So which is better for attorneys: a law firm website or a law firm blog? The answer, unsatisfying though it may be, is “it depends.” More specifically, it depends on the nature of the practice and the time and money that the firm has to invest.
The truth is that word of mouth and reputation are not as important for some practice areas as they are for others. If you want to build an employment law practice, for example, most of your work will come from relationships you build with HR departments and businesses in your state. This type of client doesn’t usually do a Google search and call the firm that shows up at the top of the search results. For this type of practice, attorneys should focus their energies on networking, relationship building, thought leadership, etc.
But not all practices are like this. The person who is looking for a DUI, bankruptcy, or divorce lawyer may not be interested in a long-term relationship and probably doesn’t care whether their local attorney is a thought leader. He just wants to know that the attorney understands and can solve his problem.
Consumer-oriented practices of this nature can do very well with a website, as long as it (a) shows prospective clients that the firm can solve their problem and (b) is visible to those prospective clients in search. Of course, not many websites do this. Too many law firm websites focus too much on aesthetics without regard to quality content and search visibility. Law firms are so jaded with all of the bad SEO advice out there that they think that it’s all snake oil. So they slap up a quick brochure website that doesn’t produce results. But, as the above example proves, this failure doesn’t mean that there isn’t opportunity.
Could a blog help the consumer-oriented law practice? Absolutely. I would even go so far as to say that most solos and small firms should have a blog … if the attorneys have the time to do all of the work that is required to make a blog work. This point is sometimes glossed over by the blogging advocates. The blogosphere is awfully noisy these days. It is becoming harder and harder to be heard. Just having a blog — even a frequently-updated blog with great content — isn’t the panacea it may have been 5 years ago. To reach your goals, your blogging should be combined with commenting, content curation, and social media strategy.
In other words, there is no “turn-key solution” for law blogs. Blogging can be a real time drain. And (unlike SEO), blogging is not easily outsourced. The attorney needs to be prepared to put in hours of work per week (I spend about 6 to 10 hours per week on this blog). And even if the attorney does all this work, the attorney may still find that the blog just doesn’t work due to market conditions. At the end of the day, the blog may underperform a search-optimized website. Both a firm website and a blog would be best, but in some cases the website may be the better choice if the attorney had to choose only one.
Read on to find out more.