3 Tips For Finding The Perfect Title

Finding the right title for your blog can make all the difference in search results.Coming up with a title can be the second most difficult part of blog writing (after picking a topic), but it is important that you consider both your human and automated readers when selecting a label for your latest piece of insight. Here are some tips to finding the perfect title:

1. Use the language of the people.

You know your audience. You’ve taken time to identify them and learn their interests and habits. So make sure your title appeals to them and is written in their language. For example, if your clients call you their “lawyer” don’t refer to yourself as “attorney.” Even if there are nuanced differences in terminology, use the common word in your title and the more technically correct term in the body of your post.

2. Write the way they search.

Web browsers like Google and Bing use automated “webcrawlers” that look for strings of characters that are as close to what the user typed as possible. They have some built in equivalencies, like vs. and versus and common spelling errors, but they will sometimes ignore synonyms. The closer your post’s title is to the sequence of characters entered by the user, the higher you’ll appear in search results.

3. Make it interesting

Once you’ve shown up on their search results, you still need to get readers to click on your post. Consider writing your title in the form of a question you hear frequently. That way when people see the question on the screen they’ll know you’ve got the answer. Another way to make it interesting is to use lists. Top 10 lists are popular and may get clicked on even by only passively interested readers. Keep in mind Top 10 lists are more interesting to people who stumble on your blog article on social media, while direct questions are better for people searching for answers.

Writing a title for your blog can be difficult, but by keeping your reader in mind and writing the way they search you can maximize your chances of showing up in their search results. And by keeping your titles interesting you’ll encourage them to click through and see the valuable content marketing you have to offer.

What if I Miss a Post?

file1021269350926You’ve been posting regularly, maybe even religiously, to your blog for several months. But this week there’s just no way. Time is short, to do lists are long, and there are simply higher priorities than blogging right now. Is missing one week really going to kill your online marketing efforts?

No. We’re all human and sometimes we get sick, or have too much on our plate. Your followers will forgive you if their subscription email doesn’t show up one morning. But there are strategies you can use to help minimize down time on your blog.

  1. Don’t post the day you write. Plan on writing a few days before your posts get published. That way if something happens and you simply can’t finish your blog article that day, you have an extra day or two to catch up before it affects your posting schedule. Most blog platforms allow you to schedule your posts in advance, so give yourself a buffer to account for the unexpected.
  2. Create emergency posts. Everyone has slow periods in their business. Use that down time to create posts that can be stored and used in emergency situations, like when you get sick. Make sure these articles aren’t tied to any particular news story or event, though. Otherwise the post may seem out of date when you finally use it.
  3. If you miss one, post anyway. Just because this week’s blog didn’t get out by your deadline doesn’t mean you can’t post something later. Consider finding a particularly time sensitive issue and posting an up-to-the-minute update later in the week. That way your readers will be pleasantly surprised by your mid-week post and will forget about the missed day.
  4. It’s okay to skip a week. Missing a blog article is not the end of your marketing world. Your readers won’t abandon you if you skip a week, and your blog won’t suddenly plunge to the bottom of the search rankings. But while it’s okay to give yourself an occasional pass when schedules get extremely tight, if you are having trouble finding time to write regularly, you may need to outsource the work. It’s okay to skip once in a while, but there is a danger to your marketing dollar if you fall out of the habit altogether.

Your blog doesn’t need to be a source of stress in your already intense schedule. It’s okay if you find yourself up against a deadline and need to make adjustments just this once. What is important is that you maintain a feeling of regularity with your readers and that you keep your blogging habit, even when your schedule fills up. If you’re in over your head trying to keep up with your blog, contact ghost writer Lisa Schmidt for help.

What to Do About Comments

"Speech Bubbles" by scottchan on freedigitalphotos.net

“Speech Bubbles” by scottchan on freedigitalphotos.net

If you have been writing your law blog for a while, you’ve probably gotten your share of fake, irate, and legally incorrect comments on your site. But should you turn off comments altogether and lose that conduit for direct dialog with potential clients and referral sources?

A recent article by Tania Lombrozo on NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos & Culture blog examined the problem of comments on authoritative online writing. She noted that two different medical journals had taken opposite approaches to comments on their blog. Lombrozo contrasted the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s recent release of PubMed Commons, which allows registered users to comment on scientific abstracts, to Popular Science‘s choice to disable comments entirely.

