Our headline presents two different inquiries:
- How can law firms do content marketing? and
- How can they get results with content marketing?
We’re going to answer those questions in two separate sections below. But first, let’s define what we mean by “content marketing” and “results.”
Content marketing is the art of creating and publishing original content for the web such that relevant users (e.g. prospective clients) find your content when they run searches, use social media, look for local businesses, watch YouTube, or whatever else might bring them to the web.
Of course, that won’t do you any good unless some of those people then go on to become new clients — a process we call “conversion.” And that’s how we define results for content marketing: conversion.
So how can attorneys, who are very busy doing other things and not necessarily digital content creators at heart, not only create marketable content for the internet but also actually land new clients as a result?
It’s not what you’d call easy, but it is possible, and in today’s article, we walk you through it.
Part One: How Law Firms Can Do Content Marketing
Here are some actionable ideas for getting started.
Define Your Audience
Never write blindly. Know who you’re talking to. Content is ultimately communication, and that means it’s a two-way street.
Granted, your readers may not talk back, but you do want them to take action, so write with them in mind.
As a starting point, write out a description of your typical / ideal client:
- What are their pain points?
- What are they looking for online?
- What is their education level?
- Do they inherently trust lawyers, or are they skeptical? (Hint: the answer is almost always “skeptical.”)
- What would make them choose one law firm over another?
Think of your law firm as a business. As a brand. What sets you apart? What kind of law firm are you not?
We call this your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). More than just a slogan, it is your law firm’s core message to prospective clients. And while that might sound a little esoteric, trust us: once you’ve sketched out a USP, you’ll think of it surprisingly often while creating content.
Blog, Blog, Blog: Write What You Know
Blogging is one of the most popular, most effective, and most manageable means of content creation for attorneys.
And here’s the good news if you’re a lawyer writing your own web content: the only topic anyone expects you to write about is the one you happen to have a doctorate in.
That doesn’t mean blogging for your law firm is easy or effortless, though. Strategy matters, and we’re going to outline some of those in Part Two below. Consistency matters too, and we’ll tell you why.
But first: a few more ideas on how you can get started with ideas for content marketing as lawyers.
Capitalize on Local Interest, Local Events, and Local Everything Else
Local search marketing is a specific type of attorney SEO that focuses on ranking well in Google searches within your local market. It’s becoming increasingly important in the world of Google Maps and mobile phones, and the latest search engine algorithms prize local content. So try to find a local angle for your content.
Mind you, not every piece of content needs to relate to local interest. But keep an eye open for news or events relevant to your practice areas.
Even by making an effort to watch the local news (or at least following them on Twitter), you’ll find plenty of topic ideas.
Practice Area Webpages: A Page for Every Practice
In addition to blog articles, it is important that your law firm’s website has some static webpages for each area you practice in.
The bigger the market, the greater the number of webpages you’ll need to compete. A small firm in a small town might get by with a dozen or two. But bigger firms in bigger cities may need hundreds or even thousands of webpages to be competitive. So don’t be afraid to get specific. Practice areas can be divided into innumerable areas of special focus or niche.
City Webpages: A Page for Every Place You Practice
In keeping with the importance of local search marketing, consider creating city webpages for your law firm website.
These are similar to practice area webpages, but the content is oriented toward a specific town (or even a part of town). These pages tell Google and other search engines to associate your business with a particular place.
City webpages make sense for law firms because they want clients beyond their office’s city limits. Create city pages for each practice area in each location you wish to serve. Here again, don’t hesitate to get specific.
Social Media Is Content Too
There are many wrong ways to engage with social media as a business or brand — and relatively fewer right ways. Some no-nos include:
- Simply tweeting out links to your webpages or blog articles.
- Striking an excessively corporate (i.e. artificial) tone.
- Failing to interact directly with others.
- Interacting with others in a way that seems salesy.
The hallmark of effective social media is the word “organic.” Keep it real.
Think of each tweet or Facebook post as original content all its own. Even if it’s short, it’s searchable, so make it count. Give people a reason to care about the content of your social posts.
Diversify with Visual Content (Infographics, YouTube, and More)
We won’t delve into 10,000 compelling statistics about how strong an influence visual content has. Just know that we could.
Visual content makes people more likely to interact with your social media, to remember the written words on your website, and to regard your firm as “state of the art.”
So don’t underestimate the power of non-written material as ancillary content. This includes:
- YouTube videos
- Animated tutorials
- And more
Think Outside the Box: Podcasts, White Papers, Brochures, and Beyond
Finally, we want to encourage you never to limit yourself in your conception of the word “content.” There are many kinds. Blogs and webpages get the most mileage, but downloadable assets can play an important role too. These might include:
- Digital brochures
- Client-oriented white papers (long-form guides pertaining to an important legal topic)
- Anything else your creativity can inspire
Part Two: How to Get Results with Content Marketing for Attorneys
We’ve just rattled off nine different ways that you and your law firm can get started with content marketing. But now for the return on your investment: how to make your content work? Because if it doesn’t, it was a waste of time.
