4 Points Law Firms Should Consider Before Buying SEO Services

What should your firm consider before purchasing an SEO product or service?

Twice this week, I have been approached by lawyers who contacted me to request Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services. Both lawyers operate a sole proprietorship and are looking to tap into new markets in hopes of obtaining “first mover advantage”.

After a consultation, I relayed advice to them that I have given to most lawyers in their position. This advice is echoed in the Law Marketing Monitor blog.

1. Do not waste your money on “quick fix” online legal marketing gimmicks.

The creation of a website is a part of the bare minimum required to run your business. It is vital to your law firm’s success to invest in an online marketing strategy. Unfortunately, many law firms have invested in products that fail to install an effective long term strategy. This results in a short burst of online visibility which is directly interlinked to a diluted company brand and message.

The primary issue with “quick fix” marketing schemes online is that in order to fulfill their grandiose promises, they force firms to become a “jack of all trades and master of none”. A more effective approach would be to focus on your strengths as a firm and emphasize the services/skills that you offer that is better than your competition.

Before you invest in legal marketing services or products, it would be prudent to do an effective analysis of your position on the Web. Research online marketing strategies and gain a basic understanding of what you actually need.

Some companies offer affordable packages that include a free consultation and market analysis.

2. SEO does not create a demand in non-existent markets.

With regards to the case of my clients, I emphasized that search engine optimization is effective for terms that people are already searching for. In new or non-existent markets, the general trend would be that no one is searching for your company.

Just like a billboard placed along an inaccessible road, the exposure of your site is rendered irrelevant if no one is typing in keywords that may set them on the path to you.

There are a number of ways to overcome this issue and facilitate a strong introduction into a new market, but in my professional opinion, SEO is not one of them.

3. If other lawyers are not in the market, then it may be a negative sign rather than a positive.

The fact that other lawyers are not targeting the “new market” that you have your eye on is not always a good thing. Online, people gravitate to where money and opportunity lies. Creating a new market is requires an extraordinary amount of vision and time. Don’t bother re-inventing the wheel, as the cliche goes, simply improve on it.

A better strategy would be to emphasize and focus on providing the best client service and representation that you possibly can. In the long term, this will be a far more stable and effective strategy.

4. 10 is your lucky number

In Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Outliers, he indicated that in order to succeed, one must provide 10% better service in order to obtain a competitive edge in any given market. The same rings true in the legal industry.

Your SEO strategy will much more robust if you can identify what your firm does best and what makes it truly unique in a niche market. Emphasize these strengths and mold your SEO to highlight these services. Not only will you attract clients who will appreciate your service, but you will be establishing a more robust and stable long-term plan.

Author: Reem A., Hons. B.A., LLB

Con Men Scored Big With Saddam Hussein Currency – Learn How They Did It

A duck’s quack does not echo. Foreign exchange not only encompasses mystique, intrigue, but an ideal, echoless shield to hide behind.

Just before the Saddam execution, before the first of the year, 2007, we purchased some Iraqi currency, 5-dinar (pronounced DEE-nar) notes to 250-dinar notes–all sporting portrait photos of a smiling Saddam on their face–for an average price of 38 cents each. Right after the execution–a matter of just one week–the price tripled, to about $1.10 each. We simply stashed these away in our safe deposit box and forgot them.

Quickly thereafter, it seems, con men–those who love to play their games in foreign exchange–found what they believed to be a bonanza. Just one month later, February, 2007, the Better Business Bureau was suddenly flooded with complaints from around the world. The scam involved originated from a Chicago area office-space-rental cubicle, found vacated when located. The con men were selling these obsolete bills for prices ranging from several hundred to thousands of dollars each. Strange twist is: these orders were never delivered. (Could it be that the price went even higher?) Many of the victims turned out to be our service men and women in Iraq. We’d say doing hard time in a Saudi prison would be fitting punishment for these scam artists, for this focus of the scam alone.

