When evaluating a lawyer’s website for areas of improvement, one of the first places I look is a client’s blog. More often than not, the blog is non-existent or simply serves as an ineffective PR hub for the law firm.
Attorneys don’t realize that their blog is an untapped resource that could vastly improve their legal marketing campaign. Yes, blogging is time-consuming, and, yes, when done incorrectly, your blog won’t accomplish much of anything.
A well-crafted blog, however, assists with search engine optimization (SEO), client conversions, branding, and your social media campaign. With that in mind, I’ve outlined the information below to help get attorneys on the right track for maintaining a high-performing legal blog.
Like a legal document, attorney blogs have specific style/formatting guidelines that need to be met. A great topic won’t translate into a compelling blog post if the writer doesn’t adhere to these principles.
No. 1: Blogs are meant to be easy, informative reads. Thus, a length of about 1,000 words is a good reference point. Five hundred words are the minimum and are appropriate for answering quick questions.
Longer content is better for search engine optimization purposes – i.e., having your blog post rank on Google – and will also be more thorough in explaining your subject matter. Stay concise yet ensure that a potential or existing client feels they gained insight from your post.
No. 2: Keep your writing to an eighth-grade reading level. Though reading level technically doesn’t impact your rankings, a high reading level can lead to a high bounce rate. A site visitor reviewing your blog has a legal matter connected to the topic or wishes to learn more. If your blog post is confusing and/or has too much legal jargon, the visitor will leave your site without contacting your firm or regarding your site as a valuable source of legal information. Thus, you lost a potential client due to a poorly constructed blog post.
No. 3: Blog posts can’t be long blocks of content. Be sure to include formatting options such as headings and bulleted or numbered lists to keep the content easy to scan. Blogs are often read while the site visitor is double screening, so allow the reader to treat your post as an item they could read at their leisure – even if it’s an informative/educational piece.
No. 4: Relevant images or embedded videos can enhance your blog’s performance. These help the content become visually appealing and assist with your presentation of materials. As a caveat, however, make sure you use properly licensed stock photos or your images to avoid legal headaches. Similarly, ensure the images are correctly loaded to avoid page speed issues.
No. 5: Blog posts should be published on a consistent schedule. Considering how little time attorneys have to blog, many only posts once a month, at best. In an ideal world, law firms would have the resources to publish weekly content. That is an unattainable goal for many firms, therefore, the more realistic goal should be bimonthly.
If your law firm produces the content, create incentives for your attorneys to post. At the very least, create a content calendar, so your attorneys know when their deadlines are approaching.
No. 6: Remember your blogs are a marketing tool with a critical client acquisition goal. As such, don’t let your blogs be standalone pieces of content. Add internal links to your main practice area pages. Mention the relevant attorneys. Include your contact information. Blogs shouldn’t be one long ad, but you should still insert some marketing language to assist the readers considering hiring an attorney.
The more successful blogs are those with posts of varying styles. Yes, your brand, tone, and writing practices should remain the same. The content itself, however, is limitless. Anything that would stay on brand and interest potential clients is fair game. Accordingly, the options below are blog ideas that the majority of law firms can utilize.
A popular option for blogs, answering common questions is a great topic idea. Do not, however, list many questions and answer them all. FAQ lists should be published on the corresponding practice area pages.
The FAQs that belong on blogs are the trendier questions or questions that require answers longer than 500 words. For example, a family lawyer could answer questions like “What is Bird’s Nest Custody” or “When is Forensic Accounting Needed in a Divorce?”
In order to turn these questions into long-form content, offer examples, provide background information, offer resources, etc.
Unique Legal Claims
Not every potential claim needs its own practice area page. For example, a personal injury lawyer doesn’t need to have a subpage for every possible cause of a motorcycle accident. However, there are claims that are still relevant for a law firm and may not be worth cluttering the main practice area section of the website. Lane splitting, as an example, is a wonderful topic for a firm looking to attract more motorcycle accident claims. The post would identify the relevant laws, breakdown liability, etc.
