Fear The Spam Man! The reason I’m saying this, as part of my series on which website developers attorneys should choose in 2015, is due to the extent that a lot of dumb-ass, lazy, self-proclaimed “experts” who don’t know squat people who hold themselves out as SEO consultants engage in tactics which 1) won’t help your firm’s web performance and 2) will actually hurt your firm. Yesterday’s post focused on things attorneys should look for when hiring a web designer. In this article I’m going to discuss tactics used by some developers which should be a red flag that sends you running for the hills.

I decided to write this article due to something we regularly see on our site – spam comments. One of the biggest forms of spam on the web is comment spam. By comment spam I mean that someone visits a blog and leaves a comment on a discussion which adds little to the conversation, and includes a link to the commenters own site, and is being left simply to “link-drop.” Such commenters are doing so in order to try and get back links through comments and/or to drive someone interested in a certain site to their site. Are all comments with links spam? Of course not. Is there a line, regarding this issue, that many people cross? Yep! Is it bad for your site when a developer, trying to get you links or promote your site, crosses this line? Yep! Is such a strategy going to hurt your firm? Yep. So let’s talk about how you can avoid hiring developers who engage in this type of behavior and determine if your current developer is the spam man. Following these steps will help ensure you don’t hire a developer/SEO consultant who looks like this:

internet spammer

Bad SEO consultants hurt law firm websites by leaving comment spam on the web

Many people who hold themselves out as SEO consultants promise to help attorneys in search. Attorneys then sign up with these consultants because, unfortunately, firms often don’t understand what constitutes good SEO practice. These “consultants,” because they don’t understand search then try to get back links to the attorneys website by leaving link filled comments on various blogs. These comments tend to look something like this:

Great article! If your clients ever need a divorce attorney in somewhere, USA then we are here to help [link to website would be here]

We see people trying to link-drop all the time on our blog and such comments are quickly deleted (no we don’t allow these comments and they are quickly deleted). We also see this on many of the blogs belonging to our clients and such comments, again, are quickly deleted. While link comments are not necessarily spam, this type of behavior most certainly is. Brother Cutts did a video on this topic a while back:

 We’ve helped several people whose prior consultants had gotten websites punished by search engines due to such behavior. You need to ensure that this type of conduct is avoided.

How to make sure your law firm doesn’t hire a spammer to handle SEO

There are a few ways to ensure that you don’t hire someone who’s going to spam the web and to ensure that your current developer isn’t doing so. Let’s discuss what to look for.

If you’re in the market for a new developer then consider the places you are looking. If, for example, you’re reading a blog on attorney marketing and there’s a spammy link filled comment on the blog from someone saying they’re a marketing consultant then that is someone you don’t want to call. They’re just someone who can’t rank in search themselves and, because they can’t rank, they’re trying to get their name out by piggy backing on the work of others. If you’re impressed by a commenter who is engaging in legitimate discussion on a blog then that’s one thing. If they’re the spam man, however, you need to avoid them.

You also need to ensure that your current developer is not a spam man. If you haven’t signed your set up for Google Webmaster Tools then you need to do so. This service gives you a list of links that Google has found pointing to your website. Many attorneys never bother to check these reports and would be shocked if they did. If you’re not keeping track of your link profile then your blindly trusting your web developer, which is a big mistake. Get yourself signed up for Google Webmaster Tools and start keeping track of who is linking to you. We’ve had attorneys come to us and, after investigating the mess that the previous developer had made, we advised the clients to simply start over with a new URL. This painful step can become necessary if you don’t keep tabs on what your current consultant is up to.

Have you ever hired a developer who engaged in web spam as a tactic for building links? Please chime in through the comment form below.