This is the third post in a series about Logical Fallacies in Online Law Firm Marketing. For links to the other posts in this series, refer to the series introduction, “Logical Fallacies in Online Marketing.”
The effectiveness and affordability of content marketing is proven.
In fact, content marketing has been shown to cost 62 percent less than outbound marketing efforts, while yielding three-times as many leads. And, according to HubSpot, companies that publish 16 or more blog posts per month get about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published 0-4 times per month.
Having more content on your law firm’s website to offer to search engines means that search engines have more content to offer users on search engine results pages (SERPs) when they make relevant queries.
But Google favors quality content (that is likely to prove useful to its users) over thin content that doesn’t provide value to readers, regardless of the number of pages on a website.
According to a video posted by the former head of Google’s webspam team, Matt Cutts, having more web pages does not automatically translate to better rankings on SERPs. Cutts says that having more pages and more content can mean more opportunity to rank for a wider variety of specific queries, but, he says, “just having more pages doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be in good shape, or that you’ll get some sort of ranking boost.”
In fact, according to Cutts, the number of pages on a website that have been indexed by Google is not used as a ranking factor whatsoever for placement in organic search results.
Google Favors Law Firm Website Content Quality Over Quantity
Since Google’s business model depends on returning the highest quality results to users for each and every one of the more-than 5.5 billion queries it processes daily, Google favors the quality of the content it finds on a website over the quantity of content on a site.
Imagine two law firm websites containing the same number of indexed pages, but belonging to two different solo practitioners:
On website ‘A’, the attorney managing the site takes time to address specific questions asked by her clients, she writes in language that is accessible to her client base, and she goes into detail about legal issues that her clients might face in each blog post and practice area page she publishes.
On website ‘B’, the attorney managing the site simply copies the headline from each post on website ‘A’, pastes it into his blog, then places his firm’s contact information (and nothing else) in the body of each post.
All other things being equal, which site do you think will perform better on Google’s organic search results?
Along with hundreds of other signals, Google’s algorithm is likely going to recognize that the keywords used in the headlines of website A’s posts match those used in the associated content. Those posts will therefore register as more relevant for searches than will posts on website ‘B’.
The content of website ‘B’, on the other hand, will likely register as thin, duplicate content to the search engine, and will therefore not likely rank well for most searches. Rather, website ‘B’ will struggle to appear for any search other than those performed specifically to find the contact information of the attorney who operates the site, as that is the only information provided in this hypothetical scenario.
Further, as more search engine users discover and endorse the quality content on site ‘A’ by engaging with it and placing external links to it, that content will continue to rise up the rankings for relevant searches (a phenomenon known as compounding) while the thin, spammy content of the competing site will continue to languish, and might even eventually be penalized by Google for violating its webmaster guidelines.
Keep in mind that, from Google’s perspective, quality content is particularly important for law firm websites. If you’re writing content that’s not appropriately geared toward your audience or isn’t useful for them, the volume of content alone is unlikely to move the needle for your firm.
The Value of Growing Your Law Firm Website’s Content Archive
The more relevant, quality content you are able to add to your site over time, the more searches you will have the opportunity to rank for. If your family law website only features content about divorce court proceedings, for example, it will be difficult to rank for searches about mediation, custody, or asset division in your region of practice. But, the more effort you make to touch on each of these subjects on your law firm website, the more chances you will have to rank for searches on those topics.
This is one of the primary reasons that content marketing efforts are unlikely to yield overnight success as soon as they are implemented. Rather, ethical SEO practices like thoughtful content marketing are long-term strategies which offer increasing returns for your law firm. The more time and effort you put into increasing and improving the content offerings on your site, the better that content is likely to perform on SERPs for relevant queries.
The increase in the number of indexed pages on a site can correlate with better rankings on SERPs, though that increased ranking is not caused by the increased number of indexed pages alone.
Rather, having more pages that contain a high-volume of quality content translates to more chances to be found for a wider array of relevant queries. That, in turn, supports increased traffic to your site that can lead to more links, more perceived authority in your subject matter and, eventually, improved rankings for your most engaging pieces of content.
Playing the Content Marketing Long-Game for Your Law Firm
About one-in-ten blog posts are compounding, meaning that traffic to those posts tends to increase over time as a result of improved ranking in organic search results. Thus, even if you publish a flawless, thoughtful, and thorough post addressing a question commonly asked by your potential clients, it can take time for that post to gain traction in SERPs.
The successful creation of one compounding post, however, can outweigh the benefits of six non-compounding posts. Writing regularly and addressing as many long-tail queries posed by your potential clients as possible is an effective way of improving the chances that your law firm website’s content will enjoy a valuable ranking on SERPs.
Continuing to add quality content to your site is the way to maximize your chances of creating a post that will continue to drive traffic to that site, long-term. In fact, HubSpot reports that over 75 percent of their blog views and 90 percent of their blog leads come from old posts. It’s reasonable to believe that this could also translate into similar results for small law firms and solo practitioners who engage in content creation.
Expecting to see immediate results from your content creation efforts is a good way to set yourself up for disappointment before making the time commitment necessary to see success from content marketing. This causes many attorneys, including your competition, to give up long before those efforts begin to pay off. But, for attorneys who stick it out through an initial period of relatively slow growth, the payoff for thoughtful content marketing efforts can be dramatic, and can even compound over time.