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A content marketing campaign can be a catalyst for growing your firm and building a solid reputation. Before jumping in head first, it’s smart to develop the right strategy and plan it out step by step. To get started, you should:
Content marketing is a strategy that involves creating insightful content designed to connect with a target audience and generate leads. Some of the most common forms of content marketing include creating consistent blog posts, submitting articles to directories and posting on social media sites. Here are just a few reasons why it’s important and how it can benefit your law firm.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of content marketing is that it can help you position yourself as an expert in your area of law. Lawyers in Lynchburg, VA who specialize in criminal law might create a series of blog posts about the legal process and break it down into layman’s terms for potential clients. Over time, this can build valuable rapport and motivate those who have been charged with a crime to contact that particular law office.
Another benefit is the increase in search engine rankings that may result after running a content marketing campaign. Since search engines value fresh content and quality backlinks, creating content like blog posts can give you a nice SEO boost. This should ultimately result in more organic traffic from highly targeted visitors who may end up as paying clients. It also gives your law firm an advantage over competitors in your area who have static websites that are rarely updated.
Finally, you should be able to gain trust and become a cornerstone of your community through content marketing. By consistently creating excellent content and responding to comments, it’s fairly easy to build long-lasting relationships. As long as you nurture these relationships, you can achieve some serious trust with your audience. The deeper the level of trust, the better it is for your law firm. Just like any business, trust is monumental for success, and it can position your firm at the forefront in your community. In turn, it’s common to establish brand ambassadors who will spread the good word, which can bring in even more business.
Frequently asked question documents have been around for far longer than the Internet. Long before the World Wide Web became a part of our daily lives, FAQ sheets could be found as printouts at business locations, given to customers to, well, answer their most commonly asked questions. Law firms often kept FAQ documents in their offices for the benefit of clients.
Humans are inquisitive by nature, and even more so when it comes to legal matters. Attorneys are often relied upon to provide answers, sometimes to the point of becoming besieged. Visitors who arrive at law firms’ websites will invariably have questions. A law firm that deals with debt elimination in North Carolina, for example, should expect to constantly hear questions about the difference between Chapter 7, 11 and 13 bankruptcy proceedings. If a firm that often receives questions about this, including a section on their FAQ page about the differences becomes a resource for the client and a time-saving asset for the attorneys.
People keep coming back to the Internet for answers, which explains the growth of social Q&A network Quora and the interest by legal information websites to provide Q&A platforms. There are two major search engine optimization considerations that warrant the inclusion of FAQ pages in law firm websites:
The practice of law is filled with mysterious jargon and strange concepts. FAQ documents offer an excellent opportunity for legal professionals to explain what terms like inter alia and force majeure really mean and address esoteric-sounding terms like unclean hands and quit claim deed without dedicating whole pages of content. There is also the consideration of the question itself; search engine indexing programs will retrieve Web documents that closely match the user’s query. To this end, including questions such as “What is debt relief?” as part of the FAQ is a good SEO practice.
How can legal professionals tell if their websites are too old? Obvious signs include pager numbers in the contact section, animated Flash intros set to New Age music, FrontPage extensions, Comic Sans MS fonts, animated navigation icons that resemble flames, etc. Other signs that are less obvious but equally indicative include lack of social media buttons or widgets, the absence of a blog, page templates that emulate print brochures, content that dates back to the Rehnquist Court but ignores the Roberts Court, and more.
Old websites can have a very negative effect when converting website visitors into interested prospects and potential clients. An effective and expensive paid search results campaign can virtually evaporate if visitors stumble into a law firm’s site that looks like it was designed using old MySpace templates. Attorneys should always assume that their visitors are Web-savvy and sensitive to page layout and content.
The problem with design layouts that have obviously failed to keep up with Web design trends is that they can make visitors feel uneasy. If they arrived from a search engine result, they may think a law firm has gone out of business but the site has not been taken down. A fresh and modern layout will have the opposite effect and will instill confidence in the visitor and boost credibility for the firm.
Old content can be even more problematic. For example, a Venice Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney would not want to have blog posts up featuring opinions written before the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 — they want fresher content with accurate information. Site visitors and prospects are very likely to seek available, up-to-date information when they visit the website of a legal professional.
Another pitfall of old websites is that they are less likely to be mobile-friendly. This is a modern cause of poor conversion metrics and higher bounce rates, particularly when considering the sheer growth of mobile Internet searches.
With the rapid rise of data mining and associated analytic tools for prediction, marketing and tracking on the Internet, it is no wonder that 2013 has been already named as the International Year of Statistics.
In honor of the International Year of Statistics, we here at CaseDetails.com are running a biweekly series on statistics to give you a better understanding of where statistics come from, where they are going and how they can help your law firm’s website succeed. Throughout 2013, we’ll discuss the history of statistics, the statisticians that have brought the practice into strong focus for marketers, how to use statistics in your website today, and where analysts predict that statistics will go in the future.
