Florida Bar Addresses Website Optimization

On March 5, 2013, the Florida Bar Standing Committee on Advertising issued a Proposed Advisory Opinion that addressed the use of misleading “content or techniques in the design and optimization” of attorney websites. The Committee wrote that while website design, content, and search engine optimization are acceptable marketing techniques, “deceptive or inherently misleading advertising” is prohibited under the new Florida advertising rules, specifically, Rule 4-7.13. The opinion included several examples of how website optimization crosses the line including examples of deceptive “hidden text,” “meta tags,” and purchased advertising such as buying Google Adwords. The Committee concluded by reminding attorneys that if they outsource their website design or optimization, they should take steps to assure that the website designers and optimizers are conscious of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar.

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