JDB 068: Stop Worrying About Google and Write!

Content Marketing for Lawyers

I share office space with two other lawyers and we often have discussions/debates about the importance (or lack thereof) of employing marketing tactics such as buying backlinks, keyword stuffing, and other marginal SEO methods in attempt to become more visible online.

Over the years I have always taken the “if you build it they will come” approach to my marketing – if I provide information and content on my law firm website that is truly helpful to clients and provides answers to people’s problems overtime clients will find it and Google will reward quality, helpful content with a high search engine ranking.

My friend and fellow attorney Mark operates under the approach that writing quality content is not enough – you must also play the Google’s game, which means adopting a back-link strategy (even buying back links), and writing articles with a heavy emphasis on SEO and keywords.

While I don’t disagree that some of the more technical aspects of online marketing can achieve results, I believe that such an approach focuses more on the short term rather than long term business development for your law practice.  With that in mind, here are the three “pillars” of content creation I use for my law firm website and that have helped my firm website grow to 25,000 visitors per month:

Does the Content on My Website Actually Help My Clients?

This should be the main focus of all the content you produce for your website. Whether it is audio, video, or the written word you overarching goal should be to answer a potential client’s questions in such a way that it becomes obvious that you are the trusted expert in this area of the law.

A big part of this is knowing your audience – a concept lawyers should be very familiar with.

Are you targeting consumers, business owners, other lawyers? This may seem like a given but I can’t tell you how many law firm websites I have seen where the law firm serves a consumer-based clientele but has a website that appears to have been written as an attempt to impress their fellow lawyers, not their potential clients.

And this is not to say that you “dumb down” your content for one audience and tighten things up for another – it merely means that while your citation to the latest court of appeals decision may impress and inform your legal competition, it won’t mean much to your potential clients.  However, tell them how it solves their very real problem and you will be getting somewhere.

Am I Writing on Topics that Potential Clients are Searching For?

One of the most common worries of bloggers and other content creators is that you will run out of topics to write about.  I have been there – you aren’t sure what to write about so you randomly pick some topic just to get the post up.  But is your article, video, or other content something that your potential clients are actually searching for help with?

This will take a little research on your part but the good news is the most beneficial research you can do is to simply pay attention to the questions your clients are already asking you.  Think about it – this is likely the part of your practice that drives you nuts!  You get a dozen emails a day from clients asking some variation of the same question.  Take the time to answer it in the form of a blog post.  I have even written articles on my blog and then referred clients back to it when the question comes during the course of representation.

The questions you answer in consultations and with your clients every day is the richest source of content your clients want to consume of any resource at there – and this is free!

Another way to determine what your potential clients are searching for is to review the competitions’ websites.  What topics are they covering?  More often than not this can also be an opportunity of what not to do.  Try and look at their website through the eyes of your typical client.  Does their site help solve problems?  Is it helpful?  If not, why is it there?  A website the doesn’t solve problems is nothing but a digital brochure.  And most brochures end up in the trash.

One final way to determine what potential clients are searching for is to do some keyword research.  There are a couple of really good keyword tools out there that will help you understand what key terms people are searching.  The first is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and the other is a tool we have spoken about on the JDBlogger Podcast before in episode 55 where I interviewed Spencer Haws on his product Long Tail Pro.

Once you determine what people are actually looking for help with you can tailor your content production to topics where your clients have a real need.  You can provide them with valuable information that addresses some pain they have and in doing so will eliminate the competition before they even step foot in your office.

Am I Delivering Content in the Formats that People Want (i.e. video, audio, articles)

For a long time the only form of content creation I did was writing articles for my law firm blog.  For the most part I did this because it was the simplest way to produce content quickly but I also wrote articles because I assumed that is the way most people would want to learn about the legal issues I was writing about.

Then I started making videos.

About a year ago I started taking the articles I had written for my blog and turned them into short 1-3 minute videos that addressed the same legal issue.

The response has been incredibly positive.  Almost without exception when potential clients come into the office to meet with me they bring up the videos and how helpful they are.   (You can check out my Youtube Channel Here).  I often get comments like “I have watched every one of your videos” or “Your videos were incredibly helpful”.  And the thing is, my videos are nothing special.  If you don’t believe me check out my Youtube Channel, these videos are nothing more than me standing in an empty room in my office and reading off of a teleprompter the words from an article that I had previously written.

But with many people video is the way they consume content and the way that you will most effectively connect with that person.

I had to overcome my own bias against video (I am usually places like courtrooms that are not conducive to playing video) and understand that just because I don’t prefer to get my information through a particular medium doesn’t mean that a huge portion of my clients and potential clients don’t prefer the exact medium that I have been avoiding.

Try different formats in addition to writing articles.  Se what resonates with your audience.  I have personally found that my potential clients prefer video over written articles, however when it comes to my audience here at JDBlogger I have found that audio podcasts do better than written articles.  Different formats for different audiences.

However, one final note on this, I do believe that written articles need to be the bedrock of your content marketing strategy. Google searches your website looking to see if it contains content that would fulfill the searches of its users and the more relevant, helpful written content you have the better.

However you can create a much richer user experience by supplementing the written word with video and/or audio podcasts.

Be Helpful and Create Quality Content

At the end of the day marketing your law practice is really no different than practicing law – you are here to help your client solve their problem.  And if you can start that process the moment they first become aware of you through your website, your chances of making that person a client are greatly increased.

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