Attorneys can potentially spend a lot of resources marketing their firm online. Whether you are limited on funds, time or both, there are some bare essentials that all firms should strive to create for their online presence. Back in 2012, LexisNexis published a post1 on the top 10 essentials for law firm blogging. The tips in the image below still carry a lot of weight.
We’ve transcribed the tips because they’re a little hard to read. We’ve also added some extra meat onto each one.
Custom Blog, developed by professional designers, including firm’s branding
Yes lawyers should start a blog2 and they should also be contributing content to it as often as possible (at the bare minimum twice per week). Blogging adds fresh content to be indexed, it allows lawyers to target more keywords on their site, it builds authority in their practice area (if done right) and it’s an excellent way to help visitors find other useful content on the site. Those are just a few of the many benefits of blogging for lawyers3.
It isn’t essential that you have a professional designer put your blog together. In fact, with CMSs like WordPress, it isn’t hard to make a very attractive blog or website with no design or programming experience.
Setting up and maintaining my firm’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, JD Supra and Linkedin branded uniformly and linked to our blog
Lawyers should set up profiles on all of these networks but they should also be sure that their audience is present on those networks first. Keep accounts fed with content on a regular basis that the audience is going to respond well to. Lawyers should also be interacting on the accounts, not just pushing out content. That way the conversation is a two-way street and they can develop a dialogue4 with their market.
This increases the chances that they will actually develop new client relationships as opposed to just being a mouthpiece. Linking to your blog and your website with these properties is also important. Google Plus for example can be used to configure authorship (which has subsequently been deprecated by Google5) but still a good idea. Lawyers should also be sharing links to their blog posts in social on a regular basis. This helps drive traffic to their site, awareness for their firm and helps with their presence in search.
Posting of blogs at least once per week, with quality content related to our key practice areas, written in consumer-friendly language
As mentioned before, lawyers should be blogging a lot. If you can’t find the time to do it, pay a JD to write posts for you. Make sure that the voice is tailored to your audience. For example don’t write in legalese. If your target client is the average working Joe out there that is looking for legal tips online, write for that person. If your target client is a business person looking for advice on workers comp claims, write for that person.
Automated, instant sharing of blog content to our social media profiles and other external sites
Lawyers need to take some of the pressure off of themselves or their employees and leverage the software available on the web (often for free). Use tools like Hootsuite6 to automatically share blog content across multiple networks. That way when lawyers put out a blog post, they don’t always have to remember to go back and share it on multiple social media networks. Some other good ones are Onlywire, Dlvr.it and Buffer. One thing to avoid however is a “set it and forget it” approach. Revisit your planned schedule on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to make sure it’s working right.
Multiple listings of our blog on major blog directories and key legal websites
Make sure your blog gets listed on sites like Best of The Web, OnTopList.com and/or Blogged.com. Search Engine Journal has a pretty comprehensive list here . Legal related blog directories like ABA Blawg and direcotries sponsored by your local bar association are also good to get into.
User-friendly content management system to edit or post our blog content in real time
You can’t go wrong with WordPress here. It is one of the most widely used platforms for website development and blogging throughout many industries. The great part about that is the litany of resources and tutorials online about how to enhance it, fix it, sup it up or just use the thing. There are other CMS’s out there as well like Joomla and Umbraco but WordPress is probably the one you should go with. It has an easy-to-use back end interface, it’s easy to add things to it in the form of plugins and you can look like a superstar web designer without having any programming experience.
Easy-to-find phone number and an online contact form posted on our blog that can be tracked
Your phone number should be on every page of your site. Don’t make people have to dig for that information. While it can be complicated to track phone numbers, you should try and measure as many things as you can on your website. Tracking phone numbers becomes more important when you’re actually spending money on paid advertising that incorporates a phone number. For instance on Google Display advertising. Attorneys should also be tracking their contact forms on their website. Google Analytics is probably one of the best free analytics tools out there. It’s simple to set up and relatively easy to use.
Blog publishing plan tied to a calendar, anticipating key upcoming events related to our practice areas
Consistent and high-quality blog publication is good for business. It’s easy however to get into the habit of posting once or twice a week and then letting things fall behind. You can get around that by having an editorial calendar of the content that will be posted for the month. Plan out what to write about, write it a week in advance, schedule it in a CMS (another benefit of using WordPress) and that way content keeps flowing.