If you’re anything like us at Core Values Consulting, you do your research before committing to any course of action. Of course, we don’t NOT act because we aren’t 100% sure about something (quite the opposite, actually). But we do try to see how others are doing things before expending significant effort, and client resources, on any particular action. In the years we’ve been successfully strategizing and executing blogs and content marketing plans for law firms, we’ve come across all sorts of great intention but poor execution law blogs.
Perhaps by sharing these errors, we can help an aspiring lawyer/writer deliver better content for their potential and existing clients. Regardless, if you have an existing blog, want to have a blog (you should), or you have a hunch that your blog is not hitting the mark, these tips should be able to provide you some direction.
Of course, you can always reach out to us at Core Values Consulting too. Unlike a typical Law Firm SEO agency, we strictly focus on being your growth partner. We are your strategist, your project manager, your analyst, and we exist to work with select clients that are focused on long-term website growth and the massive client leads that go with it.
Here are the 13 errors we see in many Law Firms’ SEO content and blog strategy.
1) Writing to the Wrong Audience
When blogs first started showing up, they looked more like online journals than sophisticated & coordinated website marketing strategies. For many, when they’ve taken the leap to decide to write a blog, the only real knowledge they have of writing one is influenced by the old fashioned way of looking at blogs, online journals. The result, often, is a blog that is overly specific about what the attorney is writing about, and doesn’t speak to the correct audience.
Here’s an example of blog-writing from a law blog.
Nothing about this excerpt is structurally incorrect. It’s written well and it is cited. Moreover, the legal opinion is defendable. However, it is not written for the audience it’s intended for.
Go ahead – reread it; it’s written for legal analysis. It’s written as if it were published as an article in the state Bar magazine. It’s also focused way too much on current events (a topic we’ll cover in this article below). In short, the author is writing a journal piece.
Here’s the thing, if the author meant to write a high-level piece for other attorneys, this is great. But why put it on the website blog, in that case? If your client is other attorneys, you’ll probably do well with something like this. If they are something other than attorneys, you’re speaking in prose they don’t cipher. Get on their level and speak to them, not about them or someone else.
2) Not Understanding Where the Audience Is Coming From
If you’re going to speak to your audience, you need to know who they are. Is your audience adult disabled workers, are they families of infants with brain injuries, are they bitter pre-divorcees? What are the demographics you tend to draw in? How do they speak? What is their education level? Can you answer these questions?
Knowing your audience is not a novel concept. Pretty much every marketing guru or class will dedicate time to helping you work through evaluating these ideas. Here’s an article that can walk you through defining your target market…and notice, it’s a blog. Valuable information, digestible, sharable – the power of content marketing is driving another click to the article 10+ years after it was written < we’ll cover this under the writing evergreen content section later in this article.
When you know your audience, you can write to them. Your goal in drafting your law firm’s blog articles should always be to speak at your audience’s level. They are seeking answers; they want to trust you, they will understand someone that connects with them and are far more likely to desire to build a relationship with you (sign a contract) if you speak to them at their level of understanding.
3) Writing Without an SEO Strategy
Knowing how to write to your intended audience is powerful. Just as powerful, though, is knowing what to write. We’ve bounced around the point, write to answer your clients’ questions already. You probably already know some of their questions, it’s your business to know, right? But when you sit down to put pen to paper, sometimes, you can lose your plan before you even start. Writer’s block is real – and it finds fertile ground in the aspiring content marketer that doesn’t have an SEO strategy.
There are several things you can do to get started in building your strategy. Of course, you can work with an SEO consultant like Josh Penner at Core Values Consulting. But if you’re still feeling your way through the concept of SEO and content marketing, a great first step is to build out a solid Frequently Asked Questions list. Then, ANSWER those questions. In blog format, if possible. If it’s not possible to answer each question in blog format, concatenate similar questions/items.
4) Not Sharing a Firm Call To Action
You certainly want to walk a fine line in your tone. If you’re too standoffish, you may lose clients simply by not asking for their business. But if you’re very pushy, lacing your article with calls to action, it’s going to sound like a commercial, and readers will get fatigued of it quickly. In our experience, a strong call to action in the end, with ample opportunities to enter contact information if requested (sidebar contact form, chat option, and bottom of the page contact form) are typically plenty.
There is a fine line to also consider between too many contact form submissions and too few. If you don’t throw out options for potential clients to self-filter, you can spend a lot of time weeding out those that don’t really fit your services. Call this a derivative benefit of content marketing – if a potential client has stuck around to read your entire article and decided to make contact at that point, they are much more likely to be both informed about and interested in your services.
5) Not Answering the Audiences Question(s)
You made an FAQ; your tone is spot on, your CTA isn’t splashed in every other sentence. In short, you’re doing great! But…are you answering the questions your audience has? Consider storyboarding your audience’s activities.
- They have a problem
- They go to Google
- They type: “[5w’s] & [something about your law niche] “
- 1,234,745 results appear in .004 seconds
- Three ads appear (buyers paid ~$30 for each click on those ads)
- Your article appears #1 beneath the ads
- Does your article answer the question to #3 above? Does it have a CTA to help them with the next step?
6) Making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good
New clients, small firm clients, lawyers – there is a tendency in content marketing to be very hands-on. All things considered, taking a keen interest in the content going on your website isn’t a bad thing. But if you spend your time focusing on the granular details, you miss out on the significant successes a content marketing strategy will bring you. All other things being equal, it’s better to get something up and revise as necessary than it is not to get anything up at all.
