviews of businesses. More and more attorneys are feeling this pressure to promote their testimonials online, and are opting to pay for reviews, or even review themselves, a tactic which is sure to fail in 2016.
TL;DR – If in line with your Bar guidelines, take the time to encourage your happy clients to leave you reviews online. Attempting to game the system will likely only result in damage to your firm’s online visibility.

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Check back early next month for another update! If you would like to discuss any of these topics, feel free to use the comment function below, or contact us.  We’re always happy to talk about online marketing for law firms.