Publishing great legal content is one of the best ways to generate organic traffic and lead-in efforts. In this article, you’ll learn how to develop high-converting blog posts for your law firm website, from research and planning to analysis and optimization.
- Build a client persona to understand what your audience wants to read
- Perform competitor research and keyword research
- Focus on delivering more value to your reader, not necessarily more words
- Format your articles in a consumable way, consider (and maximize) SEO impact
- Continually analyze how your content is performing and refine your content marketing strategy
Content marketing is a great marketing avenue for solo attorneys and small firms who need low-cost, effective methods. Businesses that blog generate 55% more website visitors and 126% more online leads than those that don’t. That number is likely higher for law firm websites, as 96% of legal consumers use search engines to look for legal advice.
Building a successful blog requires planning and research and understanding exactly what your target audience wants to know. Your legal content should center around providing help and direction for lost and frustrated legal consumers. You will capitalize once they learn you are not only qualified to help, but have a passion to help.
Before we get to the list, a word on hiring legal content writers:
Many attorneys pay content writers to churn out canned articles that are not helpful or engaging. The products are heaps of keywords mashed into coherent sentences within bodies of text totaling a skimpy 500 words. This builds a poor online presence for your law firm. You might say, “well, I only purchase content for SEO anyway.” If that’s the case, live and die by this quote:
“GOOGLE ONLY LOVES YOU WHEN EVERYONE ELSE LOVES YOU FIRST.”Wendy Piersall
High-converting, targeted legal content delivers value. Before publishing an article to your law firm’s blog, ask yourself these questions:
- “Is this content relevant to my target audience?”
- “Is this content written in a way that is easily understood by my target audience?”
- “Does this content educate my readers?”
- “Does this content answer the questions that brought my readers to my website?”
If you’ve answered “no” to any of the above, revise as necessary. To build great legal content that answers “yes” to each of these questions, let these 5 steps guide you:
#1 — Build A Client Persona
To deliver value to your target audience, you first need to determine what your target audience finds valuable. To determine what your target audience finds valuable, define your target audience by building a client persona.
A client persona is a fictionalized character who establishes a model for your ideal client. Although basic characteristics about a person like age and gender are major influencers on how you will build your Unique Value Propositions (UVPs), your client persona goes much deeper.
Sure, all of your clients are different people with different lives, but it’s likely they share certain qualities, characteristics and frustrations. Once you discover common characteristics, you can determine not only what your persona finds valuable but also how to deliver it in a consumable way.
Remember, your clients didn’t go to law school, so define even common legal terms.
Start by defining demographics: gender, age, education, income level, marital status and geographic location—then go deeper. Get to know your persona by determining what television shows they like, what hobbies they have, how they consume media, what kind of home they live in, where they like to dine and anything else you can think of that might make for developing a strong marketing angle.
Lastly, you want to understand your persona’s motivations. In the legal services marketplace, motivations are often a fear or frustration. Legal clients come to you looking for a solution to a looming divorce, bankruptcy, traffic ticket, etc. Since problems are a main motivator, find a way to market to their frustrations (i.e. write content that previews a solution).
Here’s an example:
Attorney John H. Williams specializes in employment law and gets many workers compensation claims. His clients are typically fearful of not being able to provide for their families after being out of work due to injury.
Using this fear to develop content, John writes a blog article detailing exactly what they have to do after getting hurt on the job to maximize their chances of receiving worker’s compensation. He tells readers if they wait too long after experiencing a minor injury that escalates, for instance, they could lose their right to receive compensation. He also tells them that by hiring an experienced attorney, they have their best chances at receiving compensation, etc.
John formats his content as a step-by-step guide or checklist, detailing everything that a worker must do after being injured to ensure that they are eligible to receive worker’s compensation. Within his article, he used his client persona’s motivation to make things more appealing: “… so you can continue to be the provider for your family.”
#2 — Competitor Research & Keyword Planning
Once you know what your clients want, build a content development and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy by discovering top search queries of your target consumers.
Start developing content ideas by writing down some of the most common questions you get during client intake. Do you have any canned responses you regurgitate for every new client? Are there resources you constantly send to new clients in order for them to get their footing? These things can (and should) be used to develop your content strategy. Once you’ve complied a list, use online tools to find more topics based on search volume and social sharing.
Google Search is a simple one to use for topic development. Your clients are not only searching “Chicago personal injury attorney” or “Silicon Valley IP lawyer.” They are searching for answers to very specific questions.
Here’s how you can use Google Search to find popular queries related to your legal focus:
- Google Auto-fill. Typing, “are patent la” into Google prompts “are patent laws international” to show up in the search bar based on its relatively high search volume. An IP lawyer could write an article regarding international patent laws and protection or about patent laws in a particular jurisdiction for a more targeted approach.
- Google Related Searches. After executing a search targeted to your client base, scroll to the bottom of the search results page to find related searches. These related terms are called “Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords” and help search engines understand the context of a search query or piece of content. For instance, if using the term “IP” when referring to “intellectual property,” how is Google supposed to know that you are not talking about “internet protocol” (i.e. as in your computer’s IP address)? Google sees LSI keywords such as “infringement,” “litigation,” “law,” and more understand the context, eliminating ambiguity. You can also use these terms to develop content ideas, given that they are directly related to a search query common amongst your target audience.
