Attorneys, Are You Blogging Against Your Best Interests?

by Apr 8, 2018

We’ve recently noticed clients who have marketing directors, social media managers, or SEO providers who tend to focus only on blogging. We’ve seen this to be the case even when the attorney’s website has a significant lack of practice area pages.

It generally does not make sense for attorneys to begin an immediate focus on blogging as they build their law firm’s web presence. Instead, it usually makes more sense for an attorney to develop their site by adding quality practice area pages before they begin an aggressive blogging strategy.

Here are some of the reasons why marketing directors, social media managers and/or SEO providers tend to focus on blog posts over practice area pages, and why that’s a problem for attorneys.

Blogging Problem #1: They may not be familiar with the concept of a practice area page

A social media manager, marketing director, or SEO provider may tell you that you need to focus on blogging because they’re not familiar with practice area pages.

What are practice area pages on law firm websites?

Practice area pages (also known as evergreen pages) provide answers to questions that your potential clients are likely to have. When they’re crafted well, they explain the law in an in-depth fashion that improves your law firm’s online visibility and helps web visitors understand more about their case or matter.

These pages are likely to be relevant for a long time because they cover aspects of the law that are unlikely to change in the near future.

If done correctly, practice area pages are where your potential clients are likely to find you when they are searching for answers to their questions. 

What are the function of law firm blog posts?

Blogs, on the other hand, often capture a variety of search terms that might otherwise not be addressed in your practice area pages. They help you capture more readers, develop your brand, and establish yourself as a thought-leader.

While practice area pages you create likely contain information that will be relevant for a long time, blog posts should provide analysis of immediate topics such as news stories related to your practice area and changes in the law, among other topics.

Blogging Problem #2: They may be more comfortable with blogging because it’s the world that they know.

Marketing directors, social media managers and/or SEO providers may have experience creating blogs. However, does that mean that the blogs are being created the right way for your law firm?

Sometimes, these individuals put an emphasis on blogging because it’s the world that they know and that they’re familiar with.

But just because it’s the world that they know doesn’t mean that the blogs are being created in a way that will drive new business to a law firm.

Blogging Problem #3: Blogs can be easier to write without knowledge of a law firm’s practice area(s) and/or without doing much research.

Earlier, we noted that blog posts are a good way to discuss timely, relevant information such as news stories.

This is true, so long as the blog post provides value-added analysis of the news story — a job best suited for an attorney who blogs, or for someone who has an in-depth understanding of the law, the attorney’s practice area(s), and the needs of the attorney’s potential clients.

Read more: Does Your SEO Provider Understand Your Practice Area?

The problem with “recap” news blogs

However, the way that some law firm blogs are written by marketing directors, social media managers, or SEO providers are often just recapitulations of a news story. They have no value-added analysis, and sometimes they even portray a news story in a way that is likely to turn a potential client away rather than engage them.

(Because news stories about DUI arrests, domestic violence, and sex crimes are generally not written with a sympathetic angle toward the accused, criminal defense is a practice area where we see this blogging problem most often.)

Many times, blog posts are written like this because it’s easier to write a “blog” without knowledge of a law firm’s practice area(s) and/or without doing much research, especially when blogs are written in this “recap” fashion.

It’s another reason that there may be a focus on blogging: it’s much easier to write a summary of a news story than it is to write a blog that provides legal analysis or a practice area page that provides detailed information about the law.

With no legal knowledge, it’s easier to recap a scandalous celebrity divorce than it is to write a detailed analysis about asset division or 401ks.

It’s easier to summarize a high profile drug arrest than it is to write about “fruit of the poisonous tree” and other constitutional grounds on which to challenge a police search.

Unfortunately, these “recap” blogs that fail to provide analysis won’t do much to move the needle for your law firm.

People use search engines to access a variety of news sources each day. They can visit any number of news sources to read a recap of the news. If they visit your blog, it should be because you are providing an in-depth, unique look at a particular issue.

The value you add is by letting your readers know:

  • How something like this could affect them if they were in a similar situation
  • What legal actions could they take
  • What standards they would have to meet

By providing this unique analysis, attorneys can build their reputation as thought leaders. This can create a following around the blog that drives new business to the firm.

Note: It’s a wise choice to add links to relevant practice area pages in your blog posts. Blog posts capture something timely that can draw readers in, but they can learn more information by having access to related practice area pages that are associated with the topic of the blog post.

For example, a bankruptcy attorney might cover a recent celebrity bankruptcy and explain what could be at stake. That attorney could then go on explain the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 to link to his or her practice area pages on those topics.

If you plan to write a blog about a particular topic and you don’t have relevant practice area pages to link to, it generally makes more sense to spend that time developing those practice area pages, first.

Blogging takeaways for attorneys

Blogging is a popular topic, and blogging can make a difference for a law firm’s business. But to do so, it has to be done the right way, at the right time, by people capable of crafting meaningful blog posts that resonate with potential clients.

While someone may insist that you need lots of blogs first, consider why they might be insisting that: Is it because they only know how to blog? Is it because blogs are easier to craft in some cases, like those described above? Is it because they’re unfamiliar with practice area pages?

Remember that no one cares more about your practice than you do. It’s important to take control of your online marketing by understanding the motivations of your potential clients, the search engines, and marketers. Taking control of your marketing doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself — but it does mean that you understand what is being done and why.

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