Expanding Your Blog’s Focus

MP900438755No matter what your blog’s topic, eventually you are going to hit a slow news day. But just because there’s no big headline doesn’t mean your website is taking the day off. Uploading new content regularly is essential to building your online visibility. So what do you do when there’s no news?

Just because there is no new case or exciting front page article doesn’t mean that there is nothing to write about. When the news gets slow it’s time to get creative. Maybe now is the time to go back and take one of those tangents you cut out of a previous blog or explain a legal term. Remember, knowledge that is automatic for you may be completely new for your clients.

Some of the best blogs articles are the ones that break down your services for your clients. Consider explaining one of your offerings. Walk potential clients through the procedure of a typical lawsuit, or explain the basic elements of a more typical criminal charge that you defend.

If you are still having trouble coming up with a topic, it’s time to expand your horizons. Imagine topics that are related to your blog, but may not be directly on point. If you do family law, consider an article on parenting styles. A business lawyer could take a moment to talk about the stock market. A criminal lawyer might detour to discuss incarceration statistics.

Your readers are looking for your unique perspective, not necessarily for a news source. When there’s no headline news, it’s time to develop your voice and let potential clients know who you are and what you think. Even if the topic is only somewhat related to your caseload.

Isn’t Content Marketing Legal Advice?

MP900178584One of the reasons lawyers are slow to adopt web marketing is they are afraid of running afoul of state ethics committees by providing legal advice. Different people have different perspectives on this, and every state’s rules are different. But if writing articles for magazines or books is not legal advice, then it is hard to see why an online blog would be any different.

The key is that blog posts (like books) do not apply the law to any reader’s particular situation. As an author you have no way to know your reader’s circumstances. Your blogs simply offer an opinion on “the way it is.”

Where you could get in to trouble is in the comments. If you find your readers asking you specific questions in the comments it is probably better to invite them to schedule a consultation than to respond where the world can see. This protects confidentiality and your ethical obligations as an attorney. If you still feel uncomfortable, or if your state ethics rules are more stringent, you can always disable comments and simply suggest that readers call for more information.

Some lawyers also choose to build in disclaimers on their blogs. Writing a footer that says the information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, can give you further security about ethical questions.

But just because local ethics standards exist doesn’t mean you should avoid content marketing altogether. Your potential clients are looking for a reason to like you. An informational blog shows that you are knowledgeable, generous, and can communicate with your audience.

A Quick Word About Keywords

MP900390551SEO. You’ve heard it from every web marketer you’ve spoken to. You probably know it stands for Search Engine Optimization and it has to do with your website’s priority on Google, Bing, and other search engines. But do you actually know what it is?

Many web marketers will use SEO like “secret sauce” – something they’ll sell you at a premium, but never tell you the ingredients. In reality, the idea of SEO is not so hard to understand.

SEO is all about keywords. Keywords are the words ordinary people use to find websites like yours. Technically, every word could be a keyword, but the important keywords are the ones the most people use.

For example, let’s think about a litigation firm, Jones & Smith, PLLC. They’re a full-service firm with lawyers handling every kind of in-court legal issue. Their website is peppered with the word “litigation.” It’s even in their tag line.

Keywords search

Source: https://adwords.google.com

But if you look at an analysis of search terms, “litigation” scores very low. It is not competitive and not that many people search using it. The word “lawsuit” gets over 3 times as many monthly searches on Google.

So what is Jones & Smith to do? On first blush, no one is searching for what they do. Really they are, just not in those terms.

If Harry falls in the grocery store and breaks his leg, he is not going to pull up his web browser and search “litigation firms.” Instead he might type “accident lawyer.” The word “accident” gets 16,600,000 global monthly searches. Jones & Smith’s “litigation” filled web page won’t even register.

Rather than thinking about what you call yourself, or how the State Bar classifies your firm, think about the people you are trying to reach. Use a service like the Google Keywords Tool to figure out what words are popular (compare litigation vs lawsuit or attorney vs lawyer). Then make sure your web copy and blog contain those keywords.

But you should also consider how many of your competitors are using the same word. Consider “Slip & Fall.” Plaintiffs’ lawyers love this phrase. Google marks it as highly competitive. That means placing ads using the word will be quite expensive per click.

But what is very interesting is that the word is almost never searched. Its global monthly searches number a mere 74,000. That’s lower than litigation. So perhaps some of those “slip & fall lawyers” should consider becoming “accident lawyers” instead. They’ll get more bang for their advertising buck, and will appear more frequently in the organic searches done by their clients.

Keywords and SEO are not such hard concepts to understand. The calculations behind the scenes that rank one company’s page higher than another are very complex. But there is nothing to stop bloggers and small firms from incorporating good keywords and boosting their SEO all on their own.

When Should I Post?

Clock Reading Five O'ClockI recently disagreed with another social media coach. We both agreed that posting regularly was important, but not on when to post. So I took a second look at the issue. And it turns out, there is no one right answer.

Deciding when to post blogs or social media can be an arduous task of guessing and checking. Professionals recommend trying various times throughout the day and then tracking the response you receive on each post.

This is an enormous task. Even once you refine your posting times you can still miss the mark just by posting a half hour after most of your audience leaves for work. But as large as this task is, simply mapping when and how many responses you received on a post is not going to guarantee a viral post every time – or ever.

So is it even worth trying to figure out when, how often, and what to post? Of course it is. You want to make the best use of your marketing moments (and dollars), so unless your target market works 3rd shift, 3 a.m. is probably not the time to post your best work.

But you don’t need to be a statistician to get started. Instead think about your target audience’s day. When are they likely to sit down and browse Facebook or Twitter? If you are targeting young mothers, it might make sense to post during their children’s afternoon nap. But 4 p.m. is probably not going to catch a busy business person as well as 6 p.m. when they have gotten home from work and are ready to crash.

By thinking of your target audience as real people with predictable lives and habits you can cut out many of the shot-in-the-dark stages of optimizing your social media posts. Once you have come up with a few times that make sense for your audience, you can do a much more targeted survey of times to narrow down just when most of those babies really do take their naps.

Finally, remember that this data is not static. If you notice after a while that your reach is decreasing, try mixing up the times a little. It may be that your businesspeople are leaving earlier for work now that it is winter and the roads are bad. Remember to stay flexible and not to commit to posting at exactly the same time each day just out of habit.

Social media is about community and fluidity. By thinking of your audience as people and staying flexible to their changing life patterns, you can increase your visibility and improve your online reach.