Updated February 17, 2016.
No matter what business you’re in, the content on your website is designed to get conversions. Law firm websites are no exception. The content on your law blog and the rest of your site will affect how well your site ranks and how many clients you can draw in. What does it take to create great legal content?
Here are the highlights:
- Do your basic SEO due diligence for all content
- Don’t run afoul of the legal ethics rules
- Include a mix of general and specific topics on your law blog, all keyword-optimized
- Write for a layperson – your readers won’t appreciate legalese
- Make your content skimmable and visually appealing
- Capitalize on the Knowledge Vault to boost your rankings
- Quality is key
- Track your website data to figure out what is and isn’t working for you
Remember The Basics
No matter what type of content you’re writing, basic SEO practices will serve you well. That means:
- doing your keyword research but not keyword stuffing
- including your keyword in the title, URL, and meta-description
- using appropriate internal and external links
- checking for typos and grammatical errors
- including relevant images and videos
You have to check these basic boxes to get your content ranked. Even if your content is incredibly informative and useful, it’s not going to do you any good if your prospective clients can’t find it when they search the web. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is a good way to make sure you’re hitting all the major SEO marks for your content – it will automatically track your keyword density, use of heading tags, inbound and outbound links, and more.
Be Mindful of Ethics
This seems obvious for legal content, but seriously, check with your local bar association. The rules for attorney advertising apply to websites, so you’ll need to make sure you’re in compliance. For example, New York requires that law firm web sites say “Attorney Advertising” on the home page (Rule 7.1(f)) and Ohio prohibits lawyers from claiming to be “experts” in an area of law other than patent or admiralty law (Rule 7.4(e)).
In the same vein, you’ll want to include a robust disclaimer to explain that the content on your site doesn’t constitute legal advice. Even with that disclaimer, keep the issue of “giving legal advice” in the back of your mind as you create content – you don’t want to get in trouble for writing a blog post that could mislead readers.
Choosing The Right Law Blog Topics
Now that we have the logistics out of the way, it’s time to actually start writing. How do you choose topics for your law blog?
Start by brainstorming a list of topics that are relevant to your practice and then use a keyword tool – like the Keyword Planner in Google AdWords – to find the keywords related to that topic that will drive traffic. If you’re having a hard time coming up with topics in the first place, the Keyword Planner can give you some ideas, as can UberSuggest. You’ll need a mix of general and specific content about your practice areas. For example, say you’re a bankruptcy attorney. Some of your posts will provide general information, such as “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions.” Other posts will address more granular issues, like “How Will Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Affect My Car Lease?”
General content is valuable because it helps you establish your site as an authority to the search engines. You’ll also link to this content from your more specific pieces, which is good for your linking structure and helps draw visitors deeper into the site. As always, do your keyword research to make sure you’re tapping in to the most traffic possible.
Your keyword research really kicks in for the granular pieces. You’re looking for issues that are fairly specific, with a reasonable search volume and low competition. Those are the pieces you’ll be able to rank for. These are also the posts that will draw in serious potential clients – they’re not searching for those issues just for fun.
Once you have some topics lined up, it’s helpful to set them up on a calendar. That will help you remember to keep blogging and also allow you to space out your content so you’re publishing regularly.
Forget Everything You Know About The Law
You’ve picked a topic and now it’s time to go back to those halcyon pre-law school days. As a lawyer, you’re used to drafting contracts and briefs and other highly technical documents. As a content writer, you need to throw all of that out.
Your readers aren’t lawyers – if they were, they wouldn’t need to read your content. They’re not comfortable with legalese or the law in general. Your law blog is a way to provide them with the answers they’re looking for in a way that’s accessible and relatable. If you use legal terms and concepts, define them clearly right away. Keep the tone friendly and conversational – you didn’t like reading your law textbooks and neither will your readers.
Keep It Simple
No matter how easily-digested the content is, most people still won’t actually read it. In fact, about 80% of your site’s visitors are going to skim through the headings and go on their way. So, you’ll need to structure every piece of content to make sure the most important parts jump out at a casual skimmer. You can catch your readers’ eyes by:
- using bullet lists
- putting key terms in bold
- including images and infographics to illustrate what you’re writing about
- making your headings pop
In other words, make it as easy as possible for your reader to get the gist of your message.
Unlock The Knowledge Vault
So we did just tell you to avoid being too technical, but there are a few formalities that can actually improve the performance of your content. That’s because the Google Knowledge Vault rewards content that has concrete facts and references. For example, you might include a reference to a specific piece of legislation or code section. You can also include factoids related to the issue you’re addressing in the post.
Let’s go back to our “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions” example. You can include references and links to the relevant sections of the bankruptcy code and the local rules. You can also add related facts, such as a statistic that shows how many people are completely covered by the exemptions.
Quality Only Hurts Once
Legal blogs are held to a higher standard than other types of content. Search engines are uncannily good at judging the quality of content – gone are the days of keyword-stuffing and link spamming for ranking. The search engines are really good at identifying content that is well-structured and informative. That means there’s no shortcut for this part. Your content just has to be good. Cover each topic thoroughly, include appropriate internal and external links for reference, and organize the post with the proper H tags.
Get Your Geek On
You’ve put a lot of work into your content, what with the SEO and the ethics rules and the keyword research and topic choice and the writing and the research and the organization. Now you want to make sure it’s working for you. That means keeping track of your posts’ performance.
If you notice that a piece isn’t up to snuff, it’s time to go back and rework it to make sure it’s optimized, accurate, and high-quality. You’ll also be able to see which pieces are performing well and see if you can duplicate that success across the rest of your law blog.
Go Forth And Write!
Legal content takes a little bit more care and attention than other kinds, but it’s crucial to the success of your law firm website (and all the conversions it can drive). Your law blog is a way for you to draw your clients into the legal world and make them feel more comfortable addressing their legal issues. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump until they’re sitting in your office for their first consultation.