Is Your Law Firm Creating The Right Content For Your Website

In recent years, law firms have begun to realize the importance of establishing their brand in the digital market. Historically, law firms received the bulk of their leads through networking events, referrals, and traditional ad space channels (billboards, Yellow Pages, etc.).

But the most successful lawyers are now dominating the search engines and social media with content and even establishing themselves as thought leaders in their field. This has only become possible through focused content marketing campaigns that deliver engaging content and follow a long list of legal content marketing best practices.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the practice of creating engaging and useful content that is aimed at a particular online audience. For law firms, content marketing involves the creation of original content, such as blogs, white papers, and web pages. The content is posted on your website and shared in a way that promotes your legal practice’s services.

The goals of content marketing will vary. But to be successful, your firm’s content should aim to fulfill at least one of these goals:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Establish expertise and thought leadership
  • Generate leads and new clients
  • Create an online community

The type of content you post will vary depending on your goals and the needs of your target audience. When done right, content marketing can be a valuable addition to your digital marketing strategy.

The Importance of Content Marketing for Law Firms

Content marketing is a big deal for any business, but it is particularly vital for law firms. The average consumer has become blind to traditional advertising methods like print, television, and even some online ads. This constant noise drastically reduces the chances that one of these tactics will sell your service to a prospect.

But content marketing can succeed where other methods fail. When a person has a legal issue that they need to solve (or any issue, such as needing last-minute dinner reservations), they are more likely than ever to turn to Google for their answer. This is where you have the greatest opportunity to connect with a prospect in the most meaningful way through your useful and targeted content.

Some of the ways content marketing can benefit your law firm include:

Content Marketing Improves Your Reach

Content marketing allows potential clients to find you who otherwise might not have. That person that is worried about the potential “DUI penalties in Alabama” or wants to know “How to appeal an SSDI rejection” might find your recent blog post and contact you.

If your content is useful and interesting, they might also share it with friends and social media followers. Someone that wasn’t searching for your law firm will see your name and remember it later when they do have a need.

Legal Content Can Improve Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital to the success of your online marketing efforts, and content marketing can help improve your website’s organic rankings. When you have a lot of informative content on your website that begins to pull in traffic, Google will notice and reward you accordingly.

Local search is essential for law firms that serve a limited geographic area. By adding your city, county, or other location data to your content, you can improve your local search rankings. So, when a person looks for a “personal injury lawyer near me,” you are more likely to get one of those top spots.

Blogging Establishes You as an Authority

People want to hire a law firm that knows what it is doing, and you can establish your authority through content marketing. A frequently updated blog gives you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge on a topic while you are addressing some of your target audience’s most pressing concerns.

A blog is also an effective way to promote your practice among your peers. When you establish authority in your field, you are more likely to get referrals from other firms that are outside your area of practice or geographic region.

Getting Your Law Firm’s Content Marketing Strategy Right

Content marketing differs a bit from traditional advertising. When most people think of law firm advertising, they picture a lawyer’s face on a billboard or bus stop imploring them to call some version of 1-800-ACCIDENT. Content marketing for law firms is a bit more subtle and can be far more effective than traditional advertising when approached correctly.

It is simple enough to produce a few blog posts and send out some tweets and then label that as your law firm’s content marketing efforts. But, to build your brand and get the most out of content marketing, you need a focused strategy.

Some of the things your legal content marketing strategy should include are:

  • Defining Your Audience – Who are you trying to reach with your content, and for what purpose?
  • Optimizing Your Website – Is the content already on your website optimized for your target audience and the search engines? Can you repurpose any of your best-performing content to extend your reach?
  • Producing a Content Marketing Strategy – Your content marketing strategy should include keyword research and a content roadmap to plan your approach.
  • Creating Compelling Legal Content – The next step is to research, write, edit, and publish content that targets a specific practice area, audience, and set of keywords.
  • Marketing Your Content – Some content ranks quickly organically, but you can also “share” content on social media sites and promote it to get it in front of the right audience.
  • Assessing Your Results – Every content marketing campaign should carefully track progress and assess results to determine what is working and what might require some adjustments moving forward.

Quality Legal Content That Sets Your Law Firm Apart

At Sundown Marketing Group, we create content that helps our clients express their brand’s voice. While you focus on running your firm, the content our team creates for you will drive traffic to your website and convert visitors into new clients.

Some examples of the results-driven content our copywriters create include:

  • Practice area pages
  • Blogs
  • White papers and resource articles
  • Press releases
  • Staff biographies
  • Newsletters

Every piece of content you receive is well-researched, SEO-optimized, and 100% unique to address your needs and the most pressing concerns of your target audience. Contact Sundown Marketing Group today at (800) 649-1764 or online to connect with us for a free consultation.

Geo-Targeted Content – The Difference Between 1st Page Rankings And Irrelevancy

The most important online content for law firms is the area of practice (AOP) page. These pages help give your website a strong foundation that you can build on with consistent monthly content. Practice area pages serve two primary purposes; to explain in detail what areas of law you practice, and to let legal consumers know which geographic locations you serve.

