Most attorneys who want to successfully market their law firms online want to do so without wasting time or money.
Creating and publishing useful, educational content on your law firm’s website and blog can help you do successful, sustainable online law firm marketing that improves your online visibility and forges relationships with potential clients.
Attorneys who write detailed content about a particular subject in the language that potential clients use are more likely to see their pages returned in search results when potential clients and referral sources make relevant searches.
When potential clients who are looking for information about their case or problem find your content and read it, it helps them understand more about the issue they’re facing. It can help you build a relationship of trust with these individuals that drives them to contact your law firm when they’re ready.
The amount of content that your site will contain is one consideration to make. To learn more about that, see our blog post, “Strategies For Growing Your Law Firm’s Web Presence.”
But the “freshness” of your content is another valuable thing to consider as you grow your site. We often encourage attorneys to publish new content on a regular basis for a number of reasons.
In this post, we’ll discuss fresh content, why it matters, and how you can keep your website’s content fresh.
What is fresh content?
Fresh content is new content. New content can arrive in a variety of forms. It can mean new pages that are published, and it can mean significant additions to the content on an already published page. The freshness of content can also involve matters of timeliness and recency.
According to Google’s Search Ratings Guidelines, “Some queries demand very recent or ‘fresh’ information.”
As a general example, breaking news, recurring events (elections, sports events, conferences), and current information queries all require the latest and newest information in order to satisfy search engine users who conduct related searches.
Why does fresh content matter for law firm websites and blogs?
As I mentioned in a recent blog post on Google’s Search Ratings Guidelines, it can be argued that law firm websites and blogs are held to a higher standard by Google because they fall under the category of “Your Money Or Your Life” pages.
These pages can have an impact on a reader’s current or future well being, be it physical, financial, or otherwise. As a result, Google expects these pages to contain not only contain a high level of detailed and and accurate information, but they should also provide the most recent information available.
(For example, it could be dangerous for an individual to trust the information on an old webpage that discusses an aspect of the law that has changed since the last time the page was updated. Providing that information to a search engine user would also reflect poorly on Google. It would hurt Google’s business if search engine users could not trust the information that is returned to them in search engine results pages.)
Some aspects of the law are unlikely to change on a regular basis — the type of information that is likely to be featured on your evergreen pages. It’s why those pages are referred to as “evergreen.”
That information stays consistent and consistently relevant. Where these pages are concerned, freshness will generally revolve around adding new educational content.
However, when aspects of the law change or there is new or breaking information, freshness is likely to revolve around new pages that cover this information.
An example of fresh content for law firm websites and blogs
Utah’s governor recently signed a bill into law that lowers the maximum blood alcohol limit for drivers from .08 to .05 percent. This is a potential opportunity for attorneys in relevant practice areas to write content addressing this recent change:
- When will this change take effect?
- What should people know about this law?
- Could this law change again in the future?
- Might this bill get tweaked or repealed before it goes into effect?
- Just how many drinks will raise your BAC to .05 percent?
Changes are likely to be made to evergreen pages concerning this law. It’s also an opportunity for attorneys to write a variety of blog posts around the topic. A quick search for “Utah House Bill 155” reveals that people seem to be searching for information surrounding this issue:
You don’t necessarily have to be a DUI attorney in or near Utah to write useful, fresh content about this change. You might discuss it in the context of your own state’s laws and provide analysis of what it could mean if your own state were to make such a change, or provide your opinion on the significance of the change.
This is just one example of how fresh content might apply to your law firm’s online marketing.
Fresh content is important for a number of reasons. You can think of the importance of fresh content from a few different perspectives.
How Google views fresh law firm website content
Google likes fresh content and there’s evidence to suggest that it may use fresh content as a ranking signal.
Fresh content provides more information for Google to add to its content index, and provides Google with more material to return for relevant queries.
When that fresh content is of a high quality (detailed, educational, informative and useful), it becomes more likely to be returned in search results. From a business perspective, it’s Google’s goal to provide the most relevant and useful information to its users.
If it can’t do that, search engine users wouldn’t find Google very useful. The more value that your content provides to Google, the more value Google can provide to its users.
(To learn more about how high-quality content benefits online law firm marketing, see our post, “What Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines Can Reveal To Attorneys.”)
