How to Start a Legal Blog
Register Your Domain Name
A basic and essential first step for any law firm blog is to register a domain name for your legal blog. Before you do so, it’s important to understand why you need a domain name. A domain name is the unique address for your law firm’s blog. It’s the web address that any user will enter into the browser bar to search for your legal blog, and it’s the web address that will show up in that browser address bar when someone clicks on the homepage for your blog. For example, a domain name might be something like: MyLawBlog.com. You might be asking yourself: isn’t this my website? It’s important to know that there’s a difference between a domain name and a website. The domain name is the internet address for your website, while your website is the content that people can read (i.e., your blogs).
Next, you’ll need to consider whether you want a separate domain name for your blog or whether you will want a subdomain within your law firm’s website. A separate domain name would be something like the example above: MyLawBlog.com. A subdomain or subfolder within your law firm’s website is a bit different. If your law firm already has the domain name SmithLawFirm.com, then a subdomain for your blog would be something like blog.SmithLawFirm.com, while a subfolder would have an address such as SmithLawFirm.com/blog.
There are benefits and limitations to both approaches. Both can have backlinks to your other blog posts and can link to your law firm’s content. In some cases, a subdomain or subfolder can be better for search engine optimization (SEO), but the American Bar Association (ABA) and local ethics rules for marketing or advertising may place additional limits on blogs as subdomains or subfolders as opposed to stand-alone domains.
Set Up Web Hosting for Your Law Firm’s Blog
After you’ve registered your domain name, you will need to set up web hosting for your legal blog. If you already have a website for your law firm, you may know a little bit about a web host, or a web hosting service provider. In brief, a web hosting service provider is a business that houses your website and allows it to be viewable to readers on the internet. A web hosting service provider gives your website a “home” of sorts on the internet. Without a web hosting service, it can be difficult for potential clients to search for your website or to locate any of the blogs you will be posting. Accordingly, without a web hosting service, your blog may not reach its intended audience.
In sum, a web hosting service provides the technology that allows the content you are creating to find the readers you are imagining for your blog posts. There are a wide variety of web hosting service providers from which you can choose. There are some web hosting services that require you to have purchased a domain name in advance, while others allow you to buy a domain name from the web hosting service. Like we discussed above, you’ll want to think carefully about whether a separate domain name is best for your law blog, as opposed to a subdomain or subfolder connected to your law firm’s website. For many firms, making the decision to start a blog can be a catalyst for overhauling your law firm’s website and working with a better web hosting service provider.
Know the ABA, CBA, and Local Rules for Blogging Ethics
Now, we want to move beyond some of the technical matter for creating a law blog to developing content. The American Bar Association (ABA), the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), and other national organizations for lawyers have ethics rules and requirements when it comes to advertising or marketing, and many of these ethics rules apply to law blogs. In addition, the state or province in which you are licensed to practice law likely has its own set of ethics rules pertaining to marketing and advertising.
You do not want to run afoul of the ethics rules that limit what you can put in a law blog. Most of these rules relate to promises you might make to potential clients about outcomes, revealing information about past cases without obtaining consent, or advertising expertise in an area of the law without requisite certification.
Develop a Roadmap for Your Posts
Certainly, you can simply begin writing a legal blog with content for your firm once you have the technical aspects in place, from registering a domain name to setting up web hosting for the blog. Yet the best law firm blogs—as with any business blog—are those that begin with a clear framework in mind. When you prepare for a negotiation or get ready for a trial, you know how important it is to have an overarching narrative in mind with key points you want to get across to your audience. The same is true for your law firm’s blog. As such, you’ll want to think through a roadmap for the content you want to create before you actually develop it. As you put together a roadmap, you should also keep in mind that nothing on a blog is set in stone. Unlike print publications, you can make revisions to improve the content along the way.
- Know why you are starting a blog for your firm: When you are in the early stages of starting a law blog and are beginning to think about the type of content you want to create, you should keep the “why” in mind—why are you blogging? Your blog topics should speak to that “why” in distinct ways, and you should think about different types of blogs that can help you to reach your goals. For example, some blogs may be “evergreen” posts that are not time-specific or newsworthy, but rather answer potential client questions that your readers may continue to have for many months and years to come. On the flip side, you may consider blogging about newsworthy legal issues that could draw clients interested in joining a new class action claim, for example, to your firm.
- Consider your reader: Always keep your reader in mind. If you are blogging for potential clients, you want to think about the persona of that client and what type of information that potential client is seeking. You can also take advantage of certain “readability” tools, for example, provided by your web hosting service to ensure that your content is suited for your reader.
- Think about your voice and tone: As you consider your reader, make sure your voice and tone have that potential client in mind. Most likely, a potential client without any background in the law does not want to read legalese. Rather, most potential clients will want to know that you have the requisite knowledge to assist them while also being able to explain legal issues and answers to legal inquiries in a straightforward fashion.
Creating a Blog Calendar
You should create a blog posting calendar in which you think about the specific content of your upcoming blogs, and in which you schedule them to post. As we mentioned above, you’ll want to have a roadmap that helps you to target your ideal reader. In so doing, you will want to plan out a series of blog posts that provide answers to questions your reader may have, inform your reader of specific legal issues they may be seeking out, and ultimately clarify why your firm is in an excellent position to assist them.
As you develop the roadmap for your blog posts, you should integrate your posting calendar. As with any good piece of legal writing, you’ll want to think about the order of the blog posts and the way in which they related to one another. Do not schedule your blogs to post all at once, but instead consider a calendar in which 2-3 blogs post each week.
Write and Publish the First Blog Post
The final step in starting a blog for your law firm is simply writing and publishing your first post. If you do not see immediate results from your law blogs, you should not necessarily worry. Blogging is a long-term investment, and it can take months (and sometimes years) before your content begins to generate the type of interest you want, and in the end the investment in time and energy will be worth it. Many marketing firms offer services to law firms seeking to expand their internet presence and can discuss your options with you for getting your law blog started.
Find more tips and tricks in our full blog on Starting a Legal Blog.
How Many Legal Blogs is Enough?
When you start a blog for your law firm (or for any business, for that matter), you are probably wondering about the “right” number of blogs to post each week or every month. Generally speaking, the number of blogs that you need to serve your firm’s needs will depend in part on what you are hoping to accomplish with your blog. For any blog goals, you’ll need to plan to post regularly so that readers will see fresh content. Yet you’ll also need to consider a variety of other issues when you’re developing a blogging calendar.
Although there is no hard and fast answer to inquiries about “how many blogs is enough,” there are considerations that you should take into account as you plan the content that will appear on your blogs. As for the content itself, we've got some ideas in our Law Firm Content Blog
Keeping Your Legal Content Fresh
You’ll need to have posts that are sufficiently regular to show readers that you’re developing new and fresh content. Even if you can’t stick to a schedule in which you produce several blogs per week, or a dozen or more posts per month, you’ll want to—at the very least—post on a regular basis so that you do not have a blog with months-old material. If you are advertising your firm online and a potential client clicks on your website to learn more, having an up-to-date blog can only help. You can imagine that a client who clicks on your blog could be dismayed if you haven’t posted in months or, as is sometimes the case, years. Show your readers, and potential clients, that you’re current in the field and that you’re engaged in conversations about current legal issues.
So, in sum, when you’re trying to decide how many blogs to post each week or each month, it’s ultimately most important to ensure that you’re posting something on a regular basis. Once you’re committed to regular posting, then you can start thinking about the optimum number of blog posts per week or per month.
Increasing Organic Traffic and Generating Leads through Frequent Posting
As we mentioned above, the frequency of your blog posting really does matter. The more blog posts you have on a frequent basis, the better your chances of increasing organic traffic to your firm’s site and generating more leads. Even if you your firm does not currently have the capacity to create more than a dozen posts per month, it’s the frequency of blogging that will, in part, play a significant role in the amount of traffic your blog receives. The more organic traffic to your site, the more leads you may get. If you are blogging with potential clients as a target audience, blogging frequently
Should I Plan a Weekly or Monthly Number of Posts?
As you’re considering what the ideal number of blogs posts should be, you might be wondering whether you should measure on a weekly or monthly basis. In general, posting on a weekly basis can be helpful for showing that you’re engaged in the field and that you’re keeping your content fresh. Having weekly posts does not necessarily mean that you’ll need to create a particular number of content pieces every week, however, If you develop a blogging calendar up front, you can create a backlog of posts that can allow you to schedule blogs to go live on certain days of the week.