This is the hard part. You can write all day, tweet all night, and teach a veritable torts seminar on YouTube, but if people aren’t (A) finding it and (B) taking action on it, who cares?
Below, we present several principles and strategies that can guide your approach to content marketing as lawyers.
The Content Has to Be Good (Specifically, “Google Good”)
Welcome to the most important section of this whole article. It’s where we explicate the golden rule of digital marketing for attorneys: “Content is king.”
Philosophically, Google is utterly devoted to quality. That is its value proposition as a brand. Google empowers people to find the highest-quality version of whatever information they’re searching for.
So Google is, essentially, in the quality business. And it looks for content to determine quality. Content is how Google crawls, understands, and discerns the web.
It’s odd to think about algorithms as critics, but in a very real sense, they are. Google’s web crawlers have gotten very good at distinguishing good content from bad.
The highest quality scores go to content that is:
- Original (nothing duplicated or plagiarized)
- Well written & easy to read
- Full of information
- Well organized
- Free of spelling or grammatical issues
- Of adequate length (Google’s latest updates substantially favor long-form content over short posts)
That’s what we mean by “Google good.”
You Need New and Additional Content All the Time
Search engines reward recency too, as well as consistency over time.
While we would never encourage you to churn out compromising content just to meet a quota (a bad strategy sure to backfire), it is important to think about content marketing as a commitment.
How often should you be publishing new content? That depends on your firm and your goals, but as a general rule, adding at least a few blog articles or webpages a week can go a long way.
The worst thing you could do is maintain a stagnant blog, where months or years go by without anything new.
Be Careful with Keywords
Don’t try to stuff in as many keywords as you can! Easy does it. Pick one or two keywords or phrases to focus on within an article, and then use synonyms instead of repeating yourself over and over.
Google’s latest updates use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which means it can understand the relationship between different-but-related terminology.
Venture Outside Your Own Domain
You can create content for other people’s websites too. We call these “guests posts,” and they pack a punch in terms of SEO. Not only are you tapping into a new audience, but when you link back to your firm’s website, you’re also adding valuable backlinking credibility.
You won’t know if you’re getting results unless you have a way of collecting and measuring them. Analytics is the science of tracking your web marketing efforts over time to figure out what works (and what doesn’t). A wide variety of software is available to help you keep an eye on your efforts.
Above All Else, Be Helpful to Others
The cool thing about content marketing is that while the ultimate goal is self-serving (in the sense that you’re trying to land bigger and better cases), it is also a service to others (in the sense that you’re bringing people the information they need).
Google’s algorithms are designed with exactly that philosophy in mind. The search engine’s top priority is getting the best and most helpful information to its users as quickly as possible. So Google rewards worthwhile content with a higher search rank.
In turn, this means more people will find your content, thereby increasing the number of leads (i.e. people who might convert). So this isn’t a purely altruistic notion — the goal is unquestionably to make you more money. It just so happens that the best way to achieve this goal is by genuinely trying to meet the needs of a Google-searching public.
How do you write helpful content? Attorneys get tripped up on this. Remember: you aren’t writing legal treatises here, nor are you dispensing legal advice. Your web content cannot and should not endeavor to imagine every legal scenario, address every exception to every rule, or fully outline the history of local case law on a given topic.
At the same time, your content shouldn’t come across as pushy, salesy, or “lawyerly.”
The right tone is informative, credible, authoritative, and personable — all with a view toward providing general information followed by a call to action (e.g. “contact us to learn more”).
Case in point: the very blog article you’re reading. We’ve written it to be informative for you. Have we addressed every conceivable facet of content marketing for attorneys? Not even close. But we’ve given you some general information with real substance — a starting point — and with relatively little self-promotion along the way. Hopefully, it has been truly helpful to you. Below, we’ll tell you more about how we can help you grow your practice through content marketing (the “call to action”).
By following this same model for your own web content, you’ll be well on your way.
Too Busy to Manage Content Marketing On Your Own? Let Black Fin Help.
By now, it’s probably clear to you that writing your own web content takes a lot of time. It’s also a bad idea. We recently wrote an entire article explaining why lawyers shouldn’t write their own content.
If you’re a brand-new startup, we’ve given you the tools in this article to get the gears turning on your own.
But if you’re ready to make a serious commitment to dominating the search results within your law firm’s market, call the attorney content creators at Black Fin.
We are a digital marketing & SEO agency that works exclusively with law firms. We’re also business-minded and results-oriented, which means we aren’t shy about our goal: using the web to make more money for your law firm.
Bigger cases, better clients. That’s why we exist. And content marketing is how we get it.
We’ve put many of our law firm clients at the top of Google in their markets (not to mention our own business… through content marketing, Black Fin has consistently been in the top few spots on Google for the keyword attorney SEO). With the right strategy, we can do it for yours too.