Promotion of off-site blogs have been the legal marketing pitch du jour over the past few years. But is it really necessary to have an off-site blog?
Of course as legal content writers we believe that having a blog itself it absolutely crucial. But does it need to be a separate website (off-site) or can it be a page on your existing website (on-site)?
This is a tough question to answer--and as legal ghostwriters we get asked it a lot. On one hand, when considering just the SEO benefits, there are strong incentives to having an off-site blog. This has to do with links. One of the blogging benefits is that you can create links in each post using important keyword phrases that then direct searchers back to your main firm website. All major search engines uses links as the centerpiece of their ranking system. The more links of a certain phrase to a website increases the firm's ranking. Of course there is a lot more to it than that--not just any number of links at any time work--but that is the gist. External links have more value than internal links. That is why off-site blogs are promoted so much. Those external links from a different website are beneficial.
In addition, in some circumstances, there is a second huge perk that comes with off-site blogs--it gives you two bites at the apple. Consider this: A searcher plugs in "Smithville Injury Lawyer" into Google. Of course the goal is to have the John Doe Law Office website come up first. But, if the blog itself is successful, it could also rank well. Therefore, that searcher may find the #1 site on the list is the John Doe website while the #2 on the list if the Smithville Injury Lawyer blog run by the Law Office of John Doe. The searcher no doubt gets the impression from those rankings that The Law Office of John Doe is likely one of the superior firms in the area.
But then again there are benefits to having the new content added to the main firm website on a consistent basis. Besides inbound links, new content is also important to bumping up a site's ranking. An on-site blog provides those benefits.
Each legal blog writer at our firm usually suggests that the off-site blog is best when it might provide an actual chance at two bites at the apple. When starting a new blog, having that benefit is usually only possible when the firm is in a smaller market or in a very niche practice area. For example, starting a new New York medical malpractice blog, there is little chance that the blog will itself rank high on medical malpractice terms. Competition is ridiculously fierce. Therefore, the on-site blog may prove just as useful.
In short: If you are starting a new blog in a common practice in a major city it may not make a huge difference if the blog is on-site or off-site.