Ultimately, most search engine optimization (SEO) work focuses on the total number of blog posts per month on your site. For example, Hubspot looks at the total amount of traffic that websites receive based on the total number of monthly posts. When it comes to the number of monthly posts, Hubspot reports that blogs publishing 16 or more posts per month tend to get about 3.5 times as much traffic as blogs that only post about 4 blogs per month. If you think about those numbers in a weekly format, the data says that you’ll need to post more than one blog per week if you want to drive traffic to your site and, optimally, that you’ll need to post four or more blogs per week to get the maximum amount of traffic.
Yet even if you can’t commit to four posts per week, Hubspot data suggests that more than one post per week is better than just one post per week. On the whole, blogs that have 10 or more posts per month see at least three times the amount of traffic as blogs that only have one or two posts per month. To put all of this information another way, you should be thinking about the total number of monthly posts (and aiming for 12-16 per month if possible), but you should also be designing your blogging calendar so that material posts on a weekly or at least regular basis. This is the key takeaway here: a higher blogging frequency is more beneficial to your firm when it comes to driving traffic to your site and generating more leads.
Creating More Indexed Pages for Search Engines
Why do you want to create 12-16 posts per month? You might be thinking that this seems like a lot of writing for a blog. In short, the more indexed pages you have, the better the chances that your blog will appear on first-page Google searches or will even show up first in a Google search when a client seeks information related to your firm. To give you a better sense of the importance of indexed pages, businesses that more than 400 blogs posts have almost double the internet traffic of blogs with fewer indexed pages. While you page not be able to reach this point immediately, you should consider ways of creating more indexed pages in the coming year or two.
Speaking of planning a year out or more for your blog, we want to emphasize that you shouldn’t expect your initial blog posts to drive all of the traffic to your page. It can take months, and sometimes even longer, for a blog to generate a high rate of traffic. While you might not be expecting it, a blog you posted last year, or even in the more distant past, might suddenly generate hundreds of thousands of hit. Blogging is a long game, and you should plan accordingly.
Working Toward a High Number of Indexed Pages
As we mentioned above, you should be aiming for a regular and frequent rate of posts that allow you to work toward a high number of indexed pages. It’s incredibly important to stick to a blogging schedule when you start your blog in order to build up the total number of indexed pages over time. Your firm can only benefit.
Making Decisions About Your Blog
When it comes to determining the right amount of content for your blog, you’ll want to consider a variety of issues. You’ll want to think about how much you can reasonably blog per week or per month, and whether it makes more sense to hire a marketing company to handle your firm’s regular blogging needs. For many businesses, including law firms, weekly or monthly blogging can become pretty time-intensive and may be difficult to keep up with when you are handling matters directly related to client and employee needs.
You’ll also want to think carefully about who you’re trying to reach with your blogs, and what you see as the purpose for your blog. If you’re hoping to increase organic traffic to your firm’s site and to generate more leads, you’ll likely need to plan several blogs per week, aiming for anywhere from 12-16 blogs per month, on a regular monthly basis. If you have questions about how you can make blogging work for your firm, you should consider speaking with a marketing firm about different options.
Different Types of Law Blogs
There are different formats for a law blog, depending on what you're trying to accomplish.
What is evergreen content? If you’re familiar with evergreen trees and other plans, you may know that they have their name because, appropriately, have foliage during all seasons and are always green—hence the name “evergreen.” Similarly, evergreen blogs or evergreen content is material that is always relevant, or always feels applicable to a reader who encounters it for the first time. Evergreen content doesn’t get “stale” in just a few weeks or a few months. Rather, this kind of content can be developed by writers and accessed by readers for years to come. Any legal blog should have at least some evergreen content if it wants to continue drawing readers to the site, and relying on older blog posts to continue driving that traffic. Blogging does not typically have an immediate payoff, but it certainly pays off over time. For example, you may post a blog in June 2020 that only gets a handful of clicks or “hits” in the weeks and months immediately after you post it, but within a year or two, it could be one of the most widely read blogs on your site that drives thousands of readers to your blog on a regular basis.
With that idea in mind, what does evergreen content look like for a legal blog? As you might imagine, evergreen content will be different depending upon the type of blog or website where it appears. Typically, evergreen content on a law blog will contain information that will still be relevant to readers a year from now (or even longer). Evergreen articles or blogs for a criminal law firm, for example, might include topics like “Understanding Misdemeanor and Felony Penalties,” or “Consequences of a Driver’s License Suspension.” For business law blogs, evergreen content might contain articles with topics like “How to Choose a Business Structure” or “Choosing Between a C-Corp and an S-Corp.” In theory, the information contained in these types of posts will not change, and it will remain applicable.
Newsworthy Topics and Trends in the Law
You might also want to include blogs about newsworthy topics to help readers locate your firm if they’re seeking information about a recent legal issue or change to the law. When you create blogs about newsworthy topics, you can also attract clients who may be searching for information about that news issue. For example, a lawyer who runs a personal injury law practice that focuses on nursing home neglect might want to plan blogs about recent allegations of elder abuse against facilities in the same geographic region. A resident of that facility, or a person with a relative in that nursing home, might run an internet search to find information about abuse allegations against that particular facility. If your law firm’s blog has a post about the allegations against that facility, your post might come up in a search, and you may be contacted by a potential client who wants to learn more about options for filing a lawsuit against that facility.
Newsworthy topics can also lean more toward trends in the law, such as recently published studies or decided cases, or new legislation in your area. For example, if you run a family law blog in your state and a new study on divorces appeared in a peer-reviewed psychology journal, you may want to craft a blog post discussing that article. Other family law attorneys, as well as potential and current clients, may be interested in learning about the study. Similarly, for example, if you are an employment lawyer, it can be beneficial to blog about new employment law statutes or cases in your state in order to show other attorneys and potential clients that you’re engaged in dialogue in your field. These kinds of blogs can demonstrate that you’re constantly engaging in relevant legal issues and are up-to-date on changes in the legal field.
When you’re blogging about newsworthy topics or trends in the law, it’s important to be quick. Unlike evergreen content, this material will not remain “fresh” for readers as the evergreen posts will. As such, you should be thinking about these types of blogs as timely posts that can help to draw traffic to your firm’s website while the topic itself remains newsworthy and relevant.
Firm Updates and News
Some legal blogs will also have posts that include updates about the firm, and news about lawyers working at the firm. These types of blogs can be helpful for attracting potential clients, as well as for attracting new lawyers to the practice. For example, a blog post about a firm update might alert readers that one of the partners was named to a community advisory board, or was selected as a “Super Lawyer” or “Rising Star” in the area where the lawyer practices.
These types of blogs can be particularly helpful for attracting potential clients who may have already done a bit of research into your firm. In addition, posts that provide information about firm updates and news can also appeal to other lawyers who are thinking about moving from a larger firm to a smaller or midsize firm like yours. Indeed, if you’re currently hiring new associates, or if you’re looking to expand your firm, brief articles that provide information about the firm and its successes may also help you to grow your business.
Buyer Personas for Law Firm Marketing
Writing Blogs with Clients in Minds
When you’re writing blogs with clients in mind, you are likely thinking about ways of attracting new clients and supporting interest from existing clients. For both potential and existing clients, you should be asking yourself: what kind of information are these readers seeking, and how will they find that information? In other words, what content do potential and existing clients want, and what keywords will they enter into an internet search to locate that content?
Not all potential and existing clients will be searching for the same type of information, of course. When it comes to attracting potential new clients, you should start thinking like that potential client who is seeking out legal representation. The type of content you produce will depend upon the type of legal field in which you practice, as well as the reasons that a potential new client will be seeking legal representation. For example, if you are a lawyer who routinely handles large-scale class action claims and are seeking new clients for a data breach class action claim, you can imagine that a potential new client might be seeking out: 1) information about lawsuits pertaining to that class action in the news; 2) general facts about how to file a class action lawsuit; 3) attorneys who are well reviewed by other lawyers and previous clients; and 4) contact details for attorneys in their specific area who are managing class actions.
So, what types of posts might attract those potential clients? You can imagine that some blogs about news stories pertaining to class action claims for data breaches might be of interest to a potential new client, especially if it can bring that client from knowledge-gathering about class action lawsuits in the news to your law firm’s website. At the same time, potential new clients might want general information about how and why to file a class action claim. As such, evergreen content on class actions might appeal to a reader. For instance, you might consider a couple of blog posts with information on “How to File a Class Action Lawsuit,” or “Who Qualifies for a Class Action Claim.” If you’re hoping to target readers in a particular geographic region, you should include geographic keywords in that evergreen content. Finally, blogs about firm updates or lawyer awards can help to show a potential client that your firm is engaged in the field and is well respected among lawyers in the community. Of course, any blog content should give potential clients a way to contact your firm.
