Category Archives: SEO

Ten Top Tips for An Effective Law Firm Blog

Lawyers tend to be fastidious people. They would not be successful in what they do without a keen attention to detail. Appearance is also important to attorneys. When you show up in court, you want to look your best. How can a judge or jury respect your expert opinion, if you don’t respect your own wardrobe?

In saying that many law firms fail to take the same approach to their websites. I still find websites out there that are the equivalent of 1974 in fashion sense. They are wearing facial hair and flairs and look dated. Of course, in terms of web technology you don’t need to look like 1974 to be dated. Looking like 2008 will do the trick.

I’m still struck by the number of lawyers I meet who are not putting new content on their websites. They may have paid a company such as FindLaw a large sum of money to develop their website two years ago and it’s now just out there gathering dust. And they are wondering why the leads are falling off.

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Many lawyers are suspicious about blogging and the addition of new content to their website. Attorneys are busy people who have little time to blog and when they do they can make the mistake of writing the kind of ‘insider’ content that would interest other lawyers like themselves, but be of little interest to potential clients or the general public. They may also be suspicious of hiring writers and researchers to help them, even though it’s a lot quicker and easier for them to review content and make additions than to write it from scratch. There are many reasons why your law firm or any other small business will benefit from regularly posted blog content.

A law firm blog is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote your business. If it’s done right it can drive traffic to your website at a fraction of the cost of a pay-per-click campaign, it can increase your client base and establish you as an authority in your field. Occasionally, blogs can have a direct result. In any given year a small number of blogs I write about auto accidents, have led directly to sign ups from people who have searched for the name or the name of a family member. The same can be true with crime blogs.

Here are 10 tips for an effective law firm blog.

1 Write your Blog to Meet your Customer’s Needs. You may be very happy about the fact you have just received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell, but your potential clients won’t. Not only have they probably never heard of Martindale Hubbell but they are more interested in finding out how long their bankruptcy proceedings will take, whether they are eligible for workers’ compensation, whether they will lose their home in their divorce or whether they can make a claim against a trucking company for their injuries.

2 Answer the Question. If your potential client wants to know how long he has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in North Carolina, write a blog titled ‘How Long Do I Have to Bring a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in North Carolina?’ However, you should vary up the FAQs. The more you have out there on your website, the more likely you will get an exact match with a potential client’s question. If he or she likes your answer, you are more likely to get a call.

3 Be Local. There are a number of outsourced cookie-cutter writing services there that will deliver generic blogs for you. Some of them may be written by services in places such as India which will deliver vanity phrases and links that can harm your website. A few years ago, it was easier to get onto the first page of a Google search by stuffing your content with phrases such as “Atlanta personal injury lawyer.” Today a series of complex algorithm changes means Google will penalize this kind of writing. You need to be writing about real issues and events in your local community in the way your community newspaper would have done in years gone by. It will resonate with the local people you want to get as clients as well as the search engines. If you are supporting a charity or doing community work, blog it.

4 Develop a Blogging Style. You should develop a consist form of writing that’s not overly formal. A blog is the human face of your business and you may develop a fan base among people who know you. If you are hiring a writer, he or she should get to know you and your style and write accordingly. Throttle back on the sales pitch. I usually find a subtle call to action at the foot of a blog will suffice for the sales pitch.

5 Be Substantial. A word count of about 400 will help your blog to be found online. If it’s longer than this, you should consider breaking it up into categories.

6 Post Regularly. It stands to reason that the more content you have out there, the more likely potential clients will find your blogs. There’s not a lot of consensus about how often you should blog but you should post blogs regularly because if you are creating a steady stream of writing and it stops, it will look as if you are out of date or don’t care about your online appearance. Aim for at least one blog a week but two or three is better.

7 Use Visuals. It’s an increasingly visual age so why are we still inundating people with blocks of text? As a former newspaper reporter, I’m painfully aware of how the younger generation gets its media in a different way than we used to. Many people in the younger generation will watch the video of a news story rather than reading the text. So embed a video in your blog. There’s nothing wrong with a video of the attorney saying almost the same thing as he is saying in the blog. And use original photographs and illustrations too. There are also a number of infographic services that can give you a different kind of blog.

8 Plan your Content. Consider planning content six months or even a year ahead. This will allow you to blog for seasonal trends or events and to ensure you don’t run out of ideas.

