Ernie “the Attorney” Svenson is right: Google really likes weblogs (as do Yahoo!, Ask
Jeeves and other major search engines). For lots of reasons, the affection is mutual. Search
engines help turn our modest troves of information into a giant treasury of knowledge (or, at
least, content), that is easily accessed by anyone with a browser. And, more to the point,
Google et al. help those searchers find us — even if they weren’t looking for us. With the
help of our worldwide Yahoo Yentas, there are millions of blind dates in the blogosphere,
some of which turn into permanent relationships.
using his nose
the dog searches
If you visit here regularly — or check out my Inadvertent Searchee page — you know
that I’m amazed (and often amused and bemused) by how often this little website appears at
or near the top of search query results. I had never conceived of this very real potential to
reach such a broad audience — far beyond regular visitors — when I began putting together
ethicalEsq in May 2003, nor even a year ago, when f/k/a was born and haiku became a
full partner with punditry. This opportunity for my ideas to reach individuals interested in
topics that are important to me happens in 3 major categories, as demonstrated over the
(1) Significant issues in client-rights advocacy that are rarely discussed elsewhere
from a similar perspective:
lawyers +”value pricing”> The first two results out of 18,100 in this Google Search
standard contingency fee> #1 & #2 results out of over One Million in this Google Search was our April 1, 2005 tour de force.
“lawyer’s” “Fiduciary responsibility”> #1 and 2 of 608 in a Google
Search that found the lawyer’s fiduciary obligations to disclose.
lawyers day> #1 of 35.5 million results in a Yahoo search, because we
(2) “Haiku Advocacy:”
haiku +primer> #1 & #2 out of 45,000 Google results — for jim
kacian’s how-to primer and dagosan’s intro to haiku; and #2 for
haiku +glossary> out of 40,100 Google results..
Also, these recent Google rankings: #3 for haiku +”harvest moon”>;
#3 for buddha”>; #1 for haiku +lawyers>; and #1 for haiku
writings about baseball>
and (3) Silliness, total inadvertence, or pet peeves:
curmudgeons> f/k/a is #1 in this Yahoo! search, out of 91,000 results,
einstein plaids and stripes> #2 for this post.
acronymically> #1 and 2 out of 668 in Google Search from New Zealand
because we mused over the acronymically challenged
meaning of word blog> #2 of 6 million+ in a Google Search, thanks to our lament on that ugly little word.
connection between cherries and stomache ache> Someone Asked Jeeeves,
and the #1 result was our discussion of the cherry-cordial-liquor defense.
kelly clarkson swimsuit pictures> #5 in this Yahoo! Search, with an assist
from some comment spam.
farting contest> #2 out of 7,050 in a Google search — Master Issa’s haiku
put us in this batch of results.
- “There are a lot more examples on the Inadvertent Searchee
So, Google likes our bodies (of work), but will it respect us in the morning? Google
(other than the super-sites) out of the top rankings, by giving more weight to links
from websites that have more traffic or are somehow more “creditable”. Although
such experiments may be taking place, I agree with Jerry Lawson that weblogs add
too much value to Google’s service for it to greatly change algorithms to disadvantage
Indeed, if the evolving algorithms make search results more content-community-oriented
(as with Ask Jeeves), weblogs that have truly useful expertise and information may find
themselves more successful in search engine results (and not bunched among irrelevant
materials). Of course, that probably means there will be fewer off-the-wall Inadvertent
Search referrals, but this weblog will do its best to provide your monthly quota of oddities.
in the thicket
the old deer calls
for honor’s sake
That said, will we respect ourselves in the morning? This morning, about 40% of my referrals
(and three of the top five sources) were for queries such as jennifer lopez sex shots>
and preteen models>. I’d like to think the querists in question might be interested,
entertained or edified by what they accidentally found here, but I’m not holding my breath.
Seriously, though, I continue to wonder why weblog boosters continue to exaggerate
the prominence of weblogs in the life of America and in the marketing of law firms. (e.g., here)
“That means that one out of every 20 people in the U.S. — 11 million
Americans, the survey estimates — has a blog, and one out of six —
32 million Americans — reads blogs.”
Unless weblog longevity and follow-through is a lot different than it was when the Perseus
White Paper, the Blogging Iceberg, was released in Oct. 2003, the figure of eleven million
weblogs is fairly underwhelming. We summarized the White Paper at the bottom of this post.
Perseus found 66% of weblogs were permanently or temporarily abandoned, with one-quarter
of them being literally “one-day wonders,” and only 2.5% updated weekly. Similarly,
the Jan. 2005 Study from Pew notes that:
“Previous work of ours . . . suggests that bloggers can be quite casual
about their online postings, regularly updating material on their blog less
frequently than once a week.”
We should be even more skeptical of the significance of the claim “one out of six adult
Americans reads weblogs.” First, you have to be an “internet user” to be part of the Pew
study, but the threshold for “use” is very low — to wit, “any type of internet use” in any
More important, the survey respondents were asked “Do you ever use the internet to…
Read someone else’s web log or blog?” Thus, the 16% of respondents who comprise the
“one in six” are those who have ever read a weblog. Moreover, the Pew survey cannot tell
us whether the “blog reader” intentionally went to a weblog (or, for example, got there
through a Google search), nor how much reading was or is done. [Emphases added. Survey
information provided with alacrity by Pew research specialist, Mary Madden.] This should
give weblog cheerleaders reason to pause before touting the Pew numbers (and that’s before
we even ask how many of the adult “readers” — the plurality of which are in the decade under
30 years old — are the least bit interested in legal services or law). We shouldn’t abandon our
skills of objective analysis, cross-examination and issue-spotting merely because we have a
psychological or financial stake in the importance of weblogs and have decided to be weblog
called “Blogging and the Bottom Line: Why blogging and syndication are the hottest tools in
legal marketing.” Bob writes:
“At a time when talk of online marketing invariably turns to the pseudo-science
of search-engine optimization, many law firms are missing an often more sure-fire
route to the top of the search-engine heap — blogging.” Plus,
“And higher search ranking is just one of the marketing advantages blogging offers
lawyers — all for little or no cost and with virtually no technical knowledge required.”
Although Bob’s example of Fred the Trademark Lawyer may not be a fair representation of the
likely results from starting a weblog, I certainly agree (1) that even a modestly successful weblog
can get you to the top of search engine results, and (2) a weblog can help to make a lawyer better-
known (at least among the weblog community). However, I’ve yet to see actual studies about legal
how weblogs are affecting the “bottom line” of law firms Also, this “no cost” marketing vehicle, as
Bob reminds us, involves a great deal of time and sweat (and needs quality content), if it is to have
a reasonable chance of succeeding.
in fallen leaves
the crow who respects
Dear Reader, I hope this date didn’t lead us down a blind alley. There is no doubt that weblogs
and search engines can be a match made in heaven — we don’t have to inflate the important of
weblogs to make that statement. The results for this website make it easy for me to answer the
question recently posed at Between Lawyers: Yes, I expect — if still able to sit upright — to be
writing a weblog five years from now. We might not call it a weblog (don’t get me started), but it
will be an online source of information and commentary of interest and importance to me. Thanks
to Google and other major search engines, I am pretty sure my easy-to-use website will be easy-to-find,
often by folks who have never heard of me, and who have no idea what real haiku and real
lawyer ethics are. So, you’re stuck with me — even if the date is a short one, and there’s no kiss
at the door.