Existing clients may be looking for similar information, yet they might be searching in a slightly different way. For example, an existing client might want to know that you are staying up-to-date on the legal topic. Newsworthy blog posts, as well as some of that evergreen content, may appeal to existing clients. Moreover, blogs that highlight firm achievements can also solidify an existing client’s knowledge that they’ve hired the right lawyer for their legal issue.
Writing Blogs with Other Lawyers in Mind
While you may be hoping to reach clients with your blog, you might also be thinking about the ways in which other lawyers may be engaging with your posts. In most cases, legal blogs written with other lawyers in mind are designed with a couple of potential purposes. First, blogs can allow lawyers to engage in dialogue with other practitioners on a particular issue, such as a new piece of legislation or a recent case ruling. While legal scholars might engage in this kind of conversation with one another through law review and other journal articles, practitioners may develop this kind of discourse through blog posts. Accordingly, if you’re writing a blog with the aim of attracting other lawyers for purposes of research and scholarly conversation, you might consider analytical articles that discuss recent changes to the law.
At the same time, you might be imagining a reader who is also an attorney considering a firm change. In other words, if you’re hoping to attract new talent to your law firm, you might demonstrate your expertise in a particular area of the law, or your frequent engagement in contemporary and relevant legal issues, by writing posts to show potential hires that your law firm can provide a fresh and exciting work environment. Lawyers at very large firms, in particular, might want to move to a smaller or midsize firm in order to handle significant cases and to develop stronger relationships with clients and colleagues. You can keep this type of reader in mind when drafting posts about legal trends and legal analysis.
Regional Specificities and Law Blogs
As you think about your target reader, you’ll also want to be thinking in terms of geographic interest. If you’re aiming to gain new local readership and you’re thinking of “local” as being state-specific, then you’ll want to craft your blogs to be state-specific, as well. For instance, if you want to target potential clients in California and California alone, posts about issues in Florida or New York are unlikely to attract attention from clients who are running searches focused on California. Similarly, you may routinely handle appeals for a particular region such as the area covered by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. If this is the case, you’ll want to target readers in the region as opposed to in a particular state.
If you’re a nationally recognized lawyer and you handle cases across state lines, you’ll likely want to think less about state-specific or regionally specific posts and more about the subject matter. For example, you might be a class action attorney who handles cases from across the U.S. In a scenario like this, the regional focus of your blog posts may be less important than the specific subject matter. At the same time, you may also want to consider multiple blog posts on the same topic that target readers in a variety of geographic regions. For instance, you might write several posts pertaining to the potential for a class action lawsuit over a data breach, and each of those blogs might be focused on readers in a specific state or geographic region. As such, you could end up with multiple articles about data breaches, but each focused on a particular city, state, or province.
Finally, you’ll want to have an idea of what type of searches your regionally specific reader might run. For example, many American internet users who are searching for legal representation will use the words “lawyer” and “attorney” interchangeably, while most Canadian readers will search for “lawyer” as opposed to looking for posts about an “attorney,” a “barrister,” or a “solicitor.” The key is to know your intended audience, and to target your intended audience accordingly.
You can dive deeper into defining your buyer personas with our Buyer Personas and Legal Blogs: Who is the Target Reader? blog.
What is Hyper Local Marketing for Your Law Firm?
If you have recently started a law blog for your firm, or you’re thinking about starting a legal blog, you may have come across the term “hyperlocal” when it comes to marketing. You may even have done a bit of internet searching into the term hyperlocal in order to identify a specific definition that can help you to frame the content you’re posting on your law blog. When it comes to hyperlocal marketing, it’s important to understand that this term doesn’t always mean the same exact thing in every situation. Instead, marketing firms and professionals involved in search engine optimization (SEO) are thinking about the ways in which certain keywords, phrases, language, or outbound links might be used to target readers in a particular geographic area.
Defining the ‘Hyperlocal’
There’s no single definition for the term “hyperlocal,” but there are some concrete ideas of what the term involves. As an article in the Small Business Chronicle explains, the term hyperlocal is often used as “a buzzword” to refer to geographically nice marketing. What that marketing involves can vary depending upon the needs of the blogger. Hyperlocal marketing may be “a marketing campaign targeted to a certain region . . . or to a more specific target audience, such as shoppers in a certain city or within a certain distance from a business.”
Similarly, an article from WordStream defines hyperlocal marketing as a “process of targeting prospective customers in a highly specific, geographically restricted area, sometimes just a few blocks or streets, often with the intention of targeting people conducting ‘near me’ searches on their mobile device.”
Marketing to Your Hyperlocal Clients
Before you begin any hyperlocal marketing campaign, you’ll need to decide what hyperlocal means for you: does it mean your state or province? Or are you using the term more narrowly to target readers in a specific city? And even beyond a particular city, are you imagining that you will have readers in a particular city who are interested in discovering information about a specific legal or business issue? You should always have your potential reader in mind, and using the framework of the “hyperlocal” can help you to identify the particular geographic regions and areas in which your reader may be conducting internet searches.
You firm’s definition of the hyperlocal may depend in large part on your particular type of legal practice, and whether you work with clients in a very specific geographic region, or whether you represent clients within much broader geographic boundaries. Once you define what the hyperlocal means for you, it’s important to begin thinking of the hyperlocal keywords and phrases your potential reader might enter into an internet search. You can then aim to include those hyperlocal keywords and phrases in your blog posts to gain a specific audience.
Regionally Specific Issues for Your Potential Clients
Depending upon your particular type of legal practice and your definition of the hyperlocal, it may be very important to focus on state-specific or regionally specific legal issues. For example, if you focus on personal injury law, you will need to provide your reader with information about personal injury law cases and methods in your state or province. Although an interesting personal injury case might arise in New York City, for instance, the outcome of that case might not have any bearing at all on a legal matter in Seattle. At the same time, based on the current makeup of federal circuit courts of appeal or higher courts in the U.S. and Canada, a regional approach also may be warranted.
For example, while a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case out of California might not seem immediately relevant to residents of a distant U.S. state, both Alaska and Hawaii are actually included in the Ninth Circuit districts. As such, any decision our of the Ninth Circuit, even if it’s a case that arose out of a California court, will be binding in Alaska and Hawaii.
Local Interests for Your Readers
Some law blogs may understand hyperlocal marketing to include references to local businesses, experiences, events, and other regionally particular words or phrases that would be knowable to a potential client or new member of the law firm. For example, if you have a law firm that does work in business formation and helping startups to determine the business structures that are best for their business plans, you might consider referencing local startups or businesses that would be familiar to your readers. For instance, if you are crafting a blog that targets new bars and restaurants in Toronto, ON, you could refer to existing and popular bars and restaurants in the area with which your readers may have familiarity.
For example, TimeOut Toronto remarks that “an influx of Middle Eastern and Latin American folks turn the best restaurants in Toronto into foodie destinations,” and then proceeds to list popular establishments like Byblos, Kiin, Patois, Carmen, Chiado, and a wide variety of other best-loved restaurants in the city. If your firm is targeting new restaurants and bars that want help deciding how to structure their businesses and how to develop employment agreements, it can be incredibly beneficial to demonstrate your familiarity with similar businesses in the geographic area where your potential new clients need legal assistance.
Who is Your Target Audience?
Depending upon your targeted audience, or the “buyer personas” you’re seeking to target with your blog posts, hyperlocal marketing could be extremely important to consider in some of your blog posts. The term “buyer personas” can be helpful to use in thinking about who you’re writing your blog posts for—is it a potential client, an existing client, a potential new associate or partner, or other law firms that you’re hoping will identify you as an expert in the field? As you consider your buyer personas, you’ll need to think about what keywords those readers will use in internet searches, and what types of titles will attract reader attention.
For most law firms, especially those that are seeking to attract new clients while also demonstrating their contributions to the legal field, hyperlocal marketing will be valuable in some but not all blog posts. For example, a criminal defense firm in Los Angeles, California might use approximately 50 percent of its blog posts to target potential clients, and thus may consider ways of making those posts “hyperlocal.” Such hyperlocal posts may consider news stories about police brutality in Southern California, or recent cases concerning criminal defense strategies or issues in the state.
At the same time, however, that firm might be working to expand its business, and thus may be hoping to attract new and diverse attorneys from other firms in California and, perhaps, other firms nationwide. Accordingly, some of the firm’s blog posts should focus on major criminal law issues in the field that can demonstrate the firm’s engagement in up-to-date, contemporary legal questions. For example, if the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure, the firm might want to consider a post that analyzes the recent case law and engages in dialogue with other legal scholars and practitioners. The use of hyperlocal content and marketing strategies really will depend upon who your firm identifies as its target readers, or its buyer personas, and how it wants to attract readers.
