Black Hat Tactics: What Not To Do Online

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most popular trends in the legal marketing industry. When you focus on SEO you increase the amount of unpaid visitors to your website, which will reduce your marketing expenses in the long run. There are millions of articles on tips for how to improve your website’s SEO. Some tips are better than others. Here are some unsavory tactics, otherwise known as “black hat” SEO, that you should avoid at all cost.

1. Paying for Links

When another website links back to your firm’s domain, Google sees this link as a “vote of confidence” for the reputation of your site. All other factors being equal, you should outrank competing firms in your city if your website has more backlinks. In an ideal world you’ll publish a great blog post on how to file an appeal for SSD or what negligence means in a personal injury claim and hundreds of other websites will naturally link to you. This unfortunately rarely happens.

One thing you never want to do is pay someone to publish a link to your site. Google frowned upon this tactic years ago when the Penguin algorithm update was released back in 2012. If you pay for links from an unsavory source, you run the risk of facing a penalty and Google removing your website from search results entirely! There are exceptions of course. For example, if you sponsor a local charity and they post a link to your site, you’ll probably be fine. A rule of thumb is if it feels like you’re cheating Google’s algorithm, you probably shouldn’t pay for that link.

2. Content Stuffing

This is becoming less and less of an issue nowadays, but at this point there is no way you can rank well for a page of content unless it’s engaging and beneficial for the user. This means that if you’re drafting a blog post on how cancer can qualify for disability benefits, it shouldn’t look something like this:

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3. Duplicate Content

If you’re an attorney in an especially saturated area of law, like personal injury, it can be challenging to write content that nobody’s covered before. It may be very tempting to simply copy content from other sources online and publish it on your own firm’s blog, perhaps with a couple of edits of your own.

This is always a bad idea! First off, Google is pretty good at figuring out who the original author was, even if you publish duplicate content immediately after the author did. If Google realizes you’re coping content from other sources, you run the risk of having your firm’s entire site pulled from search results. Your best option is to find a great piece of content that would be relevant for the cases you hope to sign and write one that’s even better. For example, if there’s a trending article on 15 things to do after you’re rear ended, write another article on the 20 things to do after you’re rear ended.

SEO is a long-term strategy that’s challenging for firms across the country, but if you’re careful to always abide by Google’s best practices, it can become wildly profitable!