While the discussion focused on peer-reviewed scientific journals, its premises are just as valid for the legal blogger. Allowing and responding to comments on your blog is a great way to engage your readers and invite them to learn more through consultations or presentations you offer professionally. Comments can also inspire your readers to engage with each other, creating a dialog on important issues with your article as the framework.

But opening your blog up to comments also exposes you to “spam” (fake or automated comments designed to promote or sell another website), “trolls” (angry or irreverent commenters who harass the author or other commenters), and false information.

Lombrozo notes that the risk of these negative comments increases when you allow anonymous comments. People are less likely to be hurtful if they have to put their name on it. But do non-anonymous comments threaten attorney-client privilege?

This is where self-regulation becomes important. The content of your blog is no more legal advice than a magazine article or book, but by engaging with commenters on a one-to-one level you could accidentally create an attorney-client relationship for all the world to see. As a lawyer, it is important that you remember, no matter how pressing or compelling as an individual’s call for assistance may be, you must encourage them to contact you for a consultation, rather than responding in the public venue of your blog’s comments.

As an overly simplified rule, if you would not respond to a commenter’s inquiry at a cocktail party or networking event, you probably shouldn’t respond in a comment. When you do get a question like this I suggest responding with something like,

“Great question! I’d be happy to discuss this with you in a free initial consultation.”

For added security, if the commenter does become a client you may also want to hide the comment from public view.

Comments shouldn’t be looked at as an annoyance or a confidentiality risk. Instead, they should be seen as a venue to connect with potential clients. Just be careful to screen for spam, trolls, and incorrect information, and always take your consultations offline. If you need help setting up your blog, contact blogging coach and ghost-blogger Lisa Schmidt.

Finding the Real Value of Your Blog

file0001746068249The ABA Journal recently published an article “Folks Still Find Lawyers the Old-Fashioned Way.” The article featured a study finding only 7% of participants go online as their primary way to find a lawyer. But rather than letting this article frustrate you, look at what is going on behind the scenes. You will find that blogging does add value to your marketing efforts.

Consider the Sample

The ABA’s survey questioned “1,004 adults 18 or older via landline telephone calls.” Only about 40% of young adults have landline telephones. A Centers for Disease Control survey in December 2012 found:

[M]ore than one-third of American homes (35.8 percent) had only wireless telephones during the first half of 2012 while 15.9 percent of all households had both landline and wireless telephones but received all or almost all calls on the wireless phones. This means 51.7 percent of U.S. homes don’t have or didn’t use their landlines in the first half of 2012.

In the ABA’s study, 18-24 year olds were twice as likely to primarily go online, so the fact that most young adults are unplugged means their representation was probably skewed low and online marketing is reaching far more than the 7% polled.

People Go Online to Validate Referrals

The ABA survey found that most of those questioned turn to family, friends or colleagues for a referral. There is no question that referral marketing is an important part of any lawyer’s advertising efforts.

But because the survey asked about “the primary way you would find [a lawyer]” the responses don’t give a complete picture. People today are far more likely to be informed shoppers. They may have gotten the initial referral from a family member, but 76% of potential clients go online at some point in the process of finding a lawyer. By limiting its questioning to the primary source, the ABA survey downplayed the importance of a strong web presence to today’s consumers.

Blogging Leads to Trusted Source Referrals

Even when potential clients don’t check you out online before they call, your blog may very well have played a role in their decision. That is because your blog is also a great way to reach out to referral partners. In his response to the ABA study, Kevin O’Keefe gave a great example:

This morning on the ferry the CEO of a good sized web development company asked me for the name of a good lawyer in a niche area of the law. I gave him the name of a lawyer I have come to know first though her blogging and then in person. She was the real deal and someone who could help him or could refer him to someone who could.

Your blog’s influence doesn’t just reach your readers. Instead it plants a seed in the minds of your referral partners that they will pass on to potential clients they encounter.

So when you read articles that disparage online marketing, remember the real value of your blog: as a direct resource, by providing credibility to savvy shoppers, and by building your rapport with referral partners. If you need help creating your blog, contact blogging coach and ghost-writer Lisa Schmidt.