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As you sit down to write content for your law firm’s website, it is important to keep in mind the purpose of that content: to answer questions for your potential clients, build trust with them and, ultimately, convince them to reach out to your law firm.

The flip side of that coin is this: your content is generally not intended to impress other attorneys or industry professionals (unless that is how you intend to obtain your clients). It is imperative to remember this when adding content to your site in order to make sure that the content you add appeals to the correct audience, thereby maximizing its capacity for converting your potential clients and website visitors into actual clients.

Use Language that Appeals to Your Law Firm’s Potential Clients

Often times, attorneys get caught up in how they might be perceived by other industry professionals, or how competing attorneys are going to respond to the content on their law firm websites, over and above considerations of how that content will be received by potential clients.

As a result, in order to make sure that they are not coming off as uneducated or uninformed about their practice area(s), attorneys often lean too hard on the use of complicated legalese in their writing.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of practice areas, the typical potential client is not going to be familiar enough with the law to easily understand content that is heavy on legal jargon. For this reason, it is important to strike a balance between legal jargon that must be used for the sake of explaining a specific situation and conversational language that better matches the way that your potential clients typically speak.

Your potential clients are likely to type searches that more closely resemble their regular speech patterns than they are to search for legal information using specific legal terminology. For this reason, you will want to make sure that you explain legal terminology in layman’s terms when you employ it in your writing.

Your Potential Clients Likely Think Locally, Not Legally

If your clients are more likely to use colloquial language than they are to use official names for certain places or concepts, your law firm website’s SEO will likely benefit from the use of such colloquial terms.

For instance, LawLytics’ Vice President of Content Operations, Rachel Chalot, points out that the Pennsylvania highway officially known as Interstate 376 is actually referred to as “The Parkway East” and “The Parkway West” by locals.

Therefore, if someone is pulled over and cited for a DUI on that particular stretch of road, it is more likely that they would search for information about their case using the more common, colloquial phrase than they would be to use the official name of the highway in their searches.

Similarly, some jurisdictions have stopped using the term “custody” and have instead adopted the use of the phrase “parenting time” as it relates to family law. Family lawyers might therefore be tempted to eschew the use of the phrase “custody” in their law firm website content altogether.

However, many parents are likely unaware of that change and may still use the phrase “custody” to search for information about their legal situation, and that term might therefore still prove valuable to a family law firm’s SEO for certain pieces of content.

Finally, it is important to realize that your potential clients are likely unfamiliar with the ways that laws are written and enforced when they search for information about their cases. Though DUI procedures and penalties are usually legislated at the state level, your potential clients may not know this. They might be inclined, therefore, to search for information about DUI procedures in a certain neighborhood, township, city, or county than they would be to search for information about how cases are handled at the state level.

Though it is technically correct to gear your law firm website content to cover DUI information at the state level, it will likely prove more beneficial to your law firm website’s SEO to write about those cases in the way that your potential clients are most likely to speak about and search for that information.

Attorneys: Write for People, Not Search Engines

It’s Google’s most basic and primary guideline:

“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

What this means, in simple terms, is that if the content on your law firm website is meant simply to provide search engines with something to index, chances are that it will have a hard time finding its way to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant queries.

Pages which purport to offer some kind of information about a specific situation relevant to your potential clients, but then only provide your firm’s contact information and a suggestion that interested parties reach out for more info is more than likely going to register to Google as “thin” content. And content that Google considers to be thin is unlikely to earn a coveted spot on the first SERP for relevant query.

When composing content for your law firm website, it is important that you ensure that you are addressing as many of your potential clients’ questions as you can. In depth content on a subject is more likely to rank well for relevant searches as it is more likely to prove useful to search engine users. Still, data suggests that most users fail to read content in its entirety and instead prefer to skim content. Break your content up into bite-sized pieces for ease of digestion, and provide summaries of your longer pieces of content to appeal to the skimmers, whilst also providing sufficient information for those who choose to read your content at length.