How To Create a Content and Attorney SEO Calendar
Producing fresh blog and website content every week can be challenging for any law firm, large or small, and there’s no easier way to alienate an audience than pushing redundant content merely for the sake of production.
Creating a content and SEO calendar can help your law firm produce higher quality, regular content. A well-planned calendar might also focus your firm on its long-term legal marketing and SEO goals and help your firm revamp its overall marketing strategy. Refer to the simple how-to guide below to design a comprehensive content and SEO calendar this year.
1. Assess your current strategy
What do your prospects and clients respond most favorably to? Informational articles about divorce? Visually appealing infographics? Email newsletters that include a “Get to Know Our Attorneys” feature?
The first step toward revamping your legal marketing strategy is to analyze what currently appeals to your prospects and clients. Keep in mind that various audiences might not like the same things; prospective clients might be more interested in extensive educational pieces while existing clients may prefer to receive brief updates about your law firm, for instance.
2. Plan a variety of strategic content
After determining the materials that accrue the largest amount of interaction and feedback, your law firm can start tailoring its legal marketing calendar around the pieces that peak consumers’ interest instead of wasting valuable marketing resources on ineffective content.
Pull up a calendar of the next quarter or rest of the year and start plugging in weekly content ideas and themes. For instance, one month of your firm’s annual calendar might look like this:
- March 31-April 4: Monthly newsletter including updates about newly hired attorneys
- April 7-11: White paper focused on “The Timeline of a Typical Personal Injury Case”
- April 14-18: Infographic based on last week’s white paper
- April 21-25: 300-word blog article titled “The Truth About Personal Injury Settlements”
Keep in mind that all marketing pieces should have an SEO component; be sure to include effective keyword phrases that cause your firm to rank higher on search engine results pages.
3. Consider optimal marketing times
According to data from Facebook, the most optimal days to post on Facebook are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Marketing research shows that most consumers open emails in the early morning hours, around lunchtime, and after dinner. These statistics vary depending on audience and industry, so it’s important that your law firm experiment to discover the best times to push your marketing material.
4. Marry content and social media
Blog posts that go no further than your webpage do no good for your law firm. It is absolutely essential for law firms to include social media activity in their legal marketing calendars. One way to do this is to schedule out certain times every week to post on social media and interact with your audience (don’t forget to keep optimal marketing times in mind when doing so!). Soon enough, spreading content to social media will be second nature!
12 Ways to Rank Higher: Integrating Attorney SEO Essentials Into Content
2 million new blog posts are uploaded to the internet every day, according to MarketingProfs. Contently reports that 300 hours of video flood online every minute. With this deafening storm of content, many attorneys wonder how to reach the right prospects and convert them into clients.
The answer is search engine optimization marketing, or SEO. It’s no longer just for websites but for every piece of content that your law firm produces as well. Start with these 12 SEO best practices that can help your content rank higher, and connect with more business in the months and years to come.
SEO Best Practices: Keywords
1. Use the Primary Keyword in the Article Title and Headline, Near the Front
Including your carefully chosen keyword helps to explain to search engine bots what your attorney marketing content is about and increases the chances of you ranking for the topic at hand, while placing it near the front helps to catch readers’ attention. You can also include secondary keywords in the headline when appropriate but don’t force it.
2. Limit Titles to 70 Characters
Anything above 70 characters is cut off with ellipses on search engine results pages (SERPs) and becomes less appealing on social media sites.
3. Optimize Meta Descriptions
A meta description is the short summary of an article or website that is displayed on SERPs.
Example of a meta description for a webpage
Well-written meta descriptions can improve clickthrough rates by demonstrating the page’s value to readers. From an SEO standpoint, they can indicate to search engines that your articles provide valuable insight about a specific topic.
Include your primary and secondary keywords in the meta description alongside action words, like “learn what to do if you are arrested for DUI.” (Just keep in mind not to overstuff keywords into your meta description, which can hurt your clickthrough rate). Then, pare the description down to 160 characters—anything beyond that is cut off with ellipses, like article titles.
4. Include Keywords in URLs As Well
Create URLs that are descriptive and easy to search for, such as lawfirmwebsite.com/blog/is-chapter-11-bankruptcy-right-for-me.
5. Sprinkle Keyword Phrases Throughout Content
Keyword stuffing is a no-no that will get your law firm penalized by search engines, but feel free to organically include your primary keyword at least two times throughout body content.
Also, keep in mind that while your primary keywords should absolutely make an appearance, other similar keywords should have their time in the sun as well—naturally include variations of your primary and secondary keywords in order to capitalize on partial keyword matches.
6. Use Formatting to Your Advantage
Try highlighting keywords by using bold, italics, and underlining when appropriate. Search engines pick up on these formatting tweaks, which could help your content rank higher.
