[author: Noreen Fishman]
Law firms are embracing digital marketing like never before. In an industry that used to rely almost solely on word of mouth, many firms have made important investments in the digital space – and that’s not going to slow down. Content is really the cornerstone of a successful digital strategy, but creating compelling content is a lot easier said than done. How can you know that you are creating the right content for your audience? How can you better use content to reach your intended target?
9 Specific Steps for Effective Content Marketing:
- Create content that generates long-term organic traffic. With limited resources, there are only so many things you can focus on. The best use of your time at this point is to invest in optimizing for Google search. This way, you’re more likely to experience long-term organic search traffic, which tends to lead to more qualified leads over time. Have the goal of landing on page one if you want to be really visible to your audience. The truth is most people do not go beyond the first page of search engine results. So, to begin with, your efforts should be centered on generating this traffic with search engines.
- Perform research and then develop content that is valuable to your clients. Being found on search engines is not enough. You need to have content that actually brings value to your reader, and the best way to do this is to understand your audience. What are the challenges that plague them? What are the FAQs that your attorneys always get? By understanding what is truly important to your audience, you can create content that is centered on them. If you’re not sure where to start, compile a list of the most common questions you get from prospects – then develop a content calendar that addresses each question individually. It’s also a smart idea to check in with your sales team and ask about the questions they get most often.
- Conduct keyword research and focus on content “hubs”. Once you have generally outlined your topics, dig into keyword research. Start by using the free tools available with Google Search Console, or you can use software like Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool. Put in your topic of choice and you’ll get a range of related keywords. For example, if a big area of focus is “personal injury cases”, you are likely to see phrases like “types of personal injury cases” or “personal injury cases won”. We suggest building content hubs around these keywords, where you have a main page focused on the initial keyword, and then various blog articles and other content created around the new keywords, linking back to the hub page. Do your best to answer all possible questions related to your preferred keywords.
- Make sure to highlight client success stories. Though anonymity can be important to law firms, social proof is equally important. Create case studies based on some of your more successful client engagements (with their permission). You may need to leave out client names or other key data, but explain in a general “before and after” scenario how your firm helped the client. Post case studies on your website and make sure they are easy to find.
- Keep a pulse on competitors. Some of your greatest insight will come from seeing what works well for other firms like yours. Take a look at what they are doing well, and how you can improve upon their tactics. Review search results and see how competing firms position themselves and which descriptions show up on search result pages. Make sure to follow your competitors on social media and see which of their posts get the most engagement. Pay special attention to the questions and comments they get, and which topics seem really relevant to their followers. You may also want to subscribe to their newsletter and blog or download things like guides or white papers that they offer. This is a good way of understanding what is important to people searching for firms like yours. How can you improve on the content they’ve already created?
- Invest in foundational and informational content for your site. Foundational content refers to content that increases the visibility and organic search rankings of pages like location or practice areas, while informational content is what helps potential clients to select a law firm. Every location that your firm plans to practice in should have its own content hub, and each of your practice areas should have its own content hub. All of the informational content on your website should tie back to one of these foundational hubs. Informational content is incredibly important when it comes to people choosing your firm, but without accompanying foundational content, they may move on to another site. You need thorough content in both areas for an effective strategy.
- Understand Google Featured Snippets. These are short blocks (or snippets) of text that appear at the top of a Google search result page and quickly answer a searcher’s query. Featured Snippets should be a serious goal of SEO work, because if you have your content featured in one, you’ll get a substantial life in organic traffic. Featured Snippets and “People Also Ask” questions are great for figuring out your foundational content. Begin by querying a keyword and then reviewing the “People Also Ask” and featured snippet sections. It’s not easy to earn a featured snippet, but they can come in the form of a list, table, paragraph, or video. Pick a long-tail keyword that you have a strong chance of ranking for, and then use question words like “why”, “can”, or “do”. Most snippets are no more than 50 words.
- Focus on your expertise and authority in content. Search engines are passionate about ensuring that the content they surface does not mislead people or offer a negative user experience. This is particularly true when you consider law firm content that can seriously impact someone’s life. Google’s algorithm in particular is trained to look for EAT qualities: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. To meet these criteria, always ensure that your content is created with the help of true subject matter experts who are highly knowledgeable about the subject matter. You’ll also want to identify your content’s author with a bio and list their applicable credentials. Finally, make your contact information easy to find and include relevant social proof like awards, testimonials, etc. All of these things reassure both your visitors and search engines that your content is valuable and can be trusted.
- Consider the “BLUF” structure. This acronym stands for Bottom Line Up Front and it’s a journalistic style that ensures the most important information is always shared first, while details come later. Think of an inverted pyramid, with the broadest information at the top and smaller details contained as the pyramid narrows. Search engine bots consume content in a structured way, and human beings get a better user experience. All of your written content should include a headline (H1), headings, subheadings (H2s and H3s), bullet points, tables, or lists (as appropriate). The goal is to make reading simpler for the visitor while also encouraging search engines to crawl content.
Content marketing is a truly powerful channel that law firms need to explore in order to be competitive. However, content creation is a serious investment in terms of resources, so you should approach it with an intentional plan. Understand the audience you want to reach, the topics they care about, and how they consume information, and you’ll have a great head start on a compelling content plan.