Content marketing can be a wildly effective way for law firms to generate leads from the web.
That being said, a hastily written and non-optimized 500-word blog post won’t cut it anymore.
There are an estimated 4 million blog posts published per day and 30 trillion pages indexed on Google, and only the best pieces of law firm website content rank in spots one, two, and three.
So how do you create the best legal content on the web and succeed in law firm content marketing?
Here, we give all our secrets away on how we get our clients ranking on Google with legal website content.
We follow the following process:
- Audience analysis,
- Content strategy,
- Content planning,
- Content production,
- Content publishing,
- Content analytics, and
- Content development.
Step 1: Audience Analysis
The importance of audience analysis cannot be overstated.
If your tone or vocabulary doesn’t match your audience’s, your content is doomed to fail. Although you may have a chance of ranking on Google or attracting your audience on other channels, the content won’t generate leads.
Here, we’ll outline a few ways to do audience research.
Head to Yelp, Google, Avvo, and other sources and read clients’ reviews of you and your competitors.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are their pain points? What sorts of things do they mention that make them upset? What problems do they experience regarding their legal troubles?
- How do they write? Is their language formal or informal? Is their vocabulary advanced or more basic?
- What sorts of things are important to them? Do they mention a firm’s expertise? Customer experience?
After making observations, align your notes with your firm’s content. Do they match?
A lot of people seek their peers’ opinions before involving a lawyer.
Often, they will visit forums like https://www.legaljunkies.com/ or Quora.
What sorts of questions are they asking? What’s their tone?
Talk to your clients
There is no replacement for speaking directly with your clients.
Send a brief survey and consider sending a reward for completion, like an Amazon gift card.
Better yet, schedule an interview and ask questions like:
- “Tell me about your experience during the legal process.”
- “How has your experience been with our firm? Please tell me about the good and the bad.”
During interviews, ask open-ended questions (not yes or no questions) and talk as little as possible. Try not to fill in sentences or interrupt your clients.
If your client isn’t being particularly responsive, briefly summarize their statements. That way, they can elaborate or correct you if your analysis is off.
Step 2: Branding
Being memorable on the web is crucial.
It’s estimated that we take in over 100 images per day on the internet, so it’s crucial to make an impression. Without a robust brand, clients won’t remember you.
Branding doesn’t have to be too complicated. At a minimum, you should address your graphic identity (logo and color scheme) and unique value propositions.
Your graphic identity
Your law firm should solidify its logo, color scheme, and typography.
Your website should be a clear showcase of your brand. If it’s not, consider designing a new legal website.
Since clients will primarily take in your law firm web content on your website, your website needs to be on-brand. Additionally, it should be fast and function flawlessly. If users have a bad user experience on your website, they’ll leave with a negative impression.
Your unique value propositions
Unique value propositions are attributes of your firm that differentiate you from your competitors.
Are your attorneys specialized? Have you received prestigious rewards? Do you take a unique approach to your cases? Do you pride yourself on customer service?
Weaving unique value propositions into your content will distinguish you from your competitors and increase conversions.
Step 3: Content Strategy
This is one of the most important steps in law firm content marketing.
Without a strategy, you risk wasting time and resources and losing clients to your competitors.
At Juris Digital, the majority of our content strategies rely on keyword research.
What are keywords?
Keywords are words or phrases that people use to search for content on Google.
Keywords are fantastic for a lot of reasons, like:
- You know that potential clients are actually searching for these exact terms, and
- There is plenty of reliable data–there is no guesswork when it comes to keywords.
Take a look at the data below.
With confidence, we know that the keyword “statute of limitations texas” is searched ~3,400 times per month and is relatively easy to rank for.
Every month, we create content based on the keywords we find for our clients through keyword research.
How to do keyword research
Both of these websites have easy-to-use, built-in features that make finding keywords relatively simple.
However, when doing keyword research, it’s best to get creative to save money and outsmart your competition.
We’ll go over two advanced topics here.
Advanced topic #1: Looking in the SERPs
When doing keyword research, go straight to the source: the search engine results page (or the SERP).
Search a topic that you want to write about and then check out some of the SERP features.
There are almost always FAQs.
At the bottom of the page, Google also displays related searches.
Both of these are goldmines for keyword research.
Advanced topic #2: Analyze your competition
Check which keywords your competitors are ranking for.