Read more about hyperlocal marketing our our blog: What is Hyperlocal Marketing for Your Law Firm?
Choosing the Right Keywords for Your Law Firm Blogs
When you're beginning the process of developing a blog for your law firm and creating a calendar with blog topics, you'll want to think carefully about the content that goes into each of those blog posts. When you begin crafting a list of blog topics, you’ll want to consider your “buyer personas,” or the target readers of your pages.
Depending upon the specific area of law in which you practice and, for some firms, the particular geographic area you are targeting, you’ll have a few different types of readers in mind. For example, you’re probably creating a blog in order to expand your business and to attract potential clients to your site. At the same time, you might also be thinking about other lawyers as target readers, both as potential new employees as your firm as well as leaders in the field with whom you can be in dialogue over specific legal issues. When you’re writing all of these new posts, what keywords should you use?
While the overarching strategy for your blog should be focused on your target readers, and developing a long-term blogging calendar and strategy, each of your individual posts will need to consider search engine optimization (SEO) and the keywords that can help your target readers—or your “buyer personas,” as it might be helpful to think of those target readers—to find your blog content when they’re searching on the internet. We’ll give you some information and tips for choosing the right keywords for your law firm blogs.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
If this is the first blog you’re creating, and you’re starting from scratch when it comes to learning the ins and outs of targeting internet readers, the first step in choosing keywords for your posts is to learn more about search engine optimization. The notion of SEO is one that has arisen in relationship with the rise of the internet more generally, and the increased use of online marketing for businesses across the globe. If you don’t yet know anything about SEO, we’re here to help.
When it comes to SEO best practices, the key thing to keep in mind is that you want to do everything you can to make your blogs friends to search engines like Google in order to get your ideal readers to find and click on your blog posts. So how do you accomplish that? The answer to the question isn’t a straightforward one. Given that the internet and new technologies change rapidly, what works one day for SEO may not be ideal in a few months. However, if you are willing to be flexible, understanding the basic aspects of SEO, and where keywords come into play, can allow you to develop useful blog posts that help to bring potential clients and other lawyers to your site.
Keywords are just one aspect of SEO, but they’re an incredibly important aspect. Where do keywords fit into SEO? Generally speaking, there are a number of elements of SEO, including but not limited to the following:
- Making your blog accessible to search engines (such as Google or Safari, for example);
- Creating content that provides readers with the information they’re seeking;
- Developing content to which other writers and sites link and cite;
- Increasing your click-through rate (CTR) with your blog title and description; and
- Choosing keywords that attract readers in internet searches as well as search engines.
In sum, SEO includes many different elements, and all of them are designed to get your blog seen and read. You’ll ultimately get your blog posts seen and read if search engines find and list your blogs, and if readers can obtain the information they want within the blog content you provide.
What Are Keywords?
Now that you know a little bit more about SEO in general, and you understand that keywords are one aspect of the SEO equation, it’s important to understand what we mean when we refers to keywords. In short, keywords are the words or phrases that a person enters into a search engine to find content. Keywords certainly are not limited to law firm blogs, or to blogs more generally. To be sure, keywords can include any words a person uses to seek information. For example, if you’re looking for information about a local restaurant serving Japanese food, you might use keywords that include your neighborhood and “Japanese food.” So, if you live in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles and you want Japanese food delivery, you might enter the words “Japanese food delivery Silverlake” into a search bar. Many searches like this also use qualifiers like “best Japanese food delivery Silverlake” or “popular Japanese food delivery Silverlake.”
Keywords might be much different when a person is doing a search for questions about a legal issue or legal representation, but the same ideas apply. For example, if that same person in Los Angeles is seeking information about divorce in his or her area, that person might use the keywords “divorce in Los Angeles.” Or if the searchers doesn’t want to go too far from home and wants to find a top-notch family law attorney within a mile or two, that searcher might enter the keywords “best family lawyer Silverlake” or “top family lawyer near me.” In the latter example, the searcher might recognize that the search engine can identify his or her geographic location.
Choosing the Right Keywords for SEO
For each blog you write, you’ll want to think carefully about how your target reader will be searching for the information you’re supplying. While SEO used to suggest that bloggers needed to incorporate keywords as many times as possible, now this practice known as “keyword stuffing” can actually hurt your ability to be found by a potential reader. Why is that? Search engines don’t want to highly rank content that is only aiming to be ranked highly. Instead, it wants to rank content highly that actually provides readers with the information they’re seeking.
So, you’ll want to come up with a couple of keywords for each post, and you’ll want to include them in particular areas of each post. You’ll want to include the keywords in your title tag, or the “headline” of your blog post, and you’ll also want to include the keywords within the first 100 words of your content. You’ll also want to make sure the keywords show up in your URL and in your meta description. Generally speaking, longer keywords tend to be better than short, single-word keywords. SEO describes these longer keywords as “long-tail keywords” or “key phrases,” and they tend to be more specific than just a single work or two. Think about what you want your reader to take away from your content or what actions you want your reader to take, and craft your keywords to match.
If you’re new to the blogging universe, you should know that platforms like Hubspot, Wordpress, and some others provide SEO tools that can help you to select your keywords and can help you to make certain that you’ve placed them in all the right areas of your post. But it’ll be up to you to choose the keywords that will do best to attract your intended readers. As you write any blog post, you’ll want to sort out the keywords in advance and write with those keywords in mind.
For a more in-depth look at keywords and SEO, read our Choosing the Right Keywords for Your Law Firm Blogs post.
How to Create Landing Pages for Law Firms
Online marketing for law firms requires investment in landing pages that can help to convert visitors to clients. As much marketing for law firms occurs online and by virtual word-of-mouth, it’s more important than ever for smaller and mid-size law firms to build websites that will allow them to take advantage of inbound marketing. Depending upon the size of your law firm, your landing pages may take the form of practice area pages, allowing visitors to “land” on a particular practice area page that provides links to more specific resources and encourages your visitor to schedule a consultation. How should you create landing pages for your law firm? You’ll want to learn more about landing pages before you get started, and then you’ll want to consider buyer personas, SEO optimization, specific content like client testimonials or videos, and crafting a straightforward call to action.
Learning About Landing Pages and How They Work
Landing pages aren’t just used for law firm online marketing. To be sure, landing pages are used by a wide variety of businesses engaged in online marketing, including law firms. Generally speaking, a landing page is exactly what it sounds like: a page that visitors land on to learn more about a business (or, in the case of a law firm, to learn more about the law firm’s offerings). A landing page is usually distinct from a homepage. It’s the page, or one of several pages, that are designed to bring visitors to a particular service you offer, or to encourage the visitor to provide information for follow-up contact.
For example, a law firm that specializes in one legal area, such as a family law firm, might have a single landing page that directs visitors to divorce, child custody, and modification pages, in addition to asking a visitor to supply contact information to set up a consultation. For a law firm that does work in more than one area of the law—and especially if those areas of legal expertise are distinct from one another, such as a firm that has business formation attorneys, family lawyers, and criminal defense lawyers—more than one landing page for each legal field might be appropriate for your firm. Depending upon your law firm’s needs, your landing pages may be your individual practice area pages.
If you’ve heard about the differences between inbound and outbound marketing, you should know that landing pages are used as a form of inbound marketing. These pages aren’t like television or billboard advertisements, and they’re not even like online advertisements you might be placing for your firm. Rather, they’re carefully crafted pieces of online content designed to bring potential clients to the page and to turn those visitors into clients of your firm.
Thinking About Your Buyer Personas
Landing pages, like any other online content that’s part of your inbound marketing plan, should be developed with your buyer personas in mind. What is a buyer persona? It’s the “identity” of your ideal client. Any content you create for inbound marketing, including landing pages or practice area pages, should be done with your idea client in mind. To ensure that your content targets that ideal client, you’ll want to do a significant amount of work up front to develop buyer personas. When you’re imagining your ideal reader or website visitor, you’ll want to think about a wide range of characteristics well beyond the legal topic—the visitor’s geographic residence, socioeconomic status, cultural background, and other related factors. Many law firms have more than one buyer persona depending upon who they’re hoping to draw into the firm’s online content and what they want those visitors to do (i.e., get in touch about hiring a lawyer, apply for a legal position).
By spending the time to create buyer personas up front, you can ensure that all of the content on your landing pages is designed with your buyer personas in mind. Inbound marketing only works if you’re willing to put in the effort to think carefully about framing your content to draw in particular visitors.
