- Step 1: Start with a Plan
- Step 2: Don’t Forget about Branding
- Step 3: Strategizing
- Step 4: Planning Ahead
- Step 5: Polishing Your Content
- Step 6: Publishing Your Content
- Step 7: Analyzing Performance
- Step 8: Developing Your Content Over Time
If you have a law firm, you have a law firm website – or you should – and the content on that website is a key factor in connecting with potential clients and ranking your website for high-volume search terms relevant to your practice areas.
If you’re not getting the results you want from your site, you’re in the right place. Additionally, we’ve got you covered if you’re also looking for someone to write optimized and compelling content. Whatever direction you’re going in with your content – blogging, enhanced search engine optimization (SEO), email blasts, or anything else, you need content that gets the job done. You need effective legal content that’s accurate, compliant with your jurisdiction’s advertising rules, and speaks to your readers and ranks in the search engines – and we’re here to help.
Step 1: Start with a Plan
Instead of taking a scattershot approach to content marketing, your efforts should initially focus on the content on your firm’s website, starting with your home page. The content on your home page should make it clear to visitors who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. When your website is in good shape, you can use it as a launch pad for all your online marketing efforts. Your website is where you will establish your brand identity, voice, and unique value proposition to your potential clients. Most of your ancillary digital marketing efforts will link back to your site, so it’s important to ensure that your site’s content is in good shape and reflects your firm the way you want it to.
Focus on Your Audience
The first step in creating great content is identifying your audience. If your voice doesn’t speak to your potential clients, it’s missing the mark. If your content is keyword rich but lacks a personal touch, it may help you in the SERP rankings, but it’s very unlikely to generate the leads you are hoping to get. When it comes to your audience, you need to read the room, and there are several basics that can help you get there. For example, if you’re an injury lawyer, articles regarding accident prevention can come across as victim blaming to the already-injured people reading your content. You’re much better off providing information about how your firm can help victims after an accident – and get them their due compensation.
Before you create content, you should create a client persona – a fictional person that represents your ideal client and identify and address their concerns. For example, while you could create a blog post discussing the differences between assumption of the risk and contributory negligence, your clients are likely more interested in getting answers to questions like:
- How long will my case take?
- How much is my claim worth?
- Will I go to jail?
- Will I get custody of my kids?
- Is Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 best for me?
By keeping your client persona in your mind when writing content, you’ll be better able to create content that speaks to their concerns and turn website visitors into clients.
Reviews – both your and other firms’ reviews – offer a way to understand what is important to your potential clients. The reviews you find on Google, Yelp, Avvo, and other sites can impart a wealth of knowledge, get you ahead of the game, and address clients’ concerns before they even arise. When you’re perusing reviews, keep all the following in mind:
- If you are reading a negative review, consider what issue the author has with the firm in question. What are his or her pain points? Was the issue with the legal work, the attorney’s communication style, the overall experience, or something else entirely? The details matter.
- What matters to the author? Is he or she more concerned with the firm’s area of expertise, the customer experience, or something else?
The more relevant reviews you read, the more data you’ll have, and at this point, it’s important to cross-check with your own content to see where you’re hitting the mark and where you need to put in more effort.
Don’t Forget about Forums
Before biting the bullet and making that initial call to a lawyer or a firm, legal consumers often talk to their friends, family members, coworkers, and others for advice and information. They also look to forums, such as Quora and Legal Junkies, to get a better feel for the situation. These websites can be a goldmine for getting inside your potential clients’ heads. Here, you’ll find people who have legal concerns and are in the market for resolutions, which hopefully means they are preparing to pull the trigger on obtaining legal counsel. The questions they’re asking should guide the content you provide, and their voice and tone should help you hone your own. If your core audience likes to keep things informal, you don’t want to be stuffy, but if they have more sophisticated ways, you should take notice.
Listen Closely to Your Clients
There is no better source of information about your legal content’s direction than your clients themselves. Listening closely to your clients’ non-legal issues and concerns is an undervalued resource that you should be tapping. Client exit surveys can be an effective tool for mining your clients’ input, but taking the time to schedule a brief interview in which you ask questions like the following can be even more so:
- How would you describe your overall experience during the legal process?
- Can you share the highlights of your experience – the good, the bad, and the ugly?
- How would you describe your experience with our firm overall?
Keep your questions open-ended and allow your interviewees the space they need to share comfortably. When your clients give you just a little, elicit a little more by summarizing their comments and allowing them to elaborate.
Step 2: Don’t Forget about Branding
There are a lot of law firms out there, and the only way to stand out is to make yourself stand out. It’s not enough to talk about your accomplishments, years of experience, or your “no win, no fee guarantee.” You can use the content on your site to establish your brand identity. Are you a formal, no-nonsense law firm that is laser-focused on results? Are you a younger firm that works with startups and tech firms? The style and tone of your content can target the type of clientele you want to work with.
