When Should Lawyers Write Their Own Web Content? 10 Factors to Consider
An attorney who can present their own story is the best advocate for the law firm. And Web content is a great way to expand your presence and reach prospective clients who seek professional services online. A polished website with up-to-date information can make a distinctive first impression of your law firm. A legal blog allows you to establish your expertise in a reassuring, personal voice. The marketing value of social media is now widely recognized. Among Fortune 500 companies, there has been a surge in use of blogs, Twitter accounts and other social media, according to a 2012 report on social media by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.
Still, launching a website orlegal blog shouldn’t be undertaken without careful thought. Researching and writing substantive Web pages rich in key words and blog posts that perform well in Google searches requires careful thought and attention. It’s time consuming. Many attorneys don’t have enough hours in the day to complete all the tasks demanding attention, much less add new ones. If your law firm isn’t the size of a Fortune 500 company, then writing your own Web content or taking on a regular legal blog may quickly turn into another item on the to-do list that gets pushed aside when an important case consumes all your time.
Ten Factors That Would-be Attorney Bloggers Should Consider
Here are 10 things to think about if you are an attorney considering writing your own Web content or embracing Social Media:
Creative Balance - Websites must strike a balance between maximizing searchable keywords, holding a prospective client’s attention, and presenting a professional image. The most effective websites have lively, authoritative content crafted on top of a foundation of detailed SEO research. The right keywords and phrases help prospective clients find your website. Many attorneys who write their own Web content quote the precise language of statutes on their Web pages and blogs. While citing statutory language may strengthen your legal brief, it works against you on the Web. You may incur duplicate content penalties that lower your website page rankings if Google finds that your blog website contains unoriginal content that is found elsewhere. It’s best to paraphrase legal statutes in reader-friendly language. Few readers will spend the time trying to decipher the meaning of a statute. They’ll just keep surfing the Web until they find another lawyer who has explained the law in terms that they understand.
Frequency - Blogging is like exercise. You need to do it regularly! Don’t be a content couch potato! The highest-ranking legal blogs are updated weekly, if not more frequently. Blogs updated often with fresh content convey more authority. They receive more frequent visits, from readers as well as search engines. Make a clear-eyed assessment of your ability to invest the hours necessary every week to research and write one or more blog posts. Is this the best use of your time? Are you giving up billable hours?
Content is King - Web pages and Web content should be engaging, timely, informative and written in clear English for an audience of potential clients searching for legal services. If your content is not lively and crisply written, Internet browsers won’t take the time to read it. Google places a high priority on the quality and volume of content in determining search rankings of law firm websites. If your Web pages are riddled with typos, it will reflect poorly on the professional image you wish to convey. At Consultwebs, our team includes attorney writers who research, write and edit blog posts for legal clients. We monitor multiple sources of legal information to find interesting, timely topics for posts specific to your areas of law.
Keywords - A legal blog can be informative without being effective. Keep in mind that the point of legal blogs for for-profit law firms is to help you reach prospective clients. Our search engine optimization specialists use the latest tools to identify words and phrases that Internet users type in when seeking an attorney to help with a specific legal issue. It’s particularly important to use keywords in headline tags and anchor texts of links. Our attorney writers incorporate keywords including geographic terms into your Web pages and blog posts to help prospective clients find your website. Understand how to maximize keywords in your Web content.
Domain Dilemma - Your law firm has an established website and now you wish to start a blog. You’ll need to consider whether your new blog will share the same domain name as your website or have its own identity. There are valid reasons for going either direction. If your website has its own domain name, you’ll be starting over and the new site will not benefit from the flagship website’s existing presence. But if you want the blog to focus on a specific area of practice, you may want the blog’s domain name to reflect that. Just like all your marketing efforts, consider how your blog will coordinate with your website. Talk through this issue with your Web consultants if they are not developing the blog.
Priorities - Your top priority as an attorney is representing your clients and litigating cases to a successful conclusion. When you’re preparing a big case, other responsibilities such as writing your own blog or pages of Web content may take a backseat for weeks or even months at a time. The problem with not updating your blog or adding pages of fresh content to your website is that a lack of regular activity on your website lowers your profile on the Web. It may affect the page rankings of your website. Before committing to write a legal blog, consider how much priority a blog will receive in your busy, daily schedule.
Online Relationships - Expect to invest an hour a day at a minimum maintaining your blog and building an online relationship with prospective clients. That’s about 20 hours a month. You should carefully consider the time commitment in terms of billable hours.
Enthusiasm - Many blogs start out strong but then decline in quality and frequency because attorneys have too much on their plates and don’t have time to research fresh topics. When the American Bar Association Journal published its 2012 list of 100 best legal blogs, one thing the successful blogs had in common was writers who are passionate about their topic. Passionate bloggers are more likely to produce blogs that people return to read. Do you really enjoy writing, and can you convey your enthusiasm to readers?
Homework - This week’s blog entry is still on the to-do list, right? Hopefully you’ve already thought of a topic, because that takes time even before you start writing. But you have not spent much time with your family this week because of the cases you’ve been working on, so you decide to work from home although you’ll have competing demands for your attention. Spending time working at home can adversely affect your family life. Ask yourself if writing a legal blog is the best way to spend your family time.
Flexibility - It’s important to add fresh content regularly. When you hire a high-quality legal marketing company to produce your legal blog, you still have the option to contribute a blog post yourself whenever you wish and your schedule permits. But you’re not bound by daily or weekly deadlines. Don’t you already have enough deadlines?
Hiring a High Quality Legal Marketing Company
Often, attorneys contact us after attempting to write Web content or a blog themselves. At Consultwebs, we partner with law firms to help present the lawyer’s story in your own words, through websites and social media. We count the attorneys who take an active interest in their websites and blogs as among our most successful collaborations. The comments from our current clients are a strong testament that our clients bring in cases with the websites we develop for them.
High-quality Web content is an integral part of an overall marketing strategy. But it’s a good idea to talk through the many aspects of adding Web pages and producing a legal blog with a knowledgeable Web-marketing consultant. You’ll want to ensure that your content reflects the high professional standards you set for yourself and your law firm.