Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Warning to Disability Attorneys Seeking to Promote their Sites

This post is devoted to all those disability attorneys and firms that would seek to have a foothold on the web.

Look, there's nothing wrong with using the internet to market your services and, in this pursuit, to publicize your own website, or websites as the case may be. In fact, doing so is a good thing as too many claimants fail to understand the benefits of representation, the fact that they can afford disability representation, or simply give up on the disability process.

However, if you're going to do this, consider very carefully how you go about marketing yourself. And by this I really mean: be careful about who you contract with to build, promote, or publicize your site.

In the last few years, I have come across hundreds of instances in which my own writing (which is copyrighted) has turned up on the website of an individual attorney or firm. In nearly every case, after contacting them, I've found that no one at the firm had been aware of the copyright infringment (if you're not sure what copyright infringement is, think "theft" and also think $150,000 per instance of infringement and the concept "willful infringement").

Do I usually believe the person at the other end of the phone line when they tell me they had no idea how ten pages from my website or blog suddenly found itself on their website? Yes, I usually do. And here's why: the vast majority of disability attorneys have little to do with their own websites. They don't build them, they don't write them, they don't do anything other than find some webguy to "handle it".

It goes without saying that, in the web world, not having any involvement whatsoever in the vehicle that presents both you and your services to the individuals you seek to represent is a flawed, and potentially dangerous, approach. Not only do you put yourself at risk by placing your website, your internet face to the world, in the hands of people you do not know and, thus, potentially risking your reputation, you also potentially expose yourself to liability (On this subject, there is a firm in southern California that, for quite some time, has infringed my copyright and has dozens of pirated pages on there various websites. Are they aware of the position they are in with regard to liability? Perhaps not. Perhaps the only individuals who know that infringement has taken place are myself and the "web guys" that have been hired by this firm. And even these thieves most likely have little recollection of which pages they've stolen and on which of their client's sites they've placed them--i.e. if they come across this page and attempt to fix their problem, guess what, they probably can't).

However, the point of this post was not to discuss copyright infringement, but, rather, reputation. Be careful with regard to who you select to promote your site, especially if their sales pitch to you simply boils down to: "we can get your website to a certain position within a certain period of time".

When a "webguy" or "web company" pitches you in this fashion, your first thought should be...how? And in obtaining the answer to the is question you should demand specifics.

The link below leads to a page that is fairly obvious in its intent. It is, most likely, an article written for submission to other sites. Why? In the hope that the article will be picked up by various web content syndicators. The ultimate goal? To gain links back to the "hiring" website (the lawfirm) so that it may improve its search engine positioning (you'll notice that there are links within the body of this "article" that lead back to a lawfirm).

Read the article and you'll see exactly what I mean by putting your firm's reputation at risk. It's fairly obvious that the author of this article is completely clueless about social security disability. Most likely, the writer's first language is also not english.

My guess as to how this "article" came to be placed on the web? Well, I would not be surprised if this firm contracted with a "webguy" or "webcompany" that promised "amazing results". As I said, this is only a guess and it may be completely coincidental that this article contains several deep links to this lawfirm...however "if" this is what occurred, what was delivered to them was probably something other than what they expected.

What was delivered was incomprehensible and embarassing, most likely because the webguys themselves subcontracted the actual article writing out to the cheapest (and possibly, as it turns out, worst) writer they could find. And if this article is one that was syndicated, it may wind up on dozens or hundreds of websites, forever linking this lawfirm with this awful article, one that is not helpful in any way, shape, or form to disability claimants.

For pete sakes, what is a social security disability lawyer "crapper"?

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