An attorney or firm should produce AOP pages for each area of specialty, starting with the most general and drilling down from there. For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer who does mostly traffic-related accident cases, you would want to produce pages for:

  • Personal Injury
  • Car Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Bus Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents

This is just a starting list. Over time, you might want to add pages for more subtopics, like “serious/catastrophic injuries” for example. In addition, will want to add several specific types of injuries that fall into this category, such as “traumatic brain injuries” and “spinal cord injuries”.

Once you know which area of practice pages you need to produce, it is time to decide which geographic locations to target. Creating geo-specific practice area pages for your law firm is extremely important, because consumers tend to prefer locally focused content, and search engines reward geo-targeted AOP pages with better search results. Ultimately, this means more prospects landing on your page, which in turn means more clients from your website.

Building Geo-Specific Attorney Practice Area Pages

The keys to an effective geo-targeted practice area page are to create pages that will be highly relevant to a local consumer search along with text and design that shows authority and professionalism and optimizes client conversions. The headline should include the keyword phrase you are targeting along with the local area in which you are marketing.

Continuing with the personal injury firm example, let’s say you are in the Chicago area. In this case, you will want pages with titles like “Personal Injury Attorneys in Chicago” or “Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyers”.

As you might guess, in an area like Chicago, there is going to be heavy competition for keywords such as “Chicago personal injury lawyer”. This is why it is a good idea to drill down to areas of personal injury law that you specialize in, like “motorcycle accidents” or “nursing home abuse”. Create the personal injury page as the “parent” page and create the more specialized pages as the “child pages” in your linking structure.

If you are in a medium to large sized metro area, another thing you should strongly consider is creating geo-pages that are targeted toward nearby localities that you practice in. For example, let’s say your office is in the northwest side of Chicago near O’Hare International. In this case, you would want to target nearby suburbs like Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, and Elmhurst. Making geo-targeted pages for these suburbs creates more potential doorways through which prospective clients can find your website.

Best Practices for Geo-Specific Practice Area Pages

There are a lot of variables that go into creating geo-targeted area of practice pages that drive results. Here are some of the most important guidelines to follow:

  • Develop a Consistent Message: It is critical that your message remains consistent across all of your web properties with regards to the name of your firm, the focus of your practice, your location, and similar information. When you are building an online brand, there needs to be congruency with the design, the images you display, and the messages that you convey.
  • Distinguish Yourself and Your Firm: Your geo-specific practice area pages should highlight why you are different from the hundreds or perhaps thousands of other lawyers in your area with the same or similar areas of specialty. Is it your extensive trial experience? Your success with high-profile cases? Recognition by reputable legal organizations? Large verdicts and settlements you have secured for clients? Highlight the things that distinguish your practice and set you apart from your competition.
  • Write with Authority: One way you can show that you are a good choice for legal consumers is by creating authoritative content that showcases your expertise. So, if you are a DUI defense attorney, for example, tell readers the important points about the DUI laws in your state, when they Are likely to face jail time, what they have to do to keep their driver’s license, and some of the most effective defenses. Content like this helps establish you as a thought leader in your area of practice.
  • Make Your Content Readable and Useful: Along with authoritative content, your content should be readable and include useful information. Use short paragraphs with lots of subheadings and bullet points to make it easier for your readers to scan the content quickly if they want to. Also give them information that will be helpful to them and make them feel like it was worth their time to read your page. For example, you could include a section like “What to Say and What Not to Say When You Speak to an Insurance Adjuster.”
  • Be Careful About Overusing Keywords: Focus on creating quality content and don’t worry as much about integrating keywords. Keyword stuffing is a disgraced practice that Google no longer rewards, and in fact, the overuse of keywords could actually hurt your rankings in some cases. As a general rule, if you write authoritatively about your area of practice, your targeted keywords and related keywords will show up often enough for Google to recognize your page as a relevant search result.
  • Make it Easy for Your Prospects to Engage: Your geo-targeted area of practice pages should include a call to action and a chat box in case the reader would like to engage with your firm right away. With these features in place, you will convert more targeted visitors into clients.

Don’t Have Time to Create Geo-Specific Practice Area Pages? Sundown Legal Marketing is Here to Help

Maybe you are saying to yourself, “all of this makes sense, but who has time to create area of practice pages?” We get it. A lot of lawyers are simply too busy practicing law to worry about building their online presence, and that’s where we come in. At Sundown Legal Marketing, we specialize in helping law firms by reviewing their current online footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every aspect of that plan.

We work with attorneys and legal practices in whatever capacity they need us. For some, we just build a professional attorney website and host it for them while they do their own blogging and other online marketing activities. For others, we implement their entire marketing strategy – from website construction to SEO to content marketing to social media, paid advertising and beyond.

To find out how we can help your firm, call us today at (800) 864-1764 or message us online for a free website evaluation and internet marketing assessment. We look forward to serving you!

Blogs Are A Must If You Want Your Website To Rank Well

There is wide agreement among online experts that blogging is one of the core strategies that should be integrated into an effective digital marketing plan. This is true for virtually every industry, but it is especially the case for law firms. People encounter all types of legal trouble, and these days, one of the first places they go to try to make sense of their legal issues and solve them is the internet.

Before a typical legal consumer contacts an attorney, they will want to read as much as they can about the issue that they are dealing with so they at least have a basic understanding of it, and so they will know what questions to ask a lawyer when they finally contact one.

