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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 have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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