If you’ve been running a website for any amount of time you probably are aware of the saying “content is King” — and there’s good reason for that. Websites need solid content to rank well, to engage readers, and to entice potential leads to turn into clients.
So you say you’re not a ‘writer’ or you’re not sure where to even begin? Luckily for you that’s where this content marketing strategy guide for your law practice comes in.
Why a content marketing strategy is important for your law firm
While most aspects SEO and digital marketing can be pretty technical, content is one of the areas where creativity is rewarded. With a solid content strategy you can make your website stand out from the rest.
Not convinced? Here are some more reasons why content strategy is so important:
- You’re an authority on legal matters in the “real world” but that may not translate to your online presence. When you craft a great content strategy for your website it helps you become an authority online as well.
- Good quality content helps with branding — running TV and radio ads aren’t the only way to get your law firm’s name recognized. Having content that is found and sometimes shared is a ‘free’ way to improve your name recognition and brand power.
- Search engines rely on content for ranking websites. When you develop a great content strategy (and publish great content) for your website you strengthen your search engine optimization, link building, and social media strategies at the same time.
- About those search engines: you cannot rank in Google (or any other search engine) without great content. And you can’t just put up short 500 words or less blog posts either. Google wants content and they reward high quality, in-depth informational content.
- There’s a lot of debate about whether content length is important. You can have your opinion, but the stats don’t lie. The average word count of top ranking pages is around 1900 words.
- But just aiming for raw numbers won’t cut it either — your content needs to provide a reader with all (or most) of the information they are looking for.
You cannot focus your content solely on blog posts. The best law firm content marketing strategies focus on creating a well-rounded website.
- Your primary focus needs to be on your homepage and then your practice area pages. There’s quite a bit of content you can add to these pages to really kick up the content quality and make it a good source for potential clients, existing clients, and search engines. Some examples of content to include are:
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): this is an amazing and easy way to increase content quality. For virtually any topic on your site there are tons of questions that people regularly ask and turn to search to find out. The best way to find out what kind of questions you need to answer is to do a search yourself. Here’s a little inside baseball: pick a main topic for your page and search that term. Normally you will see a box in Google results called “People Also Ask” — these are commonly asked questions in relation to your term. Copy the ones that you know are relevant and answer them on your page as FAQ content. When you click on one of the questions, you will normally get more relevant results. Publish your answers to these questions.
- Checklists: a great piece of helpful content is a checklist of items or procedures a client may need to be aware of when dealing with certain legal issues. This is an easy way to provide highly useful, relevant content and significantly increase word count. But don’t just randomly put down information — think through a checklist process that you would give clients and post that for anyone to follow.
- Legal Library: one of the ways to establish your firm as an authority within your legal community is to be a repository for legal information. Create a library of legal briefs and information relevant to your legal niche. Done correctly these library pieces should be long-form and provide readers (and potentially other lawyers) with vital information.
- Case Studies: Case studies are a great way to highlight your real world expertise by breaking down a real case that you’ve successfully litigated. This is a great way to address many facets of an issue that a reader may have no idea they need to be concerned with. Also, reading about similar cases and how your firm handled it from start to finish can answer questions a potential client may have and allows them to determine if your firm’s approach and process is in line with what they need.
- All this content we’ve discussed should be linking to other pieces and other long form content on your site. Doing this will give your site more topical depth and authority. This also allows search engine crawlers the opportunity to find deeper pages on your site to index.
Interested in learning how we implement these strategies for our legal clients? Keep reading.
Here’s some examples of how we use content marketing for law firms we work with to give them the online competitive advantage that they deserve:
Tier 1 Legal Content
When we start a content marketing plan we first look to see what tier 1 content is needed. We define tier 1 content as:
- The content that speaks directly to your most profitable audience and their most pressing needs. This is likely to be related to the more common questions you receive from leads and searches.
- Tier 1 content will target your main keywords and practice areas.
- This content can be anywhere from 2500 to 5000 words and should be a fairly in-depth piece that covers the legal topic and provides readers with valuable tips and advice.
Example of a Tier 1 Piece of Content:
What To Do If You’re Injured In a Car Accident and Need to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Tier 2 content
Once we’ve created tier 1 content we decide what needs to come next — often,we move to tier 2 content that is designed to support our tier 1 topics.
This is what we consider tier 2 content:
- Content that is a sub topics within tier one content. Although tier 1 content is fairly in-depth, you’re not going to be able to explore deeply everything related to your tier 1 legal topic. The tier 2 pieces will take some aspect of the broad topic and drill down into specifics.
- Tier 2 content should always be linked to from the parent tier 1 piece of content.
- When possible this piece should also contain 2,000 words or more.
- You should also link out to third party resources that back up your information. This is especially true when you’re citing statistics, studies, or laws and legal decisions.