It should have been abundantly clear that, with the demise of the Iraqi dictator–actually well before that, when he was overthrown in 2003–these bills were strictly a memorabilia item for collectors. Investors were told that big value increases were in store for them–if the value of Iraqi money were to increase. This implies that a money market element could stimulate growth. Wrong. As “dead currency” this was not the case.

There seems to be some inherent wisdom in this con man joke, as it applies to this unconscionable scam: What’s the difference between a con man and a catfish? Answer: one is a scum-sucking bottom dweller, and the other is a fish.

Apparently, parties unknown and unfound raked in a huge amount of money with this scam. What further can be said on the subject? Only the summation: when in doubt subscribe to that sacrosanct legalism: caveat emptor, let the buyer (sucker) beware.

Holiness or Legalism: How You Can Know The Difference?

When we first become Christians, when we confess and repent of our sins and accept Christ as the Savior of our souls, we begin a long and exciting journey. God’s plan for us is to grow and mature and he gives most of us three score and ten years to experience his growth plan. I looked at my new- born grandson a few months ago and felt the softness of brand new skin. I peered at his new little ears and looked into his eyes as he struggled to hear my voice and focus on my face for the first time.

New Christians experience so many new sensations. They now have eyes that can see more clearly. Spiritual discernment gives to them ears that hear differently, minds that think differently and a heart that has been cleansed of evil and bathed in goodness. The darkness that pervaded in the deepest part of their souls has been replaced by a light that reflects the brightness of His glory. Unbelievers become accustomed to the feeling of the emptiness they must always be burdened with. Like a ball and chain on the prisoner’s leg, they carry this emptiness everywhere they go. But those who experience conversion have had their chains broken and the empty void in their soul is filled with the inexplicable fullness of God.

Once the new Christian sets out on this journey with Christ he is instructed not to look back. Lot’s wife looked back and suffered horrible consequences because she still desired the things that would bring destruction to her soul. We are instructed to leave the old sinful habits at the foot of the cross and move forward into maturity. Our cry echoes the cry of Hosea, “Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him.” (Hosea 6:3)

So how does a young seedling grow into a massive oak? After experiencing the miracle of germination and emerging from the darkness of the soil, the fledgling plant absorbs the light, drinks in the moisture and nutrients made available to it. A Christian, after the miracle of regeneration, emerges from the dark, sinful soil of spiritual death. New life enables him to absorb the light provided by One who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) He sponges up the water of One who promised “living water” (John 4:10), a water that permanently quenches the thirst of a troubled soul.

Young Christians are reminded that “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7). We are instructed to strive for perfection; “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) But we are reminded that we can never achieve the absolute perfection that belongs only to a Holy God. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)

The admonition toward perfection is an admonition toward spiritual maturity. We are instructed how we might become a mighty oak in the kingdom forest. We are to make provision to saturate ourselves with the word of God because it is a “lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) We become strong in the Lord by spending time with him. We are to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). While lifting our voice to him we are assured that he hears us because the shepherd knows the voice of his sheep. “I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14) We should become so intimate with God that we also know his voice. Elijah recognized it as a small still voice. (1 Kings 19:12) The flow of gentle, spontaneous thoughts that come unexpected into your mind may very well be the voice of God speaking to your soul. We are instructed to “test the spirits to see if they are from God.” (1 John 1:4)

The practice of certain disciplines becomes the vehicle through which we come closer and closer to God. Maturity without discipline is an illusion.

There is a movement that is quite prevalent today that provides a subtle opposition against the practice of such disciplines. I would refer to it as the “legalism” movement. Christians who purpose in their hearts to have a closer walk with God, to follow him into the deeper, more abundant life that he offers will inevitably be accused of practicing legalism. There seems to be a fine line between legalism and holiness. Some of Christ’s harshest words were reserved for those who practices legalism. Nothing offends God more than the humanistic idea that we can somehow achieve salvation through our own efforts. This devalues the precious blood Christ shed on the cross and stirs the anger of God. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for their legalism when he referred to them as vipers and said, “You also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness”. (Mat 23:28)

How might one know when he is practicing legalism or when he is using the disciplines provided to strive for holiness? He will know by discerning whether he is in bondage or whether he is free. Legalism leads to bondage, holiness leads to freedom. Legalism brings death, holiness brings life. If one feels a whip on his back he is being driven by legalism. If he feels a yearning in his heart to spend time with one he loves more than words can tell, he desires holiness. Legalism is an attempt to please a demanding taskmaster. Holiness is a desire to emulate One whom you love, admire and adore. Legalism is because you ‘have to’. Holiness is because you ‘want to’.