Attorneys and law firms that take the time to produce content that answers consumers’ questions stand out from their competitors by sharing free information with the public and demonstrating their knowledge of the law. Done correctly, blogging will drive targeted prospects to your web properties, a certain percentage of which should become clients. Dollar for dollar, this is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow a legal practice.

Developing an effective blogging strategy is not really all that complicated. It does, however, require a time commitment and consistency. A small to medium-sized law firm should be willing to produce at least one to three blogs per month. This could take three to 10 hours or so of your time to write the articles, edit them, and post them to your website.

If you or someone in your office is willing to put in the time, then you can turn blogging into a winning strategy that will grow your clientele. The traffic will trickle in at first, but if you stick to it, your website visits will begin to multiply, and you will produce successful long-term results.

To help ensure that you write a good blog post every time, here are six steps to follow:

Understand your Audience

It is very important to understand who you are writing the blog for and what its purpose is going to be. Primarily, a law firm blog is written for legal consumers (as opposed to other attorneys, etc.) because they are the ones who may eventually become your clients. So, when you prepare to write a blog article, put yourself in their shoes and think about what they are going through. What are their pain points? What kind of resolution are they hoping to obtain by reading your post?

The best kind of content for a blog post is content that connects with your audience and speaks to their concerns. For example, someone who was injured in a car accident is likely to be under a great deal of stress about the medical bills they have to pay, being out of work, and how long it will take to resolve their legal claim. Someone who was arrested for drunk driving is probably worried about the heavy fines they will have to pay, losing their driving privileges, the possibility of jail time, and maybe even losing their job.

By identifying your audience and understanding what they are concerned about, you will be better able to produce content that is compelling and engaging. This will help you establish an emotional connection with them, which will keep them interested in what you have to say.

Write for Topics over Keywords

You have probably heard a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) and the role it plays in getting your content found on the Web. Ranking for keywords that your target audience is searching for is one of the major goals with blogging, but you should never allow the quality of your content to be compromised for this purpose.

“Keyword stuffing” is a practice from a bygone era, and thankfully, it is no longer an effective SEO strategy. Google’s algorithms are far more sophisticated these days, and they are better able to interpret the context of an article and its relevance to various keyword queries.

The best approach for writing legal blog posts is to choose topics that your target audience cares about. One way to do this would be to make a big list of the most frequently asked questions you get from your clients and write blog articles that answer these questions. You could also look in places like Yahoo! Answers and Quora to find some common questions that are being asked.

Create blog posts about topics that are relevant to your target audience, and do not worry as much about keyword phrases. If your content addresses their most important issues, the search engines will reward you for that and your posts will be found.

Make your Content Coherent and Understandable

As a lawyer, you need to project a professional image for you and your firm. As such, you need to make sure that the content you write flows smoothly and is grammatically correct. At the same time, however, make sure it is not overly technical. Remember, much of your audience is not familiar with a lot of the legal terms that are part of your everyday vernacular. When you write a legal blog that is geared toward average consumers, your job is to make complex legal concepts understandable to your target audience.

Make your Content Informative and Useful

Your readers should be able to understand your content, and further, they should find it interesting, informative, and useful. Sure, your ultimate goal is for them to contact you and become a client, but you should not be continually trying to sell that within your post. Instead, give your readers practical information that they can take away from the article and put directly to use, so they believe that it was worth their time to read it.

Show Yourself as an Authority

Avoid talking too much about yourself within the article and instead show your expertise by discussing the legal topic and providing helpful information to the reader. The place to talk in more detail about your credentials is on the area of practice (AOP) pages of your website. Blogs can direct readers to AOP pages when appropriate, and you should do this from time to time. But within the blog post itself, show readers your in-depth knowledge about the subject. This will help establish you as an authority in your area of practice, which builds trust among your target audience and makes them more likely to become clients.

Include a Call to Action

You should end your blog with a paragraph or two that moves the reader toward a desired action. This is one place where you could discuss your credentials while inviting readers to contact your firm for more information and to schedule a consultation. If you are writing a fairly long post, you could also insert a brief call to action in the second or third paragraph for readers who know they need legal help and/or do not have the time to get through the entire article. This is optional and it is entirely up to you.

About Sundown Legal Marketing

Now here’s our call to action. We know that for a lot of attorneys, even fitting in an extra five to 10 hours a month for blogging and other types of digital marketing can seem like an impossible task. And this is where we come in. Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms by reviewing their current online footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan, and implementing every aspect of that plan.

We work with attorneys and legal practices in whatever capacity they need us. For some, we just build a professional lawyer website and host it for them while they do their own blogging and other web marketing activities. For others, we implement their entire marketing strategy – from website construction to SEO to content marketing to social media, paid advertising and beyond.

To find out how we can help your firm, call us today at (800) 864-1764 or message us online for a free website evaluation and internet marketing assessment. We look forward to serving you!

Legal Content Can Be Boring And Tough To Read, Unless….

Becoming and being a lawyer is hard work. But too many attorneys make the mistake of overcomplicating their website’s legal and blog content. If the average person can’t understand what you’ve written, they’re likely to become alienated and give up shortly after landing on your website.

Lawyers are trained to write effective briefs and contracts, not web content. If you write for the web the same way you write for a case, you’re going to have a problem.

