The answer to the basic questions about why firms focus on search engine optimization and law firm blogs is all about those two words: New. Clients.
As law blog managers and legal content writers, most of our discussion with attorneys revolves around this basic issue. More individuals than ever find their lawyer online, and so attorneys must position themselves so that those searchers might consider them when making a choice about who retain. That is simple enough. Search engine optimization is all about being seen--and blogs are the key to that SEO effort.
But it is a mistake to end the discussion there. Not only can blogs be a powerful tool to attract new clients, but they play a role in client retention.
When evaluating whether to commit the time and/or resources to a legal blog, it is critical to also weigh the value of these tools for client retention. Focusing on repeat business is not something that only matters in the world of mass consumer goods. It is a concern for lawyers just as it is for Apple and McDonalds.
Blogging plays a critical role in keeping up the relationship with former and current clients. You may have a monthly newsletter or occasional email blasts, but nothing compares with an online spot where those clients can touch in frequently to see what is going on in the firm or be reminded of some interesting facet of the law as it related to your part of the country. It is difficult to quantify this value, but it is undeniable that it exists.
To be fair, some of this hinges on your firm's exact practice area. Some fields naturally involve more repeat customer/client retention issues. For example, while an injury attorney might constantly be looking for the next plaintiff, small business attorneys hope to build longer relationships with existing clients. The potential retention benefit of legal blogging (and all social media generally) would most obviously be present in practice areas where repeat is common.
Yet, even in traditional injury cases, former clients are known to keep some tabs on their firm. Ensuring they have some place to go to keep that contact via the blog and other social media channels is important. Even though a surprisingly large number of community members admit to finding their lawyer online, referrals still exists. Presenting a steady, quality online storefront/interactive space for the firm (via blogs and social networking tools) is important to funneling in those referrals.