Chapter 4: Legal Content Marketing
How Does Content for Lawyer Websites Work?
Virtually every page on an attorney’s site is designed to fulfill a specific purpose. Content is not just written for the sake of telling people about the firm or about the service, but rather, it should be crafted to drive people to perform specific actions (like getting the information they need for their legal situation) and ultimately hiring an attorney.
Law Firm Content Archetypes
Good content is built as much as it’s written. Content archetypes are used for constructing information in order to accomplish a specific goal (e.g., ranking well in search, converting a visitor to a client, achieving shareability, etc).
From Steve Pockross, CEO of Verblio (formerly BlogMutt)
“After creating content for dozens of law firms and having the opportunity to hear what works directly from our clients, my best advice is for attorneys to focus on a combination of…
- Helping average people understand specific areas of the law and…
- Local law-related news.
Including a local bias in your writing can be extremely helpful.
For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney in Denver, write about Denver pedestrian laws, and the impact ride-sharing services have had on drunk driving rates.
Google can also be a great resource to find content ideas – search for something related to your practice, scroll through the search results and look for “People also ask” and the list of related searches at the bottom of the page – each of these is a great idea for content.”
In the legal vertical, there are two basic content archetypes: practice area pages (which are effectively sales pages) and blogs (which are used to gain links and build top-of-mind awareness/social media engagement).
Practice Area Pages (Sales Archetype)
These are, effectively, the sales pages for a law firm; these bottom-of-the-funnel pages are where prospective clients are converting (i.e., hiring an attorney).
Your practice area pages should:
- Cover only one practice area at a time and be as specific as possible. For example, personal injury lawyers should have separate pages for car accidents (e.g., “Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer”), truck accidents (e.g., “Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyer”), motorcycle accidents (e.g., “Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer”), etc., rather than one personal injury page including all of those sub-topics.
- Use the word “attorney” or “lawyer” somewhere in the title tag of the page in most cases.
- Include in-depth, lengthy, and useful content, including video. The goal is always for your content to be of value (i.e., it matches the reader’s intent), which keeps them on the page.
- Deliver multiple calls to action, so it’s clear to the visitor where to go when they are ready to contact the attorney. These could be contact forms in the sidebar, chat windows, contact info in the header of the page, etc.
- Be geographically relevant, if applicable (i.e., if you serve multiple cities, you should have a car accident lawyer page for each one and make each page location-specific).
Strength of this archetype:
- Consumers visiting these pages are more likely to be in a buying/hiring mindset.
Weakness of this archetype:
- These kinds of pages do not lend themselves naturally to editorial outreach. That is, few websites of quality are looking to link back to a firm’s sales page.
Blogs (Link Attraction/Awareness Archetype)
Blog content has long been a staple of successful SEO campaigns. For attorney SEO campaigns, blog posts serve as “top of the funnel” content. That is, the visitors that it attracts to your site are those who are in a discovery mode.
Here are some tips for running an effective law blog:
- Be strategic about generating content by writing posts from queries people are actually using in search (e.g., “what to do after a car accident,” “how much does a car accident lawyer cost,” etc.).
- Generate informative content that is helpful to readers and is the best source of information of its kind available on the internet.
- Generally, if a blog is being used for editorial outreach, you should avoid including a specific geography. Why? This limits your ability to cast your outreach net widely and reach a broad audience (i.e., “What to do after a Philadelphia car accident” only appeals to individuals living in the Philadelphia metro and is of little value to a site in, say, Chicago).
Strength of this archetype:
- Can be used for link attraction efforts
Weakness of this archetype:
- Consumers are not typically in the hiring mode when they arrive on these pages.
When looking for examples of topics, here are some good resources:
From Robbie Richards Marketing Director at Virayo
My agency works with a lot of lawyers across the US, and while there are countless different content promotions out there, I’m going to touch on a super simple 3-step approach we’ve had a lot of success with.
Caveat: I’ll preface by saying this is something we focus on after all the usual stuff – technical, GMB optimization, citations, service-based (bottom funnel) keyword research, etc. – has been taken care of.