Your brand is unique in many ways, but no one will know if you don’t sell it as such. Branding isn’t about getting fancy or flashy; instead, it is about expressing what it is that makes your firm tick and finding ways to do this that resonate with the audience you seek. Putting some thought into your logo, color scheme, and other graphic elements – along with your catchphrases, voice, and value propositions – can go a long way toward bolstering your brand.
Making a Proposition
Your value propositions are what distinguish you from everyone else, including your competition. Your content can help you stand out from the crowd. If your attorneys have received awards and/or have noteworthy specializations, take pride in sharing this information. The same goes for anything else that sets you apart from the pack. If you are committed to frequent client communication, let the people know by weaving this information into the fabric of your content. That’s how you garner attention – for who you are as a firm – and make conversions.
Step 3: Strategizing
When it comes to any business, having a strategy and consistently applying it is key, and your firm’s website is no different. You can end up spinning your wheel without strategies, so let’s consider a few tips on content strategy.
Identify the Keywords Relevant to Your Practice
If your strategy focuses on keywords, you’re heading in the right direction. Keywords are the words or phrases that online searchers use to find the products or services they are looking for. Having a handle on the meaningful keywords for your firm can make a world of difference.
It’s essential to keep in mind that there are more high-value keywords than the most obvious ones. For example, if you are an injury lawyer in Indianapolis, it’s clear you want to rank for a keyword phrase like “Indianapolis car accident lawyer.” But what about “Do I need an Indianapolis car accident lawyer after an accident?” These keyword phrases are often called long-tail keywords and typically have lower search volume and are easier to rank for. Why are they called “long-tail” keywords? According to Ahrefs:
Long-tail keywords got their name from their position on the “search demand” curve. If we plot all search queries that people have performed in Google in the course of a month and order them by their search volumes, it’ll look somewhat like this:
There are a number of keyword research tools out there, and going with the major players like Semrush and Ahrefs can be pricey. That said, having all the information your competitors have is important. When you take this approach, you’re joining a long list of other firms following a similar path, making it more challenging to stand out. When it comes to identifying keywords, letting your creative juices flow can help you make your mark. You can also check out services like AnswerThePublic, and Google’s People Also Ask function for ideas.
Searching the SERPs
When you’re ready to do keyword research, you can eliminate the middleman by going straight to the SERPs and getting down to business by searching the topic at hand and digging around in the results. You’re very likely to find frequently asked questions, and at the bottom of the Google page, you’ll find related searches. Both can prove invaluable to your keyword research.
Taking a Deep Dive into the Competition
You should always keep an eye on what the competition is up to. Checking out the keywords they’re ranking for is a great place to start. To begin, copy and paste their domain into an SEO tool, and let their ranking keywords be your guide in your efforts to dominate the keyword game. Also, keep an eye on the content they’re adding to their site and posting on social media; this can provide insight into what’s working for them.
Step 4: Planning Ahead
You’ve worked long and hard to get this far, and now it’s time to plan your content journey. Your goal is stellar content that stands out and towers above your competition’s. You want yours to hit all the following marks:
- Content that is better written
- Content that is keyword rich
- Content that is more informative
- Content that is written for your unique clientele
- Content that is jam-packed and full of relevant resources
When your content excels in these areas, you’ll be well-positioned to outrank the competition. An important point to keep in mind is that keyword difficulty matters. This means that ranking on a sought-after marketing term like San Francisco criminal defense attorney requires more effort than a lower-volume long-tail keyword. Both categories fill a specific need – and both are important.
Start with a Content Brief
Before you or a content writer begins a piece, it’s a good idea to create a content brief. What should a brief content cover?
If you’ve already done the legwork when it comes to keywords, all you need to do is create a list of the keywords you’re focusing on and determine content topics that allow you to use them naturally. Keywords should be used organically but can be skillfully sprinkled into topics and titles as well as the body of the piece.
Search intent lets the writer know what motivates users to search for the keywords in question in the first place. Are they on the hunt for a quick solution? Maybe they’re ready to do some heavy-duty research, or they might be in the market to hire an attorney. This sets the stage for creating content.
Consider Word Count
The word count of the piece should be driven by the content topic, the scope of the piece, and how other long other well-performing pieces on the same topic are. That said, do not just set a target word count for word count’s sake. Google’s John Muller has confirmed that word count is not a ranking factor. That said, in the context of Google’s E-A-T principle – expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – longer content can demonstrate more of all three.
As a law firm, Google almost certainly considers your site a “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) site, which means that E-A-T is particularly important for your content. As a result, the more comprehensive your content, the better – and this often translates into longer content generally.
This means a piece’s word count shouldn’t be chosen randomly. Setting a limit of 500 words, for example, can result in superficial content that doesn’t say much of anything. Similarly, a piece that requires only a few hundred words shouldn’t be artificially stretched to a length chosen out of thin air. When it comes to word count, do your research and choose a length that makes sense while keeping in mind that, as a general rule, longer content ranks better.