7. Include Anchor Text With the Proper Keywords
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink, which is typically underlined and in blue font. Use anchor text strategically to internally link to content for specific topics. For instance, let’s say that your law firm’s marketing team writes two blog articles: one about the most common types of field sobriety tests and one specifically about the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
You could link from the field sobriety test article to the other with the term “horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN),” and from the horizontal gaze nystagmus test to the field sobriety test article using the term “field sobriety tests.”
Just be sure to regularly go through and check that all links still work properly so your attorney marketing content isn’t promoting broken links. This is not only frustrating to readers but also harmful to SEO.
SEO Best Practices: Images
8. Describe Images Fully
Search engines can’t “read” images; they only know what you tell them, namely, how you describe them in alt tags. Be descriptive—explain exactly what the image involves and try to include your keyword, such as “man in handcuffs arrested for DUI.”
SEO Best Practices: Usefulness, Readability, Shareability
9. Provide More Value Than Anyone Else
Rather than just producing the same old content as everyone else in your space, ask how you can provide twice as much value as the next law firm through your content. As long as you spend time and effort promoting it, a smaller amount of incredible content will result in much greater ROI than a large collection of mediocre attorney marketing materials.
For instance, Backlinko’s Brian Dean doubled his website traffic in just two weeks using one massive, well-developed guide that beat everything else out there. You can do the same for your law firm if you aggressively focus on providing exponentially more value than the next legal practice.
Tip: Don’t have time to create incredible content? Take advantage of the James Legal CRM library of well-designed content, and then save time by sending materials to prospects automatically.
10. Make It Easy to Share
Include share buttons right from your blog article, infographic, email—whatever kind of content you’re creating. In addition, shorten URLs while keeping them descriptive.
11. Avoid Copied Text
Search engines penalize duplicate content. Be sure to rephrase content rather than copying and pasting it, such as when summarizing the conclusions of one blog article in another post.
Bonus: Learn how to create content for every stage of the marketing funnel, so you never have to worry about writing the same old thing.
12. Think About Mobile Users
A good portion—maybe even a majority—of your users will be viewing your law firm’s content on their smartphones or tablets. Make sure that all attorney marketing content can be viewed and engaged with via mobile:
- Create a responsive law firm website
- Design emails with buttons that are easy to push with fingertips
- Use images that are appealing even on tiny screens
- Break written content such as blog articles into smaller chunks
Then, test until you’re confident that mobile users will enjoy their experience.
3 Content Categories for Competitive SEO
When we discuss digital attorney marketing, we generally have one goal in mind: more leads being driven to a law firm via various channels like website optimization, local directory funnels, social media branding, and online reputation management.
One of the biggest, most important facets of online law firm marketing is content development. If you’re a savvy attorney marketer—and as a reader of our blog, you probably are!—then you already know the criticality of a solid content strategy. However, there are many different types of content and it can be confusing to sort through the possibilities.
Let’s take a look at three different content avenues that work best for attorney SEO.
- Long-Form Articles
Assuming that your law firm’s website is usually the all-important starting point for lead generation, you will absolutely want to pay attention to long-form articles.
Different from blog posts, which tend to be shorter and perhaps more topical, the articles we’re discussing here are deep dives into a single subject. Often several thousand words in length, the topics are frequently more complex than can be reasonably tackled in a blog and should be designed to educate your potential clients.
A Social Security disability attorney might focus on an in-depth discussion of these topics, for example:
- Disability hearing: what is the hearing like? Where will it be held? What testimony is expected? Will witnesses be called, and how will they be utilized?
- Legal issues: can drug and alcohol addiction impact a disability verdict? How does age factor into the decision? What is the definition of a severe impairment?
- Evaluation process: who is and isn’t disabled? What’s the sequential evaluation process? What role does the treating doctor play?
Each of these bullet points can be greatly expanded upon. The idea here is that you want to showcase your legal expertise and provide answers that potential clients have been unable to find on other sites. If you can rank for a few choice keyword terms in your geographic area by crafting sufficiently helpful long-form articles, your lead flow will benefit in the long run.
It’s important to note here that any articles (or blogs, for that matter) that you put on your site should be unique. Writing a 2,500-word piece on the differences between a catastrophic injury and one that is less severe might sound daunting, but you should always resist the urge to copy from other sites. Google is adept at discovering duplicate content and you want to set yourself apart from the competition.
- Blog Posts
Our old friend the blog post has had a long and storied history, but crafting high-quality blogs is still widely considered an imperative tactic for increasing a law firm’s web presence. Once you have a website up and running, the next logical step is to begin populating it with timely posts.
Even if you’re a little uncomfortable with writing, you should at least give blogging a try or investigate hiring an attorney marketing firm to do some of the legwork for you. There are myriad benefits that accompany the practice of posting regular, timely blogs.
- Constantly demonstrate your knowledge: when potential clients visit your site, they’ll want to know that you’re an active, experienced attorney. You may just be starting out and not have dozens of case results to reference, but you can still show your visitors that you’re the attorney for them by displaying your legal expertise. If you consistently produce valuable, engaging blog posts, you’ll keep people on your site longer and convince them to pick up the phone by answering their questions.
