In our early conversations with clients, we often recommend that they include a blog on their websites. Many attorneys are enthusiastic about the idea. Many are not. The members of the latter group, at best, feel they don't have time for blogging. At worst, they think blogging is cheesy or pointless.
But we're here to tell you: blogging — or something like it — works!
Now, you don't actually have to blog, per se. This easily updated section of your site could be called, for example, "News," "Articles," or "Updates." Or the same goals could be achieved by regularly updating, say, a Frequently Asked Questions section or adding subpages to your practice area pages. Moreover, keep in mind that, when we say "blog," we don't mean a free-for-all where viewers can comment on posts and expect responses. Rather, we're talking about a running section of articles, commentary, FAQs or firm news relevant to you and your work.
The key is that fresh, relevant content is an important piece of most successful websites.
If you want search engines to pay attention to your site, the more quality content the better. Moz.com — a leading resource on effective search engine optimization (SEO) — consistently urges that content quality and quantity is among the highest determinants of search engine rankings (as of this writing, "Page Level KeyWord and Content-Based Features," i.e. good content, is listed among the top 3 influential ranking factors).
And there's no real mystery as to why search engines reward more, better and newer content. At base, a search engine thrives by giving its users the best, most relevant information in response to search queries. So search engines naturally privilege sites with a good deal of quality, relevant content on the given subject.
A related element involves the ways your potential clients find you through search engines. Think of what a potential client might be typing into Google when they have a law-related question or need legal services. Basics include things like "Detroit Divorce Attorney," "Best Detroit Divorce Attorneys," or "Reviews for Detroit Divorce Attorneys." You initially cover this territory with good SEO for your attorney biographies, practice area pages, testimonial pages, etc. But these queries also suggest great blog topics, such as "How Do I Choose the Best Detroit Divorce Attorney for Me?" or "Where to Find Reviews for Detroit Divorce Attorneys." (We often recommend these types of posts, which can be evenhandedly written — you don't have to call yourself the best divorce attorney, in likely violation of your jurisdiction's rules of professional conduct.)
But a second tier of relevant search topics for potential clients is broader. Think in terms of what your clients may be thinking about as they face a legal issue in their lives. Such as: "Is Michigan a No-Fault Divorce State?" "Michigan Child Support Calculator." "Is Alimony Tax Deductible?" "Michigan Law on Child Custody." Quality articles on these kinds of subjects — which can be informative without overly encouraging self-help — allow clients to come across your firm in a range of different ways. Even if they are not yet looking to hire a lawyer, they nonetheless have been exposed to your name, your great firm website, and the fact that you are generous enough to offer information to the public on your areas of expertise. Moreover, your articles can reasonably emphasize their better chances of success on a given legal issue if they seek out competent legal help.
This kind of content is also "evergreen." Your user-friendly topics are indexed by search engines and accessible for years to come. Thus, their SEO value has longevity; it is not limited to the days or weeks after you post them.
A final note. Well written topics of interest have another great feature for you: they encourage social sharing via FaceBook, Twitter, email, etc. And social sharing is another SEO factor that impresses search engines by telling them that their customers find your site valuable.
Take a look at this prior Question of the Week for a more in depth discussion of overall SEO for law firm websites.
Search engine value aside, your articles have another great marketing / validation impact. When referrals or other potential clients check out your website, they see your firm's expertise in, and engagement with, the very areas of law they need assistance with. Moreover, particular attorneys can be displayed as authors, with links to their biographies. This kind of personal connection — whether with expertise in a given area, or perhaps a compassionate approach to an emotional subject — gives the reader a sense of what it might be like to work with you.
When you write content that answers the frequent and genuine concerns of your clients, you then have a quick and easy resource to point to when those topics come up with new people. For instance, now that we've written posts on the online impact of moving your physical office, tips on remembering passwords, handling negative reviews and whether or not your firm's phone should be answered by a live person, we no longer have to craft long emails or have lengthy discussions about these topics, we can just share the link.
Just one more advantage of a blog, Firm News, or other prominent regularly-updated section of your website involves showcasing firm successes and happenings. Whether an attorney was appointed to a local community board, won professional accolades, or was cited in the media, posting a little update (and maybe a photo!) reflects well on your firm and gives your website a dynamic presence.
