Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blogs as Pro Bono Service

We get it.  Law firm blog writing is about search engine optimization.  SEO is tossed around so much these days that it is almost impossible *not* to get sick of the acronym.  Yes, more and more potential clients are searching online for a lawyer.  Yes, that means firms must position themselves to be noticed by those potential clients.  These facts are so clear now that repeating them is a cliche.

But when it comes to blogging, SEO is *not* the be-all-end-all.  That is because, unlike other general SEO tactics, blogging is much more comprehensive.  It is about creating content that is actually interesting or worthwhile to those in your area.  It is about building up a database of useful material over the course of months that, collectively, represents a good overview of the firm's practice areas and its applications in the local community.

In other words, even if SEO were not a paramount part of the process, the blog itself would still have immense value to the firm and the community.  Our legal content writers believe it is important to keep this in mind throughout the blog writing process.  Viewing a legal blog only through the lens of SEO is far too limiting.

Instead, many firms are shifting gears and thinking of the online space as a pro bono service sharing basic information to those who need it.  As attorneys, we very easily get wrapped up in our own worlds, forgetting that many residents have next to zero experience with even basic legal concepts.  This ignorance often leads these residents to making poor choices that have legal consequences down the road.  Many individuals need a lawyer but do not know it.

A blog is the premier tool of spreading information to help these individuals.  Explaining a situation, news story, or generic concepts in terms that make clear that tailored legal help is needed.  Even if a particular online searcher does not contact the firm, the searcher will still benefit from the material.  In that way, the spreading of information can be considered a basic service provided by the law firm to the community without any guaranteed benefit to the firm.

Obviously, there is always a chance that connections, contacts, and other circumstances part of a pro bono project may lead to new clients down the road.  The same is true for blogs viewed in this way.  The information is being shared without any guaranteed fee, but there is always the chance that the relationship created (albeit anonymously) with the online searcher will lead to a paying relationship down the road.  

So many service businesses work in this way.  Yet, in the avalanche of SEO babble and blog talk, this basic principle is so often lost.  Firms are well-served by remembering that their blog is an actual service that is doing good in their respective internet corner.  Some searchers will call.  Others wont.  But many more people are helped by the information that the firm every realizes.

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