9 Share. Putting your blog on your website is just the first step. This is useful and unique content that can also go on social media as well as blogs for legal directories to get your name out there. Make sure you have sharing buttons under your content and use a service such as HootSuite to send out content to a number of social media sites.

10. Monitor performance. Sites such as Google Analytics will allow you to check on which blog posts and terms are the most popular. This can guide you on what sort of blogs you should be writing in the future. You can also get an idea of the popularity of your content if it is shared on sites such as Facebook by the number of likes it receives.

Contact Veritas Legal Media at veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

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Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Change and Its Implications for Blogging

Over the last two years those folks at Google have been keeping bloggers busy with algorithm changes that effectively tear up the rulebook.

I should qualify that by saying there was no ‘rule book’ as such. Google tends to be cryptic with the information it releases. The rule, as they were accepted, were those developed by webmasters and writers themselves.

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Bloggers had a good idea of how manipulate searches a few years ago which went along the lines of – stuff copy with key words, link like crazy and set up satellite sites that interlink to squeeze the most Google juice they possibly could from a piece of writing.

Google may have been big back then but it was a lot less sophisticated than it is now. Over the last few years it has developed algorithm changes intended to punish what it saw as ‘black hat’ tactics. This is in line with the development of Google+ which has increasingly meant reviewers are no longer able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.

The algorithm changes came as a shock to many businesses which thought they were ahead of the curve. In 2011 Google came out with Panda which led to some websites being unexpectedly slapped by an extinction threatened Chinese bear.

A panda slap proved the be the death knell for some businesses which saw web traffic drop by as much as 50 percent.

In its algorithm change Google took aim at poor quality websites. It penalized, among other things, a high percentage of duplicate content, page content that failed to match search queries, high bounce rates, unnatural language, low quality in bound links, a lack of original content and so called “boiler plate” content on each page. I still encounter marketing gurus who have not caught up with Panda, who are still teaching the development of the perfect “boiler plate,” which is anchor text on each page.

Panda, pointed out Mark Nunney, was no ordinary change. Unlike previous realignments it contained very real penalties for those who crossed the “Panda Line.”

A year after Panda in April 2013, Google launched its Penguin algorithm change. It used a different set of criteria and aimed to target spamdexing including link bombing. Spamdexing comprises a number of methods, such as repeating unrelated phrases in an  attempt to manipulate the relevance or prominence of the product you are pushing.

Search Engine Land states Google launched Penguin to “better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.”

Now Google has implemented Hummingbird  which targets key words. The message is key words are no longer important and content is key. Google will no longer even provide information to webmasters about which key words are driving traffic to their sites.

In an article about the algorithm change my former colleague Paul Hill of Content Marketing Institute writes : “Consider synonyms — the alternative words or phrases that describe what you do and that people might use, rather than focusing your content around an exact-match keyword.”

In a webinar on October 15 Tom Foster of Foster Web Marketing said the loss of key words would be a shock to some, but the overall effect would be a positive one.

“So should you panic? Is the zombie apocalypse upon us? Is this the end of SEO and web marketing as we know it? No
If anything, Google has come to the realization that people are not zombies and don’t use the internet like mindless, brain-eating, undead creatures.

“Don’t be mad at Google it’s  a natural evolution of what they are trying to do. They are trying to make a better product,” he said.

Danielle Ruderman, Director of Research and Development at Foster Web Marketing,  said the steady stream of algorithm changes highlights the importance of a diversified business strategy.

“If the majority of your business is from the search engines, you are a sitting duck. Do not rely on Google for all of your traffic,” she said.

But for now you ignore Google at your peril. Recent research shows it’s used in 67 percent of web searches. It’s not the only game in town but it’s the biggest player which means it gets to dictate who plays ball.

The fast-moving modern environment is littered with corpses – BlackBerry, MySpace and Alta Vista to name three. Google’s preeminence is unlikely to be permanent.

In running a market strategy you should always consider every eventuality and never put all of your eggs in one basket, be it Google, YouTube or social media. The next Google algorithm is unlikely to be called elephant and to trample on the rule book as we know it. But there’s nothing to stop Google doing it. Put simply Google may do it simply because it can.

David Macaulay is the marketing director of the Cooper Hurley Law Firm and the founder of Veritas Legal Media – veritaslegalmedia@hotmail.com

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