Considering Law Firm Landing Page Optimization
Just like any other online content you create, you’ll want to think about search engine optimization (SEO) and your landing pages. Some SEO work may require a website designer who can help to ensure that your landing pages are crawled by search engines, but there’s a lot of SEO work you can do on your own. In thinking about your buyer personas, you’ll want to consider keywords and key phrases a particular buyer persona might use, and be sure to include them in your landing page. You’ll also want to think about link building, and increasing your search engine rankings by providing external links.
The quality of a landing page can also play a major role in search engine rankings, and the length of your landing page is extremely important.
Client Testimonials and Law Firm Results
Including certain visual elements and information on your landing page can be helpful, such as client testimonials or law firm results. Many law firms use short videos on their landing pages, which can help to engage visitors. However, not all videos are the same for purposes of conversions. If your video takes too long to load or makes it difficult for your visitor to navigate the page in any way, the visitor simply might run another search and click on a different law firm’s landing page link. Yet some videos certainly can benefit your firm. Typically, if you have a single video, it’s short (and loads quickly), and provides helpful information that complements what’s already on your landing page, it can help. Yet if the video won’t load or is distracting to your visitor, it could ultimately end up hurting your inbound marketing efforts.
Emphasizing Your Call to Action
You want to keep your landing pages simply and straightforward, and you want to keep them visually pleasing so that your visitor can easily navigate them. Part of this strategy is emphasizing a single call-to-action (CTA) on the page. Rather than having multiple forms that your visitor can fill out, or various options for providing contact information, it’s usually best to have a single CTA, such as a free consultation form. You’ll want to make sure it’s visible amidst the other information on your landing page, and that it’s quick and easy to use. A CTA will only be effective if visitors are able to engage.
Revising Your Landing Page After Testing
Like other online content you’ll create for your law firm, such as blog posts, one of the great things about online marketing is that you can revise it as you test it out to see what works (and what doesn’t work). You should remember that not all law firms have the same elements on their landing pages, and various landing page elements can work well to attract clients for different firms. Accordingly, you’ll want to create a landing page and go live with it, with plans to make revisions as you go along if necessary. Even if most of the elements work for your firm from the start, you’ll also want to remember that SEO practices and optimization methods can change over time, and you’ll want to make sure you update your content to reflect the current trends.
Wander over to our blog to read more about How to Create Landing Pages for Law Firms.
Topic Clusters and Competency Pages for Law Firms
When you are thinking about starting a new website for your law firm, or you’re planning to create a legal blog in order to market your firm, you’ll need to do more than just think about the type of content you want on the blog. Certainly, you’ll want to give your legal blog a significant amount of thought, from the specific topics to the publishing calendar.
And you’ll want to be sure that you’re doing all the necessary pre-planning to make certain that your strategies for marketing your firm are as successful as possible. For many law firms, online marketing might begin with a legal blog, but the marketing practice should expand to corporate information from your blogs onto your website. Ultimately, you want to create the content that your target reader seeks. Here’s where competency pages, also known as pillar pages, and topics clusters will come into play.
Thinking About Search Engine Optimization for Your Law Firm
Both competency/pillar pages and topic clusters should be considerations in a broader plan to improve search engine optimization (SEO) and to use your content writing, including the material in your blog posts, to target specific readers. There are many different facets of SEO, such as:
- Getting search engines to find your website and accompanying pages;
- Developing content that gives your target reading the information they want;
- Posting content that is cited by other online websites and pages, and to which other internet pages link (i.e., another website links to one of your blog posts);
- Improving the rate at which internet users click on your links and pages (increasing your click-through rate); and
- Using keywords to bring readers (those searching on the internet) to your website, pages, and blog.
One important aspect of SEO is creating content that readers want. Pillar pages and topic clusters can help you to think through this process, and to develop pages that ultimately bring more attention to your law firm.
What is a Competency/Pillar Page?
A pillar page is a particular website page that provides readers with a significant amount of in-depth content about a specific topic, and it usually providers readers with a variety of useful links related to that topic. As Hubspot explains, pillar pages are often known as “content pillars,” and it’s incredibly important to differentiate them from landing pages. We’ll explain more about the distinctions between pillar pages and landing pages in just a few moments, but first, it’s important to learn more about the different types of pillar pages you might consider creating.
According to Hubspot, there are two major types of pillar pages: the resource pillar page and the 10x content pillar page. What’s the difference between these two kinds of pillar pages? A resource pillar page will typically be a reference tool for a reader, and it will likely include a variety of useful links—both internal links to blogs written by your firm, for example, and external links to sources that can be helpful to the reader. Differently, a 10x content pillar page is used to give the reader a “deep dive on a core topic.”
What might these different types of pillar pages look like for a law firm? Imagine that you have a law firm that specializes in commercial law in Chicago. A resource pillar page might provide information for a potential client who is considering starting a new business. That resource pillar page might provide key information about the different types of business structures available, necessary steps to file business paperwork and to rent a commercial space, and other practicalities of opening a new company. On that page, the law firm might include external links to filing articles of incorporation in Chicago and specific statutes concerning commercial lease agreements. At the same time, the page might include internal links to blog posts about negotiating a commercial lease agreement for a new business, and how to choose the best business structure for your needs. Differently, a 10x content pillar page might take a “deep dive” into the history of corporations as a business structure, the process of forming corporations, the ways in which corporate structures and entities have been considered in court cases, and information about some of the most successful corporations across time.
Now what’s the difference between a landing page and a pillar page? If you’ve read this far, you know a little bit about what a pillar page includes. A landing page, differently, is designed to get more leads for your business—to get readers to make contact. While pillar pages provide the reader with specific types of content without requiring any commitment from them, landing pages usually ask a reader to provide their name or contact information before they’re eligible to get the content you have to offer.
What is a Topic Cluster?
The term “topic cluster” refers to a model of organizing the various pages of content on your website. Your pillar page will be the primary place where your content “lives,” so to speak, and various pages and blog posts that fall under the same topic will link back to that pillar page. To put it another way, a particular topic cluster will contain many different pieces of content that are contained within your website, grouping those pieces of content by a shared topic.
To return to the examples we gave you above, topic clusters for a commercial or corporate law firm might include “business structures” and “commercial real estate agreements.” You can create various other topic clusters as you develop more content, and the topic clusters can make it easier for your target readers to locate the information you have to offer them.
Planning Online Content for Your Law Firm
For most law firms, blogs are just one element of a much larger online content marketing strategy. As we’ve explained above, blog posts can help you to develop pillar pages for specific questions or issues your readers might be searching out, and within those pillar pages, topic clusters can help you to organize material that ultimately will allow your reader to obtain the information she’s seeking by visiting your website.
When you’re just getting started with online marketing for your law firm, the specifics of blogging and content creation can feel overwhelming. Many law firms realize that it can be incredibly beneficial to hire a marketing company with experience setting up new SEO-friendly pages and managing content on a weekly basis. Yet it’s certainly not impossible for law firms to learn how to engage in online marketing themselves.
If you’re already familiar with SEO and the ever-changing face of what search engine optimization means, you’re already a step ahead. At the same time, if you’re only learning about these online content marketing terms for the first time, you should know that you’re certainly not alone! Just as each field of law has its own specificities and nuances, so does the world of online content marketing. And when it comes to online content marketing for law firms, it’s important to know that there are specific practices that are particular to law firm marketing within the larger world of business marketing.
The more you read and learn about online marketing for your law firm and drawing your target reader to your sites, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Since SEO tips and guidelines change over time, you should also acknowledge that your online persona—created through pillar pages, topic clusters, downloadable content, blogs, etc.—will need to be updated and revised. Ultimately, by discovering more tips and tools for marketing your law firm, and by remaining flexible as you craft pages and blogs, you’ll be able to gain some control over how your website gets found and who reads your work.
More information about competency/pillar pages and topic clusters can be found in our blog titled: Topic Clusters and Competency Pages for Law Firms.
SEO for Your Practice Area Pages
When you are beginning to think about online marketing for your law firm, you’ll want to consider a wide range of internet marketing strategies, from regular blogging to content creation for potential new clients. Many lawyers who are leaving larger firms to start their own smaller and mid-size firms will need to consider ways that technology can assist in marketing their business. As for law firm marketing, there is not one specific way of marketing or type of marketing that will work for every firm. However, it’s important for law firms that are considering a marketing strategy to think through the type of readers they’re seeking, and how they want their web presence to bring in clients, potential employees, or other people who may be clicking on a home website, landing pages, or a blog.