There's no real reason an attorney shouldn't blog. For all of the above reasons, it never hurts! But your website goals may not require blogging under these kinds of circumstances:
The primary reason The Modern Firm recommends blogging is, of course, to create that fresh, user-friendly content that search engines and their users value when looking for legal help. If your sources of clients are mostly from personal referrals, networking and other forms of personal marketing then your website is probably more for validation and static in nature, therefore a blog is less important. That said: don't forget the value of impressing those who do come to your site, just to check you out after being referred to you! Reasons to blog #3 #4 and #5, above, apply just as much to firms who aren't aiming to gain clients through general internet searches.
First, a huge caveat: more, better, recent content is always good if you want to gain any traction with search engines. But blogging, like any marketing strategy, also has to take into account time constraints, budget, and your return on investment (ROI) of time and money. Some firms have found success using their marketing budgets to create a few great landing pages for online ads, and then funneling most of their resources into paying for the ads (think Google AdWords, FaceBook ads, etc.) rather than investing in regular blogging.
We generally find that this concern is rooted in general ideas of blogs as daily sources of information or amusement, to which you might subscribe or even exchange comments with the host. You're right: your law firm blog is unlikely to be a scintillating daily coffee-break read for thousands of visitors. But, as we've explained above, that's not the point of most law firm blogs. Rather, three important audiences will be reading your blog:
This is by far the biggest reason lawyers give for rejecting our suggestion that they maintain a blog. We respond in three ways.
Think about the time spent in terms of ROI. It may feel annoying to regularly update a blog, when you could be doing other work or, better yet, golfing. But, once you see the marketing advantages, you may be more motivated. Think in terms of the money you put into this great, well-designed, mobile-friendly website you launched: for that money to pay off, most firms can't just set it and forget it. As content strategist Margot Bloomstein put it an interview with GatherContent:
"Content is a commitment. You wouldn’t buy a car unless you had plans to maintain it. Same thing goes for content.”
In the end, you may actually be more adverse to the reality that you are a small business owner — who needs not just to do good work, but to generate new work — than the reality that your website needs content updates. (In this case, call us for a pep talk. We have great ideas not just about how to approach the entrepreneurial side of owning a law firm, but about how to delegate marketing within your office as well as to outside professionals.)
It's not as hard as you think! In many markets, particularly those of small town lawyers, just a bit of added content here and there will put your website ahead of most of the competition, as far as new content creation. And, just about anywhere, some blogging is better than none. It's not that hard to post a bit of commentary, answer an FAQ you hear from a client, or post an item of firm news once a month or so. And, if you're concerned that your low frequency of posting will make the blog look stale, no problem: the blog can be undated and still reap the benefits that come from updating the content.
Certainly, some firms need more substantial content for blogging to pay off in marketing their websites. This final bit of advice is particularly for them:
You don't have to do it all yourself! First off, particularly for short updates like firm announcements, a staff member can easily be trained to update the blog. For such announcements, as well as more substantive articles, we also highly recommend assigning the task to interns, paralegals, newer associates, or to everyone in the office, in turn. Blogging is much less daunting when any given firm member only has to think about it once every month or quarter. And it is particularly motivating when each attorney, paralegal or other firm member assigned to blog understands the advantages to the firm and to his or her particular areas of practice.
Finally, there are huge benefits to hiring a professional writer to blog for you. The caveat to this is that you should not hire just any writer or "SEO company" who may provide junky content stuffed with keywords or, worse, with legal jargon that they don't understand or use correctly! Quality matters. A lot. Some benefits of hiring a law-firm-focused writer — such as those at The Modern Firm — include:
The Modern Firm also offers assistance with editing, search engine optimizing and posting your own articles: if you're one of those people who is great at coming up with ideas and first drafts — but don't have time to edit or think about SEO — this is a great option!
There you have it: you have absolutely no excuse not to blog!
We welcome you to contact our marketing team with questions about our blogging services for law firms as well as your specific website and content marketing goals. Also take a look at our questions of the week addressing: "What is SEO?" and "What Should My Law Firm Blog About?"