- Larger site size: the bigger your site, the more content Google has to crawl through…and Google absolutely loves content. This doesn’t necessarily mean larger sites always have better rankings—there are hundreds of factors search engines consider in their ranking algorithms—but you certainly want your law firm to be associated with good content. Blogging is an easy way to add more power to your brand over time.
- Topical nature: I mentioned earlier that blogs can be more topical due to their shorter length (somewhere around 1,000 words is a good target to aim for when crafting your own posts). For attorneys, this provides an excellent opportunity to link with current events. If you’re a DUI defense lawyer, for instance, you might blog about increased police presence around the holidays and post a link to an article from your local police department discussing new DUI checkpoints.
We’re big believers in the power and scope of blog posts. They offer a different user experience than long-form articles and can be produced (and digested by potential clients) more easily. Combining a consistent blogging schedule with the occasional longer article is a great way to improve your attorney SEO.
Multimedia certainly counts as content, and as mobile devices become ever more prevalent, the stock of online video continues to rise. Your site visitors may be looking for a clip that quickly explains a concept from one of your blog posts, or they might want to get a feel for who you are as a person before they hire you as their attorney.
YouTube is a vast search engine in its own right—and part of Google’s ever-expanding network—so you don’t want to ignore its audience. Not everyone wants to read text, and you can still use keywords and other methods to properly optimize your clips in the same way you’d mark up a page of text.
Videos can also be easily embedded on your website and shared on your social media channels. A 30-second educational clip explaining a hot-button legal topic might be just what your audience wants on Facebook, whereas potential clients browsing your website may be willing to spend more time reading articles.
In either case, video offers a different avenue to attract clients to your firm and keep them active on your social channels even after their case has been closed. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new multimedia possibilities; the online landscape is constantly changing and you don’t want to be left behind.
Content Is Your Friend
Your potential clients are going to be interested in information about questions that are important or concerning to them. They’ll want to be reassured that you’re the right lawyer to tackle what may be the most distressing moment in their lives.
A combination of the three types of content discussed above will help you improve your lead flow over time. Content production is often time-consuming, but the rewards can be great. Expanding your online presence increases the power of your brand, so you should put the goal of producing high quality articles, blog posts, and videos near the top of your to-do list.
How To Create Engaging YouTube Videos
YouTube has accrued a reputation in some circles as a host site for countless cat videos, but it can be much more than that to your law firm; when utilized correctly, YouTube can become a free advertising vehicle. According to a study about web use and attention spans, the average person will commit to watching an Internet video for nearly three minutes—an eternity in the marketing world!
One of the best aspects of YouTube is that anyone, from the most tech-savvy bankruptcy lawyer to a technologically inexperienced Social Security disability attorney, can make videos. If your law firm has yet to take the plunge into YouTube, consider the following law firm marketing tips for creating engaging YouTube videos designed to bolster SEO.
Choosing YouTube Video Topics
Pick an interesting topic. Most potential clients are laymen and may be searching for simplified legal information, so topics like ‘An Overview of a Typical Personal Injury Case Timeline in Five Minutes’ or ’20 Quick Facts You Didn’t Know About Criminal Defense Law… But Should’ may catch viewers’ attention. Creating interesting and informational videos is a sure way to accrue viewership and reap SEO benefits when posting videos to social media.
Brainstorm strategies for presenting video content. One simple law firm marketing tip: it’s better to plan the structure of your video instead of pushing the ‘record’ button and hoping that everything goes well.
On a related point, spend some time writing the video script and edit, edit, edit until it is concise and contains the most appropriate SEO phrases and keywords for your firm.
Jump right into the action and information; viewers can—and will—click the ‘stop’ button if they are not engaged, so it’s essential to capture their attention immediately.
Videos should be appropriate for a professional audience but do not need to appear professionally done. In fact, sometimes it’s better to go for a more casual, everyday look to humanize your law firm’s attorneys and demonstrate that they are approachable.
Incorporating SEO and Hosting Videos
Be sure to capitalize on the title, description, file name, and keyword fields associated with your YouTube videos. Include key phrases intended to bolster SEO, such as “DUI Lawyer in Orange County Explains the Legal and Social Repercussions of a DUI Conviction.” Google will pick up on these keywords and phrases, which can boost your SEO results.
After creating a video, post it to YouTube and embed it on your law firm’s webpage. Then, spread it to social media forums like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to maximize exposure and reap the SEO benefits!
The #1 Law Firm Marketing Tip for YouTube
When creating YouTube videos, it all comes down to making unique, valuable, high-quality YouTube videos that attract audiences and make them want to share the clips with their networks. Only then will your law firm truly realize the SEO benefits of creating engaging YouTube videos!
