“Set it and forget it” marketing sounds great, in theory.
After all, what attorney wouldn’t want to live in a world where earning a consistent stream of qualified leads for their law firm was as simple as clicking a “Start Campaign” button and walking away?
But, unfortunately, effective digital law firm marketing is nothing like setting up your Showtime Rotisserie Oven. In reality, “Set It and Forget It Marketing” isn’t a marketing strategy.
It’s a marketing fantasy.
It takes time, dedication, and regular refinement of your content and techniques to experience success in online law firm marketing. Some of the reasons for that have to do with Google’s algorithm and expectations; others are simple matters of user experience when potential clients interact with your law firm website. Below, we break down some of the reasons why “Set It and Forget It” should simply be removed from your marketing lexicon.
Google Considers “Freshness” when Ranking Your Law Firm Website Content
In a post from November 2011, former Google Fellow Amit Singhal stated that “Different searches have different freshness needs.”
Where a recipe for cookies might hold the same value for several years, searches for trending topics, annual events, or sports scores are usually intended to turn up information that is immediately relevant — even up to the minute.
Though the details of the search engine’s algorithm are closely guarded, it appears that Google does consider the freshness of the content on your law firm website when it evaluates that content for placement on search engine results pages (SERPs) — a notion that is supported by multiple patent filings made by the search giant.
Since most laws are rarely subject to change, so-called “evergreen” pages on your law firm website may be less affected by freshness data, and might even see their rankings climb as the content on those pages matures over time. Still, regular updates and additions to your website can send signals to Google that your site is kept current and up to date, which could provide a general SEO boost to the content on your website.
Google Is More Discerning About Law Firm Website Content than Other Content
According to a document leaked in late 2013 pertaining to Google’s “Search Quality Ratings Guidelines,” the search engine has determined that sites offering information that “can have an impact on your current or future well being (physical, financial, safety, etc.)” should be held to a higher standard than sites meant to offer more trivial information, such as those intended simply to provide entertainment.
Law firm websites fall under this category of “Your Money or Your Life” pages.
The leaked document was the one given to Google’s remote Search Quality Evaluators — a remote team that is tasked with manually examining the quality of Google’s search results by physically evaluating the information returned for certain searches.
This does not mean that any attorneys reading this need to update every page of their law firm website immediately. But it does mean that attorneys should try and be mindful of creating high-quality legal information on their websites, and that they should make an effort to update relevant information when applicable laws are changed or updated.
A Lack of Fresh Content Can Make It Seem Like You Don’t Care
Before you can convince visitors to your website to schedule a consultation or retain you as their attorney, you need to establish trust with those clients. This is the role that the content on your law firm website is meant to play.
Writing informative content that addresses specific questions asked by your potential clients is a great way to get your website found online by search engine users. But attracting a search engine user to your site from a SERP is only the first step in the process of converting a potential client to an actual client.
In some cases, internet users will need to return to your site multiple times before they feel comfortable hiring you. And after finding one valuable piece of content on your site that directly address one of their legal questions, most potential clients will come up with other questions that they want answered, as well. Some might find enough information in one sitting to justify calling your firm to discuss their case; others will not, and might even check back on your site regularly to read new content as it is published.
In order to maximize your chances of converting visitors to your law firm website into paying clients, you’ll do well to try and keep those users on your site for as long as possible. That means preempting and answering as many of their questions as you can with the content on your site.
Generally speaking, the more quality content you add to your site, the more engaged and knowledgeable you will appear with regard to your practice area(s) and the geographic area(s) where you practice, and the more you will be able to accomplish with regard to strengthening that bond of trust between yourself and your potential clients.
As you set out on an aggressive blogging strategy for your law firm website, you will likely find that the number of long-tail search phrases and specific questions you can address with the content on your site is nearly endless. Therefore, as you continue with that strategy, even as you become increasingly granular and focused with your content, it should be a rare occasion when you struggle to come up with topics to write about on your blog. (Though, if it does happen, there are plenty of ways to get inspiration for your next blog post.)
Practice area pages or a blog left to “decay” in the eyes of Google will not only prove harmful to your site’s SEO, it might also send a signal to your potential clients that you are less engaged and/or informed than your competitors who maintain a regular and active presence online. And if your competitors manage to form a stronger trust bond with your potential clients than you, it’s a safe bet that those clients will be looking another direction when it comes time to hire an attorney.