Similarly, related claims rather than subcategories are also relevant. Continuing with the personal injury law firm example, there may be claims of negligence that aren’t worth creating a practice area page for; due to the low volume of potential clients. Great posts can be topics like lawsuits against a spa or restaurant, as there is the possibility for a claim. As a blog post, the content would not be filling up the site’s menus or taking up marketing dollars in a PPC, SEO, or other campaign.
Commentary on the News or Laws
Many attorneys wisely share local news on their blogs. I often see posts providing the details of significant accidents in the community. Unfortunately, simply rehashing local events or tragedies does little to attract potential clients. The post will likely just be lost among the other, more popular news mediums that are covering the events.
Instead, offer insight into the accident or provide related information. For example, if there was a major drunk driving accident, provide overviews of the laws in your area and/or details about the blood alcohol concentration. If there was an accident at a factory, discuss similar work incidents from the past.
Whatever you choose to discuss, just ensure that your post provides information the news outlets lacked.
Similarly, if the laws changed in your community – even if it’s a small adjustment like a school policy change or the installation of a traffic circle – feel free to offer feedback. Certainly, don’t post anything controversial that could harm the firm’s reputation. That said, as an attorney, many of your site visitors recognize that you have the authority and reputation to comment on legal matters. Thus, readers of your blog may appreciate it if you clarify the local laws or explain how a new policy could have retributions.
Not all blogs have to be directly connected to your law firm or your practice areas. Non-legal information can still promote your brand when done correctly.
One way to create a non-legal post is to offer resources for local families or accident victims. Information concerning domestic violence shelters, mental health providers, nonprofit organizations, and other related professionals or charities can be a wonderful resource for potential clients who may not be ready to hire an attorney but are dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy or conflict. Offering non-legal support shows a caring side to your law firm, and this content could be how the potential client finds your firm initially.
Venturing further, use your blog for interviewing a professional that would assist your potential clients – preferably one from your community. For example, a family law firm may consider an interview with a social worker. A disability law firm could interview a medical professional. An accountant could provide insight for corporate lawyers.
Again, the content is connected to your practice areas but would appeal to clients not yet ready to hire a lawyer. Further, you’d be forging a partnership with a member of your community who could assist you with reaching more potential clients.
Not all blogs need to offer legal insight. Connecting on an emotional level can have just as much marketing weight as an authoritative piece. Attorneys are not often viewed favorably by those outside the profession, so showing a more human side can sway a potential client to your firm.
Have your attorneys share what inspired them to enter the legal profession. Share your most memorable cases or moments in your legal career. Go completely outside the law and share holiday recipes or a post about your pets. There are plenty of ways to connect with your clients while maintaining a professional reputation.
If you’re not entirely comfortable with that level of openness, perhaps your clients will allow you to tell their stories. Chronicle their story and how their legal situation unfolded. Your clients may have powerful stories to share, and their favorable outcomes may persuade a potential client to contact your firm.
Here again, if confidentiality concerns you, return to your law school days and construct legal hypotheticals. Walk your site visitors through potential claims and identify how you would navigate each matter. This style of post could lose a bit of the emotional impact, however, so be sure to at least keep the post engaging.
Lastly, you can always go outside the box and provide a video blog post. These can follow any of the ideas above. For example, you can answer an FAQ by visually assisting your site visitor through an application such as a worker’s compensation form or application for disability benefits. Similarly, attorneys can share their stories through an interview or visual display of photos. The videos can be short – such as 3-6 minutes – and still leave an impact.
Remember, for maximum exposure, use social media to share your videos and links to your other blog posts.
Overall, the only “bad” blog posts are those that aren’t interesting or those that present your firm in a poor light. Don’t be afraid to be creative. Ask your loved ones for topics they would be interested in reading. Again, blogs serve a multitude of marketing purposes. As long as your post is engaging and informative in any capacity, you’ll be establishing your brand and connecting with potential clients.