Whether you are writing your own content or outsourcing your content creation, creating a list of the sections you want to include is a good place to start. Plotting out the information you want to cover lets you focus on giving searchers the information they are looking for. For example, if you need a piece about the value of car accident settlements, examples
you may want to include:
- Factors that Affect How Much a Claim is Worth
- The Car Accident Settlement Process
- How an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Can Help
When you’re strategizing sections, remember the research you did into the kind of information your potential clients are searching for online, and give the people what they want. Some reliable resources are out there, including AnswerThePublic, and asked if you’re at an impasse.
Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel
Find some of your hottest competition’s best work in the same category as the piece you’re commissioning, and look at what issues and topics they cover. If you can identify those elements that are making it rank well, emulating them or sharing them with your writer can prove exceptionally beneficial. If you can’t find a prime example out there, this is an opportunity to shine by establishing the gold standard for the keyword in question.
Provide Details about Your Brand
If you’re outsourcing your content creation, let your writer know what your firm is all about. You’re a unique legal firm with a heart and soul – not a generic business going through the motions – and you want your writer to have his or her finger on the pulse of what makes your firm unique. Keep all the following in mind:
- Your firm’s domain name
- Your firm’s value propositions
- Your grammatical preferences (are you a stickler for conservative usage or lightening things up with a conversational tone?)
By providing this information, you greatly increase the writer’s ability to create a piece of content that will represent your firm the way you want it to.
Step 5: Polishing Your Content
You need content for your legal website, but it will not do the heavy lifting you’re looking for if it’s subpar. Your content needs to be optimized for the web, search engines, users, and your unique goals. When it comes to writing for SEO, best practices are everything. Start there.
Optimizing for People
Even lawyers find classic legal writing dry and difficult to get through, so the legal content you publish on the web needs to be finessed into something your potential clients want to read. You’re going for content with a hook while bypassing all the legalese and suiting your users’ reading style, which very likely involves scrolling on their phones. Your content needs to be geared for this abbreviated version of reading, and some of the elements to focus on include:
- Stick to an active voice the writing loses punch (when things just happen without a subject driving the action). That said, if there is a use case for passive voice, personal injury content is it, as the reader feels as if something has happened to them. Passive voice allows them to remain the subject of the sentence (e.g., if someone else’s negligence has injured you)
- Use subheadings to guide readers through the piece and help them determine what they’re looking for.
- Keep the sentences clear and concise, and limit their length to easily managed word counts
- Keep the paragraphs short – maxing out at three or four sentences
- Lean toward vocabulary that speaks to everyman. You don’t want to alienate anyone, and fancy words don’t mean better writing
Keeping these points in mind helps improve readability, which is the game’s name when it comes to content.
Optimizing for Search Engines
You should always write for people – but keep in mind that robots do a lot of the work when it comes to indexing and ranking content. There are a few concrete steps you can take to optimize your content’s ability to rank, including:
- Be aware of your keyword density. Using keyword phrases – a practice known as keyword stuffing – can result in a ranking penalty. Many SEO experts recommend a keyword density of 1-3%
- Use keywords in your headings
- Link content to critical pages on your site
- Keep the answers to the questions posed close to their headings
- Link to authoritative external sources
- Use HTML header tags (H1, H2, H3, and so on) to help Google figure out the structure of your content
- Include plenty of images that help capture searchers’ attention
- Use keywords to name your files and when adding alt texts to images
- Use keywords in your meta descriptions and title tags
Step 6: Publishing Your Content
Once your content is ready to go, it’s time to get it out there. Keep these publishing and SEO best practices in mind:
- Categorize and tag your content
- Share your content on your social media channels
- Include images
- Tag people who can share and amplify your message
You should seek out various channels where you can publish. In many cases, high-traffic websites are happy to accept guest posts, potentially getting your brand in front of thousands of people a day (and getting your site a valuable backlink).
Step 7: Analyzing Performance
You’ve invested time and money into your content and its publication and need a way to measure its worth. Google Analytics offers a wealth of information, and the price point – free – is right. Once you’ve set it up, the process is pretty straightforward, and the information gleaned includes all the following:
- How each page is performing – and which pages are performing best
- How your page rankings have improved over time
- How your pages convert (if you include goal tracking)
- How often do users land on a specific page and hop immediately off (bounce rate)
- Where users go from there
This list could go on. Google Analytics, in other words, has got you covered.
Step 8: Developing Your Content Over Time
Your content isn’t static – or it shouldn’t be. The best content is tended to and developed over time. In order to keep your content fresh, keep the following in mind:
- Add to your content whenever there’s a relevant reason to do so – or whenever you recognize that there’s room for improvement.
- Enrich your content by adding graphics and/or videos and adding well-considered words that enhance (rather than dilute).
- Engage in ongoing keyword research and update your content as needed.
- Match your searcher’s intent.
Call Us Today to Learn More about our Legal Content Marketing Services
Consistently creating quality content can be a time-consuming and challenging task. As a busy attorney, you should focus on practicing law and providing counsel and advocacy to your clients, not worrying about your marketing. Lexicon Legal Content provides optimized, accurate, and Rules of Professional Conduct-compliant content to law firms and digital marketing agencies throughout North America. To learn more, call our office today or contact us online.