By Joe Giovannoli
It was once very common for law firms to develop separate, off-site blogs dedicated to specific niche practices within their firms. Even today, it is still customary to see firm-produced content distributed via third-party blog hosting service providers.
The argument for hosting such content on a stand-alone URL was to keep specific topics organized in one place for the benefit of the reader who was only interested in those topics. While this makes sense in theory, and for years it even worked, user behavior and search engines have changed. If your firm has blogs separate from your main firm domain, there are some considerations to keep top of mind. Read on to learn more about how (and why) to migrate your off-site blog to your firm’s website.
Why to Migrate Your Third-Party Hosted Blogs to Your Firm’s Website
Your firm’s website is your opportunity to validate a recommendation — to educate prospective clients who have been referred by an existing client or a search engine. Your firm’s website is (or should be) a central hub for clients, prospective clients, employees and potential hires for information about everything the firm is and stands for. The website has become the most important and most powerful tool in any legal marketer's tool belt, and it is crucial to firm growth and brand recognition that it is visited often.
When hosting a blog on a third-party site with a separate domain (URL), your firm’s website is not getting the credit for the content that is published on this third-party site. Many firms with third-party blogs will redirect site visitors to their blogs from their firm's website. This strategy may have worked at one time, but now it is viewed as confusing and can cause a bad user experience.
The marketing content you create for your firm should live on your firm’s website. Google is constantly crawling websites looking for new content to ensure pages are ranked properly. The lack of new or updated content will only work against the firm in its pursuit to be found online, whether it is for topical search terms or even branded terms (such as the firm and its attorneys’ names).
How To Migrate Your Off-site Blog to Your Firm’s Website
Migrating an off-site blog is truly as easy as copy and paste, yet it is vital to execute properly and strategically. You will want to take the content from the existing blog site and add it to the blog on your firm’s website. If your website allows you to assign categories to the content, this is a great way to separate content out by practice area. However, once the content has been brought over, it is vital that you place proper 301 redirects (permanent redirects) from the old, third-party domain and its specific URL to their new home on the firm’s website.
This, too, is fairly simple. If you engage an SEO provider or dedicated website developer, they can handle this. These redirects are critically important because: 1) You do not want to have duplicate content floating around the internet, and 2) You want to reroute whatever traffic was going to the old blog to your firm’s website. The content is the same, so there is no reason that the content should not perform the same as, if not better than, the original.
PRO TIP: Before migrating content, look at Google Analytics and Search Console for the old blog site and only migrate the blog posts that are generating traffic and impressions. You will be surprised by how many older blogs can be “sunset” (or removed) and you can save yourself the effort of bringing them over to the site. You will want to redirect those URLs back to the firm’s main blog page so they do not become orphaned.
While this may seem complicated, migrating content and setting up redirects is a standard offering from SEO and website providers. Your firm’s website is typically the first stop on someone’s journey to hire an attorney, so show it some love and add great content to entice users (and Google) to visit and convert!
Joe Giovannoli is the Founder and CEO of 9Sail, a lead generation and SEO marketing agency serving the legal and construction industries.