One of the big boys on the blawk sent me an email with a subject line the same as the title of this post. In its entirety, the email read “???”.*

OK, point well taken. I’ve been in a blogging slump, and to break out of it, I’m going to commit one of the greatest sins of the blogosphere. I’m going to write about why I haven’t posted anything recently.

Awww to hell with that, I’m gonna write up a list of reasons, and assign truth percentages to them.

Continue Reading Blog???

I often get asked by new criminal law bloggers how best to get noticed by other bloggers so that they can get linked to. Actually there’s an easy answer: link out to others, and they will start reading your blog and link back to you.

While you’re at it, feel free to let the person you’re linking to know it in an email. They may not have noticed (although, as you get more and more into blogging, you’ll start to recognize when folks do). Here’s an email exchange from a relatively new blogger that is already posting frequent high quality content:

Jamie,

I’ve just started a new blog, Mississippi Criminal Defense Law Blog, www.mscriminallawblog.com, and wanted to reach out to you for any advice or comments you might have on blogging on the topic of criminal law.  I’ve been reviewing your posts and with permission will start making some comments on a few in the future.  I have also linked to your sites on my blogroll – I hope that is okay.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.


Kevin W. Frye
Attorney at Law

My answer:

First and foremost, never ask permission to link to me: just do it!

Haha.  No, but seriously, thank you, and by the way, linking out to others is the best, quickest, easiest way to get them to notice you and to get them to link back to you.

And feel free to grab snippets of what folks say (yes, me included) and comment on why it is wrong as well as why it is ‘right’.  It helps a little if I actually am wrong, but again, in the practical blawgosphere, that’s more than welcome.

Blogging is a discussion – either in the comments section, or between blogs.

You’ve definitely got a good start.  I’ll be linking to you in my next edition of "blogrolling" – if not before then.

Thanks for the email, and by the way, at the beginning, feel free to email folks when you link to them (you won’t need to do it with me – I’m subscribing to your blog now, and I would have seen it anyway on Technorati) – but I mean don’t feel bashful if you link to someone and you want them to know you did.

Finally, permission (and you should ask permission for this one) to reprint your email to me?  And my response to you?  I’ll include a link about your new blog of course, but probably post it as "advice to new criminal defense bloggers".  Or I can just leave you out of it and anon-o-mize it.

Good luck.  Looking forward to more posts from you.

Jamie

Perhaps it’s not obvious, but just in case, let me add “reprinted with permission”.

Blogrolling ACDL… Thanks go out to the following blogs that have recently added permanent links, linked to me in a post of their own or commented on recent posts:

Stole the idea from Evan Schaffer’s Legal Underground. Evan makes sure to return link love on a regular basis by having a frequent ‘Blogrolling’ post.

I do check Technorati for recent bloggers who have linked to me, but please also feel free to email me if you add me to your blogroll, or link to me in a post. I’m thinking I can make a twice monthly feature out of this.

And, since this a new feature, and I’m certain I haven’t gotten around to doing it for everyone I should, please let me know if U’ve left you out in the past – or just would like to be reincluded in the future.

I know in the back of my mind I’m leaving some people out – so again… email me.

I know just enough about SEO – search engine optimization – to be dangerous.

That is to say, I find it interesting, and I’ve looked into it, but I’m not remotely an expert.

But folks come up to me in the Travis County Courthouse frequently – other lawyers that is – and ask me point blank, “How does your site rank so high on Google?” Or “How do you get to Number One on Google?” As a quick aside, the questions amuse me, because it’s always phrased that way, and never includes the necessary part to make the question sensible, that is… “for the phrase [fill-in-the-blank]”.

After all, I certainly don’t ‘rank’ number one for the queries New York Times; Paris Hilton; Mapquest; or GameCheats for Playstation.  

Back to the original question at hand, though: How do you (Jamie) rank so high for [Austin, Tx, Criminal, Defense, Lawyer, or some other similar combination]?

Now there’s a lot of collegiality amongst the defense bar, at least in Austin, but I’ve always wondered whether anyone thinks about the possibility that I might not want to reveal a ‘trade secret’. After all, these are technically speaking my competitors. (I like to think they ask me because they think I’m a no nonsense guy that says what he thinks. But enough about how wonderful I am.)

Actually, I’m always happy to give them the best answer I know. Like the secret of real estate, it boils down to three basic elements, but instead of location it’s:

  • Content
  • Content
  • Content

Content relevant to the keywords your potential customer is looking for. That’s it.

And blogging is the best way to frequently update your website with good quality content about your practice area – after all, a blog is just a specific type of website, nothing magical, nothing more.

I’ll add three more factors to the mix.

Time: For me, blogging takes time. I enjoy doing it, but it’s not always easy. Bloggers Block happens frequently. So, OK, I don’t post for a while. And then it comes in several productive spurts. Not everyone can be Scott Greenfield, with his 4.5 post per day average. Or is that 45 per day? I can’t keep up.

Knowledge: You’ve got to know what you’re talking about. If you don’t, it will show. That’s fine if Grandma is the only one reading your personal diary type blog – she already knows you’re the dimwitted one in the family and loves you anyway. But if you’re doing it even in part for commercial purposes, that’s going to be a problem.