The intent of this series is to educate and inform lawyers and law firm marketers on the possibilities, potential and importance of statistics in developing great content, brands and other aspects of a good lawyer website.
Knowing about current trends in online marketing is always useful for anyone trying to get business online. As far as statistics are concerned, there are many different ways they can help you improve your firm’s business. For instance, as a family law attorney in Westport, the statistics might advise you on your target demographic, effective keywords, common topics, divorce and child support trends, and other information that you can use to tailor your marketing efforts.
By getting a handle on your target market’s tracking data and other useful information, you can tailor your marketing strategy to maximize your firm’s business. That being said, even though this is the International Year of Statistics, statistics should not be considered the end-all, be-all compass for your Internet marketing efforts. Statistics won’t give you any magical bullets, but if used in tandem with intelligent strategy and informed judgment, they can be highly effective.
Maintaining a strong brand, using customer service best practices and building lasting connections with your clientele are all just as important. While statistics will help you connect with clients, it takes the human touch to convince them to stay.
Lawyers dipping their feet into the world of online marketing may initially be driven by a sense of competition with other legal professionals in their geographic area or field of practice. This is perfectly understandable; lawyers tend to have type-A personalities and are driven to succeed and be the best at everything they do — which is part of what makes them successful lawyers. However, law firms seeking to develop websites should keep in mind that other lawyers are not their only, or perhaps even their most important, competitors. You have to develop your website with the entire Internet in mind.
Rather than competing with the Pittsburgh attorney across the way, consider the entire Internet as your competition. It matters less how much better you are than other lawyers and more how good your website is compared to other websites. You should be driven to improve your website not just because you want to stand out from the legal crowd but because you want your site to be up-to-date on current trends and best practices. An out-of-date website design can immediately cause someone to abandon their search for information about your firm.
When users search your website, they are not just comparing you to other lawyers. They are comparing you to the user experience they have had on websites across the Internet. If you don’t provide an experience that pops, stands out or draws viewers in, they will suffer from indifference and quickly close the window or move on to the next website.
The best sites on the Internet follow a set of key technical and creative practices. SEO, design, copy and more are all aspects of creating a quality website. You want to create crisp, clean experiences that stand out from the clutter of videos, sites and images that make up the average Internet user’s experience.
Be sure to study up on how to build a better online experience for your potential client base. Don’t worry about what the lawyer down the street is doing. If you can follow best practices to create a great website compared with the best sites on the Internet, your business will improve no matter what the other lawyers do.
Improving click-through rates and driving more business to one’s website or blog is a primary focus for lawyers beginning to establish a web presence, and they can benefit from using preview images or other engagement objects to improve their website’s search rating and create more leads. Embedding such objects is a quick, easy way to improve a site’s value and reach even more clients.
A landing page with a preview image is over three times more likely to be clicked on than the same page without a preview image. This was confirmed in a statistical study that showed that preview images improved a landing page’s conversion rate by as much as 359 percent.
There is a lot of text on the Internet; consequently, a relevant and attractive image will stand out and draw a viewer in. Preview images and other media such as videos are often called “engagement objects,” meaning that they can be used to engage the viewer’s attention while searching. When a viewer is comparing the website or blog of employment lawyers in Pittsburgh to their competitors’ websites, for instance, this small detail could make all the difference in his or her ultimate choice.
Using preview images in your legal firm’s website or blog is as easy as simply changing up your landing page’s design: Rather than having it only include text, consider embedding videos and images to make it a multimedia experience for potential clients. As the web becomes increasingly social, you can receive a big boost in interest if a client links to your informative videos or images.
Content farms, whether intentional or not, were heavily targeted by Panda and its subsequent updates. Some websites were unfairly stripped of their SERP rank in this regard. Family law attorneys who followed their SEO consultants’ advice to create lots of relevant content loaded with keywords were determined to be trying to game the system and were summarily pushed down the SERP. It did not matter that the site content was of high quality and relevant to the intricacies of dissolution of marriage in North Carolina or spoke to the benefits of hiring a qualified divorce attorney; if Panda said it was duplicate content or stuffed with too many keyword phrases, down the SERP it went.
Enter the subdomains
A current SEO strategy to remedy the content farm judgment by Panda is to relocate content to subdomains. This is ideal for law firms that have different areas of practice. A family law firm can separate its content into different subdomains for divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, protective orders and more. One advantage with this strategy is that new subdomains are seen by search engine crawlers as fresh pages, and thus SEO consultants can apply all the current best practices regarding content, layout, author tags and more to these pages.
If the content on the domain has gone stale, the subdomains can be used to feature articles that mention current events, such as the North Carolina judge who was reprimanded for gossiping on Facebook about a divorce case with one of the attorneys. If the content on the subdomain becomes viral, Google will eventually reward the entire domain with appropriate SERP rank.