- Question-based content strategy: Once all the “money” keywords have been mapped to important service pages, we’ll shift our focus towards building out content assets that fill the top and middle of the funnel. We start by doing question-based keyword research around the firm’s core service areas. There are a few simple tools we do this: a) Google autosuggest and related search b) AnswerThePublic c) Forums/ QA sites. These sources will surface a TON of content topic ideas based on the exact questions your target audience are searching for during the research phase. For example, if you’re a divorce lawyer, you’ll find that people are asking the following question online: ‘How do I know if I have a good divorce lawyer?’. Divorce can have a significant financial and emotional impact on someone’s life. So, people want to know they have someone who knows what they are doing. The firm could create a comprehensive checklist covering all the things people need to consider when hiring a divorce attorney. Once we have a content calendar filled with questions asked by our target audience, we’ll move onto the promotion phase. Now, there are a lot of ways to go about this – answering questions on forums and QA sites, posting to GMB, etc. But, we like to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible because there is a lot of work there for often little payoff.
- Promote informational assets with Facebook ads: Even though you’re paying to play, we’ve found the investment is worth it. Facebook is a great way to get immediate local visibility in front of a targeted local audience. For example, a divorce lawyer could promote the answer to an audience within their geographic location to anyone who has changed their relationship status recently to separated or divorced. You’re getting the content immediately in front of a very targeted audience. While there is no hard sell in this ad, you’re building awareness and credibility during a time when people are actively researching the right attorney to help them through a difficult point in their lives.
- Retarget and move down the funnel: By now you’ve created valuable resources and engaged your target audience. But, 96% or more of these people aren’t going to take action (schedule a consult) on the first touch point. So, we need to re-engage them. Our agency does this across both Facebook and Google (AdWords). We’ll typically retarget anyone who has consumed the content promoted in step #2 with one of the following:- Video: Features the principal attorney offering a free consult- Carousel: Featuring testimonials from happy clients saying how the firm helped them get through a tough time (with CTA to get a consult). This audience has received helpful content, engaged with the firm already, so these ads are used to move them down the funnel and schedule a free consult with an attorney. This is obviously a very simplified example of how a firm could promote content, but it is one of the quickest ways we have found to produce valuable content, amplify it to the right audience, and ultimately turn some of that traffic into leads and cases.”
Legal Content Topic Clusters
As Hubspot recently highlighted, content development in SEO is moving towards a new framework, what they call the “topic cluster model.” Essentially, one primary page acts as the lynchpin for the rest of your site’s related content: a single page is connected to multiple smaller, more specific pages, which feed authority back that singular primary “pillar page.”
In the legal vertical, practice area pages are ideal targets to act as pillar pages.
As webmasters continue to add thousands upon thousands of new pages to the web each hour, it’s essential that Google have a way to assess and categorize relevant topics. The pillar/cluster model assists in this from an architectural standpoint, treating all of those smaller pages as arrows pointing back to the pillar. Attorneys can benefit from using a similar methodology with their content.
Here’s an example of the pillar/cluster model for the topic “car accidents.”
Why You Should Write Long-Form Content for Attorney Websites
Google’s algorithm can measure many things, but it can’t track is the smile on a reader’s face. Consequently, there is no easy way to measure if a given piece of content is adequately answering a user’s intent. One element that Google does measure is the amount of time that a user remains on the site (known as dwell time).
One method of increasing dwell time is to naturally write longer content. Because it takes longer to read, your average dwell time is going to reliably increase. In that same capacity, it’s also why many individuals recommend video content.
The other benefit of long-form content is that you organically include related phrases and synonyms, which gives you the opportunity to rank for additional keywords.
Last, but not least, longer content is performing better in search. Brian Dean released a study in 2016 that showed the average first page search results was 1890 words (from a sample size of over one million queries). Every day, the index becomes larger, so it’s more important than ever to create high-quality, long-form content that answers consumer intent.
Chapter ROI by Chris Dreyer, CEO of Rankings.io
Content for a law firm website should be produced strategically and methodically. Using the pillar/cluster model of content development can be a significant advantage over your competition.