When a Link Building Campaign for a Law Firm Seems Just a Bit Off…

If you are a business owner, you probably receive cold calls and emails on a regular basis. Many of the people who contact you try to make you believe there is a secret solution to a problem you are experiencing—and they are the only ones with the answer.

Our clients receive these manipulative sales communications every day. Many times, they forward the emails to us, and we’re happy to review them and help decide if the service is legit or not. I’ve seen thousands of different sales emails, and they are almost always a scam.

Usually, these offers seem too cheap or too easy to be real. And sometimes they may even seem genuine, but something may be just a bit off...

Recently, I Received This Email That I Just Couldn’t Ignore:

“Hello,

PROOF with Jill Stanley is a highly trafficked legal news site that focuses on celebrities and the law. Why celebs and the law? Well, because there's great interest in both of those subjects (hence why we get so much traffic). Having a quote on one of our articles with a follow backlink to your law firm website has proven to be a powerful marketing tool in today's digital age.

Jill Stanley is an attorney who grew frustrated with paying large sums of money each year for listings on legal directories that showed little to no results. With PROOF, you see the results because we show you the traffic that reaches the page on which your link and quote appears. Here's an example of one of our pages with a legal opinion and highlighted quote: http://proofwithjillstanley.com/nick-cannon-sued-stealing-unsuccessful-app-idea/

The truth is most lawyers can no longer rely on referrals or local ads to maintain and grow a practice; we must now all have a strong internet presence. Let PROOF help you with that internet presence with a powerful, high quality, non spammy backlink. There are no long term commitments and we have several pricing levels.

I look forward to connecting with you.

Best,

Dylan Cohen

[email protected]

PROOF with Jill Stanley

**We do not want to be a bother! If you do not want to receive further emails from us, simply reply UNSUBSCRIBE to this email.”

Sound too good to be true? That’s because...

Link Building Trap

When I first got this email, I thought, “Wow, this is actually a clever idea from a content silo perspective, and I bet some of our clients will respond to it.”

But I was cautiously curious and did some digging. I found that it was too good to be true—even worse than I suspected. This led me to unearth one of the most cleverly disguised law firm link building schemes that I have ever come across.

Why is this sales email more deceitful and dangerous than any I’ve seen before? Because a law firm was behind it, and it wasn’t Jill Stanley...

Luckily, Cohen & Cohen doesn’t properly manage and clean its mailing list. I only came across this scheme because the firm had me marked as a lawyer in its database. Otherwise, I would not have been able to track down this sketchy ploy."

So you’ve seen this type of website before and have probably thought, “Who could possibly be reading this?” Littered with celebrity gossip and click-baity titles, it’s clear that websites like this are not the epitome of honesty, but the lies are deeper than you’d initially think.

I was curious who this Jill Stanley person was, so I checked to see if she was actually the person who owned the domain. Using a reverse domain lookup, I found the owner of this website actually to be:

Proof with Jill Stanley Who-is Information Owned by Wayne Cohen

It turns out that Jill Stanley is one of the founders of Cohen & Cohen—one of the largest personal injury law firms in the Washington, D.C. area.

Why Is This Offer and Method of Acquiring Backlinks Such a Bad Idea?

It’s not a bad offer, right? David Cohen (Wayne and Jill’s son) is informing us, along with countless other susceptible law firms, about a fantastic new opportunity to boost their links. Just pay a small fee to the owners, and boom—more visitors to your website.

Sounds Perfectly Innocent, Right? WRONG.

It’s pretty clear Cohen & Cohen is trying to avoid (some may say hide) the connection between Jill and the law firm of Cohen & Cohen, and this just scratches the surface of the issues I have with this link building scheme.

The main issue is that you are paying to have a specific link placed on their site and pointed back to your site, and that is clearly outlined as a link scheme (the first one listed) on Google’s quality guidelines:

“Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links.”

This is not you paying for PR outreach or another link earning technique. It is you paying for your site to be linked to by another specific site in exchange for money.

My second big issue is the description of the link you are paying for:

“Let PROOF help you with that internet presence with a powerful, high quality, non-spammy backlink. There are no long term commitments and we have several pricing levels.”

It’s true that the individual link you pay for would not look overly spammy to Google because it’s linking back to your site via a quote that would be unique to you. However, take a look at the footer of the site:

Proof with Jill Stanley Keyword Rich Footer Links

Guess who “Injury Law Firm DC” links to? You guessed right—it’s cohenandcohen.net.

Selling these links will get proofwithjillstanley.com/ blacklisted at some point, and if your website is one of the links that was purchased, you just wasted a bunch of money and energy. It could also get Cohen & Cohen blacklisted from Google.

Ironically, this huge level of effort to game the system isn’t even working that well. Cohen & Cohen can’t be found in local and is only ranked 4th organically:

Injury Law Firm DC SERP Result DC

The Moral of the Story?

Stop using your creative juices to game the system and just focus on providing the best possible service, content, and experience to every single person who comes in contact with your brand. Imagine where Cohen & Cohen would be if they spent that creative energy trying to be the best lawyers possible.

Price Benowitz is in the local pack and ranks #1 organically because they are playing by the rules (at least from what I can see at a top level), and they are providing the best experience both on their website and in their office.

Be Great, Don’t Cheat!

Cohen & Cohen may not be breaking the law, but they’re breaking Google’s clear guidelines and moral law. Online marketing is a delicate practice, and you do not want to fall into these traps. It can lead to you losing all that you’ve worked to accomplish.

Want to work with us? Not sure where to start? Get a free marketing analysis to find out if you have issues, or if you want to start working with a company you can trust not to cheat the system.

P.S. Don’t let the follow-up email trick you into thinking it really is a quality link building service:

“Hello,

I just wanted to follow up on my earlier email. We have several interesting celebrity legal news stories for which we are seeking expert legal opinion. The benefit to you is not only branding and third party credibility but also a high quality, follow backlink. If you are uncertain what this means, I would welcome the opportunity to explain it to you. If you do know what a high quality backlink can do for you and your website then I'd also love to talk to you and really show you the power and impact of a PROOF backlink.

Jill is a lawyer just like you and has found a way to help keep her firm on Google's radar in a way that doesn't involve nationwide directories and also allows for expert legal commentary which is both personally and professionally rewarding.

Let me know if you would like further information-our rates are reasonable and we don't require long term contracts. If you're not interested, please reply UNSUBSCRIBE.

Thank you for your time.

Best,

Dylan Cohen

[email protected]

PROOF with Jill Stanley
 
Zach Stone
Director of Marketing Operations
3 Comments
We got the email as well and dismissed it, but it was good to read your take on it and confirm our suspicions. Thanks!
by Loyd Bourgeois September 13, 2017 at 11:31 AM
Thanks for the feedback Ben! Yes, a lot of time and energy put into something like this and I'd assume the digital marketing agency Wayne Cohen owns is behind the creative scheme - www.matadorsolutions.net. If you go to the footer of that "marketing company" you will also see keyword rich anchor text pointing back to the law firm's website "auto accident lawyer DC" for example links to their practice area page. Not exactly what you'd consider whitehat
by Zach Stone September 13, 2017 at 08:12 AM
wow, thanks for taking the time to dig deep on that one.. I too got that email but dismissed it as crap.. that took a lot of thinking on someone on behalf of cohen and cohen to come up with that scheme. wonder who's behind it. and who thought that was a GOOD idea???? crazy!
by Ben Glass September 13, 2017 at 08:05 AM
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