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LaBret: Demystifying online reputation defense

January 30, 2013
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Indiana Lawyer Commentary

By Jabez LeBret
 

labret-jabez-mug LeBret

Often, we have clients that come to us completely unaware of what is being said about them online. In a few alarming cases, an online search for the attorney’s name included results for people of the same name who had been arrested for DUI, larceny and, in two cases, sexual assault.

Managing your online reputation does not have to keep you up at night. The best reputation defense is a good offense.

We are going to walk step-by-step through how you can easily manage your professional image online. This article will not hide anything. If you follow these simple steps, you will quickly be in control of your online image without ever having to hire a reputation management company.

The great news is that less than 1.8 percent of people searching on Google ever click on the second page. The first logical step in online reputation management is assessing what is said about you on page one.

When you or a potential client searches for your name or your firm name, this is called a “branded keyword search.” The proper way to conduct a branded search to check your online reputation is to log out of all your email accounts and social media profiles. Then, clear your search history and cache in the tools section of your browser (e.g. Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer). Now you are searching on a clean browser that is not being influenced by your search history, social media connections or email. Skipping this step may cause the search engine to show you skewed, personalized results that differ from what a potential client would see.

To get the most accurate search results for your firm, type your firm name surrounded by quotation marks in a Google search. If I were to search for my company, the search term would be “Get Noticed Get Found.” You can also search for yourself and your fellow partners separately by name, each with quotation marks around the search term.

Your goal is to control the information about your firm name and every attorney’s name in your office on page one of Google and page two, if possible. If you find something negative, do not get upset. Follow the exact steps below, and in a month or two, you will start to gain more control of page one.

Clean up your citations: Anywhere your firm appears online with its name, address and phone number is called a citation or directory listing. Make sure that every one of your firm’s citations has an identical firm name, address, website and phone number. These citation websites include Google+ Local, Yelp, Merchant Circle, AVVO, etc. When you Google your firm name in quotes, you will likely find that several citations have already been created. If this is the case, find the “claim this listing” or similar button on the page, and follow the instructions to manage and edit that listing.

Do not use a forwarding phone number: It was great advice about nine months ago to use a forwarding phone number on your citation listings and even your firm’s website; however, this is no longer a good practice. The search engines have indicated that you will fall in the search rankings if you are caught using forwarding numbers. Immediately take down a forwarding number that appears anywhere online.

Set up a blog on your website: A blog is a great tool for controlling information on page one of search engines while also helping your website get a better ranking. You should be blogging once a week at the minimum. The key to good blogging is consistency, so avoid posting four blogs in one week and none the rest of the month.

Link your firm’s social media profiles to your blog: You do not need to post on Twitter about the coffee you drank this morning. You should, however, have profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin where you can post links to your firm’s blogs.

Create one press release per month: These press releases do not have to be about breaking news. Topics like hiring a new employee or someone in your firm participating in a local 5K race all make for easy press releases. Note that you get what you pay for: submitting your press release to free online syndication sites gets you almost no credit in search results.

Update your website: Your firm’s website is not a static object. You should be updating it often with new content, images and blog posts. This helps your search ranking and really pushes that website to page one of Google.

Create a video series: Forget a lengthy $30,000 production. One option is to hire a film crew from Craigslist to shoot a simple series of question and answers. You and the other attorneys at your firm can answer common questions that clients ask you about your practice areas. Break the video into multiple video snippets, and then syndicate those videos on as many free video syndication websites as you can find, including YouTube, MetaCafe and others.

Following all of the above steps will allow you to easily command the first page of Google’s search results for your name and firm name. With numerous search results for your firm’s website, directory listings, blog, videos, social media accounts and press releases showing up on the first page, any objectionable results relating to your name or your firm’s name will be pushed to the second or even third page – where nearly no one will see them.•

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Jabez LeBret is co-author of Online Law Practice Strategies and a partner at Get Noticed Get Found Inc. His agency provides custom digital marketing solutions exclusively for attorneys. For more information, visit http://www.GetNoticedGetFound.com or call 513-444-2016.

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  1. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  2. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  3. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  4. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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