Law websites and blogs don’t have to be inherently boring, however. Here are some tips to get more eyes on your site and clients on your books:

Create Some Best Practices

It’s essential to keep in mind that you are writing for other people – not lawyers or judges. When it comes to creating legal content that people will read, your first best practice should be to put yourself in their shoes. What issues are they facing, and how can you address them most effectively?

Use Everyday Language

According to research, to write a readable and interesting blog post, you need to use plain English. In short, this means using language that anyone can enjoy and understand. When writing legal content, you should avoid using legal jargon or terms.

You might want to sound smart. Who doesn’t? But it’s better to come across as understandable and authoritative.

Not sure about your writing? Online tools like the Hemingway App will give you a comprehension score by grade level and even suggest simpler terms as substitutions.

Instead of using the term “mitigate,” you can say “lessen” or “minimize”. You can also substitute the word “using” for “utilizing.” You get the picture.

This is a worthwhile exercise. Instead of looking at it as dumbing down your writing, it’s putting you in the best position to relate to and help your readers.

Fill in Knowledge Gaps

If you’re currently filling your law firm’s website with posts that dive into the nitty-gritty aspects of procedure and case law, you’re not speaking to your target audience. Unless, of course, your audience is law students or other lawyers.

Most law firms want to reach potential and current clients. And these people don’t care about the latest legislation (except to the extent that it affects them) and are rarely interested in your legal jargon.

To form the best connection with your readers, research what they’re concerned about, then deliver content on targeted topics:

  • Consider your different areas of practice. Simplify these topics and do some basic web searches to find out what content already dominates the web as well as what people want to know.
  • Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and BuzzSumo to find out trending topics and any opportunities you might have to fill in knowledge gaps.

These opportunities might vary depending on your areas of practice and geography. For example, a firm that practices in a big university town might want to address more content related to defending underage drinking charges or “DUI laws in [state].”

Embrace Empty Space

Your contracts or legal briefs are probably a “wall of words.” This doesn’t work with content on the web. People hate to see a page full of words. And, when they do, they’re more likely to hit the “back” button.

So, how do you embrace more empty space on your page? Here are a few tips:

  • Use a lot of headers to organize your content.
  • Write in shorter sentences.
  • Create short paragraphs – even a single sentence is fine.
  • Make bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Use images to break up content.

Embracing white space on your page is a strategy that makes just about any content more readable. It makes your page easier for a reader to scan and will keep them on your website longer.

Explain the Obvious

As a lawyer, plenty of concepts might be obvious to you. But someone without a law degree that is worried about their future would probably appreciate an explanation in layman’s terms.

Avoid the mistake of making assumptions about a reader’s knowledge. Even if you’ve covered basic information in another blog post, either cover it again or provide a link for additional reading.

Be Relatable

For most people, speaking with or hiring a lawyer can be intimidating. You’ll have more success with your legal content if you make it as relatable as possible.

There are several ways to do this. One is by using hypothetical stories to relate to your readers. Make up a scenario and detail how your firm would handle it. That said, it’s vital that you don’t use real cases unless given express permission by your client. Just changing names and locations isn’t enough to protect attorney-client privilege.

Another way you can be relatable in your writing is to simply show enthusiasm. When you’re excited about what you do, it will come through in your words.

Be Organized

Your readers will appreciate it when you keep things simple. Similar to academic writing, give them a spoiler alert at the beginning. In other words, let them know what you’re about to tell them.

End your content with a short summary of what you’ve just gone over. Finally, give your readers the next step if they’ve like some additional help. Usually, this involves giving you a call or sending a message requesting an appointment.

Get Some Help

If you’re like most lawyers, you’re incredibly busy. It’s not that you don’t have the skills to make any topic interesting and engaging; you probably just don’t have the time.

Instead of stressing over when you’ll be able to sit down and write your latest blog post or area of practice page, you can trust a professional content writer to lend a hand. An experienced writer will match your targeted keywords with easy-to-ready content that will build brand awareness for your firm and drive the conversions you want.

If you’d like to learn more about the different digital marketing solutions that will help your firm achieve its goals, give Sundown Marketing Group a call at (800) 649-1764. We welcome a conversation about your needs and will present a personalized plan designed to deliver the best possible results.

Striking Distance Keywords and How to Improve Them

What is a “striking distance keyword”? A striking distance keyword is phrase we use here at Sundown Marketing to describe a keyword that is not quite at the top of a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) yet, but with a little time and attention could rise to the top of Page 1.  In other words, it is a keyword that is within “striking distance” of the top of Page 1 of Google. Most of the time we focus on keywords that are in Position 8-12 (bottom of Page 1 or the top of Page 2), but sometimes we look even further down the list of a Google search. We work to find keywords that are competitive keywords, that we feel could rank better and could significantly increase exposure for our clients.

This is the natural train of thought that an SEO technician would take after watching keyword performance go up and down for a few months. The question is: “Can I impact a client’s website performance for a keyword by focusing on that keyword on the website?”

So, for example, we want our client’s website to rank highly for “personal injury attorney” and their site is currently ranking in the 18th position (bottom of Page 2) for personal injury attorney. Armed with that information, we would work on the site to “beef it up” for SEO factors for the keyword we are trying to rank for.

Methods

Until recently, we would begin this task by using Google Search Console. Search Console tells you what pages are ranking for what keywords and in what position they rank.

