American society has been blogging since the 1990’s. Interestingly, attorneys are still largely absent from the blogosphere. This is interesting given that so many attorneys are concerned about growing their practice and a well maintained blog represents one of the best opportunities for doing so. Recent changes in the way Google provides search results has made it even more important for attorneys, concerned about their search engine optimization, to maintain blogs. Blogging is a great way for your firm to rank higher for more complex searches as well as an opportunity for you to add more quality content to your site. In this article I discuss these pros of being a “blawger” as well as how you can avoid common blogging mistakes attorneys make. Good luck and welcome to the blogosphere!
Recent changes by Google will emphasize the type of “in depth” articles found in Lawyers’ blogs
In August of 2013 Google announced that it would be modifying its search results by dividing results into two sections. CNET reported that these sections would be divided into one for quick informational type results as well as an “in depth article” section. This is a major development for attorney search engine optimization as the new in depth section will focus on the longer and more informative content to which an attorney’s blog is well suited.
The topic of law is an excellent example as to why Google is making this change. People searching for complete information on a topic are, currently, often forced to sift through search results which provide little information. For example, when I searched “child custody laws in Nevada,” most of the results I received were for self help forms or links to state statutes (which the average searcher would not try to interpret). Interestingly, no attorney websites came up (due to a lack of in depth content written by Nevada attorneys on the subject). This is due to the fact that a search such as the one I performed is informational. “Child Custody Laws in Nevada” is not a search for an attorney, it is a search to learn more about the law. Writing in depth informational articles in your practice area will help you rank highly for these types of searches and will present your website to the many web searchers who, even though they may need legal services, do not necessarily put the word “attorney” in their query. The ability to reach your potential audience with a blog is heightened by Google’s new search model.
Blogging is a way for attorneys to optimize their websites for “long tail searches”
Legal blogs tend to do very well in “long tail” web searches. A long tail search is one that strings together several keywords instead of using just one phrase. An example of this would be a person searching for “Los Angeles divorce lawyer who takes payment plans” as opposed to simply searching the term “Los Angeles divorce lawyer.” Long tail searches are highly important as they are commonly used by web searchers and they will often present a far greater opportunity for you to rank highly in search as such terms tend to not be as competitive. Legal writing lends itself well to in depth articles that will do well in long tail searches as the law can be discussed at length in a meaningful way. In other words, writing a quality law blog as part of your website will help your firm perform well in long tail searches.
A law blog is a great way for attorneys to expand their websites without being duplicative
High quality content is what will get an attorney’s website ranked highly by the search engines. As I discussed in my article about why SEO matters to attorneys, Google aims to present its users with unique and high quality content that is not duplicative. If you are a child custody attorney, for example, a blog presents you with an excellent opportunity to write several different articles regarding the laws of your jurisdiction. Having an abundance of content on your areas of practice will make your site stand out more in web searches which, in turn, will get you more clients.
Avoid common blogging mistakes made by lawyers
Unfortunately there are many attorneys who maintain blogs but go about it in the wrong way. Common mistakes made by attorneys include not updating their blogs regularly due to a perceived lack of topics and/or writing articles which actually contain little useful information. Thankfully, these problems are easily solved.
Being a lawyer means you have built in topics to blog about. Recent victories by your firm as well as developments in your practice area make for excellent topics as long as you discuss them correctly. When you discuss your triumphs in court it is important to provide analysis. Don’t just post that you recently won a Motion to Suppress Evidence; instead, discuss that you won a Motion, what the win means for your client, and, most importantly, discuss and analyze the law that supported your Motion. These same rules apply when writing about legal developments in your jurisdiction. It is imperative that you provide analysis or your site does not offer any unique content that Google will see as different from your competition.
Providing unique and quality content that is information rich is a requirement for good search rankings. The role of Google is to provide people with the content that is most relevant to their search. If nothing about your content is unique then your site is no different than the next and, by definition, is no more relevant than the next attorney’s website. Maintaining a quality law blog (commonly referred to as a “blawg”) is the best way to stand out.