The Importance of Unique Content

file000909879658As you continue blogging, there will be days when you simply can’t come up with something unique to write. Or maybe you will find a great article that you want all of your subscribers to see. You will be tempted to just quote that other blog and call it done. But if you include a citation is that good enough?

Not for search engines like Google. They are looking for original content that provides a positive experience to their users. If you make a habit of copying and pasting content from other sites, your own site will drop in their results lists. If you add other “illicit practices” like adding irrelevant tags to your posts or participating in link schemes to artificially increase traffic, you could find your website blocked from Google’s index altogether.

So what can you do to protect the hard work you put into your content marketing?

  1. Add some unique content to every post. Even if you are referencing a useful article from another site, make sure you give some commentary about why your readers should care.
  2. Screen comments on your site. Delete spam comments regularly, or set your site to automatically hide comments that have not been approved. That way there won’t be irrelevant links on your website. Make sure any links you add are appropriate and on-topic.
  3. Use tags and keywords appropriately. Tags and keywords are important ways to attract new readers, especially if your blog is hosted on a blogging site like WordPress. But make sure the tags you use are directly related to what you’re writing. As a general rule, if the word or its synonym doesn’t appear in your post, it probably shouldn’t be in your keywords.

Unique, high-quality content is the key to search engine optimization. Don’t threaten your hard work by copying someone else’s words when you hit writers’ block. Always make sure that you provide unique content, appropriate links, and relevant tags and keywords, and you will see your website climb Google’s search results.

Authenticity and Credibility

Photo by by Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by by Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.net

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about bringing in readers from search results and from building your reputation with referral partners. But the problem with reputation is it is a double edged sword. More than quantity, the quality of your content is what will push people to pick up the phone, or not.

Initially, this gets back to choosing your topic. You need to choose a content area that is broad enough to give you lots of ideas to write about, but narrow enough to keep subscribers’ attention. More importantly, you need to write from what you know. If you have never handled a class action lawsuit, then a post on the intricacies of class certification may not be the best idea.

Instead, try to focus your blog on the types of law you are familiar with, or at least the areas you’ve read the most about. Your practice history and the research you have done over the years will give you an air of authenticity. You will be able to draw connections between topics that a layperson or newer lawyer might have missed. This will help your readers to trust you as an authority on the topic.

Second, always check your sources. Whenever possible, go back to the statute or court opinion itself. If you can’t do that, rely on reputable news sources rather than opinion articles. Avoid writing articles based on articles that are based on articles. Instead, dig down to the source. By linking directly to primary sources you give your blog credibility. Your readers will know they can rely on what you’ve said, and that your blog is free from unnecessary layers of bias and interpretation.

Your blog is one way you can educate potential clients and referral partners about your expertise in the field. By writing about what you know and relying on primary sources, you can give yourself and your posts more authenticity and credibility in the eyes of your readers.

Are You Accessible?

Photo by hyena reality on freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by hyena reality on freedigitalphotos.net

Your blog can be a great content marketing tool. By posting quality information you can improve your reputation with your referral partners and attract new potential customers. But are you making it easy for them to find the person behind the curtain?

Especially if your blog is not hosted on your website, you need to make sure there are strong links between the two. Here are a few ideas for making those connections:

  1. Build a “Contact Us” page on your blog, or create a tab that connects to the contact page on your website. That way readers are one click away from emailing you.
  2. Make authorship clear. Especially if you blog’s URL is content-based rather than brand-based, it might be hard for your readers to know who to contact if they have more information. Consider adding a short bio section at the bottom of your articles or on a separate “About” page.
  3. Create a “Sponsored By” space on your sidebar. Add your company’s logo and a link to your main website so readers can get more information.
  4. Build a hook into your blog posts. Give your readers clear instructions on what to do if they need more information. You can include a link to your contact page and your phone number.
  5. Link to other areas of your website. If you reference another aspect of your practice, include a link to the page that discusses it. Readers will be given direct access to your firm and will find out the other things you do that might not be the focus of your blog.
  6. Make sure the connection goes both ways. Add links on your main website that point readers to your blog. These could appear on your Bio page and on your practice areas page. You can even consider adding links to particular blog articles.

Unique visitors and page hits important to web marketing, but your bottom line isn’t impacted until the reader turns into a client. Make it easy for them to call or email you by creating strong ties between your blog and your website.

Readability Keeps Readers from Bouncing

Basketball in mid-air positionHave you ever visited a website and been overcome by the wall of text covering your screen? You didn’t read it all, did you? Instead you quickly clicked the back button in search of something you could digest more easily. Content is crucial, but if you want potential clients to read it, you have to spend a little time thinking about layout.

Write in short paragraphs.

Maybe it’s because the next generation really does have a shorter attention span, or maybe it’s because you can only fit so many words on a smartphone screen, but in either case the long, fully developed paragraphs you were taught in law school will drive readers away. Instead, try to limit your paragraphs to 2-5 sentences. This will add white space to the page and make it easier for readers to follow along. It will also force you to be more concise, making it easier for you to hit your 500 word goal.

Use headings and lists freely.

Headings give readers a road map of where your blog is going and help them know when you’re about to change topics. Lists break up your paragraphs, create more white space, and summarize your points into short, understandable nuggets that your readers can remember.

If it’s complicated, use visuals.

If you are trying to convey a complex process or abstract idea, consider illustrating your point with a chart or infographic. There are free resources you can use to create easy-to-follow graphs to pair with your explanation. The more different ways you can convey your point within your blog, the more your readers will understand it.

Blog writing is a different style than you learned in research and writing classes or use in your legal briefs. If you want your readers to get to the end of your posts, make sure to build in white space using short paragraphs, headings, lists, and sometimes visuals. All these tools will make your blog easier to read and more appealing to your potential clients.