To use Google Search Console, you would simply log into your dashboard and select Performance. From there you can see all the Queries that your site ranks for and by clicking on the Pages tab you can see the page that it ranks for.

search-engine-console-dashboard

We recently discovered another way to more effectively accomplish this task. After reading an article written by search guru Neil Patel, we found a way to get even better data which includes the search volume for all of the keywords your website ranks for. This data is better because you can then use the search volume to target the keywords with the highest search volume and ranking highly for these keywords will have an even higher impact to your website performance.

semrush-dashboard

At Sundown Marketing we use SEMRush for our SEO management. With SEMRush you can enter the domain you want to analyze to create a report containing website performance. From this report you can select Top Organic Keywords. Your results will be a list of your ranking keywords, along with each keyword’s search volume. From here you can sort by Volume, so that the high-volume keywords are listed at the top of your list. Search volume tells you whether or not it is worth the effort to try and improve the ranking of a certain keyword. As an example, if the volume is only 10 searches per month, then it might be wiser to move on to the next keyword.

Here is an example of a Keyword search for one of our clients:

organic-search-positions

Once you have chosen a keyword to focus on, you must decide how to improve your website for that particular keyword. The first step is to determine what page is ranking for the keyword so you know where to focus your efforts. Once you have that information, you can analyze the page by reviewing this data:

  • Is the keyword in the title tag?
  • Is the keyword in the H1 tag?
  • Is the keyword in the meta description?
  • Is the keyword in the schema tags and the image alt tags?
  • Can you add more content about the keyword?
  • Can you add more images that are optimized for the keyword?

Most of the time you will find an area where you can improve the condition of a page on your website for a particular keyword. Perhaps a blog only has 200 words, which would suggest you bolster the content with keyword focused content. Perhaps a page has great content, keyword specific titles and meta data and quality backlinks, but no schema. In that case you may want to consider adding schema or additional optimized images. When adding additional optimized images, make sure you add them below the fold, so they don’t add significant load time to the page. In essence, go through and make the changes that make the most sense for your website.

Results

Usually the results can be seen within a month, but some changes make take longer. In the case of one of our clients, we focused on two keyword phrases:

  • “Statute of Limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Alabama” (very long tail keyword)
  • “what conditions automatically qualify you for disability”

Four days after doing some basic optimization on two pages we found that the first keyword phrase didn’t see any improvement, but in the case of the second keyword phrase, and after only optimizing the image on the page, we saw a slight increase in the position of the website for “what conditions automatically qualify you for disability” (from 18 to 17)

keyword-improvement

This is a good way to not only optimize for keywords, but also know which keywords are likely going to bring in enough traffic to make it worth your time.

If you would like a website analysis by our SEO team, please call Sundown Marketing at (800) 649-1749 or via our website contact form for a free initial consultation!

On this edition of Whiteboard Wednesday we discuss the importance of consistently adding content to your law firm website. Adding well written content to your law firm website can greatly enhance your SEO efforts by providing a better experience for your website visitors.

Video Transcription

Hello and welcome to Sundown Legal Marketing’s Whiteboard Wednesday. Today on Whiteboard Wednesday, we’re going to talk about your website and the importance of consistently adding well-written content to your website. Now, any law firm Web site essentially serves two purposes.

A Website Can Serve Two Purposes

Number one, increased brand awareness and number two, to drive prospective clients to your law firm. Now, the $64,000 question is, how do we do that? How do we drive prospective clients to your website? Well, we do that by addressing two very simple points. Number one, generate or increase traffic to your website. We want to send more prospective clients to your website. And then number two, and most importantly, we want to create or increase conversions. We want to increase the number of prospective clients we convert into actual clients.

Now, the first step toward towards improving conversions is to consistently add well-written, robust content to your website. That content needs to be both useful and authoritative. What I mean by useful is it needs to address the questions that your prospective clients have when they visit or search on the Internet, when they’re searching for a lawyer. And it needs to be authoritative in that you need to convey to not only prospective clients, but also to Google, that you are a subject matter expert within your particular area of practice.

And speaking of Google, your content also needs to address the Google algorithm. We want to make sure that your content ranks well so that it’s found so that it can convert prospective clients into actual clients. Now, here are some of the most important steps that you need to keep in mind when you’re creating a content marketing strategy.

Important Steps To Keep In Mind When Creating A Content Marketing Strategy

  • Number one, need to understand your target audience. I just mentioned it a few seconds ago. When you’re creating or drafting content, you need to keep in mind the questions that your prospective clients have when they’re searching the Internet, looking for a lawyer and then draft content to meet those needs or to address those questions.
  • Number two, need to develop a workable content production and distribution process. You need to create a calendar and a list of topics. You need to insert those list of topics into that calendar. So you know exactly what you’re going to write about, when you’re going to write it and then finally, when you’re going to post it to your website.
  • Number three, your content needs to inform and engage, but not hard sell or overly sell your law firm. Need to make sure that your content is written for those prospective clients addressing those questions they have providing them with answers to those questions.
  • And finally, number four, the length of your content does matter. Google is looking for a well-written, robust content. If you’re writing a blog our target is about a thousand words, say between a thousand and twelve hundred and fifty words. If you’re writing an area of practice page or a white paper, you need to be closer to two thousand words for that particular type of document.