When it comes to helping potential clients or other interested readers to find your website and the pages within it, you need to think about search engine optimization (SEO). While you’ll want to consider SEO on nearly everything you develop as part of your online marketing strategy, we want to specifically discuss the links among SEO, landing pages, and practice area pages for a law firm.
What is SEO and Why Is It Important to Consider?
If you’ve never done any work creating content for websites, you may not be familiar with the term search engine optimization, or SEO for short. Or, maybe you’ve done a little bit of work and know that SEO is a way of making sure that certain online content is optimized in such a way that people who are looking for it will find it, and perhaps you’ve even read about using keywords or key phrases to attract readers. These elements are part of SEO, but as Hubspot explains, they’re certainly not the only part of SEO. And before we say more about what SEO means in 2020, it’s important to keep in mind that methods for search engine optimization are not fixed. To be sure, what works now certainly isn’t what worked in the early 2000s, and it likely won’t be what people are doing a decade from now. Algorithms change, but the goal remains the same.
Okay, so if SEO is fluid and changes with technological innovations and internet user practices, is it even worth learning more about how to do it? The answer to that question is yes—although methods for SEO have and will continue to shift over time, the aims of SEO generally remain the same. Search engine optimization simply means using certain practices to help make your website and any internet pages findable and visible to your target reader. In other words, you should think about who you want to target with your website and pages within it. Is it a potential family law client who is searching for a divorce lawyer? Is it a person who is planning to start a small business and needs assistance with business entity formation? Or is it a lawyer who currently practices at a large firm and is thinking about transitioning into a role at a smaller or midsize firm? For each piece of material you make public, you should be thinking about the target reader and how SEO can help that reader find you.
Ultimately, a primary goal of SEO is for whichever page you are optimizing to rank highly in internet searches. What does that mean? For example, when a person types in search terms on Google or Safari, she’ll get a list of possible sites to click on, and those sites appear in a particular order. Most internet browsers will click on the first or second link, and they may even scroll down to the bottom of the page. However, many people won’t click through subsequent pages. Accordingly, you want to do everything you can to have your firm page be that first or second click. And even if you can’t rank that highly yet, you want to do all that you can to be “found” on that first page of search results.
Is There a Difference Between Landing Pages and Practice Area Pages?
So now you know what SEO is and how it can be used to bring internet traffic to your law firm’s website and the detailed content you are creating. We want to discuss SEO on your landing pages and/or practice area pages, but first we want to consider whether there is a difference between landing pages and practice area pages.
If you begin searching for information about how to build a law firm website, you’ll likely encounter information about landing pages and practice area pages. You might even find information that sounds like it’s referring to both landing pages and practice area pages. We’re here to help explain that, for most law firms, practice area pages are landing pages. The term “landing page” is one that refers to a site designed to generate leads. It’s a term that is not specific to law firm marketing, but rather is designed as a page on which an internet user will “land” after running a search and clicking on a link, and then the landing page will seek information from the user through a contact form or similar item. Any kind of business can create a landing page. Depending upon the size of your law firm, your website home page will likely be a landing page, but individual practice area pages will also likely be landing pages. Landing pages are not defined by their content, but rather by what they’re designed to do. Practice area pages will usually be tailored to specific legal content, but they’ll also likely be designed to generate leads
Now that you understand the relationship between landing pages and practice area pages, what can you do to optimize your practice area pages for internet searches?
Tips for Practice Page SEO
You’ll want to focus on SEO to at least some extent when you’re developing your practice area pages for your firm’s website. The following are some tips to consider in order to ensure that internet searches bring up your firm’s links and thereby generate business for your firm:
- Think carefully about your “buyer” (the person who will be searching for the practice area pages on which you want them to land), and what kind of information that buyer is seeking. In other words, what are your “buyer personas” and what keywords and phrases might they use to find your practice area pages?
- Consider keyword and key phrase searches for your buyer personas, and incorporate those keywords and phrases into your practice area pages.
- Work with a website designer to ensure that the technical elements of your practice area pages are optimized, include the code. By working with a website designer, you can make sure that the architecture of your website will result in search engines “crawling” your site (or discovering your specific practice area pages). If your practice area pages are not visible to search engines, then search engines cannot crawl those practice area pages and ultimately cannot index or rank them. Once a search crawls your practice area pages, then those search engines will store the information from those sites. This latter process is known as indexing. Finally, search engines will decide, based on the index, which websites best respond to a specific internet search, and then it will rank or order websites in response to searches.
- Learn more about mobile SEO, and make sure you’ve optimized your practice area pages for both desktop or laptop usage, and for searches on a mobile device.
- Understand the difference between helpful links and unhelpful links for SEO purposes. You’ll want to have different types of links, and you’ll want them to go to reputable sites. On practice area pages, you can link to your own firm’s contact page or blog, but you should also consider providing links to legitimate sources.
Remember, nothing you put on the internet is set in stone. You should remember to be flexible, recognizing that you can always make revisions. Read our blog on this topic to learn more.
Law Firm Content Marketing Elements and Tools
When you’re starting a law firm or you’re just beginning to think about content marketing for your law firm, a variety of content marketing elements and tools exist to help you bring your desired reader to your sites. Once your reader clicks on one of your links, you’ll want to think carefully about how to craft the content on that site so that your reader takes action. The type of action that an internet reader depends upon who that reader is and what that reader wants. Everything you create should be developed with that ideal reader in mind. Many content marketing elements and tools are not specific to law firm marketing, but they can be used in law firm marketing to allow firms to grow their businesses and to establish themselves as leaders in their fields. The following are just some of the content marketing elements and tools you should consider as you develop a law firm website with practice area pages, a legal blog, and other content that can provide the information your ideal reader or client is seeking.
To make your law firm website and any pages within it the best that it can be, you’ll want to start all content creation by thinking about the reader you’re targeting. Generally speaking, law firms may have more than one kind of ideal reader in mind. In the world of content marketing, you’ll often see these ideal readers described as “buyer personas.” You’ll want to think about who it is that you want clicking on your sites and taking additional action afterward with respect to your law firm.
For most law firms, ideal readers almost always include potential clients, but they can also include potential employees or partners (such as lawyers newly out of law school who are looking for a job, or a lawyer who is currently at a different firm and wants to make a lateral move), and even colleagues in the legal field in which you practice. You’ll likely want to target different buyer personas on different pages or blog posts. In short, every time you create new content, consider your buyer persona and develop the content around that “person.” Many law firms find it helpful to flesh out specific buyer personas, conceiving of the specific geographic area where that “person” lives and works, what kinds of goals that “person” has,” and what types of social and cultural patterns in which that “person” might engage.
Landing pages are crucial for generating leads. While landing pages are developed for nearly all businesses that want to engage in content marketing, they often take the form of practice area pages for law firms. When you’re developing a landing page, you should be thinking about how to get your reader to contact you or to engage further on your website.
It’s important to know that pillar pages are different from landing pages, and that you need both. While landing pages are designed to generate leads, pillar pages are designed to provide readers with information that doesn’t require them to get in touch any further. Landing pages are often clearly a way of promoting the services your firm offers and seeking more information from potential clients, while pillar pages are designed to provide potential clients with in-depth information on a topic without requiring any additional commitment. For example, a landing page might be a practice area page on divorce in your geographic area, and that page might provide a link to your “contact” form and a “call to action” to contact your firm for assistance. Differently, a pillar page on divorce might provide the reader with information about how to file for divorce, what materials are necessary, and how the law applies to particular divorce matters.
Downloadable content is anything your law firm creates that a reader can download. It may be an ebook, or it may be something much shorter. Any downloadable content should provide information that your reader is seeking, and it should be designed to help the reader answer a question or query. Creating downloadable content for your law firm can allow you to see exactly who has clicked the “download” link and to determine how the reader found the downloadable piece. Indeed, using analytics to track downloadable content can provide you with necessary information about keywords that were commonly used to find the downloadable content, or when and where the link to the downloadable content has been shared on social media.
Your law firm should have a blog, and you should maintain it on a regular basis. Legal blogs can be incredibly useful for attracting potential clients and new employees, as well as for remaining in dialogue or conversation with other lawyers in your field. There are different types of law blogs you should consider, including evergreen blogs (those that remain relevant even as time passes), blogs about newsworthy stories and events, and legal analysis of recent case law in your field.
To have a successful legal blog for your firm, you need to create and keep up with an editorial calendar. It’s best to have a backlog of blogs that you can plan to use, and to plot out when each blog will post and become accessible to internet readers. There is no hard and fast rule about exactly how many blogs you should have, but in general, you should aim for about 16 posts per month. More important than the overall number of blogs each month, however, is the frequency with which they post. Here is where the editorial calendar will become especially relevant. You don’t want to post all 16 blogs at once at the end of the month. Instead, you want to be sure that blogs post on a regular basis. With an editorial calendar, you can be certain that you have at least one or two blogs scheduled for each week and on different days.
