Law Firm Blogging 101 and SEO best practices

Law Firm Blogging 101

As you know, the more people know about your law firm and the work you do, the better chance you have of them reaching out to you. But how do you expect them to reach out to you if they don’t know you exist in the first place?

For many lawyers and law firms alike, getting that coveted reach among people looking for attorneys is difficult.

For starters, when you search for “law firm + your area” there are usually thousands of different options.

Law Firm Blogging 101

How do you expect to compete against all of these options and even appear on the first page of search results?

Well, you already know the secret to appearing on the first page of Google is to develop a strong SEO strategy, but we’ll now discuss how (and why) blogging should be a crucial element of that strategy.

In this section, you’ll find out why blogging is beneficial for showcasing your expertise as a law firm and why you should use it to help you appear on the first page of Google search results.

Before you start blogging

Before you start blogging, you need to understand a little bit about how it works in terms of driving traffic to your website. If you already have a sizable audience, you shouldn’t have any difficulty when starting your blog. You simply write your blog post, push it out to your audience and wait for the traffic to roll in. But what if you don’t yet have an audience?

Building an audience takes time and is often is the result of multiple factors. If you don’t see any significant results after three months, don’t stop. Keep going, because eventually, consistent blogging will reap rewards.

It can often take a couple years to generate any sort of significant traffic. Geraldine DeRuiter, wife of SEO platform MOZ’s former CEO Rand Fishkin, spoke about how it took her two years to generate significant traffic to her blog.

Don’t let this discourage you, however, as It can happen faster and one of the benefits of blogging is that the content is there forever. With paid ads, when you stop paying money, you stop generating traffic. With blogging, you can generate traffic forever.

Where should I put my law firm’s blog?

I once wrote an article on The National Law Review website and Kevin from Lexblog chimed in and disagreed with one of the points. He said that putting a lawyer’s blog on the firm’s main website is a mistake because nobody cares to read a corporate blog as much as they like a niche blog.

In some ways I agree with this, but it’s not always practical to have multiple websites and multiple budgets to optimize each.

We have driven tens of millions of dollars in leads with both strategies — having separate URLs (like a 500-page mesothelioma website we wrote and created) and alternatively, working successfully with plenty of law firms where their blog is part of their main website.

The advantage of having your blog on your main website is that your practice area pages and your local map rankings will get better because the main website has authority. The authority is driven by the links to the valuable and engaging blog content that you will create. That is priceless for proving that your main website deserves high search rankings.

The advantage of having your blog on a separate domain, like yourtrademarkblog.com or something along those lines, is that it is only on one topic. People researching that topic will find your site more engaging and interesting if it covers that topic completely and is more personal than some of the dull law firm blogs out there.

If you have it in the budget, you should do both. If there is no blog or interesting content on your law firm’s primary website, you will miss out on leads for people searching for law firms and not just the pain points that a separate blog would address. That said, having an authority site on a niche topic can be extremely powerful, and if you go that route, put the best content there that you can.

Here are examples of some authority sites that aren’t exactly just blogs, but they show the value of dominating a topical area.

Birth Injury Guide (https://www.birthinjuryguide.org) is a niche site that ranks for 54,288 keywords. If you had to buy those keywords as Google ads they would cost $990,000 a month.

Asbestos.com (https://www.asbestos.com) ranks for 62,000 keywords worth $6.3 million a month if you had to buy them as ads. Who has over $6 million a month in their paid search budget to compete using advertising instead of content marketing?

Findlaw.com (https://www.findlaw.com) has 3.4 million keywords ranking that are worth $29 million a month!

Here are examples of various types of legal blogs on and off-site (in terms of being part of a firm’s main website or not).

Above the Law (https://abovethelaw.com/) ranks for 165,191 keywords worth $165,000 a month if paid for in Google ads.

China Law Blog (https://www.chinalawblog.com/) ranks for 15,303 keywords worth $6,300 a month if you had to buy those keywords as Google ads.

Hillary Bricken’s Canna Law Blog (cannalawblog.com) ranks for 21,422 keywords worth $6,600 a month.

And did you know that Fox Rothschild has over 30 topical blogs!