Now, creating and managing an effective, well-written, well thought out content management strategy is a great first step towards increasing traffic and improving or increasing conversions, converting those prospective clients into actual clients. If you have any questions about creating or managing a content management strategy, contact Sundown Legal Marketing. We’d love to chat with you about it. Thanks for your time and I look forward to seeing you on our next Whiteboard Wednesday.

Website Content – The Difference Maker

The purpose of every law firm website and every law firm internet marketing plan is to increase brand awareness and drive potential clients to the firm. Securing clients through your website requires you to accomplish two major objectives:

  • Generate Traffic: You need to be able to drive potential clients to your website
  • Create Conversions: You need to be able to convert your website visitors from potential clients to actual clients

A great website that is never seen has no opportunity to convert, and a poorly designed website that has strong exposure and receives a lot of traffic from targeted prospects has very little opportunity to convert. Either way, if you don’t have a quality website with robust, relevant content that is well-optimized, your chances to secure business from your website are slim.

There are several distinct elements that go into an effective website and internet marketing plan.

The first order of business is to drive potential clients to the firm’s website. This requires a structured and comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) plan. Once a potential client arrives at your website, they have to find something that piques their interest, keeps them on your site and drives them to move further into your website.

Once you have an engaging, professional website, you need to consider the first element of improving conversions – quality content:

  1.  Consistently Add Content to Your Website: Google has made it clear that in order to rank well, a website must have authoritative and relevant content that is regularly updated. When you think about it, this makes a great deal of sense. Google’s mission is to provide the best results possible to their customers (web searchers) when they perform a search. In Google’s world, “best results” are measured by the quality and relevance of the content on your website in relation to the keyword that was searched for. Not only is continually adding fresh content helpful for achieving better search results, it also gives your targeted prospects more opportunities to find you. Think of each web page or blog post as a “doorway” into your most valuable digital real estate; your website.
  2. Create Useful and Authoritative Content: Visitors to your website expect to find quality content that provides useful answers to questions they have about their legal issue. Avoid being too technical with your content. Your primary readers will be lay people who have a legal question or need legal help. Write professionally, but in a way that makes complex legal information understandable for the average reader while at the same time distinguishing your firm as an authority and thought leader in your area(s) of practice.
  3. Draft Content that Addresses the Google Algorithm: In order to rank well for keywords related to your practice areas, you must draft content that integrates the keywords your target audience is searching for in a way that makes sense and flows naturally within the text. Google’s Algorithm is powered by artificial intelligence (AI), and it has gotten much smarter over the years. Your web pages and blog posts not only have to contain naturally integrated keywords, they must also contain related keywords (commonly known as “theme” words) that show Google (and other search engines) that your page is truly relevant to the end user and not just a bunch of “stuffed” keywords designed to fool the search engines.

Content Marketing for Law Firms

In the early days of the internet, the goal for most law firms was to put up a website that would act essentially as a digital calling card and be done with it. These days, the creation of a high-quality website is just the beginning of a comprehensive content marketing strategy.  As mentioned earlier, consistency is one of the major keys to the success of your strategy. Not only does Google expect regularly updated content in order to establish authority, your audience expects it too. Just like a TV or radio show or podcast, your audience expects you to put up regular content that informs and engages them.

Here are some of the most important steps to take in creating your content marketing strategy:

  • Understand your Target Audience

Find out what legal questions your targeted prospects are typing into their search queries. What are they asking about repeatedly in various legal and community forums? What emerging issues and trends are affecting your target market? The answers to these questions should allow you to create a long list of keywords for which you can develop articles around. If you are writing on topics your target market truly cares about, your content is more likely to become widely read and shared.

  • Develop a Workable Content Production and Distribution Process

As we’ve already touched on repeatedly, consistency is critical to the success of a content marketing strategy. This means having a system in place that allows you to write and distribute your content on a regular basis. Once you have your list of keywords, create a content calendar that allows you (or whomever is writing your content) the time necessary each month to ensure that you are able to get your content out there consistently.

  • Inform and Engage, but Don’t Hard Sell

As we talked about earlier, the primary purpose of your content is to be useful and informative, giving your readers answers to important legal issues. In doing so, readers will start to see you as the expert in your various practice areas. You may include a call to action inviting readers to contact your firm once or twice throughout the piece; but avoid overselling your legal services. Your authority on the topic speaks for itself, and if the reader cannot solve their legal problem on their own, you are the one they are most likely to call.

  • The Length of Your Article Matters

In the past, a 300 to 500-word blog post was enough to achieve good rankings in the search engines. Today, research shows that Google prefers longer, more robust content. 750-900 words is now the minimum that you would want to have for a post to rank, but ideally, you want your word count to be in the 1000 – 1,500 range or more. There are some SEO experts that suggest even going as high as 2,000 words, but there is no need to do that unless your article needs to be that length to fully cover the topic. In other words, don’t include “filler text” just to bring your word count up as this will hurt the quality of your content and make your efforts counterproductive.

Contact Sundown Legal Marketing Today

Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms review their current internet footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every part of that plan, including developing and implementing a content strategy. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your website content and a no obligation assessment of your internet marketing plan. Call us at (800) 864-1764 or online through our website contact form.