Example of a Tier 2 Piece of Content:
The Most Important Information You Need to Gather After an Accident
Your tier 2 content is more of a deep-dive on a specific aspect of your tier 1 content. You should be very tactical with links to resources, using FAQ’s and checklists, and including helpful videos.
Some people get worried that linking out to other sources will make people leave your site or send a message that you’re not really an authority. That isn’t the case at all though — linking out is a great way to provide the best information as well increasing ‘trust’ with regards to Google and other search engines. So don’t be afraid to link out to good resources and embed videos that are relevant and informative to your piece.
You can continue this strategy and create even more depth with tier 3, tier 4…etc. That said, most strategies we implement do not normally go more than 3 levels deep. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t go further. If you have a legal topic that can benefit from deeper information go for it. We would recommend you start with 2 or 3 levels of depth and measure how well it performs.
Why this content structure works.
- Creating content this way gives your site a huge volume of topical depth. When properly implemented you will have over 10,000 words covering every aspect of your most important practice areas that all link to each other.
- This type of content can satisfy voice related searches. When created properly you should have quite a bit of FAQ and checklist content. Much of voice search is question related (“what is…?” “how do I…?”) and this type of content is evergreen. Plus prevalance of voice search is certain to grow exponentially with greater reliance on smartphones. We already have statistics showing that 58% of people have used voice search for information about local businesses and voice searches are expected to make up to 50% of all search queries by 2020.
- This type of content has the potential to perform better with regards to social media sharing since it’s more actionable and not promotional.
- Tiered content is easier for content marketing because it contains useful items such as checklists and resource links that can (and often will) accrue links over time. Another perk is this content is easily updated if and when minor changes occur with the law.
- You can use this type of tiered content in email marketing campaigns. You can direct it to potential clients and leads, or send it to past clients as non-promotional content to keep your firm at the top of their mind.
- It’s critical for SEO. This type of content is great for SEO. While we’re an SEO agency first, we put this last because we view good content strategy that is implemented well will naturally rank well. So long as it meets all of the above points since this content is highly in-depth and should be written for the user first and search engines second.
How to Implement Your Law Firm’s Tiered Content Marketing Strategy
- Hopefully you already understand your practice’s most important and valuable legal service areas. If not, create a roadmap or list of your top services and the main keywords surrounding those practice areas. If you’re not certain what your top keywords are we suggest using a keyword tool. We recommend Ubersuggest (free) or KWFinder (paid).
- Create a content map that shows your top level/tier 1 topics, tier 2 sub-topics…etc and the types of content these should be. (link to google doc that is formated like our content map)
- Next, research and mine the “People Also Ask” section when you complete a search query for your keywords. This will help you put together all the relevant FAQ’s for that topic.
- When publishing this content use the year (and sometimes month) in the title of the page and update it regularly to keep it current (and change the month/year in the title tag when updated). Note: do not put the date in the URL. We want the URL to stay the same no matter how many edits/updates we make to it. If you use a day/month/year structure in your URL it can change, which will affect links and social signals you’ve possibly acquired over time.
- Don’t just rely on written content. Use multiple types of media: images, screenshots, video, checklists, downloads…etc.
How to Market Your Practice’s Tiered Content Properly
- Create a catchy headline that makes people want to share your information. We’re wired to share information according to a study from UCLA. To be shareable your content needs to be more than just valuable to readers — it must have a headline that’s worth sharing. In fact this study determined that 59% of twitter shares are likely based on a headline alone.
- That said, you have to share your content too. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your articles. So share on all of your personal and professional social media platforms. And don’t just make this “one and done” — this type of content should be shared multiple times a year on all of your accounts.
- Consider using sponsored posts on Facebook to create awareness and brand recognition.
- Use a social media promotion site to share your content. We use and recommend Quuu Promote. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, do a little promotion to jump start the sharing and clicks.
- If you link out to a resource tag them on twitter or send them an email letting them know and don’t be afraid to ask them to give your piece a share.
- Do manual email outreach to industry publications and offer to write a summary version for their blog. If they accept an article or guest post make sure to link to your content for further reading. This is a great way to get a valuable, relevant link to your content and will help it rank in search engines.
- If you have an email list make sure to promote it to your subscribers. This is also a good way to keep and improve brand recognition as well as potentially stir up a new lead (if one of your subscribers is in need of or knows someone in need of your services).
How to Measure the Performance of Your Law Firm Content Strategy
Now that you’ve put all this effort into creating and marketing your new content you can’t just sit back and smell the roses. Now is the time to monitor and (more importantly) measure its performance.
How to measure your content strategy performance:
Google Analytics: this is the most basic way to measure all sorts of metrics related to your website. Analytics is free and if you own a website there’s no reason to not be using analytics on your site. To properly measure how your content performs you’ll have to set a note or keep track of when you’ve published content that needs to be analyzed. This allows you to do a before/after analysis. Here are just some of the ways you can track and review your content:
Pageviews: you can see how many views a specific page has had on your site. An easy way to measure is to set a note in your analytics when you’ve published or updated a specific piece of content and review pageviews after that date (compared to before).