If you find yourself in the position that you are not able to let loose the reigns a little, take a look at our article:
7) Forgetting to Share Relevant On-Site and Off-Site Content
Did you notice what we did in that last section? Sharing relevant content both on your website and off of your website is vitally important to the SEO health of your law firm. Why? Think of it like this, when you were in school, and you shared an absolute fact, what was always the response? Prove it! And now, all these years later, likely as not, that’s your job now too…to prove it.
Whether your source is some obscure bit of law or a peer’s website, there are a couple of reasons to cite your sources.
- It’s polite. If someone else has gone through the trouble of elaborating something you’re trying to say but don’t have the time or inclination to do so, throw them a link. For example: Do Outbound Links Matter For SEO in 2020?
- Doing this gives your readers a chance to learn more about something relevant to your article.
- Linking to a high-quality source signals that your articles are not thrown together haphazardly.
- Lastly, it benefits the person you’re citing.
Of course, your best source might be your own content. That’s kind of the point here, to create a wiki about your subject. As you build out your content, you’re going to want to cross-reference topics and refer visitors to articles about specific issues rather than re-elaborating every time what they are. Plus, you’ll have this concept you’re going to want to get familiar with called cornerstone articles. SEO and content marketing gets complex – get ready to start spinning plates and juggling while whistling a tune if you’re doing it yourself.
8) Pictures! Break it up a Little
No one wants to read a wall of text. If the first thing you see when you open up a website is a faint grey haze as your eyes adjust to lines and lines of poorly formatted (for reading) legal jargon – you’re likely to check-out. Imagine your clients, who don’t want to have to invoke the services of a lawyer, but need to – will they stick around to read your 95 theses on how car accidents cause brain injuries?
9) Outsourcing to a Content Farm
Outsourcing content creation to a reputable firm that knows how law firms work and has an understanding of the law = good.
Outsourcing content creation to some guy on fiver.com with clearly non-native English writing capabilities = bad
It’s OK to outsource content development. But like we mentioned before, writing every piece of content on your site isn’t worth your time…neither is re-writing it. Trust us here, don’t hunt the bargain, hunt the talent.
10) Not Knowing What Your Competition is Doing and Writing – both Why & How
Someone in your market is cleaning up. And they are getting clients that can be and maybe should be yours. But those clients are finding your competition first, somehow. Perhaps they have a great blog. Maybe they spend gobs of $ on advertising. How can you tell?
There are a couple of great tools you can use to reverse engineer your competing law firms’ marketing strategy. In our article, Evaluating Your Law Firm’s Website & Your Competition, we walk you through a process for doing so.
The article linked above (Evaluating…) is an excerpt from our FREE e-book, The Path: A Step by Step Search Engine Marketing & SEO Guide Book for Law Firms.
11) Not Using Great Content in Other Law Firm Marketing Vectors
One of the best parts about developing good content is that it is infinitely malleable. If you publish a terrific blog piece in your law blog – you can use it a month later for source material in your next YouTube video. You can line up a publishing schedule on your social media channels. As you’re working on that, you can write a press release about some aspects of the article. You can use it as a handout during seminars or even at your front desk. You can package several articles together and build an e-book to give away, or sell.
Hopefully, you’re getting the point. The extent that you can re-use great content is limited by your imagination and the experience and capabilities of your team or SEO consultant.
12) Writing About Current Events
Almost everyone who will be reading your content will be reading it months or years from now. A caveat, there is a small chance your content will go insanely viral the hour you post it. In this case, we’re liars, and everyone will read your content now. But, back to reality again, if you write to what’s happening today, you’re going to confuse your audience as they try to figure out how that relates to them as they are reading your musings.
As this is being written, many things are occurring – the President was impeached, Iran rocketed Al-Asad, Ethereum is nearing the 2.0 hard fork, the Packers are going to be playing the 49ers for the NFC championship. < How much of this is relevant to you the reader as you’re reading this? Of course, I have no way of knowing as this is being produced, but through experience it’s safe to say, very little of this is going to matter from a business use case perspective.
If I was to somehow work-up a post combining search engine marketing with a current event above – it would do poorly and would not answer anyone’s question. For instance, an article with the title, “How Would a Cold-War with Iranian Hackers Impact SEO?” could be super compelling, but it won’t build your business – unless you’re trying to be a foreign policy analyst.
13) Not Writing Evergreen Content
In the end, the biggest issue with writing about topical items as they occur is that the present is fleeting. If you write your law blog about what’s happening today, you’re committing to the idea that today is important to the people reading your articles tomorrow. Perhaps it is, but do they know that? – Digressing. Your intent in your law blog should be to produce evergreen content.
Evergreen content is articles that are, to the best of your knowledge today, likely to be helpful and informative to your readers tomorrow (and next year). The President wanting to “go after disability benefits” is a temporary headline. They (the President) either will or won’t; it will either matter or won’t. The items that will NOT change, disability benefits will exist and the definitions of what constitutes a disability will largely remain the same. Your article about what constitutes a disability will outperform your article on the President’s opinions 100:1 over time.
To summarize – write the un-sexy, boring, and inalienable truths of your specialty, and you’ll build a traffic pipeline that will have your competition scratching their head how you ended up #1 on Google for so many keywords and phrases.
14)* Doing Law Blog SEO Without Help
We work with select law firms to build content marketing strategies and establish (and renovate) their website search engine optimization. In the fields we work in, our articles (ghostwritten for our clients) regularly appear at the top of search results and drive transformational traffic. SEO & search engine marketing is real, it is valuable, and if done well, it is the most cost-effective client lead funnel, hands down. But, it takes time, commitment, and if you’re smart, a dedicated professional walking with you to clear the path each step of the way.
Core Values Consulting provides SEO consulting for Law Firms like yours. We Make Small Law Firms Grow!
Fill out the contact form below, or call us today, to schedule a phone call about how we can help you too.