We frequently discuss why small law firms should focus on content marketing.
Before you start creating law firm website content, it’s a good idea to plan your content to keep you on the right track.
Here’s what you need to know.
Before you begin: Who are your potential clients?
Before you begin your content plan, think about the kind of clients you’d like to attract to your law firm. Who are your potential clients? What are their questions and concerns?
Good content marketing is about communicating clearly with your potential clients and referral sources. It’s important to know who you’re communicating with. If you’re not sure who you’re writing to, it can affect the quality and focus of your content in ways that fail to resonate with prospective clients.
Focus on your potential clients and their needs. Think about them as you choose pages to create, as you add content to those pages, and as you choose the voice, tone, and vocabulary for your content.
Focusing on your audience will help you create content that provides potential clients with important information and connect with them on a deeper level.
Consider creating a law firm client persona
Crafting a client persona is a useful exercise to help you write content that directly addresses your target audience. We’ve gone into detail about creating personas in this podcast episode on client personas, but here’s a quick refresher on creating a persona that can help you do better online marketing.
What kind of potential clients are you trying to reach?
Think about your ideal potential client.
How old are they? Are they married? Do they have children? Is he/she educated? If so, how educated is he/she? What kind of personality do they have? What are their behaviors like? What motivates them?
This might seem like a lot of information to know about a fictional person. But the more you know about this individual, the better. Creating a client persona will help you answer relevant questions that a similar potential client is likely to ask. You’re also more likely to address those questions in a way that makes sense to this potential client and that encourages them to contact you.
When you’re deciding who you’re trying to reach, go beyond a vague answer. A DUI attorney should be able to describe their ideal potential client beyond “someone who’s been arrested for a DUI.” An estate planning attorney should be able to go beyond the description of “someone who needs to draft a will.”
For example, are you a DUI attorney in a college town who wants to represent underage college students with DUI arrests. If so, that might affect the way you write your content. You might gear your content toward the parents of the client if you expect that the parents will be doing research on attorneys, for example.
An estate planning attorney may want to gear their content toward seniors who are ready to think about wills or trusts, or perhaps this attorney wants to reach the adult children of the client, who might be doing research for their parents. The content for those two audiences might require slightly different framing.
Geographically, where are your clients?
Let’s say you’re a DUI attorney and you’ve created a practice area page (or pages) covering the topic of a first DUI.
Maybe you’ve included useful information about:
- Drunk driving statistics;
- The DUI process (field tests, chemical tests, the criminal process);
- Criminal penalties for a first time DUI, as well as administrative penalties.
Your content is highly detailed, engaging, and easy to read.
But does your content explain where you are geographically? Does it talk about a first DUI in the context of the place where you practice?
The value of local law firm website content
One mistake that we’ve seen is when attorneys forget to consider the local nature of the problems that they’re addressing with their content. They write great content, but they fail to give context about the geographic area where they practice. That can make it difficult for potential clients to find these pages when they make relevant searches.
Google wants to be able to return highly relevant results when someone conducts a search for a question such as, “What are the penalties for a first DUI in [California/Carlsbad/San Diego County]?” or “Can you go to jail for your first DUI?”
Whether the query is location-specific or not, Google is likely to try and produce relevant local results.
Be sure to incorporate your location naturally in your body content and in places such as your headers. (But be sure that you avoid keyword stuffing, which violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.)
There are lots of opportunities to localize your content and make it easier for potential clients to find. What do your potential clients need to know about things like local rules or courts? How do people colloquially address certain landmarks or locations?
Don’t forget about the importance of local content strategy. You may write engaging content, but if it doesn’t address the topic in a local way, it can be difficult for potential clients to find you.
For more on local SEO, see:
- 4 Tips For Your Law Firm’s Local SEO Strategy
- 6 Ways To Add Local Information On Your Law Firm’s Website
What do your potential clients need to know?
Think about the questions your potential clients ask about their case or problem.
A lot of the questions that potential clients ask you when they meet you for a consultation (or during the course of their case or matter) are a lot like what they ask to Google when they’re searching for answers.
Consider including information that potential clients might fail to ask, but that they need to know. The more information you provide your potential clients, the more opportunities you have to educate them and encourage them to contact you.
Think about your potential clients’ motivations. They need answers about their case or problem, but they also need to know that they can trust you. Good content can accomplish both of those things.
The depth of the information that you provide — and how you present it — is important for several reasons. When your content is educational and framed in a way that your audience can understand, it can help them learn more about their problem and begin to trust you. It can help them realize that their issue is complex but benefits from consulting with an attorney. That information inspires confidence and can encourage a potential client to pick up the phone and call your office.
Planning and structuring your law firm website content
With different combinations of practice areas, attorney personalities, firm composition, geographic practice area and desired client base, most small law firms are unique. And, as a result, there isn’t a one-size-fits all content plan for every firm. That means content planning and structuring is likely to be different for each firm.
But in many cases, small law firms benefit from fleshing out the practice area pages on their site first. Once they’ve developed a healthy number of detailed, useful substantive pages, then it may be time to move onto a more aggressive blogging strategy.
For more information on taking your content strategy to the next level, you can listen to this podcast episode on growth strategies for law firm websites.
How long should your law firm content plan be?
A good content plan should cover content topics, due dates and accountabilities for at least the next twelve months. Content marketing is a marathon — not a sprint — and requires consistent effort over time.
Sometimes, attorneys are tempted to only plan content for the week ahead or month ahead. While in some cases that can work, it’s generally not a successful strategy in the long run. Beginning with a long-term plan is generally much easier and more likely to keep you on the right track.
Planning ahead of time (and looking well into the future) can minimize distractions that can keep you from a regular publication schedule.
How detailed does your content plan need to be?
Your content plan should go beyond a basic schedule of what pages will be written and when. It should also include deadlines, accountabilities, and details about the content for each page.
What are you going to include? How will you divide the text to make it easy to scan and read? How will the content plan account for bigger, more detailed pages as they develop over time? Who will be responsible for certain pages?
The more detail you put into your content plan and into what specific pages will look like, the easier it will be when it comes time to sit down and write the pages.
In the coming weeks, we’ll look at examples of what content planning for specific practice areas.