Calls to Action
A “call to action” is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a directive telling your reader to do something or to take a certain action. Most law firms will have a “call to action” on both practice area pages and any blog that gets written.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a phrase that refers to tactics your law firm would use on its website and pages to ensure that search engines like Google or Safari find your website and its content, that they link to your website and its content, and that those links rank pretty highly on the first page of search results. There are a variety of issues to consider in SEO. For most law firms, it’s important to keep your buyer personas in mind and to develop keywords and key phrases that will result in an ideal reader finding your website or other online content. Other SEO practices are more technical, taking steps to ensure that a search engine is able to “crawl,” index, and ultimately rank your website, your blog, and other pages.
Effective legal content marketing requires experience and knowledge about client patterns, search engine optimization, website design, and content knowledge of the field. If you’re just getting started, or you’re planning a major update or overhaul to your law firm’s website, you should remember that you can always make revisions as you learn more about what works and what doesn’t.
How to Define Your Law Firm's Buyer Personas
When you’re building a new website and online presence for your law firm, or when you’re revamping an older website that desperately needs an update, you should be thinking about a variety of ways you’ll bring traffic to your website and will attract potential clients to your law firm. If you’re not familiar with online marketing for law firms, there are some terms and ideas with which you might not be familiar. One of those is the “buyer persona.” While you might not be thinking of your potential legal clients as “buyers” or “customers,” the term can help you to think through the ways you can design your website, your practice area pages, and your blog content with specific types of readers in mind.
In other words, focusing on the idea of the “buyer persona” for your law firm can provide you with a better understanding of who might be landing on your website or reading your blogs, and ultimately how you can get those people to take the next step in contacting your law firm for possible representation.
What is a Buyer Persona and Why Should I Think About It?
Law firms are businesses. Although they’re offering services that are certainly distinct from other partnerships, LLCs, and corporations, law firms are still businesses that need to consider clients’ interests and needs in order to be successful. Similarly, like other businesses that provide varied types of services, law firms need to market themselves to potential “buyers” (i.e., clients) in order to keep the firm running. And, of course, not unlike other businesses, law firms need to gain the trust of clients in order to continue attracting new clients, and to demonstrate to other legal practitioners that they’re providing valuable services to their communities. We’re not suggesting that law firms necessarily have anything in common with, for example, art galleries in the same area of town. What we are saying, however, is that, regardless of the content of your business, it can be helpful to use business marketing language to develop the most effective strategies for marketing your business. For a law firm, this means you can find a lot of value in thinking about your “buyer personas.”
So, what are buyer personas? According to HubSpot, a buyer persona is the most detailed “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer” that you can imagine. Where does the buyer persona live? Where does she or he work? What kind of home does that buyer persona live in? What kinds of social issues does the buyer persona care about? What types of cultural matters are significant to the buyer persona? How old is this semi-fictional person? What are some key features of this semi-fictional person’s other socioeconomic or sociocultural background? You might think of a buyer persona as a roadmap for the type of person you want to gain as a client (or, if you’re recruiting, as a potential new employee at your law firm). Who are you selling your website and blogs posts to? You’ll want to answer that question before you ever begin writing.
And as you consider your buyer personas, you’ll want to think about the specific area (or areas) of the law in which you handle cases, and the types of clients you serve or want to serve in the future. The answers to these questions likely will be a bit different for every law firm.
Why Do I Need to Develop Buyer Personas?
Developing buyer personas is one of the most effective ways to create content that will help your business succeed. If you don’t know who you’re hoping to target with your practice area pages or your detailed blog posts, you probably won’t be too successful in actually bringing those readers to your pages and other types of content. However, if you spend a significant amount of time at the start, you can tailor your online presence and content to attract your ideal clients and to meet those clients’ needs. Otherwise, you could end up attracting the wrong type of client altogether or attracting no clients at all.
How to Develop Your Buyer Personas: Start with Research
Now that you understand more about buyer personas, it’s time to sit down and think about the buyer personas for whom you want to develop online content on your website and in your legal blog posts. The first step in any process of creating a buyer persona is to do your research. Your research can take many different forms, but it will most likely involve looking at detailed information about your past clients, especially those who are similar to clients you’d like to be able to attract in the future. Your research may also involve actually going back and asking some of your previous clients to agree to fill out a survey questionnaire, to do a brief interview, or to write a testimonial that provides answers to certain questions. In short, you’ll want to gather as much information as you can about past clients whose cases were similar to those you plan to handle in the future, and who are most similar to what you imagine as your ideal client.
Your research should also explore trends pertaining to website visitors and information about anyone who has shared your content in the past. This type of research can be more complicated for a couple of different reasons. First, you may need to seek advice from a website developer who can help you to obtain and make sense of the data about visitors to your website who have clicked on certain links or have shared certain content. What links were clicked most often, and what type of visitor clicked them? Which of your pages or blog posts have been shared most frequently, and who shared those blog posts?
Keep in mind that this type of research certainly isn’t limited to prospective or previous clients. Anyone, or any entity, that regularly shares your posts and drives visitors to your website should be considered when you’re thinking about buyer personas. For example, maybe a local bar association routinely shares your blog posts in which you analyze case law or legislation. Or, for instance, if you work in an area of law that allows you to contribute to nonprofits in your community on a regular basis, maybe some of those nonprofits often share your posts or pages on their own social media accounts and thereby drive new traffic to your law firm’s website. These kinds of entities should also be taken into consideration when you’re thinking about buyer personas. Different types of legal blogs will allow you to attract interest and visits from your various buyer personas.
Naturally, this kind of research is really only possible if you already have a website and simply want to increase the benefits of your online presence by revamping your site and developing a blog. For law firms that don’t yet have an internet presence, it won’t be possible to gather information from previous clicks and shares.
Create a Template for Your Buyer Personas
For each buyer persona, it can be helpful to develop a template in which you fill in the following information:
- Demographic data for the buyer persona;
- Your buyer persona’s motivations and interests;
- Keywords or key phrases your buyer persona might use to run internet searches;
- Your buyer persona’s ultimate goals; and
- Concerns your buyer persona might have.
Considering these issues, and any others that seem relevant, can allow you to develop content that will bring in precisely that type of visitor you’re hoping to attract. From practice area pages to blogs, you can craft your content with your buyer personas in mind.
You can learn more about defining your persona by reading our article titled: How to Define Your Law Firm's Buyer Personas.
Types of Law Firm Marketing
Have you decided to go out on your own and start your own law firm after several years of working at a larger firm? Are you involved in partnership talks with another lawyer about working together to start a new law firm? You’ll need to start thinking about how you’re going to market your law firm. Given that we’re now in the second decade of the 21st century, you should certainly be thinking about options for online marketing. Yet you might also want to consider some other forms of marketing that do not require online engagement. In other words, even though you’ll be engaging in online marketing, you might want to consider some of the ways in which you can advertise your firm or gain referrals through more traditional means. We want to give you some more information about marketing for law firms, and we’ll draw a distinction between “inbound” marketing and “outbound” marketing. Both forms of marketing ultimately may be useful for a law firm, but inbound marketing strategies can help immensely during the digital age.
What is the Difference Between Outbound and Inbound Marketing?
In order to fully grasp how inbound marketing methodologies work as opposed to outbound marketing techniques, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of the difference between outbound and inbound marketing. Traditional “outbound” marketing might be a practice or method with which you are more familiar. With outbound marketing, a business like a law firm promotes itself, and outwardly advertises itself to potential clients. Some examples of outbound marketing might include television commercials, advertising billboards, and even physical mailers that get sent out to a wide range of people living and working in the geographic area you tend to serve. As you may already know, these forms of outbound marketing can get pretty pricey, and they may not yield the kind of results you’re hoping for when you put in the time and money up front. How does inbound marketing differ?
With inbound marketing, you’re not going to be looking outward for potential clients and seeking to promote yourself to a wide variety of people—only some of whom might ultimately be interested in your legal services. Instead, inbound marketing involves employing a set of methods crafted with specific potential clients in mind, and using those methods to bring those potential clients to your website, your blog, and other pages. HubSpot established the term inbound marketing back in 2006, and since then, it has become an effective way of marketing your business. However, inbound marketing requires much different techniques than outbound marketing. With inbound marketing, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time thinking about who your ideal clients might be, and creating content that allows those ideal clients to find your online information.