Once you’ve built a list of content topics, find your top keywords (specific words and phrases your prospects often search) and work them into your posts in a natural fashion. Yoast recommends a keyword density (keyword count divided by total word count) between 0.5-2.5%. Exceeding this could make you look “spammy” in the eyes of Google (read about keyword stuffing for more on keyword density).
Use these tools to find top keywords within your legal focus:
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner. With the Google’s Keyword Planner, you enter a keyword to populate a list of related long-tail keywords. They will also provide you with details on each keyword’s search volume, competition level and paid advertising bid range.
- Ubersuggest. This is a free tool developed by Neil Patel. It offers keyword search metrics such as search volume, Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and competition level. It populates a list of relevant suggested keywords pulled straight from both Google Keyword Planner and Google Suggest. Additional functionality allows you you to filter and exclude results based on negative keywords.
British essayist, T.S. Eliot, once said, “good writers borrow, great writers steal.” Don’t plagiarize, obviously, but feel free to steal competitor topics and expand on the groundwork they’ve laid. Look at other law firm blogs to find top-ranking articles and reverse-engineer what makes them so great.
Use these tools to spy on competitor strategies:
- SpyFu provides information regarding who your competition is and what keywords they are using. It also suggests keywords for your own strategy based on competitor weaknesses.
- BuzzSumo allows you to see which of your competitor’s posts are the most shared on social platforms. You can also type in topics and long-tail keywords to see which titles are getting the most shares and backlinks.
- Ahrefs gives you the ability to check “URL Ranking” and scout out websites that are vey likely to link to your content, among many other things. You can also find authority sites that have linked to your competitors articles so you can ask them to link to your better, more-detailed content.
Google’s ranking algorithm used to simply award blog posts based on the number of keywords that matched a given search query. As Google’s ranking algorithm gets smarter, though, legitimate, consumer-focused answers worked into helpful posts are getting the nod over the fluffy, keyword-stuffed blogs without real value.
We offer content strategy & direction through our ongoing SEO plan. We benchmark your competitors, develop an optimization plan, and help your site rank higher through creating more value on your site. Check out the Command Legal SEO product information for more details.
#3 — Deliver More Value, Not More Words
There’s much debate about optimal blog length. Some say short-form, daily posting is better than long-form, weekly posting, while others argue the exact opposite.
Google doesn’t often shell out definitive information that could give digital marketers a way to “hack” their Penguin and Panda algorithms, so they don’t explicitly recommend a word count. Many studies have been conducted, however, and the results lead the industry to believe that the ideal blog length is somewhere in the range of 2,000 words. On top of being favored in search engine ranking results, longer content generates much more social sharing.
Although word count apparently holds weight in the algorithm, don’t obsess over it. Your readers won’t be impressed if you drone on with pointless over-explanation just to hit 2,000 words. Instead, focus on thorough explanation and length will take care of itself. Of course, be sure to work your keywords into the article in a natural way. Always consider the reader first, SEO second.
Content quality can affect SEO:
There are several, measurable website metrics that ultimately affect search engine ranking. Factors like bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who left a website after viewing only one page), page view duration and backlinks are all taken into account by ranking algorithms.
The goal is have a low bounce rate, a high page view duration and plenty of relevant backlinks. That indicates to Google that your content is of high quality.
#4 — Content Formatting & SEO
Once you’ve written your very helpful article, it’s time to optimize the format and on-page SEO elements. This includes building SEO page titles, header tags, alt text, meta descriptions and more. Here are some of the main on-page elements:
- Post Titles. Put your focus keywords at the beginning of your titles when possible. Title structures impact click rate as well. Common formats include lists, how-to’s, definitive guides, reader-addressing (uses “you” or “your”) and question-based. Titles with numbers (i.e. “10 Ways To…”) tend to get the most traction.
- Body Format. Posts made up of “chunky” text are less consumable than pieces that break up paragraphs into smaller, bite-size segments. Adding both white space and graphic elements makes content less intimidating for everyday-consumer posts. HubSpot recommends working in a visual every 350 words. You might look at this post and think, “you have very few images; you’re not practicing what you preach.” If so, good eye, but I’m writing specifically to my client persona, an attorney, who isn’t afraid of dense text.
- Header Tags. Header tags are HTML elements that are attributed to special text on the page, such as titles, subtitles and section headers. For a list-style blog post (like this one), set each of your list items in a header tag to show the start of a new list item. Placing focus keywords within header tags tells search crawlers of the most important topics in the post.
- Image Optimization. Images can be optimized through the use of alternative text (“alt text”), which tell crawlers what an image is about. Alt tags should include keywords relevant to the article.
There are several technical on-page factors that can be used to optimize your content, such as URL slugs, using internal links, outbound links, site speed and more. For more on SEO copywriting, check out 20 SEO Copywriting Tips for Lawyers.
#5 — Content Analysis & Optimization
Monitoring traffic to your posts can help you determine hot topics, best title formats & layout structures, ideal word counts and much more. Configuring Google Analytics and Google Search Console (GSC) gives you the power to determine top traffic sources, page view duration, overall page views, which keywords are getting you the most traffic, etc.
Once you’ve gotten enough data to take action, you can refine your legal content marketing strategy and even go back and boost your top articles to win even more traffic. By going back and revising your top-performing content with more detail and relevant keywords, you can bring more relevant traffic to your website.