A website is just a piece of an overall law firm internet marketing program. In fact, it is probably the most important piece, as it serves as the hub or foundation of your internet marketing program. A website could serve a number of different purposes:

  1. Online business card – Displaying a professional image for the firm across the internet
  2. Brand sharing – A tool to “get the word out” and develop familiarity with the firm in the community
  3. Online lead generation resource – A tool to drive potential clients to the firm

The first step any law firm should take when reviewing their online presence is to complete a review of their website, and this should start with three questions:

  1. Is your website getting any traffic or visitors?
  2. Is your website creating leads?
  3. Is your website converting those leads into clients?

If your website is getting traffic or visitors, but the phone isn’t ringing or the calls you get aren’t good quality calls, then improvements need to be made to your website to improve conversions.

If your website isn’t getting any traffic, then you have a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) problem, which is a topic for a later article.

Improving Website Conversions

Improving your website’s ability to convert visitors into potential clients is a complicated undertaking. Building conversion elements into a new website presents a best-case scenario, but most of the elements we will discuss today can be integrated into an existing website.

The overall appearance of your website is a good place to begin when reviewing your website’s effectiveness. A carefully planned, well-structured, professional website is a must if you expect your website to convert. A website visitor (aka potential client) must be convinced that your law firm is capable of handling their legal issue. 

Once you have an attractive, professional website, you need to consider these 11 elements to help improve conversions:

  1. Consistently Add Content to Your Website – Google has made it clear that in order to rank well, a website must have authoritative and relevant content that is regularly updated. When you think about it, this makes a great deal of sense. Google’s mission is to provide the best results possible to their clients, web searchers, when they perform a search. In Google’s world, “best results” are measured by the quality and relevance of the content on your website.
  2. Build Links – Create a detailed, well thought-out link building strategy. Along with content creation, building links from your website to high domain authority, relevant websites, is one of the most impactful SEO tactics you can employ.  
  3. Add Video – Google’s acquisition of YouTube several years ago signaled their commitment to video and the trend since that acquisition has been a consistent increase in video consumption on the web. HubSpot recently released a report showing that the average person watches 1.5 hours of video per day and 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV.
  4. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Ready – Over 65% of web searches performed on Google are done on a mobile device. Google recently announced that they are transitioning to a “mobile first” index, meaning that Google is more concerned about the appearance and effectiveness of the mobile version of your website than the desktop version.
  5.  Utilize Keywords Throughout Your Website – In order to convince Google, and inevitably a website visitor, that you are worthy of hiring, you must first share with them what you do. This is done by creating good quality content written with keywords that describe what you do and how well you do it. But you must be careful not to overuse keywords or else you risk a Google penalty.
  6.  Tell a Story on Your Homepage – Everyone loves a good story. Face it, there are a lot of good lawyers and quality law firms that do what you do. What separates you from your competitors? Why should a website visitor consider hiring you? Offer answers to these questions in the form of a story on your homepage. You probably tell this story several times a day to potential clients and other attorneys, put it into words and strategically utilize it on your homepage.
  7. Utilize Paid Advertising – Combining paid advertising with your organic SEO program will improve your conversion rate.
  8. Review and Track Your Google Analytics Data – Reviewing and tracking your Google analytics data will help you gain an understanding of how your website is performing. It will tell you who is visiting your website, where those visitors are from, how they arrived at your website, how long they were on your site, etc. This data is the foundation for your conversion upgrade, as it provides you with a snapshot of the current health of your website, but more importantly, it helps you track the performance of the changes you make to your website.
  9. Check Page Speed – The time it takes to load a page from your website could mean the difference between a website visitor contacting you or moving on to a competitor’s website. Also, page load time is an important element in Google’s page rank algorithm.
  10. Work with a Professional Web Designer – Just about anyone can build a website today. There are number of quality website building platforms on the market, but in order to have a professional website with all the necessary conversion elements, you really have to work with a professional web designer.
  11. Increase Client Reviews – It wasn’t that long ago that “word of mouth” was the only way to uncover details about a law firm’s reputation. Today, there are countless websites devoted exclusively to client reviews. And, everyone reads reviews. It is imperative that you have an assortment of positive reviews about your firm. Good reviews can mean the difference between a client and a disinterested website visitor.

In summary, it is important to develop a comprehensive internet marketing plan and focus on conversions. Any one of these items may have a minor positive impact on your ranking and conversions, but integrating most or all of these elements will most certainly improve conversions and increase the number of phone calls your firm receives.

Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms review their current internet footprint, developing a comprehensive internet marketing plan and implementing every aspect of that plan. Contact us today for a free website evaluation and a no obligation assessment of your internet marketing plan. Call us today at (800) 864-1764 or online at Sundown Marketing.

All SEO’s have, at one time or another, asked themselves “Which is better – Content or Backlinks”? The SEO team at Sundown Legal Marketing recently conducted a study comparing the effectiveness of adding quality backlinks versus adding relevant, robust content. The team selected three client websites for this study and tailored a unique SEO plan for each.

The team applied the following SEO plan to the three selected websites:

  1. For website A our strategy was to add backlinks only.
  2. For website B our strategy was to add content only.
  3. For website C our strategy was to add a combination of content and backlinks.

The SEO work for the three websites selected for the study was done during the same time period: February – April. Let’s take a look at the results for each website.