Style: Blogging is writing, and every good writer worth reading has their own style. Mine probably leans a little too far towards the ‘smart alec’ side of the spectrum for my own good, at least for the ‘commercial purposes’ mentioned above, but it’s still my own tone of voice. I think your style comes through, makes the writing genuine and personal, and let’s the reader know how you feel about the subjects you’re blogging about. When it comes to hiring a lawyer to defend you in court, don’t you want to know something about who he really is?

That’s basically it.

Pretty basic stuff. Ask yourself why you use Google as your search engine of choice. The answer is invariably going to be a variation of ‘because it gives me the answers I’m looking for’.

Right. You went and sat at the computer and Googled the phrase [fill-in-the-blank] because you wanted to know more about [fill-in-the-blank]. You don’t want to see a one or two page static website trumpeting the virtues of Q. Benedict Huntington III, Esquire, with the promise that if you call him and/or pay him money he will tell you all about [fill-in-the-blank].

So put some content on your website (blog) that potential customers are literally yearning for, and Google will give you credit for it, and your rankings will go up.

Just don’t ask me how they do it. They will.

Related Post: How to Give Google A Ton of Money

Per year. $1,000,000.00 into Google’s coffers.

That’s my guestimate as to how much local defense lawyers are spending in these parts to advertise various phrases through Google’s AdWords program.  I’m going to attempt to make this a substantive post, not just something that Google – or the other search engines – scans and reads for various keywords and phrases, so I’m not going to list what the most popular keywords are… but you can imagine that they focus on a combination of geography and the profession itself.

This guess isn’t just off the top of my head either.

I have it from pretty reliable sources within several of the various law firms that participate in Google’s “Why Don’t You All Just Outbid Each Other” marketing, or often from the horses’ mouths themselves just how much some law firms are spending per month. There are several paying Google more than $10k per month. Some are spending substantially more than that.

Sure, some folks jump into the market at first, and then disappear, when they realize the high cost of being #5 or in some cases #10. But most stick around, and keep driving up those Google profits.

And knowing how AdWords is structured, that is, the higher the ranking in the Sponsored Results, the more the bidder is paying, combined with watching various internet advertising over the last year or so, I’d say one million spent in Austin alone for lawyers advertising criminal defense services is a conservative estimate.

Amazing.

That’s a lot of advertising costs that get passed on to the clients.

Related Post: Ranking High on Google For Free

Erstwhile defense attorney and current prosecutor/blogger Ken Lammers points to Western Justice, a relatively new prosecutor in the practical blawgosphere:

Cool, we’re now up to 3 prosecutors who actually blawg about *GASP* criminal law.

I’m pretty sure Ken is including himself, Western, and of course, Tom McKenna at Seeking Justice. (Since Tom’s URL is ConfoundingTheWicked.blogspot, here’s some too old to still be under copyright Mozart for the classical music lovers out there.)

Let me throw Joel Jacobsen’s erudite Judging Crimes into that mix as well. It’s from a prosecutor’s point of view, and worth an addition to any criminal lawyer’s RSS reader.

Ken points out that both Western Justice and Defending People “share an affinity” for the same painting, Pollice Verso, so how about some prosecutorial props for Dallas Sidebar – and of course his masthead: Raphael’s Judgment of Solomon.

By the way, Mark has revamped his site recently, so the thumbs up/thumbs down painting is less recognizable- but more importantly, jury consultant Anne Reed reminds me to remind my readers that you need to resubscribe to Mark’s blog since he moved to WordPress. If “Blog or Government Propaganda Tool” is the last item in your reader, you are literally 50+ posts behind.

Back to prosecutors… Sarena Straus found a new prosecutor blogger in ‘You… For the People’ – but I fear that ‘You’ may have suffered the typical two posts and out fate that many bloggers suffer. Meanwhile, Sarena mostly tells us about her post prosecutorial upcoming TV appearances – such as this one:

We will be discussing the case of Jennifer Latham. Latham kidnapped an infant from a Florida hospital and was apprehended a short time later.

The judge, believing that Latham had no prior convictions, agreed to release her without bail on the condition that she wear an ankle bracelet with a GPS. It was later discovered that Latham had a criminal record in another state.

We will be discussing whether the judge’s decision was appropriate. I’m sure you can guess what my position is….

I’ll cop to not seeing the show, but since I was asked to guess, let me surmise that her position was… “You’ve got to keep people in jail until you absolutely confirm that they have no prior history anywhere.” And then perhaps… “Once you confirm that there is no prior history, keep them in jail anyway, because you can’t ever actaully prove a negative”?

So Ken’s mostly right. There aren’t many prosecutor blogging about criminal law and almost nothing but criminal law. But I think there are more than three.

Anyone else out there subscribe to some that I haven’t mentioned?  And any prosecutors out there starting a blog, please feel free to email me, I’ll be happy to give your new blog a little link love.

Fellow blogging Texas lawyer Todd Smith already said it best, so this is just a cut and paste:

Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog recently started a group on LinkedIn to try and connect with more folks in the legal industry who have an interest in blogging.  The group is already up to about 350 members and could eventually grow into the thousands.

Kevin says he’s going to focus the group on ways to exchange information about blogging.  If you’re on LinkedIn (I am, and you can view my profile here), then click through to Kevin’s post and join.  And if you don’t know Kevin, you should.  He really knows his stuff.

Requires signing up for LinkedIn – of course – but that’s already reconnected me to several folks I knew from a long time back. Basically I’m looking forward to 2 things. Subscribing to good blogs I didn’t know about, and yes, of course, the potential for link love.