Reflections of a Google Has-Been
I used to be King of Google for criminal defense in D.C.
Traffic to my site was both wide (many visitors each day) and deep (visitors would stay for a long time, clicking on multiple pages each visit and then lingering on them). More importantly, my site ranked number #1 for a number of important search terms that could lead to potential business: “simple assault dc,” prostitution solicitation dc,” “destruction of property dc,” “theft II dc,” “unlawful entry dc,” “expungement/sealing of criminal records dc,” and so on.
I was smug about it. Colleagues who invested thousands of dollars each month trying to improve “search engine optimization” for their sites would ask me what my secret was. It is because traffic to my site is organic, I would respond. Google likes that. Google rewards that.
The Google Gods don’t take kindly to such hubris: Traffic to my site is a fifth of what it was at its height, and my site now ranks 4thor 5thfor most of the search terms listed above. In fact, I don’t even rank first anymore for a Google search of “Koehler Law.” Can you believe that? I fear I flew too close to the sun.
The changes happened gradually while I was focusing on other things. There are many reasons, I am sure.
Number one is the death of the criminal law blogosphere. Scott Greenfield predicted as far back as 2008 that Twitter would eventually lead to the demise of the blogosphere. As with many things he writes at Simple Justice, this was remarkably prescient. Why go to the trouble of visiting a blog – writing the comment and then waiting for that comment to be posted — when you can debate things more directly, more immediately, on Twitter? It doesn’t matter that any discussion on Twitter is necessarily more superficial. “There is a difference,” Greenfield wrote, “between being engaged in 100 ongoing kinda, sorta conversations, and having one decent conversation.”
I used to get tons of traffic from people coming on to the site to visit this blog. That traffic – regular readers who checked out my blog to see what I had written or how others responded in the comment section – has dried up completely. Zippo!
Number two? I have been doing other things. My practice is doing well, and I now have a more diverse stream of new business. I have added court-appointed cases to my practice. Having been practicing in D.C. for over 10 years now, I also have more referrals and repeat business. My website has suffered from my neglect.
Number three, I assume, is that Google has changed its algorithms, the way it ranks websites. At least this is what Tyler Suchman, my “website guy” from Tribal Core, tells me, when I complain. Tyler has that California chill. He is patient, and he has perspective on life and a great sense of humor. That’s the reason we have been together since I first started this site in 2009. Because I am the client from hell, the Donald Trump of Google/SEO clients. One, I am ignorant. Two, my ignorance does not prevent me from having lots of expectations.
Finally, I now have a lot more competition. Sometime in there, my colleagues started to figure out how to beat me. Damn them!
I was once king. I am now a has-been. This year starts my climb back toward respectability, one blog post, one website page, at a time.