Lawyers are busy people. Between meeting with clients, appearing in court, handling paperwork, and plenty of other day-to-day responsibilities, finding the time to sit down and write a fresh piece of content just isn’t really at the top of the priority list for most. On top of that, most attorneys really don’t see the point. After all, your website already states your purpose pretty clearly, and you probably already have a page for each major practice area, so what can a blog post do better?
And who is even going to visit your website and click on the blog section? Do your potential clients even care what you have to say? As it turns out, blog posts are much more valuable than you might think. Here, I’ll discuss the advantages of blogging for lawyers, as well as some basic best practices.
Blog Posts Support Your Core Content
Those nice practice area pages you have do come with limitations. Although those pages should be descriptive, they should also be concise. Readers will lose focus and likely leave the site if a practice area page begins to veer off on a tangent. Instead of including detailed discussions about specific issues on the practice area page, you can create a blog post instead.
For example, a bankruptcy lawyer who handles both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy may have a page for each, but a blog post would be the perfect place to describe to a client which one is the best choice for their particular situation.
From an SEO perspective, there are great advantages to publishing this type of support content. Every blog post that supports a practice area page should include a link to that practice area page, and even other related blog posts if they are relevant. Over time, you will create a network of content that is related and connected via a series of links.
As Google crawls your site, it will pick up on these networks, and will reward you for having such a complete repository of information. This makes sense, because having all of the information readily available on your site is a good user experience, which is really what Google’s algorithms are attempting to deliver.
Because you are linking to the main practice area page from each related blog post, it will be clear to Google that this is the most important page in the network, and it will have the best chance of ranking. Furthermore, any time a link from another site–called a “backlink”–goes to one of the blog posts in the network, authority is passed from that site to yours.
Part of this process happens on a page-by-page basis, meaning that the blog post being linked to will get the biggest authority boost. Having a link to the practice area page from that blog post will ensure that some of that authority is passed along to the practice area page, helping it to continue improving in the rankings.
People Do Read Your Posts
Okay, I’ll be honest here—people don’t necessarily land on your homepage and go “Oh yay, there’s a law blog! I have to visit that!” But that doesn’t mean that people won’t ever see your blog posts. The key is to write posts that answer very specific questions, like “Why Do Lawyers Blog?” (See what I did there?)
In an attorney’s case, you might write a post entitled “How Do I Get Divorced Without Going to Court in Connecticut?” Chances are, someone will actually ask that specific question or some close variation in Google or another search engine, so by writing that post, you’re creating an opportunity for your site to rank for that question. These very specific queries—called “long-tail queries”—have much less competition than head-term queries like “divorce attorney,” so you’ll have a much better chance of ranking more quickly for that term.
More importantly, these posts tend to capture a type of client who does research before deciding who to hire. While a person may not read a post and then call you immediately, it may serve as a first touchpoint for someone who is not yet decided. If your post makes a strong enough impression, they may go back to your site hours or days later to call you or fill out a contact form.
The important thing to remember here is to be empathetic toward your potential clients’ needs. Understanding the type of questions that people might ask is an important first step in deciding what to write.
Google Loves Freshness
Age is a peculiar thing in websites. While a well-seasoned domain holds more authority than the new kid on the block, Google likes to give a big thumbs-up to shiny new content. There are obvious reasons for this. Adding more content adds to the network I mentioned above, and it updates users on the latest information.
Commenting on Industry News Can Keep You Relevant
Times change, and as they do, laws are amended, precedents set, and new information introduced. Keeping people updated on topics relevant to your industry shows Google that you’re on top of the newest information, which means that your site is the most qualified for displaying that information to searchers. This really follows the same principles as freshness.
But there is one pitfall that many lawyers fall into on this front. It is common for lawyers to churn out a legal spin on political or social commentary regularly, allowing them to constantly push new content. While an occasional post on this subject can be warranted (as long as it really does fit into your practice’s area of expertise), these usually lack substance or uniqueness.
Since news outlets frequently cover the same topics, sometimes even including legal information, a local law firm website has little chance of actually ranking with this content, and with only loose relation to the rest of the content on your website, it really only fits at the fringe of the networks we previously discussed.
If you do feel that you would like to use these topics to your advantage, it would be advisable to submit that content to a larger publication, including a meaningful backlink to a relevant page on your own site. This will be much more effective in boosting your rankings and getting your voice out.
Telling People What is Happening in Your Office Has Some Hidden Benefits
Perhaps the most infamous type of horrible blog post is the ever-present “me, me, me” post. These are the posts that small business owners begin to churn out several times a week because some well-meaning web developer with a few thoughts on SEO said, “You should really start blogging on your website. I’ve heard it can really help your SEO.”
Usually, they comprise of posts like “Look at How Much Fun Our Office Party Was!” and “This Week Only: 25% Off a Consultation!” Occasionally, there will even be an outward-focused post that isn’t quite as bad, but is still mostly useless, such as “Wishing You a Happy Memorial Day From Our Team!”
The good news is that attorneys don’t commit these offenses as often as the shoe store next door. At the end of the day, these posts aren’t really hurting anyone, but they aren’t helping either. Nobody will be searching for that information, and as I’ve already admitted, few people are likely to get too excited to visit your blog just because they want to see what you’ve written.
However, not every single post has to be about legal services. In fact, there are some great ways to use certain types of non-legal blog posts to your advantage. For example, hiring a new attorney or making someone a partner in the firm is a good reason to create a press release, which is essentially a blog post hosted externally for reporters. All you have to do is create a bio page for the new attorney on the site, write up a few paragraphs about his or her experience and why they came to the firm, and then use that information in a press release with a link back to the bio. You may or may not choose to make a blog post on your own site about it, but either way, it is useful.
Another great solution is to write a blog post each month about community service. Some law firms like to include this in the main blog, while others will have a separate community blog to fulfill those needs. These also warrant a press release, but are even better candidates for direct outreach to the press. You can also contact any organization that you worked with on the project and ask them to do a write up on their site with a link back to yours.
Should You Hire a Ghost Writer or Write Them Yourself?
Like I said before, attorneys are very busy people. Having your content written by a professional would take an enormous weight off your shoulders, and doing that comes with certain advantages, including more scheduled posting and lengthier posts. If the writer has SEO knowledge, they will be able to strategically plan posts and optimize them.
On the other hand, ghost writers simply don’t have the ability to address a given legal topic with the same authority that the actual attorney does. They won’t have the background knowledge necessary to give opinions, and they are not as well-versed on current legal issues. Ultimately, content created by ghost writers is usually flat.
If you’re going to utilize ghost writers, my suggestion would be to work closely with them in strategizing. If a new piece of industry information becomes available, let your writer know, and ask them to write something about it. You should also make sure that you do occasionally write a post on your own, and when you do, write about specific or opinionated information that a writer wouldn’t be able to give.
Most importantly, if you’re working with an SEO company, run everything by them before publication, and ask them to optimize it accordingly. This may include some formatting changes, and minimal rewording, but can almost always be easily done without fear of losing the integrity of the content.
Ready to start blogging? Check out our guide: How to Start a Law Firm Blog.