• eadie

    Thanks for the interesting and informative article, John. I thought you used a lot of corporate buzz-word, ad homonym attacks on the legal profession, though, that detracted from your main point. (Disclosure: I’m a young lawyer.) There’s a lot of corporate pressure (and profits) driving the anti-lawyer movement, and it seems to have crept into your reporting.

    For example, “Ambulance Chasing, Google-Style” is a provocative subtitle, which promotes the meme that when lawyers advertise, it’s unseemly or somehow immoral. Of course, law firms compete for clients (what company doesn’t?), and you agree that Google ads are a good approach. So, why the attack?

    By contrast, when you finally get around to BP, the subtitle is “BP Battles on PR Front,” as if they’re fighting the good fight to preserve their reputation. Really? I’d posit that, in this case, BP is a bit of a bad guy, and (based on some early reports of BP trying to convince local residents to take cash to sign a release-from-liability papers before speaking with lawyers) I assume the “landing pages” aren’t going to be very helpful.

    Just my two cents.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    eadie, I inserted the subtitles. Point taken that not all lawyers are ambulance chasers, and that perhaps that’s not helping the profession overall. I’ll consider that for the future. But then again, I actually liked that headline because I think there’s a difference between lawyers just advertising and lawyers advertising in reaction to a specific event. The notion of ambulance chasing is one of lawyers turning up where they know there’s been an accident. That’s very much what’s happening with the ads targeting the BP spill. In contrast, there are people who do attorney/legal related search in general where when lawyers turn up, there’s less an “ambulance chasing” tone.

    In terms of an attack. I don’t think the subhead is that much of one. In comparing it to BP, read the last line. BP actually gets a slam in this, not in the subhead but in the actual story. That said, I wasn’t particularly happy with my subhead for the BP section. But I was also running short of time when doing some final editing and felt it worked enough.

  • jislaaik

    The company is not called British Petroleum. It’s a basic fact that you should get right, but I guess you don’t mind perpetuating Obama’s bigoted view on the subject.

  • http://www.nordmarketing.eu nordmarketing

    Thanks for the interesting and informative article. I am from Germany. Ich hoffe und wünsche, dass bei euch alles wieder in Ordnung kommt und BP dass mit dem Öl schnell in den Griff bekommt. Solch eine Katastrophe wünsche ich keinem.

  • http://www.edeninteractive.com searchengineman

    I’ve got a perfect solution,

    I know Lawyers are having such a hard time being loved by the public. In the case of BP
    maybe they should send their lawyers to the beach to help with the cleanup!

    (Trying to resist making a snarky remark!..It’s Monday!)

  • psmackey

    Good points raised. I am an attorney and I also have a house at Dauphin Island. First – it is not a spill, it is an ecological disaster. I would not be surprised to find out that the industry did focus groups years ago to find out that the word “spill” cast them in the best light possible.

    Second – what is an “ambulance chaser?” I define the term as a lawyer who uses illegal or unethical means to get work that such lawyer is not qualified to handle and whose only intention is to settle the claim or refer it to someone else. The SCOTUS said lawyers can advertise, just like Ford or BP.

    All that said, advertising is problematic for me. I have practiced in the same firm for 23 years and we have never advertised on tv, radio or in print (save supporting our local public radio station). We have discussed it over time, however, because the world is changing. We get cases referred to us by lawyers who advertise, but don’t have the experience or the capital to handle these cases on their own. We have a web site and we are actively trying to reach the public through our blog to let them know the truth as we see it in our practice – that the BPs of the world don’t really care about them (although I must admit that BP’s CEO has pretty much done that on his own).

    It is a given that advertising works – do any of you have a Ginsu knife in your drawer? If the only lawyers advertising are ambulance chasers, potential clients are not well served. The Beasley, Allen firm, by contrast, has the experience and wherewithal to handle every case that comes their way. Nobody really believes that BP is going to do right in the long run. I will bet that a lot of ambulance chasers, however, will sign up every case they can and hold this “inventory” hoping that they will make a big fee, all to the detriment of their clients.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    @jislaaik, you’re correct, BP changed its name from British Petroleum in 1998. We should have gotten that right. We’ll get it changed. Not really sure what Obama view you think we’re spreading.

    @psmackey, suffice to say, I’ve been fairly taken to task for using ambulance chaser. I don’t like when people characterize the entire SEO industry based on how a few people may act; I shouldn’t do the same to lawyers.

  • korbodo

    Doesn’t look like there are paid ads on searches for “pelican” yet – *shudder*. We did some quick analysis on what people are searching for AFTER they search for “oil spill” – it was a saddening bit of research: http://www.marketposition.com/2010/06/14/online-search-behavior-for-bp-oil-spill/

  • http://www.beasleyallen.com/newsfiles/IrvMillerE-Mail(Redacted).pdf digitalJE5U5

    Wow. Beat us up like that and we can’t even get a text link back our website? The PR7 link would have made this go down a little easier.

    You raise some interesting points, but I do have a couple of concerns.

    1. “Ambulance Chasing, Google-Style” C’mon, give me a break. You justify your comment by saying “there’s a difference between lawyers just advertising and lawyers advertising in reaction to a specific event.” Let me start off by saying that we have been advertising on the Web a long time. I have been at the reigns since 2003 and this is what we do. We didn’t just decide one day to throw up a website and collect a bunch of clients in a desperate reaction to a national disaster.

    We use the Web because we can put information out there to help educate people to the issues and if they happen to need a lawyer, here’s how to reach us. No


    We don’t do TV. We don’t do billboards. We don’t do Yellow Page ads. We certainly don’t chase ambulances. We honestly believe that we have something to offer these folks.

    2. Beasley Allen also runs mesothelioma.law.pro… Look familiar? Please also consider, we manage myMeso.org. This site is entirely dedicated to providing accurate news and information for families touched by mesothelioma. We have a full-time writer dedicated to following meso research, traveling to conferences, and advocating for a complete ban on asbestos in the US. I assure you that our motives are beyond trying “to catch some potential clients.”

    Also, you seem to imply there is something sinister with using the same WP template. the two sites you reference are part of a larger legal network of 40 sites we operate. We deliberately kept a similar theme amongst all of those sites in an effort to minimize confusion. I assure you its not because we are nefarious or that we are lazy or unimaginative.

    Danny, I’ve followed your work since we first met at a Search Engines Strategy Conference in Chicago in 2005. I know you can do better.

    FULL DISCLOSURE: My name is Scott Thomas. I have been the Director of Internet Services @ Beasley Allen Law Firm since 2003.