Online marketing has increased the competitive pressure on law firms over the past two decades. Prospective clients now have access to more legal information than ever before, and your competitors are working harder than ever to make sure they attain more visibility than you do. Content marketing is one of the most reliable marketing strategies for lawyers because it comes with a number of benefits: a strong opportunity to win conversions, a platform to demonstrate thought leadership, and higher rankings in search engines (assuming you’re following other SEO strategies).
That said, your success in content marketing depends on your ability to write compelling blog posts. It’s not enough to fill a blog with empty content; you’ll need to be clever to get a competitive advantage, and make sure you produce quality content throughout the duration of your campaign.
It’s tempting to write interesting legal content as generally focused as possible; the bigger your target audience is, the more people you could potentially reach. However, it’s almost always better for lawyers to write to a specific audience—one focused niche of potential clients.
Niche targeting helps you in a few ways. Most importantly, it helps you avoid competition; there are thousands of lawyers writing about generic topics, and if you try to compete with them, you’ll end up wasting your time. If you’re writing content for one specific group of people, you’ll have fewer competitors to worry about, and more ranking opportunities. It also gives you a chance to optimize for long-tail keywords that often get overlooked.
If your law firm specializes in multiple areas, you can split your blog into multiple sections, or write for multiple specific demographics. As long as you’re providing detailed information for specific people with specific needs, you’ll have an advantage.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, it’s unethical to provide formal legal advice to someone outside the proper setting. According to the American Bar Association’s Formal Opinion 10-457, “To avoid misunderstanding, our previous opinions have recommended that lawyers who provide general legal information include statements that characterize the information as general in nature and caution that it should not be understood as a substitute for personal legal advice.” In other words, if you’re going to be writing blog posts, you should avoid leaving people with the impression that what you’ve written constitutes legal advice.
At the same time, you need to provide accurate legal details and legitimate recommendations in your posts. To reconcile this contradiction, you can include more phrases throughout your work that imply the nature of your recommendations. For example, stating, “for many clients, the best course of action is…” is more appropriate than saying, “we always advise our clients to…” Adding a disclaimer to your blog can also clarify your intentions, and encourage people to contact you directly for concrete advice.
Active blogs typically outperform rarely updated ones, for several reasons. Search engines tend to favor blogs and publishers who write material frequently, so you’ll see higher rankings. You’ll produce more onsite content, which can give you more pages to rank and more keyword-based territory to dominate. And on top of that, you’ll show your audience how dedicated you are to providing the latest information.
This is also advisable because it allows you to take advantage of topical subjects—i.e., news stories related to your practice in some way. For example, if you’re a divorce attorney and a new law is passed that changes how divorces are treated in your state, you’ll have the chance to write a blog about it. Capitalizing on popular news items should increase your relevance and visibility in search engines, while simultaneously giving you access to a steady stream of new content ideas.
Blogging shouldn’t be treated as an independent strategy. It’s an extremely helpful strategy, and can serve as the foundation of your overall online marketing campaign, but it needs support if it’s going to succeed.
For example, you can write the best blog posts in your legal niche—but it won’t matter if nobody is able to discover them. Very few online blogs become popular without some level of support. Depending on your competitors, your niche, and your goals, you may kickstart the popularity of your blog by distributing it on social media (and building a loyal following), engaging with other professionals and prospective clients on forums and in online groups, or publishing offsite articles on authoritative publishers in your industry, so you can get more brand recognition and referral traffic.
It’s also important to pay attention to what others are doing around you. Follow some of your competitors’ blogs and read their latest posts to get a feel for what they’re writing about (and how their audience is reacting). You may be able to capitalize on opportunities they’ve neglected, or add insights of your own to the conversation.
No lawyer’s blog is perfect in its first iteration. The only way to improve it, and inch closer to perfection, is to closely analyze the data you gather on your blog—and act on the insights you derive from them.
For example, you may find that some of your content topics are vastly outperforming the others; they tend to get more shares, more views, and have more time spent on page. In the future, it would be advisable to publish more content in line with these successful topics, and prune away the topics that are underperforming.
You can also use data to calculate your bottom-line return on investment, or ROI. By calculating how many new visitors you’re getting, your onsite conversion rates, and your increase in brand recognition, you can estimate how much value your blog is bringing you, then compare that to what you’re spending on the strategy. If you’re seeing a positive ROI, it may be a clear sign to step up your spending so you can make even more money from it. If you’re seeing a negative ROI, it’s a sign that something needs to change, such as the frequency, topics, or distribution strategy for your posts.
If your law firm is interested in learning more about how to perfect your blogging strategy, or if you’re looking to outsource your onsite blogging work, contact AudienceBloom today. We’ve helped dozens of lawyers polish and popularize their blogs in the past, and we can help you reach new audiences by revitalizing your content strategy as well.