Dr. Kent Hughes wrote a book entitled Disciplines of a Godly Man, in which he declared, “There is a universe of difference between the motivations behind legalism and discipline. Legalism says, ‘I will do this thing to gain merit with God,’ while discipline says, “I will do this because I love God and want to please him.’ Legalism is man-centered; discipline is God-centered.”

The legalist trusts in his own actions to make him righteous. He relies on traditions like regular church attendance, prayer-time and paying of his tithes to achieve favor with God. These become traditions for the legalist but they become disciplines for one in pursuit of holiness. The one who hungers for holiness realizes that his righteousness is as “filthy rags”. (Isaiah 64:6) Praying just to ease one’s conscience or to impress others because a babbling of “vain repetitions”. (Matthew 6:7) The prayer of a truly righteous man is very powerful and affective. (James 5:16)

So, the question we must ask is this: Are we floundering about in legalism or are we on the path to maturity and righteousness? Is our Christian experience about us or is it about Him? Is our intent to satisfy some longing within our own soul or is our intent to satisfy Him? Are we on the same page as John when he said, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”? (John 3:30)

Max Weber’s Typology of Forms of Authority – Traditional, Rational-Legal, and Charismatic

In pre-modern and modern societies, there has been a hierarchy of command of which everyone must adhere to. In order for this system to operate, there must be someone in charge or otherwise known as authority. According to Weber, authority is power accepted as legitimate by those subjected to it. Weber outlines three forms of authority in modern societies: traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal. These forms of authority are ideal pure types that are rarely “pure” in real life.

Rational-legal authority is belief in the legality of patterns of standard rules and the right of those elevated to authority under such rules to issue commands. Authority is held by legally established impersonal orders and extends to people only by virtue of offices they hold. The power of government officials is determined by the offices to which they are appointed or elected because of their individual qualifications. As long as individuals hold these offices, they have a certain amount of power, but once they leave office, their rational-legal authority is lost

There are various ways that rational-legal authority could develop. Systems of laws and regulation develop in many societies and there are many different principles of legality that could occur. With the development of a rational-legal system, there is likely to be a political system which becomes rationalized in a similar way. Associated with political systems are constitutions, written documents, and established offices, regularized modes of representation, regular elections and political procedures. These are developed in opposition to earlier systems such as monarchies or other traditional forms, where there are no well developed set of rules.

As political systems develop in a rational manner, authority takes on a legal form. Those who govern either have or appear to have a legitimate legal right to do so. Those who are subordinate within this system accept the legality of the rulers, believing in the right of those who have legitimate rights to exercise power. Those with the power then exercise power based on this right of legitimacy.

Rational-legal authority may be challenged by those who are subordinate but this challenge is unlikely to result in changes in the nature of the system very quickly. According to Weber, such power struggles could be based on ethnicity, nationalism, not classism, and are mostly political struggles.

Weber’s examination of legitimate authority led him to define an ideal-type bureaucracy. An ideal-type is a rationally and systematically constructed pure type of action, which can rarely taken place in reality and used as a measuring tool to determine the similarity between actual social institutions and defined ones. The ideal-type bureaucracy Weber developed incorporated hierarchy, impersonality, written rules of conduct, promotion based on achievement, specialized division of labor, and efficiency. Information flows up the chain of command and directives flow down, according to Weber’s model. Impersonal rules explicitly define duties, responsibilities, operating procedures, and rules of conduct.