Sessions/Users: this is not a straightforward metric, but it can give you an idea about how many users are visiting your content and compare it over time to see if you’re making traffic improvements.
Time on page metrics: in general the longer visitors are staying on your page, the better. If you’re metrics are improving there’s a good chance visitors are staying on the page to read through your content.
Goals: hopefully you’re tracking goals such as contact form submissions and calls — and you can also see if a specific page is generating goal conversions. This will tell you whether you’re getting more leads from your content.
“Steal” our own custom content dashboard. This dashboard covers these metrics above and more. Click the button below and select “Import” to add this dashboard to your analytics account.
Search Console: this is another free Google tool that will give you information on how your content is performing. Now, you may be thinking “if I’m tracking analytics why do I have to track search console as well?” — that’s a good question and the answer is: analytics provides virtually zero information about what keywords/terms led to clicks on your site, whereas search console provides a bevy of information.
Clicks: you can review how many clicks a specific page on your site has received and you can also see the click through rate of individual pages. Click through rate is a ratio of clicks to impressions (impressions = number of times your URL shows up in a search). The higher the click through rate the better.
Queries: this is probably the most valuable aspect of search console. You can select a page to review and then see what queries led to impressions and clicks. Knowing this you can find certain keyword variations that you can add to the content or find aspects of the content that might need to be bolstered and expanded upon.
Here’s one powerful way to use this: choose Search Analytics and toggle Impressions, CTR, and Positions. Next sort by Impressions. Find queries that have a lot of impressions and are showing up in the 3-10 positions. Add the best phrases to your Title tag or in H1/H2 tags on your page.
How Long Does it Take for New Content to Start Working?
We get it, when we publish new content that we’re excited about we’re like kids waiting for Christmas day! We want to see our results NOW.
Unfortunately it doesn’t usually work that way.
We tell all clients that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint and you have to be willing to wait a little while to start seeing results. With that in mind we’ve found that new, expansive content that satisfies a deep need for the reader will take about 3-6 months to really start working.
By ‘working’ we mean you will consistently see traffic/visits increasing. It will also start to show up on page 1 for some search terms.
Shorter time frames are possible but that depends on how successful your content marketing and outreach is. Other ways you can speed up your results is if a piece of content ends up getting linked to from authoritative sites or goes ‘viral’ but it’s never wise to rely on, or assume that will happen.
How to Maintain Your New Content Over Time
There are millions of pieces content published every day, and within all of that content there’s going to be overlaps with your own. So it’s important if you want your content to be evergreen that you maintain it regularly. Just like a plant that needs water and sunlight and attention to grow and remain strong, so your content needs you to regularly review it for accuracy, timeliness and usefulness.
Here’s how we maintain ours and our client’s content:
- Regularly check search console data to uncover keywords your content ranks for. This is just like how to measure your content’s performance. Look for keywords phrases that your content might not cover in depth and work on those areas to increase your relevancy for those search patterns.
- Update content if and when new issues arise — such as a statute change or new law being enacted. You can also add relevant case studies to your pieces to continually add relevant content and can highlight your expertise as a lawyer.
- If nothing new or newsworthy has happened, update each piece of content at least once per year anyway! Add the year to the headline and title tags to show that it’s current — this can also help increase click through rates.
- Regularly promote your content on social media channels regardless of when it was originally launched.
Some Additional Law Firm Content Tips
- Avoid legalese whenever possible. Laypeople are looking for information, they don’t want to read Latin and try to figure out what exactly it means. Unless absolutely necessary, try to communicate with your readers on a level they’re likely to understand. You’re not in a courtroom talking to other lawyers and judges.
- Do not write content like you’re preparing a legal brief. Write in short sentences and short 3-5 sentence paragraphs. Use bullets, headings, and subheadings to break up text. Reading on the internet is very different than other forms of written communication — people tend to scan and jump across the text and longer, essay-like content is not helpful.
- Remember that many of your readers are on mobile devices. Think about how your content will appear on a phone or tablet. Google already is focused on mobile-first and as time goes on more searches and visits will be completed via mobile device than desktop computers.
- Add call-to-actions throughout your content. Not every reader is going to want to read through 5000 words — if they know they need your services and just want to contact you, give them that opportunity by adding a ‘contact us’ button or some other call to action device.
Content marketing for your law firm cannot be an afterthought — it needs to be a large focus of your marketing plan. Great, in-depth content can be a great tool for attracting new leads and increasing exposure of your website and brand. Combining FAQs and checklists with deep authoritative information about specific legal issues is a great way to improve user experience and engage readers (and potential clients). But you cannot stop there, you must review and measure your content to make sure it’s meeting the needs of your practice and the public.
If you need assistance crafting your law firm’s content marketing strategy contact us to schedule a consultation. DAGMAR has a lot of experience working with legal clients and creating the best content strategy for their practice.