Monday, November 26, 2012

Law Firm Practice Area Content Pages - Why You Need a Lot of Them

We harp endlessly that the key to search engine optimization is "content."  Content means unique articles/stories/blogs/web pages written for your firm exclusively based on solid SEO practices.  Blogs are natural SEO kings, because they are focused on new content added on a weekly (or even daily) basis. 

However, it is a mistake to focus only on blogs and not on new material that is added permanently to the website itself.

In terms of law firm websites, this usually includes static pages focusing on individual practice areas.  Beyond that, these website pages might include breaking down various aspects of the litigation process, having a frequently asked questions page, locality pages based on specific cities in your area and more.  If you work with an SEO firm or receive counseling from the company that created your website, you have likely been told of the importance of adding content to the website itself--this is in addition to keeping your blog running smoothly. 

Law Firm Practice Area Pages
One mistake that many firms make is assuming that they do not need many practice area pages.  For example, a personal injury firm might have a page for medical malpractice, product liability, premise liability, and a few others.  They may not imagine that they need to break that down much further.  After all, why would you need a birth injury page when those cases clearly fall within medical malpractice.  Isn't a mention of birth injuries on the medical malpractice page sufficient?  Why clutter up the website?

Two main reasons:

First, for SEO purposes you need the detailed keywords for birth injury issues that a stand-alone page can provide.  It is important to include terms like cerebral palsy, erbs palsy, brachial plexus injuries, and other details on your own page.  It is impossible to do that properly without individual pages dedicated to sub-sections.

Second, prospective clients are not versed into the hierarchy of legal terms.  In most cases, all they will understand is the issue facing them: they were in a car accident, slipped on the stairs, were diagnosed with the wrong thing, suspect that their drug caused cancer, or any number of other situations.  In many cases they may not know what their issue translates into in terms of practice area.  That is why, for example, it is important to have pages that use plain language to discuss the problem.  "Dangerous drugs" or "Hip implant recall" is more likely to trigger something with a prospective client that "product liability."  While it is important for the firm website project legal precision, that should not result in individual website pages that are devoid of common language terms and phrases that prospective clients might use.

View Your Website As A Comprehensive Resource
The best approach is to view your online presence as one that involves steadily building up more and more interesting material for consumers.  That includes a two-pronged approach: (1) Permanent pages on your website about timeless issues (i.e. explanations of the most common birth injuries attributable to negligence); and (2) Blog posts that touch on timely topics, helping to connect issues in the news with basic principles of law.  When both of these are done well, the firm is best positioned to do well online for the long-term.

However, it is important to reiterate that while this sounds easy, it is actually a good deal of work.  That is because each of these pages and posts must be uniquely written for your firm.  There are no shortcuts.  You cannot copy and past interesting material or summaries found elsewhere.  Even if you owned the rights to that alternative material, the search engines will not give you benefit for copying material available elsewhere online.  In fact, you are penalized for copying things found elsewhere.  Instead, the material has to be original. 

Legal blog writers and legal content writers are available to help with the task.  Those at our firm, for example, are all attorneys themselves, trained in SEO and able to create unique content on the subject matter you need.  If you need assistance boosting your firm's online presence, there is no other way that via new content.  Take a moment to reach out to our legal writers for help on that front.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why Have a Law Firm Blog If You Don't Update It?

Let me set up a new website and the company which made it encouraged you to create a blog.  You did.  And now you have a nifty little link/tab on your website that says "Blog."  At first, it seemed like a perfect way to share many of your thoughts about your practice area, interesting news developments, and things that happened at your firm.  You added a few posts.  Your web company may even have offered some blogging tips, providing details on the best way to ensure that your blog posts were tailored for search engine purposes.

It all went well at first.   You were excited about the launch of your new online presence.  You were ready to make an impact on the web and be the first stop for potential clients who were searching for a lawyer.  But...something happened...

Running the business got in the way.

At first you wrote a few blog posts a week.  Then you ended up doing it only once a week.  Then there were two-three week gaps.  Eventually, you became so far behind, that you kind of gave up the blog posting thing all together.  You didn't have time for it.  You might have assigned the duties to someone else at the firm, maybe an intern, the office manager, or someone who helps with marketing.  But none of it really worked.

So here you are now, with a blog that is basically dead.  The link is still on your website.  Potential clients can still get to it.  But, it isn't active.  The latest post was months ago.  Oh well, too late now, you suppose.  There are many other things on the to-do list that are far more important anyway.  There is no reason to spend time on something like a law firm blog which would be nice, but is essentially just an extra, unnecessary resource.

Think again.

It is better to have no law firm blog, than a dead one.  Why?  Because not only does a stagnant blog do nothing for search engine optimization, but it may have a negative effect on client conversion.

Think about it.  A community member is thinking about filing for bankruptcy.  They go online to see which bankruptcy lawyers they can find close to them.  Two websites pop up.  They both seem pretty similar, and the client doesn't really know what makes one better than the others.  The potential client first checks out the "Attorney Profile" page on each site.  They want to get a feel for what the person looks like and what their background is.  Is this someone who they can work with and feel comfortable talking about these details? 

What else is on the websites?  One of the attorneys have a blog link.  They click it to see what's there.  They find a page that hasn't been updated for nearly 11 months.  Is this lawyer even still practicing?  Have they closed up shop?  Are they taking new clients?  Who knows, maybe its best just to try the other one first.

This might seem too stretched, but trust me, these sort of split-second, ancillary issues affect web searchers all the time.  That is particular true for the growing number of people going online to find lawyers.  Web searchers are becoming more and more savvy.  They understand that websites are created all the time and then left to the weeds.  They understand that finding a website does not mean that the business is necessarily still active.  A bit more research is needed.  A blog is a good testament to that.  If a blog is active, updated that very week, then there is no question that the doors are still open and a call is welcome.  If the blog is dead, then the searcher might have doubts.

The bottom line: If you are not going to update your blog, it might be best not to have it at all.  However, the best bet is always to have the blog and update it.  The benefits are hard to overestimate, particularly in light of the fact that more and more consumers are finding attorneys online and they are becoming more savvy about it.  If you don't have the time to do the writing yourself, send our legal content writers a message and see how we can help.