Blogging for Lawyers: 10 Mistakes to Avoid
This entry was submitted by one of our guest authors. The author’s opinions are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Rankings.io.
If you’re in the legal field, you’ve probably heard about how important it is to have a blog. Blogging boosts your ranking in search engines so that greater numbers of prospective clients can find you, and it gives you a chance to show off your expertise and build your reputation.
Unfortunately, if you make a few very common mistakes, you could actually be hurting your rankings and as your credibility. Below is a list of 10 things to avoid doing on your legal blog for maximum success:
Mistake #1: Blogging Without a Strategy
In the legal field, good blogging requires a strategic approach. It’s hard to attract clients if you don’t choose the right keywords and themes, or if you have a haphazard posting schedule. If you’ve been blogging without a strategy, consider the following before you write your next post.
- Do your keyword research with the Google Keyword Planner before anything else – ask yourself which terms people might type into a search engine to find you. Take both your niche and location into account, since people often type in a geographical location as well as a specialty when searching for a lawyer (i.e. “best IP attorney Chicago” or “work injury lawyer in Pennsylvania”). Also keep in mind that it’s easiest to rank for long-tail keywords without much competition. You can learn more about keyword research here. Below shows how you can find the Keyword Planner:
- Once you have a list of keywords, decide which topics you want your blog to cover that utilize those keywords. Pick topics that will interest the kinds of clients you’d like to work with. For example, an employment lawyer might want to write about common legal issues and disputes that arise in the workplace.
- Posting schedule and other details. How often will you update your blog? Will you need to outsource any of your writing? Will you need to get someone else’s feedback or permission before you publish new posts? Figure out the answers to these questions now so you don’t get hung up on details later.
Mistake #2: Writing on Topics Your Clients Don’t Care About
It sounds harsh, but it’s true: your audience doesn’t care about you. They care about their own problems, and they want to know how you can help them solve those problems. So even though you might be eager to display your specialized knowledge, resist the temptation to write about obscure topics. Choose topics your audience actually cares about instead, and emphasize how your knowledge can benefit them.
One way to do this is to think about what problems or questions might bring people to your site. If you’re a divorce lawyer, the people who find your site probably have questions about how the divorce process works. To win those people’s trust, you could write a series of blog posts answering common questions about divorce.
Mistake #3: Not Keeping an Eye on Your Blogging Analytics
Your analytics can give you a great overall picture of your blog’s health, so check on them regularly. In particular, look at the following metrics with Agency Analytics rank tracker.
- The keywords that brought visitors to your site.This helps you understand user intent, and it gives you a good idea which keywords are helping you most. You can monitor your keyword rankings as a default feature of AgencyAnalytics by visiting the Campaign tab on the left-hand side (shown left below) and then scrolling down to see your rankings (shown right below):
- Your traffic.Obviously, getting more traffic over time means your blog is drawing more visitors to your site. Your traffic can also tell you which blog topics are most popular among readers. You can track this using Google Analytics by going to the “Behavior” tab on the left-hand side and then drilling down to “Content Drilldown” to see which blog posts are getting the most hits:
- Your bounce rate.If your bounce rate is high, it could mean that your blog posts are boring or hard to read (see mistakes 2, 3, and 5 on this list). You can check your bounce rate on Google Analytics as described above, or if you have multiple clients and want something easier, on AgencyAnalytics by visiting Analytics > Channels:
- Your click-through rate (CTA).If people are clicking on your call to action (CTA), also known as the button and/or link on a webpage that you want people to click (such as “buy now”) after reading your blog posts, it’s a sign that you’re doing something right. Checking these metrics goes back to your “Content Drilldown” report in Google Analytics, except instead of looking for your blog you will want to look at the landing pages of your CTA. You can learn more about the importance of landing pages here.
Mistake #4: Writing in Dry, Boring Legalese
Legal writing probably seems like second nature to you now, but your audience doesn’t know what “punitive damages” or other Latin terms mean. Keep in mind that you’re writing for the general public, not other lawyers, and adjust your language accordingly. This is one of the most common mistakes we see.