Sharpen Your Content
As we related in last week’s SEO Trends report, the SEO tools provider, Moz has just released a set of tools focusing on content creation. This is part of a trend at the moment of new tools for content. Keyword strategies, along with link building, are one of the main planks of SEO. Content marketing is the art of presenting keywords in a digestible format and content marketing is a particularly hot topic right now – hence, the slew of new tools to support this activity.
As everyone seems to be pouring resources into content at the moment, perhaps it would be a good idea for you to keep up with the pack and analyze your law firm’s content. This week we look at methods and tools to bring content up to scratch. You will read about advice currently appearing at Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, and the Moz Blog.
Here is a list of content tools to work through. The number of tools available right now is daunting, so sometimes it is good to get some direction on how to narrow down the study of options for your law firm’s content creation strategy. The list is neatly broken up into four categories that deal with research, assistants to coming up with subjects to write about, tools to help you write content, and tools that deal with images. Curiously, the author doesn’t mention Moz Content.
Not to be outdone by Search Engine Journal, the Moz Blog has a similar post on useful tools for content marketing and how to use them. This is a very long article and not as well organized as Anna Francis’s piece (above). However, the writer, Paddy Moogan, is a digital marketing agency exec and he structures his advice to contain real examples of how to use the content tools and how they combine to create a working strategy. Curiously, Moogan doesn’t mention Moz Content, either. He spends a lot of time illustrating how to use Buzzsumo, which is one of the tools that Francis rated as well, so maybe that one would be worth a little look.
The “tools” in use by this author are the social media sites. The article covers techniques for writing attractive content out there in the big wide world to draw attention towards your law firm and its website. This article offers excellent advice for those of you thinking of following last week’s SEO Trends report on Outreach Content.
This is another very long list of advice on content planning. The author doesn’t mention many tools in this, but focuses mainly on strategy, and does provide some very good examples. The tools she does mention are ones that you are probably using already for your law firm’s website content. Those are Google Analytics, the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator.
It is mystifying why Google suddenly dropped its Google Authorship scheme. The search engine has continued to increase the importance of trust, authority and reputation in its ranking algorithm, and making writers identifiable and traceable seemed to be a good step in those directions. Tony Edwards postulates that the system may be coming back and gives tips on schema markup that you should include on your law firm’s content pages to prepare for that return. He also speculates that Google+ may soon be binned – which is plausible.
The most popular definition of “content” is “everything that is written on your website.” However, everything that you write about your website in other locations can also be deemed as “content.” Those pieces are meant to draw people in to your law firm’s site so you can get them to understand and want the services of your practice. This extended arm of “content marketing” could be termed as “outreach content.” This is not the content that lives on your site, it is the content that goes out and drums up attention to get people to visit your site.
The Moz Blog has a lot of content about content this week, because it seems that the company has just launched a new tool aimed at content marketers, called Moz Content. They have a particularly extensive resource on their blog, called The Content Marketing Campaign Playbook. This is well worth ploughing through and the Stages 5 and 6 are particularly pertinent to this week’s SEO Trends theme of outreach content.
The information contained in this article could be really powerful in getting your content out in front of millions of people. Have you noticed that Google now answers questions directly on its results pages? For example, if you type in the search “how to make scrambled eggs” you won’t have to click through to a website because the first thing that appears in the search results are the actual instructions on how to make scrambled eggs. That’s content, and it’s someone else’s content that Google is showing for free! It’s right at the top of the results and it has a link through to the provider’s site as well. Content marketing doesn’t get any better than that. If you could get a brief definition of some aspect of the law from one of your law firm’s partners displayed like that, you will have aced outreach content.
This is a sneaky little trick that even the big marketers use, but probably wouldn’t admit to. You piggyback your outreach content onto someone else’s work. Some sites, particularly newspaper and news station websites, attract a lot of visitors and raging debates ensue in the comments sections after each article. This is a good way to seek out people concerned about legal issues, and demonstrate your knowledge of the topic. You direct them to your site for more details. This is a bit like inserting Knowledge Graph advice into other people’s articles. So you preview your content to people likely to be interested in your legal services and draw them in to your site. You can even prepare set pieces and cut and paste them into conversations where appropriate.
Email marketing is a huge field of digital marketing that many overlook. There is a very great danger of being ranked as a spammer and getting all the emails sent out from you law firm’s account blocked by spam filters. The big problem with emailing is where do you get lists of addresses? How can you be sure that those addresses are live, and will their owners have any interest in your services? This article unintentionally has a very good idea. It is about planning an email campaign to promote an event. But hold on … what was that? An event? That would be a great way for you to drum up business for your law firm. Partner with some sort of interest group and set up a workshop event where you give free advice to people with problems pertaining to your practice specializations, then the interest group will email your content out to their mailing list. Double whammy.
