Is It Time for a Website Tune Up?

If you’re reading this blog, you probably already agree that lawyers (and other business professionals) need websites to compete in today’s market. I probably don’t need to convince you that your website will drive clients to you or that you need to be visible online. But if you were an early adopter to the lawyer-website marketing strategy, it may be time for a tune up.

Web marketing strategies change over time. When the big marketing companies started their push to get lawyers on the web, search engines were using different algorithms. Marketing experts encouraged you to cram as many keywords as possible into your web content so that no matter how the client looked for you, there you would be.

This resulted in long, tedious, redundant, unreadable, and monotonous websites. (See what I did there? Now picture it filling the whole page.) Paragraphs were long, dense, and sometimes difficult to read as web designers toyed with new color pallets. Pictures were few and words were many because, simply put, the search engine, and not the person doing the search was the primary target.

Fast forward to today. The best websites are optimized for mobile, include vibrant pictures, and are easy to read. Content is pared down to the bare minimum to get the point across. Keywords have been relegated to the mysterious world of “metadata.” In short, websites are now reader-focused.

But if you got on the bandwagon of attorney websites early, you may still have a sluggish, dense website that’s hurting you more than it’s helping. That’s because the search-engine-focused sites are eyesores. Readers have so many sources for information that if what they see is difficult to read, they will move on quickly.

The good news is that all that old content laid the groundwork for the new. Buried in all those redundant keywords is the gem of what your firm actually does, and does well. You just need a tune up to clear out the gunk and let your site run more smoothly.

A high quality web designer can help you adjust your layout and images to match your brand, but they can be expensive. Cut some of those costs by having your content ready to go. Lisa Schmidt, a ghostwriter for Legal Linguist, can help you sort through the muck of your outdated content and write high quality content ready to be plugged in to your shiny new web design. If your website needs a tune up, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.

Writing Simply: Avoid Legalese

Lawyers and other highly trained professionals are in danger. They don’t know how talk to their clients, and so in the world of social media they risk losing followers by talking over their heads. So how can you fight the disease of legalese? Here are some tips:

Drop the Dictionary

Every lawyer has developed an elaborate vocabulary of legal terms, in both latin and English. But using those terms in your blog doesn’t make you sound smart. Instead it confuses your readers and makes your blog hard to read. Drop the dictionary and cut out anything you might have to define if that same client walked into your office. If you’re not sure, ask a non-lawyer friend what they think a word means. You may be surprised what counts as legalese.

Shorten Your Sentences

One of the symptoms of legalese is long, wandering sentences with lots of commas. Particularly when viewed on a mobile device, these sentences can seem to go on forever. Your readers will get lost in the maze of clauses and eventually just give up. Befriend the period. Break up your sentences into easily digestible pieces. Your readers will thank you for it.

Check Your Tone

One sure way to avoid a legalese infection is to read your blog posts aloud. Blogs should be conversational, so if your article sounds more like a lecture you know you have a problem. Take your formality down a notch and change up your style. You’re not teaching a class, you’re writing to a friend. Tone can be tough to manage, but with some practice you can develop a style that is compelling and conversational.

The last thing your followers are looking for on your blog is a legal brief. So if you find yourself at risk of spouting legalese, stop, look, and listen. Walk away from your blog post for at least an hour. Come back and read it anew. And if you aren’t sure about your tone read it aloud to a non-lawyer. If you still need help managing your tone, contact blogging coach Lisa Schmidt for a meeting.

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What the Heck is a #Hashtag?

If you are new to Twitter, you’re probably wondering why everyone keeps putting number signs in front of everything. It’s even made its way on to Facebook now. So what are these pound signs all about?

In the social media world, this symbol # is called the hashtag. The easiest way to think about it is as a signal to the world what your tweet (or Facebook post) is about.

How Does a Hashtag Work?

To go deeper, first we have to step back. Everything you put on Twitter is publicly available to the world. But to find your needle in the haystack of tweets, a person needs to “Follow” you or search for your post.

Hashtags tell the Twitter search engines to include your post in certain searches. For example, the title of this post, “What the Heck is a Hashtag?” would show up in searches for “hashtag.” But the post is about more than that. It also about social media marketing and Twitter. So to make the article show up in a Twitter search, I added the hashtags: #twitter and #socialmediamarketing.

How Do You Choose a Hashtag?

Just putting a pound sign in front of a word doesn’t make it a good hashtag. For it to be effective, a hashtag has to be something people search for. Sometimes it’s obvious, like #socialmediamarketing. Sometimes it’s trendy, like #whyIstayed or #HeforShe.

To find the best hashtags you can browse Twitter, searching for your topics and seeing what other people are using. You can also use websites like Hashtags.org, which track the popularity of hashtags to pick the right word or phrase.

Getting noticed on Twitter is all about entering the right conversations. You can do that by labeling your posts with effective hashtags. If you need help tagging your blog posts, contact ghostblogger and blogging coach Lisa Schmidt to set up a meeting today.