To check, copy and paste their domain into an SEO tool.
Create content around those keywords (but make yours better so you can outrank them).
How to do keyword research for free
If you’re on a budget, you can use sites like Answer the Public and Also Asked.
Both of these tools provide many keyword ideas.
When starting out with your law firm web content, we highly recommend experimenting with these free tools.
Step 4: Planning Lawyer Website Content
You understand your audience. You know your unique value propositions. You have a content strategy in place.
Now is the time to plan the content you will create.
The main question to ask yourself when planning content is how can I make my content better than everyone else’s?
If you can confidently say that yes, your content is:
- More informative,
- Written better,
- Loaded with resources, and
- Built for the user,
You can, in most cases, outrank your competitors.
Keep in mind that “keyword difficulty,” a metric gauging how easy it is to rank for a keyword, plays a significant factor in this equation.
For example, ranking for a highly competitive keyword like “houston personal injury lawyer” requires intense SEO work along with exceptional content. However, for more informational posts like “how to start an llc in colorado,” you may be in luck.
The content brief
When planning our law firm website content, we follow the guidelines of a content brief. A content brief is the information that you provide to a writer so they can successfully complete a piece.
Let’s go over the basics of a content brief.
Luckily, at this point, you’ve already done the bulk of the work. All you have to do here is list the keywords for the piece (these also function as a topic, and in most cases, a title).
Explain the motivation users have when searching this keyword.
Are they looking to hire someone right away? Are they looking for a quick answer? Are they looking to thoroughly inform themselves on a topic? Explain that to the writer.
When deciding on the length of your piece, make an informed decision. Don’t choose an arbitrary number; that could significantly impact the quality of the content.
We recommend entering your target keyword into Google and analyzing the first few results. Match the top results keyword count and add 100-300 words (or 2,000, if the topic demands more information). Content doesn’t always need to be lengthy. It all depends on what the user is looking for.
That being said, lengthier content tends to perform better.
Listing sections helps your writers meet your expectations. Additionally, they help you satisfy the search query in its entirety.
For example, for a piece on TBI settlement amounts, you could list the following sections:
- Is there an average TBI settlement?
- What factors affect the value of a TBI settlement?
- Why should you hire a lawyer to help with your TBI settlement?
When deciding on subtopics, remember your audience research. What questions do your clients have about the topic?
If you’re stuck, Answer the Public and Also Asked are excellent resources for identifying subtopics.
Which of your competitors’ pieces are excellent examples?
If you’re able to, list aspects of the content that you like so the writer can incorporate those elements into the new piece.
If there aren’t any good examples, tell the writer. Let them know that this piece will become the go-to resource for the keyword.
Write a quick paragraph about your firm. Include your unique value propositions, grammatical preferences, and domain name. You’d be surprised how much this increases quality and personalization.
Step 5: Producing Content
You can plan all you want, but if the quality of your content is below average, it won’t rank or convert.
We train our writers extensively on writing for the web and writing for search engines. Additionally, we always implement SEO writing best practices to give our content a head start.
We’ll break down writing for the web, writing for users, and writing for search engines.
Writing for the web
Legal writing is difficult to read. That’s why it’s important to “translate” your content out of legalese and into something legible, scannable, and memorable.
It’s no secret that people don’t read thoroughly on the web. We live in a busy society, and people go to Google looking for an answer to an often specific query. As content producers, it’s our job to create content that suits their reading habits.
You can write for the web by following these guidelines:
- Avoid passive voice at all costs;
- Use plenty of subheadings (no more than 300 words between headings);
- Keep your sentences short (in most cases, no more than 20 words per sentence);
- Make sure that your paragraphs are short (no more than 4-5 sentences); and
- Choose vocabulary that isn’t advanced.
If you follow these guidelines, your content should pass readability scores. To test your readability, we recommend using the Yoast Real Time Content Analysis tool.
Writing for users
Writing for the web and writing for users overlap considerably.
However, while tools can quantitatively assess readability, you can’t numerically assess readers’ experience while reading your content.
Put simply, writing for the user experience (UX) comes down to empathy.
Step into potential clients’ shoes. How do they want you to speak to them? What knowledge do they want to gain? What can you say about your firm that would convince them to hire you?
Your audience research is hugely helpful when writing for UX.