Individual offices are highly specialized, and appointments are made one the basis of qualifications rather than ascribed status. Working together, these characteristics are designed to promote the collective goals of the organization. This ideal-type bureaucracy was intended to promote economic growth and prosperity. Many of its concepts are echoed in today’s capitalist and political systems.

Traditional authority is authority in which the legitimacy of the authority figure is based around custom. Legitimacy and power to control is handed down from the past and this power can be exercised in quite dictatorial ways. This is the type of authority in which the traditional rights of a powerful and dominant individual or group are accepted, or at least not challenged, by subordinate individuals. These could be religious, sacred, or spiritual forms, a well established and slowly changing culture, or tribal, family, or clan type structures.

The dominant individual could be a priest, clan leader, family head, or some other patriarchal figure, or dominant elite might govern. In many cases, traditional authority is supported by myths or connection to the sacred, social artifacts such as a cross or flag, and by structures and institutions which perpetuate this authority. Historically, traditional authority has been the most common form among governments. An example of this is the kings and queens in the English monarchy system, which must belong to certain families in order to obtain their positions.

Traditional authority often dominated pre-modern societies. It is based on the belief in the sanctity of tradition, of “the eternal yesterday.” Because of the shift in human motivation, it is often difficult for modern individuals to conceive of the hold that tradition had in pre-modern societies.

According to Weber, traditional authority is a means by which inequality is created and preserved. If no one challenges the authority of the traditional leader or group, the leader is likely to remain dominant. Also, for him, traditional authority blocks the development of rational-legal forms of authority, a viewpoint he was particularly partial to.

Charismatic authority exists when the control of others is based on an individual’s personal characteristics, such as extraordinary ethical, heroic, or religious virtuosity. Charismatic leaders are obeyed because people feel a strong emotional bond to them. Hitler, Gandhi, Napoleon, and Julius Caesar were all charismatic leaders. Whether such powers actually exist is irrelevant; the fact that followers believe that such powers exist is what is important.

Weber considers charisma to be a driving and creative force which surges through traditional authority and established rules. The sole basis of charismatic authority is the recognition or acceptance of the claims of the leader by the followers. Charismatic authority can be revolutionary in nature, challenging traditional authority and sometimes rational-legal. This type of authority could easily degenerate into traditional authority in which the power is exercised by those who surround the charismatic leader.

Charismatic authority is the antithesis of routine activities and represents the desire for disruption and change of the prevailing social order. It is a necessary part of the dialectic between the human need for structure and the equally human need for variation and innovation in society. Charismatic authority is different from rational or traditional authority in that it develops not from established orders or traditions, but rather from the special trust the charismatic leader induces in his followers, the peculiar powers he exhibits, and the unique qualities he possesses. According to Weber, it is difficult for charismatic leaders to maintain their authority because followers must continue to legitimize this authority. There is a need for the charismatic leader to constantly exhibit leadership performance to his followers to reinforce the legitimacy of his authority.

The basis of Weber’s distinction between power and authority is that power is the ability to impose one’s will on another, regardless of the other’s wishes, and despite any resistance he may offer. Power is therefore relational; it requires one person to dominate, and the other to submit. This assumes that one person will acquiesce, co-operate with or consent to the domination of the other, and this cannot be true of all relationships. The act of issuing a command does not presuppose obedience. Weber argues that an individual can exercise power in three ways: through direct physical power, by reward and punishment and by the influence of opinion. The exercise of power is more likely to be indirect and coercive: a combination of rewarding and punishing through the use of argument, debate and rhetoric.

Authority, by comparison, is a quality that enhances power, rather than being itself a form of power. The word “authority” comes from the verb “to authorize”; therefore an individual’s power must be authorized by the group in order for it to be legitimate. An individual is considered an authority because of his technical expertise, combined with his ability to communicate effectively with the group. The individual in authority is the one who is primary in the group, controlling certain aspects of what the other group members do and say, and perhaps even what and how they think.