You don’t need to dumb down the actual content of your posts—in fact, it’s better if you don’t—but write in plain English and use a casual, personable tone. Below is a great example from Stites & Harbison who break out their content into two independently-standing blogs. Trademarkology starts off with an article about Beyoncé and does a great job of keeping its content light while still focusing on legal issues.
Mistake #5: Abandoning Your Blog
Blogging isn’t always going to be your top priority as a busy lawyer, and that’s fine. However, it’s important to make sure your blog doesn’t sit untouched for months, because an abandoned blog just looks bad. If you have trouble sticking to a posting schedule, then again, consider outsourcing your writing to a legal writer or another professional who knows your field well. Keep in mind that you should always check over any writing that represents you before you put it online.
Mistake #6: Filling Your Blog with Mediocre Content
Posting regularly is important, but don’t overdo it. If you find yourself publishing new posts just for the sake of having more content on the web, you might want to slow down and ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve with every piece. Your blog should display your expertise and professionalism, and a quantity-over-quality approach isn’t the best way to do that.
What counts as mediocre content? Here are a few things you should avoid:
- Poorly-written blog posts. Always take the time to edit and proofread your content before it goes live. Don’t stuff your posts with awkward, unnatural-sounding keywords – that won’t fool Google, and it definitely won’t improve your credibility with readers.
- Disorganized blog posts. Make your posts easier to read by using short paragraphs, sub-headings, and bullet points where appropriate. This is especially important for longer posts.
- Blog posts without a central message. Every blog post should be built around a single core idea. Think about what you want to say before you start to write. If you tend to ramble, use an outline.
- Blog posts that don’t provide useful information. Each blog post you write should be helpful, actionable, or interesting. Your audience won’t stick around if they don’t get any value from your blog.
- Blog posts that are just a plug for your law firm. It’s okay to promote your services or your firm, but that shouldn’t be the central focus of your blog.
Mistake #7: Getting the Length Wrong
Don’t inflate your blog posts. Readers who aren’t familiar with the legal process don’t want to read a wall of text, especially if it’s full of jargon they don’t know. At the same time, make sure your posts are long enough to give readers some kind of useful information. Aim for a minimum of 800 words and a maximum of 1500 words.
Mistake #8: Pushing Your Services Too Hard
Attorney SEO marketing is difficult. However, if every single post on your blog is an obvious attempt to sell your services, your readers will start going somewhere else for information. It’s okay to mention how you can help people, but use a light touch. Many of the people who read your blog are still in the research stage. If you make a good impression by providing the information they’re looking for, they’ll be more inclined to hire you later anyways.
Mistake #9: Breaking a Client’s Confidence
This one should go without saying, but many lawyers have accidentally let something confidential slip during a thoughtless moment on the internet—ouch. A mistake like this can cost you dearly, both legally and in terms of your reputation, so don’t let it happen to you. Never talk about any of your clients or cases unless you get the client’s explicit permission to do so.
That said, case studies can make excellent blog posts. It may be worth asking some of your past clients if you can write about them on your blog. Tread carefully, and if you’re not sure about posting something, don’t do it. Check out great examples of law case studies used as blog posts from Lawyerist here.
Mistake #10: Not Blogging at All
What’s the biggest blogging mistake you can make? Not having a blog in the first place. You really do need one, and here’s why.
Law is exceedingly competitive—you already know that. It’s hard to get found online, no matter how good or experienced you are, because there’s so much competition out there (and most of your competition is already blogging). If you don’t want your site to be stuck somewhere around Google’s sixth page, you’ve got to create a lot of highly optimized content and update your site regularly. Without a blog, people simply won’t find you most of the time.
You can also learn how to use your competitors to your advantage here.
Legal blogs are popping up left and right, and there’s a good reason for that. Blogging is a useful and effective way for lawyers and law firms to get found in search engine results. But blogging takes a lot of time and energy, so make sure you’re not sabotaging your own efforts. Stay away from these common blogging mistakes, and you’ll see your rankings improve over time.
What are your best tips for legal blogging? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
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