Additionally, answer people’s questions right away. Don’t make readers wade through content to get to the answer they are seeking. For example, when writing about the statute of limitations, answer that question first. After you have answered that query, then explain the complexities behind the statute of limitations in your state.
Writing for search engines
There are a few tactics that you can use to optimize the crawlability of your content (and increase the likeliness of ranking):
- Generously insert keywords into your content, but don’t keyword stuff (that could harm your rankings);
- Place keywords into headings;
- Link to key pages using keyword-rich anchor text (for example, link to your homepage with the anchor text “personal injury lawyer”);
- Keep answers close to headings (helps you gain featured snippets); and
- Answer questions succinctly (also helps you gain featured snippets).
We use these tactics for every piece of content we write, and frankly, it works.
Step 6: Content Publishing
Now that your perfectly planned, optimized, and written content is created, it’s time to publish.
Follow these simple guidelines when publishing to help you rank:
- Format your headings as H1s, H2s, H3s, etc. (don’t simply make the text bigger);
- Add plenty of images;
- Name the files using keywords;
- Use keywords when adding alt texts to images; and
- Insert keywords into your title tags and meta descriptions (Yoast SEO has a great plugin to accomplish this).
These simple tactics are powerful. Implementing them every time you publish can catapult you to SERP spots 1, 2, and 3.
Step 7: Content Analytics
You’ve put in all of this work. But how do you know that it was even worth it?
Luckily, there are many tools that help you assess the success of your efforts.
Primarily, we recommend Google Analytics (which is also free!).
Here’s how to do it.
How to use Google Analytics to assess your content
First, set up your Google Analytics.
All you need to do is to insert your tracking code into the head tag of your website (on all pages). You can find your tracking code under Admin → Property → Tracking Info. It should begin with the letters “UA.” You’ll see something like the screenshot below.
If you set it up recently, it may take a while to get accurate data.
Second, on the home screen, go to Acquisition → All Traffic → Channels → Organic (or Social, depending on your distribution channel). Switch the Primary Dimension to Landing Page. Set a date range (we recommend comparing time periods, for example, comparing this quarter to last quarter).
From there, you can see which of your pages is performing best, how they’ve improved over time, how they convert (if you are tracking goals), how often people arrive on your page and leave immediately, where users go after viewing that piece, and more.
Keep an eye out for both successes and problems. If a piece is performing poorly, it’s time to reassess the content or examine it for technical problems.
Other ways to analyze your content
Tactic 1: Ahrefs.com
At Juris Digital, we use Ahrefs.com primarily.
After entering your domain into Site Explorer, check out the Top Pages tab.
There, you can see which pages are performing best, what keywords a page is ranking for, what position it’s ranking in, and the percentage of your traffic that goes to that page.
Tactic 2: Tracking code
You can also track what page a user visited when contacting you. Implement this by adding it as a field to your contact forms.
Step 8: Content Development
Unfortunately, content isn’t a fix-it-and-forget-about-it situation. All of your content is living and breathing; you have to develop it to maintain your rankings.
When to add to your content
In our opinion, always.
If a piece is performing well and you want to give it a boost, add a couple hundred (or thousand) words or custom graphics, like a fact sheet or infographic.
If you had higher hopes for a piece of content and it’s not performing well, add more content.
If a piece that was performing well before is now slipping, add more content.
What content to add
Adding words is a fail-safe tactic when developing content. However, don’t just add words for the sake of it. If you don’t have something to say, adding words will dilute the value of the content.
Do some research on your competitors, head over to AlsoAsked.com, find more keyword opportunities, or ask your clients for additional topics you can address. Keep in mind that you can also address existing topics more deeply.
You should also consider adding media, like custom graphics or videos.
When you add images, you can add more keywords. When you add videos, your videos can rank in the SERP. Users also prefer video content to written content.
One additional bonus to videos: videos also have the potential of performing well on YouTube, so don’t forget to tap into this opportunity.
Other ways to develop content
If done well, link building can shoot your content to the top of the SERP.
We won’t cover link building here (that’s a book in itself), but you can check out some of our link building tactics for lawyers here.
Start Developing Your Law Firm Website Content Today!
Are you ready to rank?
At Juris Digital, we have a combined 30+ years in content marketing for lawyers.
If you’re ready to take your law firm web content to the next level, check out our content marketing services page or contact us for a complimentary quote.