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The SEO Mistakes I made

Aug 21, 2015

Below is a guest blog post from a NYC criminal attorney, Joseph Potashnik(disclaimer, we help his law firm with SEO, and created his website). Joseph Potashnik is a lawyer whose been practicing since 2007, and has been actively marketed himself online in order to generate potential cases. He has seen all of the various Google algorithm updates, and how they impacted his business, and websites.

We hope this guest article from him is informative and helpful to all the lawyers reading this.

Like many of you reading this article, I am involved in the legal community. I am a criminal defense lawyer, who prefers to handle white collar criminal defense cases – and healthcare fraud cases. From 2008 onwards, to 2012, I made a great living marketing myself online, specifically via SEO. I thought I was building a solid foundation for my firm, but after all of the various algorithm updates that happened I saw the flaws in my SEO companies strategies. On the surface, the strategies seemed white-hat, but Google’s algorithm updates begged to differ!

Content Creation

I used to have a number of websites, and would blog daily on them. Our average blog post size would be 200-300 words. Typically, i’d see a trending topic, and write off my thoughts in condensed format. I felt that my blog post was to the point – not fluffy, and adequately expressed my opinion and was high quality. Obviously, this is an opinion (judging quality!) and when it comes to algorithms like those of Google’s – you can’t argue with their robot. Over the years, I accumulated almost 1200-1300 blog posts with each post ranging from 200-300 words. The end result? When Panda hit, I lost my rankings. It made very little sense to me at the time – because I couldn’t see why. Our content was unique, we lot’s of it – so why were we demoted?

Mistake: having ton’s of pages, with “thin content.” Now to be frank, I don’t believe we had thin content. Our content eliminated all the fluff and focused on the facts. I realize now, that Google’s algorithm simply looked at it from the point of view of “word count,” and saw large quantities of pages with low word count. Even though the quality and substance of those words was superior to an 800-1000 word count article – it didn’t matter. I see this mistake being made often by lawyers, especially in the personal injury industry – who will blog about accidents happening in their local city. It’s an opportunity for them to write + blog about something, but what ends up happening is that they run out of things to say, and stop at around 200-350 words. Magnify this over a period of months, and you have all these “small” word count pages, that end up hurting you! I only realized this was causing the mistake afterwards. We created a new website, and new domain.

How dod we realize it: We started SEO’ing it – and the agency uploaded all the blog posts….and then suddenly BAM. Rankings GONE. It made no sense. Our agency proposed that the blog posts were an issue. When we deleted them, and Google started de-indexing them, we gradually saw an increase in rankings. The trend was undeniable.


From our experience with our new SEO agency, what we’ve seen is that you don’t need a lot of backlinks. We’re seeing similar results, with only 15% of the backlinks we had when we were ranking well (pre-penguin). Obviously the quality is huge, and totally better. So what this leads me to believe is that quality, and not quantity – are the important factors. Take note of this lesson!

Social Media

Social Media is something we never did. We’ve found some really good success in terms of link building – by leveraging social media. We’ve reached out to many newspapers, sharing infographics – and actually seeing them pick them up!

We’ve learned a lot, and continue to learn on a daily basis about what works, and doesn’t work. With search engines changing all the time – keeping ahead of the game and trying to trick them is pointless. Focus on quality, and focus on real things – and you’ll always win. Take this lesson from someone who inadvertently broke the rules, and is now realizing the folly of his ways!

If you’d like to visit my website, see my content, etc, visit: Potashnik & Associates