John Damron 2013-07-31 12:12:37
Content marketing has been used by law firms for a long time. They just didn’t give it a name. It has included activities like mailing newsletters, writing guest columns in the local paper, or hosting a radio call-in show, for example. Although many firms have some experience with older forms of content marketing, fewer have realized its full potential to generate new clients and grow their practices through the firm’s online presence. That’s especially true now that content marketing is nudging the traditional concept of search engine optimization (SEO) from center stage. Is your law firm doing everything it takes to maximize the power of content marketing to build your book of business? Check out the tips below and decide for yourself. 1. STRIKE UP A NEW CONVERSATION. Humans crave novelty. This is even truer on the Internet. Writing about a new topic or tackling an existing one from a unique perspective is a good way to stimulate interest in your firm’s online content. Most people would rather read news than history, so be sure that your content is relevant, innovative and current. 2. ENCOURAGE SHARING. One of the best ways to improve your search engine rankings is to attract natural links from blogs, news sites, social media outlets and other legitimate online addresses. In other words, generate linkable assets. Craft your content in such a way that readers will want to share it with others by linking to your site. Novel subjects or issues that strike an emotional nerve are more likely to be shared than those that are ordinary and played-out. 3. A THOUSAND WORDS (OR FEWER) CAN BE WORTH MORE THAN PICTURES. As with most forms of written communication, appealing design is a crucial component of a law firm’s online marketing efforts. But search engines rely almost exclusively on words to lead users to the information they are seeking. The most eye-catching website is of little value if no one can find it. 4. WRITE FOR PEOPLE, NOT MACHINES. During the primitive era of online marketing, websites could find favor with search engines by using text that pushed the right buttons, even if no actual human would want to read it. No more. Search engines have evolved and are no longer duped by old tricks like keyword stuffing or hidden text. Updated algorithms now reward sites that have useful, relevant and engaging content tailored to the tastes of real live people. 5. START FROM SCRATCH. Duplicate content is just as bad as boring subject matter or text designed to trick the search engines. Copying was bad form in school, and it’s looked upon no better in today’s online world – even if copy-and-paste tools have made it much easier. Google and other search engines serve up harsh penalties to sites that use duplicate content. Equally problematic is that few readers will be duped into reading and interacting with content retreads. 6. REPURPOSE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE. The prohibition on duplicate content doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t repackage your own materials for the Internet aft er you have used them in different forms and forums. Your firm may have insightful pieces that appeared in videos, printed newsletters, CLE presentations or even internal communications. There is nothing wrong with adapting these and other resources to create quality content for your online marketing efforts. 7. BE A CURATOR. Much in the same way the curator of an art museum selects the best pieces to display rather than creating them all herself, your legal website can identify and link to exceptional content related to your practice areas without having to generate masses of new materials. This works best when you add your own analysis or insights into what others have written about. Curating provides a valuable service for readers because it spares them the effort of digging through mounds of chaff to get to the wheat. Selective curating can also enhance your reputation as an authority on a particular subject. 8. GIVE THEM WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR. For your content marketing plan to get the results you want, you must make sure that what’s on the page meets the expectations of the person who clicks on it. If the content is not relevant, the viewer will quickly “bounce” off your site. That’s not good for several reasons. First, a high bounce rate looks bad to search engines. Second, you lose the opportunity to make contact with a potential client. Third, people hate to feel like they’ve been hoodwinked, meaning that bait-and-switch tactics are likely to downgrade your reputation. 9. MAKE SURE IT’S RIGHT. Keep in mind that your reputation is on the line with every piece of content that is posted on your website, blog, social media pages or any other online property. Readers assume that you wrote everything that appears on your sites. Your readers include not only prospective clients, but also judges, your colleagues at the bar and even opposing counsel. Don’t risk tarnishing your hard-earned reputation by posting content that is factually or legally fl awed. Even simple grammatical errors and typos can dilute your credibility. 10. KEEP IT ETHICAL. It’s also important to remember that the rules of professional conduct are not suspended in cyberspace. Ethics rules regarding attorney advertising, client confidentiality, unauthorized practice and other issues generally apply to a lawyer’s content marketing efforts. Use caution to avoid unwanted attention from your jurisdiction’s attorney discipline authority. 11. AVOID THE HARD SELL, BUT STILL GET THE CONTACT. Content marketing is more about informing than selling. Well-written, insightful and captivating information is the foundation of content marketing. However, the ultimate goal of a law firm’s online efforts is to convert readers into clients. Successful content marketing campaigns deftly encourage potential clients to contact the firm by phone, chat, email, online forms or other means without using pressure tactics that can scare off leads. 12. GET HELP. Executing an effective legal content marketing plan requires a significant time commitment and expertise. Time is a scarce resource at most law firms, and expertise can be difficult and expensive to develop. Fortunately, you do not have to divert even more of your precious time to focus on your Web content – and there are some very good reasons why you shouldn’t. Legal Web marketing companies like Consultwebs.com can help you implement an effective online strategy for your law firm. These twelve content marketing tips, when implemented, can boost your search engine visibility and also provide a depth to your website that keeps users engaged and helps convert them to clients! John Damron works closely with law firm clients to develop the best Internet marketing strategies possible for their firm. He listens to clients’ needs and ensures that they are effectively communicated to the rest of the team, including their support staff technicians. John spent several years in sales prior to joining Consultwebs.com. He took part in a panel discussion on legal online marketing at the M&L Seminar in Vancouver, British Columbia.“Consultwebs.com has the most comprehensive Web marketing options for any law firm, large or small,” he says. “Our team is better organized and works more efficiently than the rest,” he added. John is a native of Lexington, Kentucky. He graduated with honors from Berea College, where he majored in psychology with a minor in business administration. John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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