Mintz.com ranks for 45,863 keywords worth $68,900 a month in ads. Here is an example of an article on their main websites insight center that ranks for 880 keywords:

https://www.mintz.com/insights-center/viewpoints/2226/2017-06-intermittent-leave-under-fmla-basics. And, it drives 2.48% of the site’s traffic.

This one ranks for fewer keywords (780) but drives 18% of the website’s traffic:

www.mintz.com/insights-center/viewpoints/2226/2017-06-intermittent-leave-under-fmla-basics.

Below are some of the keywords that have an extremely high cost per click in Google ads where Mintz is ranking organically in the top 100 results. In order to rank better for these keywords, they need to keep adding content and/or start niche blogs on other domain names, if it’s in the budget.

 

Keyword CPC
frcp 20 195.79
white collar defense lawyer 191.15
samuels law group 171.73
health care medicare and medicaid 170.53
california state tax attorney 144.64
long term disability attorney nj 132.2
tax attorneys los angeles ca 109.42
finra suitability rule 104.17
cab boston treatment center 100.45
famous new york criminal lawyers 96.75
anthem data breach litigation 94.9
pro rata formula insurance 91.37
young jenkins attorney dallas 90.98
seattle tax lawyer 89.77
lee bankruptcy law firm dallas tx 89.57
best seattle divorce attorney 89.27
erisa attorney san diego 86.77
amex discovery card 82.79
ford greene attorney 78.98
attorney big al 74.2
long term disability attorney florida 74.17
sec whistleblower attorney 74.03
doj antitrust 73.76
tax attorney ct 73.72

Considering the high cost per click, whether you want your main website to rank or have the ultimate engagement with an off-site blog, the return on investment will be there if you stick it out long enough to rank in the top 10, where almost all of the clicks are.

A website called Blog Metrics has some interesting rankings of legal blogs that you might peruse for inspiration: https://www.blogmetrics.org/law.

So, in the end, where you put the blog depends on your goals. Whichever way you do it, the most important thing is the quality of the content.

What should you blog about?

When it comes to what you should blog about, you have a number of options. You might choose to blog about your law firm itself, the types of cases you’ve been working on, and the plans you have for the future. This can help attract new lawyers to your firm and also give your potential clients a good understanding of what you’re all about.

Second, you might decide to blog about legal topics to demonstrate your expertise. The benefit of doing this is that if your content performs well, there’s a good chance you’ll show up when people have topical questions.

If you’re blogging to generate interest from potential clients, then the most crucial thing you need to think about is what type of questions your prospects need answered, what searches they might conduct, and what keeps them up at night.

For example, a potential client might ask “How much does a divorce attorney cost?” or “What should I wear to court?” These are search queries that people who need a lawyer might make, but if your site is just optimized for the search term “law firm + your city,” you’ll never show up in these search results.

The key with these sorts of searches is for your audience to take the following path:

> They search for an answer to a question they have.

>> They come across a blog post on your website that helps them answer their question.

>>> They value your firm as a useful source of information.

>>>> They bookmark your site for when they’re ready to work with an attorney.

Here is a list of blog topic ideas from Tim Baran of Rocket Matter to keep you thinking.

  1. Current court decisions
  2. Legal technology
  3. Practice area news, information, and resources
  4. Legal marketing
  5. Process and productivity
  6. Legal writing and research tips
  7. The business of law
  8. Current trends and issues
  9. Attorney wellness
  10. Topical newsletters
  11. Curation of content from other sources

Who should write your blogs?

When it comes to actually writing your blog posts, you have a number of options. You can write them all in-house, you can outsource the writing, or you can opt for a combination of the first two. Here are some of the benefits (and considerations) of each tactic.

In-house

If you decide to write your blog content in-house, you have a unique advantage as you already have a wealth of knowledge. You practice law every day, so putting accurate content on the page should come easily to you. However, you are probably very busy. As such, do you really have time to write blog posts? Beyond that, while you possess industry knowledge and legal expertise, do you understand how to write in a way that informs, delights, and entertains your readers? If you don’t have this capability, you’ll struggle to retain your readers.