Here’s a very sneaky double whammy. This article appears on Search Engine Watch. That is a site aimed at digital marketing professionals and the SEO community. This writer has just started up a new company providing services to digital marketing professionals and the SEO community. He says that clearly at the very top of the piece. He then scatters pearls of wisdom about how to use the Slack site to attract customers. So that’s a piece of outreach content advice that we can use here. Oh, but wait a minute, he also has a link through to his company’s website. So, he’s got some free marketing by writing on a site that already attracts the sort of people he wants to direct to his site. You could do that for your law firm. Hey, but hold on. As you legal eagles reading this SEO Trends report are also the kind of people he wants to attract, by attracting my attention he has got a link through to his article which then attracts people through to his site. That’s link bait. That’s a double whammy.
Everyone in SEO will tell you that content is a vitally important part of your law firm’s digital marketing strategy. It contains the keywords that your Web pages will rank for, it attracts links from other sites, it keeps people on the site, and it delivers your sales pitch. But how should that content be presented? There are lots of ways to communicate with the general public by the written word – not all of them will be on your website. This week’s SEO Trends review looks at the different ways you can present your content in order to persuade someone who is looking for legal services that he should hire you.
E-books can be used to great effect. They demonstrate your authority on a particular topic and they are very suited to complicated subjects, like aspects of the law. When someone downloads an e-book from your site, you can bet they are grappling with a legal problem, and you want them to hire you to sort it out. The e-book should have your law firm’s name printed on every page and should have all of the firm’s contact details on it. Better yet, make the downloader enter his email address in order to get access, then you can put the address in an autoresponder and maintain your visibility through a series of advisory emails – Optimized Attorney uses this technique.
This article is a useful follow up from your studies about e-books. Here you will read about a range of email marketing tools. The article starts off with a good explanation of why email marketing should be used by businesses. This will help you feed through the list you build up through your e-book distribution mechanism and keep in touch with potential clients. You will advise them until they give in and hire you. The article is particularly slanted towards WordPress integration with mail tools. If you don’t want to use WordPress, this article is still a useful read, just for the rundown it gives on the tools that everyone else is using. If you are interested in WordPress, then the next article in today’s review will make for some good reading.
This article is included in our discussion of content formats, because WordPress is the foremost medium for creating blogs, and it is also classed as a “content management system” (CMS). If you expect to put a blog on your law firm’s website, you will probably end up using WordPress to manage it. It is the most widely used CMS on the Web at the moment.
Remarketing is the hottest topic in SEOville at the moment. It is about as hot as mobile-friendliness was back in April. So, putting together remarketing and mobile applications makes this headline so exciting that I just got a nosebleed. Unfortunately, the article itself is not as exciting as the headline promised. Remarketing is like stalking applied to advertising. However, this Google facility merely notifies mobile phone users when there is a new piece of news posted to your website. That’s not quite the same as remarketing. Also, you don’t get access to the enquirer’s number, and they only get notifications about your law firm if they opt in. So it’s more like a Twitter feed than remarketing.
The How-to format could work so well for law firms, but no one seems to be using it. You could post articles on how to do certain legal things – how to change your name, how to write your own will, how to sue your neighbor. This may initially seem to be giving away tricks of the trade and cannibalizing your own potential turnover, but it isn’t. Anyone who wants to do their law work themselves probably won’t hire anyone anyway. Also, you probably have already realized that John Doe just isn’t allowed to perform legal work, so your How-to will probably include “Step 4: Contact Goldblatt & Heinrich to hand over all the documentation you collected.” This is a way you can get potential clients to prep all the casework for you, and once they have done all that ground work, they will have no alternative than to progress onto hiring a lawyer. It’s a slam dunk.
Returning to Content
According to Barry Schwartz, the Google-watching chief at Search Engine Roundtable, the Panda 4.2 roll out is still proceeding. Rumors spread last month that Google had actually reversed its latest Panda implementation, which left the entire field of content marketing directionless. Now it seems that Panda is actually being implemented, it is worth you refocusing on the content of your law firm’s website. Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land all cover content topics this week and there are some tips on how it can aid in link building.
Although Barry Schwartz is the editor-in-chief of Search Engine Roundtable, he also writes for Search Engine Land. His reports for Search Engine Land tend to be more human-readable than his techie talk over on his own site. Here you can read Schwartz’s findings that indicated that Panda 4.2 hasn’t been scrapped, but is in fact taking a lot of time to fully complete. So it is worth working on your law firm’s website content again.
This article covers the fraught issue of content format. In 2014, Google’s search engine algorithm supremo, Matt Cutts opened the year by declaring himself against guest blogging, but then the company got diverted with issues over mapping, local search and mobile-friendliness and forgot all about its anti-blog (guest or otherwise) campaign. Blogs are still safe, and freshness still counts, but you should mix your law firm’s website content to mix in some evergreen expert advice pages as well.
This article proposes that the importance of content could have replaced Google’s founding algorithm, which is called PageRank. It hasn’t and won’t ever, but after running PageRank, Google now runs a whole host of filters that adjust the ranking results of their core algorithm. These 200 other factors are often quoted as decisive and many factors relate to content. Content is important for your law firm’s ranking, but Page Rank is still the basis of ranking calculations.