Work Completed for Each Website:

There are many other factors that go into Google’s algorithm (beyond links & content) that impact website traffic and organic placement, so our SEO team tried to keep everything else as close to uniform as possible. For example, the SEO team continued their SEO efforts with all three websites, which included siloing the pages on the main menu and correcting any 404 errors found in Google Search Console.

Website A (Backlinks Only):

In addition to the normal SEO tasks performed on all three websites listed above, the team created 5 separate and unique backlinks from industry related websites back to Website A. Each of these links had domain authorities of between 30 and 40.

Timeline:

  • These backlinks were obtained during the month of April.
  • There was no content added in the months of February, March, and April.

Looking at the weekly organic traffic for this website there was a spike toward the middle of April, but it was not sustained. However, overall traffic increased, and plateaued at around 80 sessions per week. Before the project began the traffic had plateaued at around 65 sessions per week.

Interesting to note here is that there was content added to the site in January, and that could possibly account for the slight increase of traffic in February. Also, this website plateaued at around 75 sessions/week during February and March (with one slight dip in early March), before spiking up after the backlinks were realized. This tells us that there’s a strong correlation between the backlinks being realized (picked up by Googlebot) and the increase in organic traffic.

Website B (Content Only):

Again, the SEO Team continued their normal tasks that we provide all of our SEO clients, which includes fixing any onsite health issues that are found, but in terms of backlinks, they added absolutely none. Instead, they only added content to this website – lots of content. In fact, during the months of February, March, and April they added close to 20 pages of additional content, each with an average of about 850 words. Here are the results:

Timeline:

  • These articles were added throughout the study February -April.
  • No backlinks were created during the study time frame.

There was a slight rise in organic traffic during February, but then a slight decline in March, then a gradual increase in April, and a huge boost in May. What did the Team do in April and May? They simply went back to adding content, but this time, it was their regularly scheduled 2-3 articles per month. It seems that Google slowly rewarded our content efforts by showing this website higher in the SERP over time. Indeed, here is our average position for relevant keywords we track for this website:

There is a great deal of volatility in the chart above, but at beginning of April, right after we finished adding the large volume of content pages, Google moved the average position of the website from about 21 to about 18.

During this time the Team did not add any backlinks to the website and only did the same amount of maintenance (fixing crawl errors, broken links) that we do for all our other clients, including the other two websites in this study.

Website C (Combination of Content and Backlinks):

You would think that a combination of the above two strategies would be the best strategy – and you would be right! For website C we added substantial content, and obtained substantial backlinks.

In March we obtained 5 backlinks, and throughout the course of March and April we added seven articles to the website, each with an average of about 850 words.

Timeline:

  • These backlinks were obtained during the month of March.
  • The content was added to Website C in March and April.

It seems that Google rewarded this website a little bit in March, and a lot in April and May. The weekly organic traffic plateau went from about 60 to about 100.

After reviewing the results of our study, it became apparent that in order to successfully rank a website, you must institute a broad-based SEO program, applying many different techniques.

We hope this has been an insightful look into the work of a digital marketing firm. If you need any assistance with generating more organic traffic, and being found by your target audience, contact Sundown Legal Marketing for a free consultation. We can be reached at (800) 649-1764 or by using our website contact form.

It wasn’t that long ago that internet marketing success was solely based on a few things:

  1. A website with a lot keyword content crammed into every page
  2. Tons of links to other websites that may or may not be relevant, but received a lot of traffic

Today, success in internet marketing is impacted by a great number of factors and involves a lot of moving parts.  With all of the changes that Google has made to their algorithm (Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird) over the last few years, the path to internet marketing success starts with two simple factors:

  1. Creating relevant and authoritative content
  2. Delivering relevant and authoritative content to potential customers/clients

Creating relevant and authoritative content allows a website owner to convey subject matter expertise.  Consumers utilize the internet to find information and, dependent upon their needs, will work diligently to find a website/business that can provide them with the expert answers that they need.  Subject matter expertise provides a consumer with a sense of security, allowing them to comfortably make a decision to buy, not to buy, act or do nothing at all.  With those thoughts in mind, it is easy to understand why Google now demands that websites provide their customers with good, quality content.

The second point above, delivering relevant and authoritative content is just as important as creating the content in the first place.  Without a mechanism to deliver the content, no one will ever see it.  Here is a list of some of the most important tools for delivering content:

  1. A website
  2. A blog
  3. Social Media

The first tool for delivering content is always a website.  A website is typically the first stop a consumer makes when searching for information online.  A good website will have a number of good qualities (good color palette, uncluttered, call to action, etc.), but the single most important quality will be great content.

Another tool for delivering content is a blog.  A blog allows an author to convey timely subject matter expertise.  A business should blog as often as they can and dependent upon their area of expertise, 2-4 times monthly should fit the bill.

Lastly, utilizing social media as a content delivery mechanism is becoming more and more important and businesses who effectively utilize social media are recognizing the benefits.  Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest to name a few) allows a business to connect with the community.  A community which is made up of potential customers/clients.

Each of the elements above are important on their own, but become incredibly valuable when they are part of a holistic approach to internet marketing.  Bringing consumers to a website from a link on a well written blog, driving potential clients to a blog through postings on social media or pushing potential customers to social media profiles from well displayed icons on a website.  Tying all of these elements together, as a part of a well thought out, well planned internet marketing program is the only way to succeed online today.