How your potential clients view fresh law firm website content
Your potential clients use search engines to find information about their case or problem, and they expect that the search engine returns highly relevant and useful results for the queries they make. (Again, one reason to publish high-quality, educational content in general.)
But content in many cases can be more than just content. It’s an experience for your potential clients. When content is detailed, educational, and written in a way that they understand, your potential clients can understand the problem that their facing and begin to build a bond of trust with your firm before they’ve contacted you.
Who benefits from fresh law firm website content?
The effort that you put into publishing content on a regular basis (whether that’s adding to your evergreen pages or publishing new blog posts) benefit the important players in the online law firm marketing ecosystem: your potential clients, the search engines, and you.
Fresh content benefits potential clients and referral sources
Fresh content provides potential clients with the latest and most relevant information when they make related searches. It helps them learn something new about their case or problem.
For example, immigration attorneys are likely to benefit from writing fresh content about subjects such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
It’s a relevant and timely subject that has received a great deal of news coverage, and potential clients for immigration law firms are likely conducting a number of searches related to it.
While practice areas like immigration law may have potential clients with a higher degree of urgency, other practice areas such as tax law or estate planning can also benefit from writing fresh content.
Potential clients for these practice areas are likely to visit a law firm website repeatedly before making a decision about contacting an attorney. Fresh content addressing changes in the law or even a blog series on a particular topic may help engage these clients.
On a psychological level, publishing new content on a regular basis can assure potential clients that you are involved and committed to your practice, as opposed to an abandoned website or blog. It can indicate to them that you care about them, their case or problem, and your business.
Fresh content benefits search engines
Google’s success hinges on its ability to provide quality information to search engine users. Whether that’s a new page that provides a high level of detail on an aspect of the law, or a blog post about a recent change in the law, Google needs the newest and most detailed content to return to its users.
As I noted earlier, up-to-date content is very important for some subjects, especially where recent changes have been made. (The changes to Utah’s blood alcohol limit and the recent changes in United States immigration law are just two examples of this kind of content.)
If Google could not provide the latest information on these kinds of topics, search engine users would be wary of trusting the search engine to help them answer their questions. That, in turn, would hurt Google’s business.
Fresh content benefits law firms
Fresh content benefits potential clients and search engines, and the end result is that keeping them happy also benefits you.
Fresh content heightens your firm’s visibility in search engine results for relevant searches, provides potential clients with the information they need, and builds a relationship through that content that can encourage potential clients to contact your firm.
How can attorneys keep their content fresh?
Whether it’s adding to your evergreen pages or writing blog posts on breaking legal news, there are several ways to keep adding to your site’s content.
As you launch your site, you’ll want to build up the repository of information available on your evergreen pages. You’ll likely start with basic structural content, but those pages should grow and develop over time as you add more information to your practice area pages and detailed law pages.
Of course, when any changes in the law occur, you’ll need to update the relevant pages on your law firm’s website to reflect those changes. It can be an intelligent choice to create a document or spreadsheet that outlines where certain aspects of the law are featured on your site so that you can quickly and easily make updates later on.
This is important in that, in the future, your site may evolve to contain hundreds or thousands of pages. It’s not a good use of your time or effort to hunt through each page to find an outdated reference.
Once you’ve developed a certain number of evergreen pages, you may want to consider starting a blogging strategy. However, there are some practice areas that may benefit from beginning a blogging strategy earlier.
For more information on how to add evergreen pages and blog posts effectively, listen to our podcast on law firm website growth strategies.
Is fresh law firm website content always better?
In short: No.
There are some queries that demand freshness — particularly for new changes in the law, breaking legal news, etc.
However, fresh isn’t always better. Google doesn’t assume that newer is always better, and in fact, some older pages that have developed authority may be more relevant for certain searches.
For example, many of your evergreen pages won’t change significantly in terms of the law. But when those pages are highly detailed and useful to potential clients, web visitors are likely to spend a lot of time interacting with the information on those pages. The amount of time spent on those pages may signal to Google that the information there is valuable and useful to users.
The bottom line is that, whether you’re adding new content to your evergreen pages or writing a blog post on the latest change in the law, it’s a good idea to focus on creating new content on a regular basis that provides your web visitors with value.
Content planning can be an important part of sticking to a publication schedule. To learn more about content planning, listen to our podcast on content planning for attorneys, or see our blog post, “6 Tips For Developing An Effective Law Firm Content Plan.”