Search Engine Land has some advice on maximizing the attraction of your link bait content. If you have some great articles on your law firm’s site that hardly anyone ever visits, you have two possible failures that you need to correct. First, your site’s navigation system is not making that great page accessible. In this instance, you should stick a link through to your prized content on the home page to shortcut the navigation structure. Secondly, you need to make the owners and operators of other websites aware that you have that great article for them to read. You need to push your key pages, not just sit back and hope people notice it.
If you have some really good content on your site, but it is getting out of date, don’t despair. Refresh it, and then your great “timeless pieces” can benefit from a freshness ranking boost. Repurposing older content will enable you to hold on to your best legal advice while making it seem like new to Google’s web crawlers.
Google’s original algorithm was based around allotting scores to backlinks pointing into pages on the Web. Links are still at the heart of Google’s ranking method, but the search engine has made gaining scores from links a whole lot more complicated. You are not allowed to pay for them, exchange them or list them. The only way you can get them is to attract them through great content. This article explores how to improve your content and let people know about it, so they will link to your law firm’s web pages.
Content, like linking, is a fundamental element of SEO. As with links, there are different camps of opinion on how content should be implemented. Content is your main channel for putting keywords on your law firm’s Web pages and it will also attract links, prolong visits, convey your credibility and convert visitors into customers. Therefore, the content of your site is really, really important. Google changes the rules on its content-related algorithms from time to time, so it is important to keep auditing your website and make sure all your content is in tip-top shape.Search Engine Journal has a lot of good advice on content this week. You can also read SEO guru Neil Patel’s content writing recommendations from his Quicksprout Blog.
The first Search Engine Journal article about content opens with a warning that sites fall foul of Google algorithm changes. Even the big players in SEO can lose rankings because of an unforeseen algorithm change, so you should expect that type of surprise for your law firm’s site from time to time. The article lists the bad aspects of your content that could be dragging your rankings down. The key factor is quality of content. Law firms shouldn’t face too many problems with these criteria because it is impossible to talk about legal matters without covering something important. The article touches on the issue of length of content on each page. This is a big factor in the industry right now with many sites switching over from the standard article length of 500 to 600 words to longer pieces of 2000 to 2500 words.
Neil Patel runs his own SEO consultancy. He also writes his own blog and is a frequent contributor to SEO news sites. He never writes any article below a 1,000 word length. This article is a long one, and gives you some idea about the length of postings the experts aim for. Neil gives some strong tips about creating content for your site that will engage your target readership. Knowing your audience is key and giving them quality information in a format and language they understand is the way to win clients for your law firm.
The main aim of your law firm’s website is to get clients. This article covers the concept of the sales funnel to drive visitors towards making a commitment and hiring you. It is a basic rundown of the various formats of communications that the digital world offers. You should think about how to encourage people to give you their email addresses so you can then try to keep them interested through an email campaign. White papers are a particularly good idea for legal firms because the enquirer will download a document with your name and contact details all over it.
This article is a list of different presentational formats that will grab the public’s attention. The first on the list is the infographic, which you would have seen mentioned in all the other articles in this week’s review. The infographic was a hot format about a year ago, but now it is old news. Podcasts and video seminars would be really good channels for the public to get to know the practice experts in your firm and establish trust.
These days everything to do with digital marketing has a ton of tools available to make tasks easier. If you are running your own firm and are too busy with your legal casework, you probably would appreciate the time-saving benefits of automation. Scheduling tools for emails and social media are particularly useful, and anything that can give you a comparison between your content and that of your rivals will help. However, the basic rule for quality content is that it should be engaging and error free – which is something only a human can produce.
The purpose of content is to attract potential clients to your law firm, show that you have competence in your field, and to convince them to book an appointment. Additional reasons for content all stem from the practice of search engine optimization. Your website needs to include keywords and the content is there to carry those words. If you have the right words in your content, search engines will pick them up and index them, ready to display it in a list of matching pages when someone enters those words as a search term. Another purpose of content is to attract links to your site. More links from quality sources will put your page’s listing higher than other pages that contain the keywords in the searcher’s query.
The theory behind search engine optimization changes constantly because search engines, particularly Google, keep changing their ranking methodologies. You need to evolve your content to fully exploit its potential and you also need to protect it. There have been some interesting articles on the SEO news sites this week that will help you improve your law firm’s website content strategy. You will hear about advice currently appearing on Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, the Moz Blog and Search Engine Journal.
This is an easy-to-follow guide on how to arrange your content so it focuses its keywords in the right place. There are other articles in this list that better explain about how to research keywords and what technical moves you can make in order to enhance their importance. Here, you get a starting point about examining your existing content for relevance. Fortunately, the field of law is very precise and so it is highly unlikely that you will have irrelevant content on your site. The most likely content mistakes a law firm can have on its website is not having enough of it and not writing in an accessible style.