Outsource

Another option is to outsource the blog writing and blog management work to someone outside your firm. This can be a great way to build your blog content, especially if you have the budget to hire a good writer. Be sure to do your due diligence and check that the writer in question either has a background in law or enough experience writing in the legal space to create the type of content you want.

The worst thing you could do would be to hire a writer who produces factually incorrect content that actually harms your SEO efforts and your law firm’s reputation.

Mixture

The third option and the one chosen by many companies is to use a mixture of in-house and outsourced content. In many cases, the split is that the lawyer chooses the topics and themes of the content (and sometimes provides rough drafts or bullet points), and the hired writer does the actual writing. If the lawyer chooses the topics, be sure they have been well researched by your SEO and competitive analysis team.

This is a good solution, as it means you get to impart your wisdom via a blog, but you can focus on your important legal work while your writer produces the content.

Another way to create blog content is to offer videos and podcasts that also include the transcripts of what was said. Potentially more importantly, this content can then be repurposed by your writer(s) into in-depth articles and blog posts.

Here are the basics of lawyer blogging and legal SEO best practices:

  1. Tie your blog topic ideas into your business goals.
  2. Create a list of content styles that you will use, such as how to, trends, or evergreen content. HubSpot has mastered this and has a great deal of variety on their blog because they present content in many styles.
  3. Make sure you know who you are targeting by developing personas.
  4. Do keyword research and select a primary key phrase to put in the title tag. Also document LSI or related keywords for the writers to sprinkle in.
  5. In your keyword research, specify what stage of the buyer’s journey each keyword relates to, such as awareness, consideration, and decision.
  6. Add the keyword phrase and a unique selling position for the post into the meta-description to increase the click-through rate.
  7. Use the keyword phrase in the headline of the post, but most importantly make it engaging. Write 10 to 15 headlines and pick the best one.
  8. Use H1 tags for headlines.
  9. Repeat the main keyword phrase early in the blog post, ideally in the first sentence.
  10. Put other related keywords in H2 tags but do not repeat the main keyword phrase in these.
  11. Start your blog posts in an engaging way, with a story and a summary of what readers will learn. Empathy is the key.
  12. Consider using the inverted pyramid format, where you include the key information at the beginning of the post.
  13. Make sure your content is the appropriate length for the topic. Keep in mind that 1600 to 2000+ words is a good target length, instead of the basic 500- to 1000-word posts.
  14. Make your blog post scan- and skim-friendly by using short sentences, paragraphs of two to five sentences, and bulleted and numbered lists.
  15. Link out to other influential websites to show Google that you’re connected to other experts.
  16. Send an email to the experts you quoted, letting them know they are included in your blog post.
  17. Link to other pages on your site.
  18. If you use WordPress, select a primary keyword phrase in the Yoast SEO plugin.
  19. Use Alt tags to describe images.
  20. When you publish a post, do not publish using “admin” as the author. Instead, use a specific attorney’s name (even if the post was ghostwritten).
  21. Identify the author of the post using schema markup, which can be done with a WordPress plugin.
  22. Encourage people to share and link to your content using social media “share” buttons.
  23. After every blog post goes live, share it on social media and boost it with paid social advertising.
  24. Send emails to your list and to influencers that like this type of content.
  25. Add a call to action at the end, in the middle and/or in the right-hand column, directing visitors to a page where they can download an e-book or white paper, which helps you get more subscribers and leads.
  26. Use marketing automation to drip emails to those who signed up to have your firm send them more related blog posts, downloads, case studies, and requests to chat.
  27. Use MeetEdgar.com or Hootsuite to reshare your posts so you share them more than once.

Takeaways

You might have questions about who should produce your content and what content you should write about. This section has offered you some food for thought about the best approach to take.

However, if you’re questioning whether or not a blog strategy is right for your firm, the answer is always YES if you want your law firm’s search engine optimization to work and be positioned as an authority.

Start blogging today and over time you can cut back on paid ads.

Now, suppose that your website and blog are great, but your traffic levels are low. Here’s how to add some “Miracle Gro” to your web presence – use guest blogging to get in front of larger audiences.

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