For many businesses, inbound marketing involves a set of methods or strategies that are designed to bring potential clients to your online pages such as your law firm website or your legal blog, to engage and educate them about issues they’re seeking answers to or information about, and to convert them into clients. Ultimately, once a potential client has been converted into a lead, the goal is to inspire that client to promote your firm to friends and family members, and to promote your website and blog on their own social media sites.
Common Types of Outbound Marketing for Law Firms
Outbound marketing, like we explained above, is any form of marketing that involves reaching out to potential clients, often in broad ways. A lot of outbound marketing does occur offline (or in the “real world”), but outbound marketing can also involve certain forms of online marketing. Generally speaking, any time you’re advertising your law firm and trying to get potential clients through advertising, you’ll likely want to think about this process as outbound marketing. The following are some common forms of outbound marketing that have been popular with law firms for decades, and some of them can still generate leads in the 2020s:
- Television ads;
- Snail mail flyers;
- Email advertisements; and
- Website advertisements.
Certainly, these are not the only options for outbound marketing. Yet we think these examples help to show how outbound marketing involves your law firm reaching out and, quite often, casting a wide net. With outbound marketing, you’re not usually going to thinking about buyer personas, keyword searches, who is looking for legal services, or what those internet searchers are hoping to find. Instead, you’ll be looking outward and engaging in a substantial amount of effort to bring in clients by reaching out to far more people than the number of leads you’ll actually end up getting through those efforts. Indeed, outbound marketing often takes more time and often more money than inbound marketing, and it involves advertising to many people while only a small percentage of those reached by the advertisements will end up being interested in the legal services you’re offering.
Useful Types of Inbound Marketing for Law Firms
Inbound marketing, distinct from outbound marketing, involves a process through which your law firm does a lot of work up front to identify your ideal clients, and engages in marketing work that brings those potential clients to you. Much inbound marketing work involves online marketing, but it need not necessarily require all of your marketing work to take place on the internet. The following are some great examples of inbound marketing methods that can bring potential clients to your law firm:
- Legal blogging;
- Social media posts;
- Calls to action on blogs and web pages; and
- Local bar association referrals.
While many inbound marketing methods involve online marketing, local bar association referrals and other community-based referrals are also an inbound marketing tool. Rather than looking outward to advertise to clients, your work in the community can help to generate interest in your firm, and new clients. Referrals, of course, can also come through legal websites and social media accounts linked to legal and community organizations in the location where you practice.
When you’re creating online content for inbound marketing purposes, there are a variety of elements you’ll want to consider. In crafting blog posts and social media posts, you’ll want to think carefully about who your intended reader is, and you’ll want to design your content with that reader in mind. For example, what search terms might that ideal reader type into a search engine? What type of content might that reader be hoping to find? When it comes to search terms, you’ll want to think about keywords and key phrases your intended reader might be searching for, and you’ll want to be sure to include those. It’s important to keep in mind that some elements of inbound marketing won’t necessarily require any kind of technological expertise. However, if you want to ensure your legal blogs are “crawled” by search engines and that internet users are able to find your content when they run searches, you may need to reach out to experts in website creation and search engine optimization (SEO).
Ultimately, there are many different forms of marketing that law firms might employ, but it’s important to distinguish between inbound and outbound marketing. By and large, inbound marketing can allow you to business for your law firm all through the power of technology.
More details about the various types of law firm marketing can be found in our Types of Marketing for Law Firms blog.
Inbound Methodologies for Law Firms
Whether you are just starting a new law firm or you are rethinking your marketing strategy, you may be considering the benefits of online marketing. While online marketing has been around for a number of years, internet marketing strategies are changing. Rather than using online marketing resources to reach out to potential customers, law firms and other businesses can use certain methodologies to draw customers in. This distinction is one of “outbound” versus “inbound” marketing. While certain outbound marketing strategies may still have appeal in particular markets or for particular firms, it’s important for any twenty-first century law firm to consider the benefits of inbound marketing. The following information is designed to provide you with some essential information about inbound marketing methodologies for law firms.
According to HubSpot, there are three major elements of inbound marketing: attracting people, engaging people, and delighting them. We’ll give you more information about how to do each of these tasks, and we’ll explain why they’re important for any law firm’s inbound marketing strategy.
Attracting Potential Clients
The first element of any inbound marketing methodology can be summed up in the idea of attracting the right visitors to your online materials. You’ll want to develop your online content in such a way that you attract the ideal client, or the specific kind of person you’re hoping to work with. To be clear, you’ll need to think carefully about online marketing and how you can be found by the people who are seeking out your legal services. There are a number of elements involved in attracting your ideal client. The following are some key examples of ways you can attract the people who want your legal services and are seeking them out:
- Crafting detailed buyer personas: When you’re thinking about inbound marketing, you’ll want to spend a substantial amount of time building buyer personas for your ideal visitors. Law firms certainly may have—and often should have—more than one buyer persona. When you craft a buyer persona, you’ll want to think through everything about your ideal client. For instance, where does that client live, and how does that person’s professional life intertwine with his or her social and cultural life? To what socioeconomic or sociocultural group does the person belong? Why is the person seeking out legal services? For every imagined client who you’re targeting with online marketing, you’ll want to think about buyer personas well in advance—your carefully curated content will only produce the desired result if you know who you’re producing it for.
- Using search engine optimization (SEO): There are many different elements of SEO, and some of them may require that you work with an experienced web designer. In short, though, SEO is what allows your online content to be found by potential visitors. It’s how search engines like Google or Yahoo! see your pages in the first place and “crawl” them, and how your online content ends up in Google search results when a potential clients types keywords or key phrases into a search engine search bar.
- Keywords and key phrases: While thinking about keywords and key phrases is part of SEO, it’s important to keep certain keywords and key phrases in mind in all of the content you create. While you may need outside assistance to ensure that your website or blog is being “crawled,” it’s in your control to ensure that certain keywords or key phrases end up in the online content you create.
- Blogging: Creating a legal blog is an important way to bring in potential visitors to your website and your online content more broadly. You’ll want to create a blogging calendar that allows you to stick to a regular publishing schedule, and you’ll want to make sure your blog topics are tailored to your buyer personas.
Engaging Online Visitors
The purpose of engaging online visitors is to convert them to leads, and to continue developing your relationship with those clients. How do you convert website or blog traffic to a lead? Typically, you create material that educates and engages your reader, and ultimately gets that reader to act in some fashion—e.g., to fill out a contact form, to sign up for a newsletter, to enter an email address for regular blog updates. To engage and ultimately convert a visitor on your law firm’s website into a client, you’ll want to consider employing the following methods:
- Use “call to action” buttons on your website, at the bottom of your blog posts, and on other pages to ask your reader to take the next step. What should a “call to action” button say or do? It might ask the reader to request more information about a certain legal topic or issue, or it might ask the reader to request a consultation with your law firm.
- Use a web form that asks the reader to enter his or her contact information in order to get help with a particular legal matter or question. It’s usually best to keep these web forms pretty brief so that a reader is not burdened when filling it out. You’ll usually want to ask for a name, the best contact information (email or phone number), and a brief description of that person’s legal question or concern.
- Ask the reader to subscribe to blog updates or emails. If your reader likes what they see on your blog, you can ask them to enter their email address into a pop-up button to subscribe to your blog.
Engaging online visitors, and ultimately converting those visitors to leads, is an essential practice for any law firm that is using online marketing and, specifically, inbound marketing strategies. Not only can information from visitors to your website provide you with contact information to get in touch with potential new clients, but it can also provide your law firm with data you can use to help tailor your blog posts and other online content even further. For example, you may get a number of web form submissions from visitors who have questions about a specific legal issue that you haven’t yet addressed from a particular perspective on your blog. By adding a blog post or two to answer some of those frequently asked questions from website visitors, you can build trust in your readership and gain additional website traffic from other internet searchers who are seeking the same information.
Delighting the Visitor
Once you’ve converted an online visitor into a lead (or you’ve turned the online visitor into a client), you want to do everything you can to delight that client so that they will in turn promote your online content themselves. This theoretical person might share your blog posts on their social media accounts, such as on Facebook or Twitter. Or they might direct other potential clients who require legal services to your website. For some law firms, one buyer persona might be a popular legal blog that can link to some of your content in that blog’s own online output.
For law firms in the 21st century, inbound marketing is an effective strategy for building your business and gaining clients at your firm. For many law firms, inbound marketing becomes an essential element of marketing the business in the present and for the future.
Learn more about why inbound marketing works in the law firm marketing context with our article: Inbound Methodologies for Law Firms.