Getting Your Blog in Fighting Shape

MP900387334Your blog is fighting with literally thousands of other websites for the attention of prospective clients. Most of those websites have nothing to do with your business, and even the ones that do may be for companies so far away they aren’t even competition. So how can you build up your blog to push aside those irrelevant sites and rise to the top of your clients’ search results?

  1. Use the right terms. Just because the technical term for your practice area is “medical malpractice” doesn’t mean that’s what your clients are looking for on the web. Take the time to figure out the keywords potential clients are using to find businesses like yours. Then build these terms into your web copy and blog content to build your organic SEO.
  2. Bulk up your blog. Make sure your website is full of good and accessible content. The more references you have to key terms, the easier it will be for web crawlers to find you. The quicker they find you, the higher you’ll be in their search results. But don’t forget to keep your site accessible too. A page loaded down with keywords may get a lot of hits, but visitors won’t stay long. Prevent bounces by making sure your content is readable, engaging, and answers your readers’ questions.
  3. Post often. One of the things browsers like Google and Bing look at is how fresh your blog is. By posting every week or more, you keep your content fresh and at the time of the search results. Plus, by posting frequently and regularly, you’ll put yourself in front of your followers and referral partners. Their visits, likes, and comments, will also boost your SEO and make your blog rise to the top.

The Internet is a competitive place, with contenders from all over the world. Keep your blog fighting for the top spots in the search results by using terms people search for, loading your blog with accessible content, and keeping it fresh. This will get your blog into fighting shape and drive potential clients to your site and your door.

Increase Your Circles of Influence

MP900316787A few weeks ago, I discussed how you can use your blog to increase your reputation in the eyes of your referral partners. But your friends and business colleagues are also a great sources of web traffic. The key is to make them curious about what your blog has to offer.

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Should My Blog Be on My Website?

MP900387935When you set up your blog, you need to decide where it will be on the Internet, specifically whether your blog will be an extension of your website or a separate page altogether. Here are some thoughts to help you decide:

Is Your Website SEO Focused?

There are two schools of thought on website URLs: brand recognition and SEO maximization. If your website is all about the name, like JonesSmith.com, then people looking for articles on dog owner liability might surf on by. But if your website is focused on a searchable topic, like dogbitelawyer.com, it may be the perfect place for your canine-related legal thoughts.

Are You Representing The Firm?

Your blog is inherently personal. It includes your preferences, voice, and ideas. If you are trying to build the reputation of the whole firm then the company website might be an ideal home for these thoughts. But if others in your firm have different practice areas or perspectives on key parts of the practice, you may want to host your blog separately.

Who Owns the Blog Content?

What happens to your blog if you leave the company? Would someone else pick up where you left off? Would you expect to be able to take your writing with you? A stand-alone URL is more portable, but a page on the company website clearly belongs to the firm.

How Focused Is Your Blog?

Most lawyers don’t do just one thing. But when you choose your blog’s topic you may define it narrowly on the one practice area you prefer. There may be room for another blog on another topic down the road. If that’s the case it may be better to use a separate URL for your blog rather than occupying the spot of firmwebsite.com/blog.

How Do You Want Your Blog to Look?

Aesthetics are important on the Internet. Your firm website is probably contemporary and professional, but that look could be all wrong if your blog is targeted at single mothers or teenagers. That said, you wouldn’t want an ABCs or heavy metal theme on your company webpage. By using different themes for your website and blog you can evoke different moods from your readers and motivate them to take different actions. But for consistency’s sake they may need to occupy a different spaces on the web.

How Will The Two Sites Be Linked?

No matter whether your blog is a page on your website or a separate URL, integration between the two sites is important. Even if you decide to host your blog under an SEO maximized handle, you still need to make sure there are clear and easy-to-find links between it and your website. Remember, one of your main goals is to attract clients, so you need a strong connection between your business and your ideas, even when the URLs are completely different.

Deciding where to place your blog on the web can be a complicated decision. But with careful thought you can maximize your impact and your marketing for you and your firm.

Never Write the Perfect Blog

Let’s face it, a lot of blogs start with the best intentions, but then never – or only very rarely – get updated. Many would-be-bloggers will tell you they have a blog and they “know they should write more” but they are too busy or can’t find anything new to say. In reality, blogging is not that hard or time consuming. So what is stopping all these well-intentioned writers?

One of the fastest ways to make anyone, but especially a lawyer, stop writing is to tell them it has to be perfect. Many authors will find themselves stymied by a feeling that every word they write is being scrutinized by the public on the Internet. What if they say something incorrect that makes them seem foolish, or worse, unprofessional?

This is especially true for lawyers. As attorneys we are held to ethical standards that prohibit us from giving false legal advice. This can scare off would-be-bloggers. Rather than risk the ire of the local ethics committee they turn to safer, more tested, and often less effective forms of marketing.

So how do you overcome perfectionism? How do you combat the feeling that every article you post must be 100% A+ perfect?

The trick is to remember that a blog is a living document. Because you post every week (or maybe every day), you always have a chance to correct your mistakes. You can post updates, explain nuances in later posts, or even delete the error entirely. Your blog does not have to be perfect when you post it because you can always fix it later.

In fact, providing updates or expanded articles is a great way to show that you keep up with changes in the law. If instead of just re-editing a post to address a new statute or case, you write a new post on how the law changes, you will appear to be on the cutting edge. Just remember to add update links to your outdated blogs in case potential clients land there first.

There is no such thing as the perfect blog post. So instead of sitting down to craft a pristine work of art in under 500 words, write what you think, back it up with sources, and be prepared to update it later if it turns out there was an aspect you didn’t consider. Doing this will make blogging far less about anxiety and a lot more fun, even for an ethics-conscious lawyer like you.

Reaching Your Referral Partners

MP900341425So far this blog has talked about using blogging to reach potential customers on the Internet. But blogging isn’t just about fishing. Blogging also cultivates your team of referral partners by teaching them what it is that you do.

All private attorneys (in-house general counsel excluded) have some people they rely on to send them referrals. They could have formal arrangements with other complimentary lawyers or they could rely on networking organizations like chambers of commerce. Even if they just get referrals from their family and friends, they all want someone to send them clients.

The best way to encourage this is by making yourself an expert in those people’s minds. A blog is a great way to do that and to maintain constant contact with your referral partners.

When you ask them to subscribe to your blog they will start receiving regular reminders of what you do and, more importantly, what you know. Weekly, or even daily emails announcing your latest blog post puts your business in their inboxes.

People refer people they know, and professionals want to know that the person they refer has the ability to do the job. By maintaining a consistent, conversational blog that deals with everyday issues you can assure your referral partners that you are competent to handle their clients’ concerns.

And by demonstrating week after week that you have unique knowledge and insight into your practice areas, you will constantly remind your subscribers that you are an expert in your field. Then when a potential client comes to one of your readers with your kind of problem, you will be the one he thinks of to solve it.

Content marketing is not just about fishing for potential clients through keywords and SEO. It is also about training your referral partners to be better salespeople for your business.