The Dos and Don’ts of Writing a High-Quality Guest Post for Lawyers
Link-building is an important aspect of marketing for attorneys and guest contributing is one of the best techniques to apply. Guest contributing is when an attorney writes a blog post, article, or other valuable form of content for publication on another website.
In turn, that site includes a bio of the author and a link back to the attorney’s website. The SEO value of the link may or may not be strong, but legal link building from a reputable website can increase a law firm’s traffic, exposure, and branding.
Unfortunately, guest contributing for law firm link building is a lot harder than it sounds. Many attorneys either submit poorly written compositions or overshare their content to too many sites. In fact, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, declared back in 2014 that “guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”
Of course, what he really meant was that guest blogging will be penalized if the main reason a post is published is clearly to gain links intended to influence Google rankings. Oversharing guest post content on too many sites can signal to Google that rankings are indeed your main goal.
In order to help attorneys achieve their marketing goals authentically (while avoiding Google penalties), here are some dos and don’ts for guest submissions:
DO write about a niche topic in your guest post
This is one of the most important aspects about the submission process. Websites aren’t interested in reading the 1000th take on a given topic; similarly, unless you’re an experienced SEO writer, your post probably won’t rank too highly with a generic subject matter.
In order to appeal to your potential publisher and target audience, write about a topic that you are uniquely qualified to present.
Enjuris, for example, is a personal injury resource site that offers accident victims a comprehensive overview of their legal rights and offers recovery resources. The site also allows accident survivors to post a guest blog about their experiences.
For instance, one young woman from New York shared her personal story of being involved in a serious car accident with her friends on a rural Maine road. Similarly, a 20-year-old college student talked about his close call and road to recovery after a traumatic brain injury resulting from an accident. Both guest posters linked to their law firm client or employer.
Here, no one will be telling the same story, and first-hand information is often the most powerful.
As an attorney, you have plenty of possible topics for guest contributions. Write about your most challenging case and what it taught you. Discuss what you most wish your clients knew. Highlight a special training or conference you attended. Whatever topic you choose, let it be a subject on which you’re an expert and that will benefit your audience.
DON’T be afraid to stray from legal-ese
All too often, busy attorneys draft a guest post as if they were composing a memo or brief. Though it’s easy to stay in your field’s style of writing, your audience may be less than impressed. There’s no doubt your guest submission should demonstrate your legal expertise, but using SAT words or an overabundance of legal jargon is liable to confuse your reader.
Your reading level should match that of your audience, as should your content. Whenever you need to use legal terminology, just be sure to fully explain the concepts. It’s always a great idea to have a non-attorney read your piece to be sure that it’s understandable by the general public.
Here’s an example of the kind of legal-ese we’re talking about:
And here’s one that’s more tailored to a general audience:
Which do you think is more appealing to a non-lawyer visitor?
Don’t treat your guest submission as if it were content for your website
Many attorneys attempt to take on SEO, link-building, and other marketing practices themselves, but lack the requisite training. As a result, mistakes are made…and incorrect content marketing is a common error. Knowing the appropriate tones and content goals for each piece you write is critical for marketing success.
The content that appears on your law firm’s website is “evergreen content.” In short, evergreen content is where you present your practice areas with legal summaries and emphasize how you’re the best attorney at what you do. Your website is essentially a tactful advertisement where you assist your current and potential clients with what they need to know.
Guest submissions are not your opportunity to advertise your services via content. Your post will include a photo and valuable link; those are the only advertisements you need. Don’t oversell yourself and your legal knowledge.
Instead, your content for a guest submission needs to focus on being relatable, engaging, and helpful. Even if you’re discussing a case you won, make sure the piece has a human interest perspective rather being a composition on how wonderful you are. You can explain the law, but do it in way that people find helpful, not condescending.
If a potential client likes what you wrote, that will stay in the back of their mind and they may search for you when they need representation. Strive to be the likeable, informative lawyer to reap the most benefits from your post.
Furthermore, evergreen content is fairly universal for all attorneys. For example, all DUI attorneys are likely to discuss the Breathalyzer test on their website. Your potential publisher does NOT want the same content on their site, too.
The Breathalyzer could be your niche topic, but the content needs to be structured in a way that won’t be found on 50 other law firm websites. Keep your tone and overall message different from evergreen content and you have a much greater chance of securing a link-building opportunity for your website.
Do pay attention to the editing guidelines and the tone of the website you’re contacting
Web editors provide editing and style guidelines for a reason: they don’t want to have to comb through your draft to make changes you could have avoided simply by reading the site’s resources.
Even if you submit a fascinating topic, your submission could be rejected for violating too many rules. Word limits, font sizes, headers, and other guidelines are there for a reason, so be sure to double check your draft for any potential style issues.
Additionally, try to catch any unspoken rules for a site. If your potential publisher doesn’t write in the first person, neither should you. If the site has an informal tone, your piece should match that. If your article would be the one and only article on a particular topic, address the editor and explain how it would fit. If your piece is too far off-topic, however, rejection may be likely.
DO take the time to make sure your guest post outreach is properly formatted and engaging
Completing a guest post is only half the battle. Though it’s important that your composition be well-written, a fair amount of time and energy needs to be devoted to your submission letter as well.
When you write your letter, be upfront. Explain that you are interested in law firm link building and you hope the site will consider your post. You should also be sure to include your credentials.
Though you may have a fully written article, if the submission guidelines ask for a summary of your pitch, be sure to include it. Editors and website managers are often too busy to read the full version of each and every submission.
If your topic is appealing enough, then your draft will likely be considered. Be sure to explain what your article is about, what makes it interesting, and how the content is relevant to your potential publisher’s site.
Here’s an example based on Enjuris’ guest post submissions:
Don’t write a pitch letter like this:
Hi Enjuris editors,
I like your site a lot and I’d like to submit a guest blog post. Here is my car accident story from 2012. Thanks for your consideration.
John Doe, JD
Instead, write something like this:
Hi Enjuris Editors,
As a personal injury attorney for the past 3 years, I can really appreciate the content of your site. I think we could have a great link building opportunity for our sites, as my practice is devoted to the assistance of accident victims.
I’d like to write a blog post discussing what it was like for me to be a car accident victim. It was a unique experience for me, as a lawyer, to be put in the position of the plaintiff. I gained first-hand insight as to what my clients experience and I think my piece would appeal to both lawyers and potential clients visiting your site.
My contact email is email@example.com and my phone number is 555-555-5555. Please let me know if you’d like to discuss my piece further or if you would like to read the full draft. Thank you for your consideration.
John Doe, JD
The second letter not only establishes the authority of the author, but also explains the topic of the submission as well as its value to the site. As a result, we can already tell that the article would fit the theme of our site and offer our audience an appealing and creative read.
Finally, look for criteria regarding the use of attachments. Depending on the email service the website uses and your potential publisher’s settings, emails with attachments may go straight to spam. It never hurts to include your submission in the body of your email, unless the directions specify otherwise.
All in all, your goal is to write content that will impact your audience. Combine your legal knowledge with an interesting topic and an appealing style and your guest post submissions will reap marketing rewards.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, but the link-building opportunity for your law firm is worth the effort. If all else fails and there are no takers for your submission, you can always post the content on your law firm’s blog!
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