Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Social Security Disability Lawyers, Advertising, and Websites

I read, scratch that, I heard this morning on NPR that yet more advertising money has moved from print media to the web. Not surprising in the least. When you pick up a magazine, you may occasionally find your eyes drawn to the colorful and interesting ads that appear here and there. However, bright, colorful, interesting, and even sometimes wickedly humorous...doesn't quite make up for an absence of good targeting. The truth is, most ads placed in print and on television completely fail to hit their mark, meaning they usually fail to find placement in front of consumers who are actually interested in the product being advertised. With the web, its a bit different. Internet users tend to choose their destinations. And though, yes, they do get slammed with tons of irrelevant, and sometimes nonsensical, advertisements, very often the ads are targeted to the content being presented, and, therefore, are relevant. This, of course, is what makes google's approach to contextual advertising so successful. They match ads to content fairly successfully. At least most of the time.

The NPR discussion about the state of advertising made me think about an article I read recently. I can't honestly recall what the article was about. However, one line stood out distinctly: Dont' treat your prospective clients as if they're stupid.

This is timeless advice in my opinion. Unfortunately, many many attorneys, including social security disability attorneys, fail to heed this advice. How so? I could point out a thousand ways, but let me just list a few.

In their attempts to gain a presence on the web, and let's be honest, gain new clients to make more money, some disability attorneys (and, to be fair, non-attorney claimant's representatives) will often take "shortcuts" and engage in dubious practices such as:

1. Having search engine optimization and search engine marketing companies not only produce their websites for them, but write their content for them as well.

Ok, I think I can stop at just that one. Because #1 here umbrellas enough that is distasteful and potentially unethical that the conversation could go on for dozens of webpages.

Think of it: have you ever found yourself on a website where it became painfully obvious that the writer was either a complete imbecile, or, truly, only had a vague notion of what his or her subject matter was purported to be? Of course, these sites are everywhere. And, typically, how the astute web user will react will be to burst out laughing and then hit the back button. Now think of this. What if you were looking for very important information, information that, based on its accuracy and veracity, could either help you or hurt you if you were utilize it in your decision making. Even worse, what if it was written passably enough that you honestly couldn't discern whether the information was correct..or not.

This is the danger presented by an environment in which lawyers compete for prized positions in search engines, but yet decide to farm out their promotional efforts to third parties. Not because there's anything wrong with having company X or Y make a commercial for you, or construct a simple ad, but because success on the web, particularly in information-rich fields, involves the creation of many webpages. You can probably already see where this is going.

The lazy, the money-chasers, the attorneys and representatives who are focused solely on only the numbers and perceive clients as only payable cases will seldom ever create their own websites and produce their own content. What to do, eh? Such individuals farm out their content production to companies that employ fairly low paid writers who know as much about the subjects they write on as they do about all the other fields they've never been involved in. Which is to say nothing.

The predictable outcome is that the content produced by these hired writing guns is usually only marginally correct, is often grotesquely incorrect, and is very often plaigarized from other sites. When I owned and published the site, www.disabilitysecrets.com, I would find examples of my own work and the work of others popping up on the sites of other attorneys and I'm sure that, in most cases, the attorneys who paid for the work had no knowledge that this was occurring.

But you have to ask yourself the question: where did you guys think your hired guns were coming up with the material for your website on, just to use an example, environmental regulatory law, when they had no background in the area?

Fortunately, though, there are many attorneys who don't follow down this path. In the case of social security disability, there are more than a few attorneys and representatives who wisely eschew this stuff. That's because they recognize that the information they put out there ultimately reflects back on them. And, in accordance with that recognition, they DON'T publish information that repeats like a brain-damaged mantra "if you or a loved one need the services of..."----oh, boy, are we talking funeral services here or legal representation? How about this one, which I see many variations of fairly regularly: "If you live in Indiana and the need the services of an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer, then read the following article as to what an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer may do for you. An Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer can accurately advise you..."

Once again I recall that line that the NPR piece made me think of: Don't treat your prospective clients as if they're stupid. And here's a tip for the scheisters do this sort of stuff. Your potential clients are often smarter than you think. And that's why they never become more than potentials for you.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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