Legal blogs are an essential marketing tactic for lawyers. A strong law firm blog will help you build relationships and generate new business. However, this is only possible if your legal blog conveys trust, competence and reliability. Blogs should be professional, but not too stuffy. They should be informal without being sloppy.
If that sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is. One of the best ways to ensure that you are posting the highest quality blogs is to run through a checklist of legal blogging best practices. In this blog, we’ll cover some common blogging mistakes – and share eight characteristics of a good law firm blog post.
Legal Blogging Mistakes That Can Cost You
Even very successful practitioners can make mistakes when it comes to blogging, an area they are often unfamiliar with. Before reviewing the best practices, make sure to avoid these common mistakes.
1. Rely on the “Mills” blog
These blogs are often presented as personalized services, but in reality, they are provided on a large scale to several lawyers. Often they “regurgitate” blogs based on hot topics, tweaking them slightly for each client. These blogs are mass-produced in what some call a “content mill.” You can often spot these blogs if the author line mentions being “on behalf” of a law firm or lawyer. Because they are rarely written by real lawyers and are usually based solely on keywords and word count, they rarely add value to your practice and can in fact seriously damage your reputation and your online presence.
2. Rarely update your blog
Many lawyers start publishing legal blogs with the best of intentions, but don’t understand how difficult it will be to keep up. Writing well-researched, high-quality blogs takes a lot of time and effort. That being said, if you want to blog, it’s important to commit to it and stick to it. Blogging regularly is one of the most valuable things you can do for your online presence.
3. Write your blog like a legal document
Remember that potential customers are reading your blog for advice and possibly help with a problem. They don’t need a long treatise on the legal terminology surrounding an issue. Just write informally and explain things in a way that everyone can understand.
4. Building on the work of others
You can take inspiration from the blogs of others outside or within your industry, but you shouldn’t rely heavily on the work of others to create content. Nothing diminishes credibility more than when a user reads a blog only to come across the exact same copy in another company’s post just below it on the search engine results page.
Elements of a good blog post
As you refine your law firm’s blog, go through this legal blogging checklist to make sure you’ve covered the characteristics of a great blog.
1. An optimized title
You want to create a title that appeals to both readers and search engines. The blog title is your best tool for grabbing people’s attention and should illustrate how the blog will answer a question, offer unique information, or create a sense of urgency. For SEO, be sure to include your keyword in the title. And if it’s a list, feel free to highlight it by including the number of points or steps in the title. (Ex: 10 steps to file for divorce.)
2. An appeal to emotion
Emotions drive many people, especially those seeking legal services. It is therefore normal to recognize these emotions and even to try to evoke them in your writing. Imagine your target audience for this particular blog post. What are their feelings, desires and challenges? What worries them so much right now that drives them to do a search? What kind of answers are they hoping to get? Play on those emotions by validating what they’re feeling and reminding them why they’re reading the blog. (Ex: Too often we find that clients are reluctant to file for divorce because they don’t know what steps are involved in the process and think the stress will be too much to handle. In this article, we break down divorce into 10 easy steps that will guide you through the process with ease.)
Having trouble identifying what your target audience is feeling? Consider creating an ideal customer profile with this free guide.
3. Compelling meta description
The meta description is the short piece of text that appears below your blog title when it appears on search engine results pages. As you can imagine, this text is very important because it is a user’s first impression. Make sure the copy makes your blog’s value proposition clear and evokes the user’s emotions by evoking the pain point that may lead them to want to read the blog.
4. Strong Presentation
Like the meta description, an introduction is essential to show the reader what your blog is going to be about. Again, don’t be afraid to recognize the challenge your reader is facing that may lead them to seek answers through a blog. Feel free to use buzzwords here such as “easy”, “simple”, “surprising”, “review”, “hacks”, etc.
5. User friendly language
Formal legal prose is great for most of your day-to-day work, but it might be off-putting to readers. As we mentioned above, make sure the language you use is informal and conversational while still being professional.
6. A solution to a problem
Most people who search for lawyers online do so for a specific reason. They want answers to a question they are concerned about or a legal issue they are facing. Make sure your blog focuses on this information. Do some research and determine your blog topic by exploring common questions people ask.
Internet readers tend to scan. It is important to break up the text and use other title formats that include keywords. Ideally, if someone quickly reads each of your captions, they’ll know what the blog is generally about. Keep captions short but informative and use numbers where appropriate. This makes reading easy and transparent.
8. Short pieces of text
Long stretches of text will intimidate readers. Remember that they are used to scanning and assimilating information quickly. Write with short sentences and paragraphs if you want people to actually read your blog.
9. A keyword strategy
It is essential to have keywords in mind for your blogs. You should have research that indicates which words you should incorporate into your content. However, it is important that these keywords are incorporated organically and in a way that feels natural. Some main places to incorporate them are the title, subtitles, alt text, meta description, and URL.
10. Leverage the media
Do you find it difficult to communicate all the necessary information in your blog while respecting the “scannable” standards of today’s blogs? Consider adding multimedia to help communicate information while keeping the blog interesting. Infographics are a great way to communicate a lot of information in an digestible way. Also consider making short videos. Users will be happy to watch a short video instead of reading an overly long blog post. They are also much more likely to read blogs with media throughout content.
11. Internal links
Linking to internal website content is an important part of your law firm’s blogging strategy. Internal links are essential for SEO and help establish authority, and can also direct people to more resources and next steps. Make sure any blogs you post also contain links to additional information or training for your readers.
12. An Appropriate Tone
Legal issues tend to be somewhat serious. After all, you don’t want to use humor when writing about divorce or car accidents, or many other topics. However, you also want to show that you are an authentic and approachable person. It’s nice to share a bit of personality and let readers see the person behind the law firm’s blog. Avoid speaking too formally while remaining professional. It’s okay to write how you would talk in everyday life. Consider reading your blog out loud and see how it sounds. Is this the type of tone of voice you would use when meeting a client or potential client?
At the end of every blog should be a concluding paragraph called the “takeaway.” This is where you give an overview of everything that has been discussed and conclude the discussion. Don’t know how to start? Consider shaping the paragraph like a triangle – start with a specific sentence on your topic, then move on to broader discussions as the paragraph progresses.
14. Clear Next Steps
What is the purpose of your blog? What do you want readers to do after reading it? This is where a call to action comes in. clear call to action with a link to a lead generation form. Maybe you want them to contact you for more information about your services, maybe you want them to download a lead magnet. Either way, it should point to moving the reader down the funnel in some way.
The best thing you can do when getting into blogging is to commit to a regular and consistent schedule. However, it can be daunting if you are unsure about actually writing the blogs. Start by reviewing this checklist every time you blog. Does your work contain every element?
Many attorneys find that they simply don’t have the bandwidth to create original, high-quality blogs that contain each of these components. In this case, getting help from an outside resource can be helpful.