As a lawyer, you know how important it is to document everything. You might not be documenting your content development process though. Few people do this, so don’t worry if you have never heard of any such documentation templates – they don’t exist. In this article, the writer lays out a documentation system that could prove useful to help you develop your content more coherently and make sure everything that goes onto your website meets all of your goals.
Content occupies a large chunk of what SEO consultants term “on-page factors.” These are the page-based elements of your site and digital marketing campaign that will get your law firm’s website pages indexed by Google with a high ranking. This guide has some useful advice on keyword strategies that include the concepts of searcher intent and related topic targeting.
Getting part of your site designated as a news source would give your law firm great visibility. You don’t need to report on the latest shenanigans in Washington DC, but focus on local news items, such as local campaigns that you and your law firm support. Local news is a great way to get some kudos points to your site. The extra visibility these news pages earn can be fed directly onto other pages on your site through links. Above all, this strategy gets you local search ranking points, which is an SEO priority at the moment – especially for small law firms.
The title of this article is a little confusing. It seems to read as though it asks if the content you have on your site has been stolen from somewhere else. In fact, the article is about what you should do if someone else copies the content from your site and posts it elsewhere. Scrapers are people who copy content from other sites to get into search results only to give the visitor an advert for some barely-legal product, rather than legal services. The annoying thing about this practice is that it makes your site look like one of a forest of scam sites. Many of these fake Google entries might even show your name in the snippet that accompanies the link, which can really damage your authority and reputation. Needless to say, you really need to be aware of this problem and get the copies removed whenever you can.
Google has just completed rolling out its latest update to the Panda algorithm. Panda is a name given to a series of adjustments applied to the raw ranking data Google derives for all the Web pages it detects. Each page is scanned for keywords and then given a score for that page’s relevance to that keyword. Pages with higher scores rank higher in the results pages for searches on those keywords. Panda rewards quality content and penalizes pages with thin, meaningless or plagiarized content, so it would be a good idea to revisit the Web pages of your law firm’s site and assess how the content can be improved.
Search Engine Roundtable is one of the SEO news sites that anyone interested in improving search engine rankings needs to read. Ironically, the site’s content that is all about quality content to improve search engine rankings seems to have got hit by the Panda 4.1 rollout. The Executive Editor of the site consulted some insiders and was tipped that his sudden drop in rankings wasn’t caused by the Panda rollout. However, this highlights the difficulty of keeping track of what Google wants you to do, because they just won’t tell anyone.
Given that Google seems to be getting hypersensitive to content quality, you need some quick fixes to hop up the rankings. “Content curation” is a hot topic at the moment and it is a quick way to get quality content on your site. Basically, this concept involves pinching other people’s content … erm, not as an act of theft, but as an act of homage. Pinterest is the most successful content curation site around at the moment, but you could maybe repost legal opinion from Twitter or news stories concerning your practice specializations, to get some quick curated content on your site.
Chances are your law practice classifies as a “small business.” If you have read up on digital marketing strategies and feel that little of it applies to your circumstances, then this article should bring you some relief.
Of the many people looking for a lawyer, some will land on your website, some of those people will send a message, or make a call, and a percentage of those people will make an appointment to come into your office. A few of those will actually turn up and of those you speak to, one or two will hire you. This series of reduction of numbers is called the “sales funnel” in marketing parlance and this article explains ways your website’s content can make the thin end of that cone as fat as possible.
Remember, Panda 4.1 is gunning for badly written dross. This article gives you a few pointers on how you can spruce up the content of your law firm’s blog and news pages and catch a ranking boost from a certain black and white mammal.
You have probably noticed that most websites have blogs. This is not by accident. Blogs have many uses – attracting links, getting the general public comfortable with your persona, and attracting visitors to your site by giving them useful information. If you don’t have a blog on your law firm’s website, you should get one. Fortunately, there has been quite a lot of talk on this topic in the SEO news media this week which can provide you with guidance.
Google is reorganizing its blogs at the moment, which has caused content in general, and blogs specifically, to be a hot topic in SEO this week. Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal have all covered blogging this week.
Does Google hate blogs or like them? Will they ever turn against them, as they threatened to do two years ago? This news item tells you that they probably won’t. Google runs blogs itself, and so is unlikely to penalize others for doing the same. Blogspot is a subdomain of blogger.com, which is reserved for Google blogs. Blogger.com is owned by Google, so the move to googleblog wasn’t for financial reasons. It is possible that they will now make the blogspot address available to others. However, the lesson of this story is that Google runs its own blogs and so should you for your law firm.
If you are now convinced that you need a blog for your law firm, but don’t know where to start, this article will be a useful read. The author recommends blogger.com’s big rival, WordPress to all and sundry. Try both systems to see which works best for you. A good piece of advice in this article is to make regular contributions to your blog. You should commit to make at least one post per week. Eventually the list of articles in your blog will soon build up. Focus on topics that are likely to be of interest to your clients rather than trying to impress other lawyers. Keep your blog posts clear of corporate news – they can go on the About Us page or in press releases.
Search Engine Watch traveled to London last week in order to save you the airfare to attend the Insight Conference. Here are five (again) tips from the Brits on how to structure your blog posts and how to aim your voice towards the people you hope to motivate into asking you to fix their legal problems for them.
You are a respectable lawyer with a reputation to uphold. However, don’t talk down to your potential clients. There is no point in being worthy and authoritative if no one reads your august words. So, at least for the title and introduction of your blog post, you need to put your shiny tap shoes on and think like a showman. This is a very long article with lots of excellent tips for anyone starting a blog. The examples on titles and introduction are particularly useful.
You may have noticed that the Hook Em article was rather long. That was probably intentional. If you are looking for an opinion on how long each of your blog posts on your legal site should be, the usual answer is about 500 – 700 words. However, over the last year, there has been a fad for much longer pieces of between 1,500 – 2,500 words. There is a lot of evidence that longer articles are better for SEO than the usual 500 – 700 word length – we’ve covered that topic on SEO Trends before. However, the shortform adherents have been licking their wounds and quietly plotting their revenge, and here it is. The proof is slightly skewed by redefining what any writer would term “short,” or “long.” Here shortform is deemed to be below 1,000 words, and longform is thought to be 3,000 – 10,000 words. As a rule of thumb, if anything gets up to 3,000 words in length, split it up into a series or save it as a PDF and make it a whitepaper to be downloaded (use it to attract entries in your email list).
Google has finally rolled out its long-awaited Panda update. However, there has been very little news on this event in the SEO world this week. As we advised you last week, the slow roll out of the filter will cause temporary changes to your rankings. The best strategy is to simply ignore your rankings for a few weeks, because they will not have any long term meaning until the Panda filter has been fully applied to all the pages on the Web. Given that Google has not released any information about changes to its Panda filter and SEO analysts are unable to determine Panda’s influence on rankings just yet, where do you go for guidance on content? The answer is herding. If you do what everyone else is doing, and that strategy gets hit, then everyone gets hit … so no one’s rankings fall. Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land are the main SEO news sites and they all point towards “user experience” as the current fad in content creation.
Searchmetrics has produced the latest version of its annual analysis of ranking factors. It looks at hundreds of thousands of Web pages and collates their rankings for different keywords. The characteristics of the top ranking pages are marked, helping the analysts to work out what factors put pages at the top of search engine results pages. If you’re too busy with your case load to read the full report at the Searchmetrics site, this Search Engine Watch article offers a time-saving summary. Interesting snippets from the report are that you no longer have to pepper your text with keywords in order to rank for those terms, and that the average word count of winning pages is getting longer.
Sadly, the report notes that video content will not help your rankings at all. You will find a large section of the article dedicated to “user experience.”
The SEO experts are in a constant argument over whether content or links are more important in rankings. The new industry buzz phrase that allows old enemies to put the content/links argument to one side is “user experience.” This factor boils down to whether visitors like the pages on your site. What exactly makes a page attractive and how anyone measures user experience starts a whole new argument. This article is an attempt to identify the user experience factors of content. The writer advises on covering a topic rather than specific products. For law firms, that strategy would not be too difficult to implement. In fact, you are probably already doing something along these lines already. To implement this idea, you would need to post articles giving general legal advice to the public on day to day problems that would cause them to look for a lawyer.
This Search Engine Land gives tips on what to do if your content is just not boosting your rankings. Thinking about it, however, should you really care whether your law firm gets to the top of Google’s search results pages? The first graph in this article is probably the most informative part of this whole study. Apparently most website owners prioritize website traffic as a benchmark of success. However, surely increased sales should be the goal. There is no point attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to your law firm’s website, if none of them ever come in and hire you. This is probably why “user experience” should be a bigger goal for your content strategy than some technical tweak that will get you an increase in visitors to your site. Google states that successful user experience signals will boost your rankings, so if you focus on providing content that keeps your visitors on the page for a length of time (an average of 133 seconds, according to the Searchmetrics study) you will know you have engaged the public and sales should increase.
This article explains how to present your most important website content. Those topic advice pieces that you wrote shouldn’t be allowed to age out on a blog. Instead you need to place each on a stand-alone page and link to them directly from your Home page. Identify at least four key topics that your law firm gets clients through again and again. Write an article on each and then put a “Features” column on the right hand side of your Home page, with adverts for each of those articles. Fast tracked access to important content is a key element of user experience.
Can website content be generated automatically? This article explores the topic of machine-generated content, but posts its conclusion in its title – NO. Given that you have already read the executive summary, you might decide not to bother reading this article, but to get on with your case load instead. However, buried deep in the page are two very important lines of advice on how to go about formulating your content strategy:
- First, the creator must find something that attracts the audience’s attention and allows him to get his message across.
- Second, he must provide value to the audience so they will not feel as though their time is being wasted.
That’s “user experience” in a nutshell.