Legal blogging is a critical marketing tactic for lawyers. A strong law firm blog will help you to build relationships and generate new business. However, that’s only possible if your legal blog conveys trust, competency, and reliability. Blogs should be professional, but not too stuffy. They should be informal without being sloppy.
If that sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is. One of the best ways to ensure you’re putting out the highest quality blogs is to run through a checklist of legal blogging best practices. In this blog, we’ll cover some common blogging mistakes – and share eight hallmarks of a good law firm blog post.
Legal Blogging Mistakes That Can Cost You
Even very successful practitioners can make mistakes when it comes to blogging, an area that is often unfamiliar to them. Before you run through the best practices, make sure you’re avoiding these common mistakes.
1. Relying on Blog “Mills”
These blogs are often advertised as custom services, but in actuality, they are delivered on a large scale for multiple lawyers. Often they are “regurgitating” blogs based on trending topics, tweaking them slightly for each client. These blogs are mass-produced in what some people call a “content mill”. You can often spot these blogs if the author line mentions being “on behalf of” a firm or lawyer. Because they are rarely written by actual attorneys and they’re typically based only on keywords and word count, they rarely add value to your practice and can actually seriously harm your reputation and online presence.
2. Rarely Updating Your Blog
Many lawyers begin legal blogging with the best of intentions, but don’t have an understanding of how hard it will be to keep up. Writing well-researched and high-quality blogs takes a lot of time and effort. That being said, if you’re going to blog, it’s important to commit to it and keep up with it. Blogging consistently is one of the most valuable things you can do for your online presence.
3. Writing Your Blog Like a Legal Document
Remember that potential clients are reading your blog for advice and potentially for help with an issue. They don’t need a lengthy treatise on the legal terminology surrounding an issue. Just write informally and explain things in a way that everyone can understand.
4. Relying on Others’ Work
It’s okay to look to others’ blogs outside or within your industry for inspiration, but you should not be relying heavily on others’ work in order to create content. Nothing lowers credibility more than when a user reads one blog only to come across the same exact copy in another firm’s post just below it on the search engine results page.
Elements of a Good Blog Post
As you refine your law firm blog, run through this legal blogging checklist to make sure you’ve covered the hallmarks of a great blog.
1. An Optimized Title
You want to create a title that appeals to both readers and search engines. The blog title is your best tool for grabbing attention from people and should illustrate how the blog will answer a question, offer unique information, or create a sense of urgency. For SEO, make sure to include your keyword in the title. And if it’s a listicle- feel free to showcase that by including the number of points or steps in the title. (Ex: 10 Steps for Filing for Divorce.)
2. An Appeal to Emotion
Emotions are the driving force for a lot of people, especially those seeking legal services. So, it’s okay to acknowledge those emotions and even try to evoke them in your writing. Imagine your target audience for that particular blog post. What are their feelings, their desires, and their challenges? What is currently worrying them so much that is pushing them to do a search? What kind of answers are they hoping to get? Play off of those emotions by validating what they’re feeling and reminding them why they’re reading the blog. (Ex: All too often we find clients are hesitant to file for divorce because they’re unsure what steps are involved in the process and feel the stress of it will be too much to handle. In this post we break down divorce into 10 easy steps that will help guide you through the process with ease.)
Having trouble identifying how your target audience feels? Consider creating an ideal client profile with this free guide.
3. Compelling Meta Description
The meta description is the short chunk of text that appears under your blog’s title when it comes up on search engine results pages. As you can imagine, this text is very important as it’s a user’s first impression. Make sure the copy makes the value proposition of your blog clear and evokes the user’s emotions by bringing up the pain point that may lead them to want to read the blog.
4. Strong Introduction
Like the meta description, an introduction is essential for showcasing to the reader what your blog is going to be about. Again, don’t be afraid to recognize what the challenge is that your reader is facing that may lead them to want to seek answers through a blog. Feel free to use buzzwords here like ‘easy’, ‘simple’, ‘surprising’, ‘critical’, ‘hacks’, etc.
5. User-friendly Language
Formal legal prose is great for most of your day-to-day work, but it could be off-putting to readers. As we mentioned above, make sure the language you’re using is informal and conversational while remaining professional.
6. A Solution to a Problem
Most people searching online for lawyers are doing so for a specific reason. They want answers to a question that is on their mind or a legal issue they’re facing – make sure your blog centers on that information. Do some research and determine what your blog should be about by exploring what common questions are being asked by searchers.
Internet readers tend to scan. It’s important to break up text and use other heading formats that include keywords. Ideally, if a person quickly reads each of your subheadings, they will know what the blog is generally about. Keep subheadings short yet informative, and use numbers when applicable. It makes reading easy and seamless.
8. Short Chunks of Text
Lengthy portions of text will intimidate readers. Remember that they are used to scanning and quickly absorbing information. Write with short sentences and paragraphs if you want people to really read your blog.
9. A Keyword Strategy
It’s essential to have keywords in mind for your blogs. You should have research that points to which words you need to incorporate into your content. However, it’s important that these keywords are incorporated organically and in a way that feels natural. Some main places to incorporate them are the title, subheadings, alt text, meta description, and URL.
10. Leverage Media
Are you struggling to communicate all the info necessary in your blog while adhering to the ‘scannable’ standards of blogs nowadays? Consider adding some multimedia to help communicate info while keeping the blog interesting. Infographics are a great way to communicate a lot of info in a digestible way. Also, consider making short videos. Users will be happy to watch a short video rather than read an overly long blog post. They’re also much more likely to read blogs with media throughout the content.
11. Internal Links
Linking to internal website content is an important part of your law firm blog strategy. Internal linking is essential for SEO and helps to establish authority, and can also point people to more resources and next steps. Make sure any blogs you publish also link to further information or education for your readers.
12. An Appropriate Tone
Legal issues tend to be somewhat serious in nature. After all, you don’t want to use humor when writing about divorce or car accidents, or several other subjects. However, you also want to show that you’re a genuine and approachable person. It’s ok to share a little personality and let readers see the person behind the law firm blog. Avoid speaking overly formally while still being professional. It’s okay to write how you would talk in everyday life. Consider reading your blog out loud and see how it sounds. Is it the type of tone of voice you’d use when meeting with a client or potential client?
13. A Takeaway
At the end of every blog should be a concluding paragraph called the ‘takeaway’. This is where you give an overview of everything that was discussed and wrap up the discussion. Stuck on how to start? Consider shaping the paragraph like a triangle- start with a specific sentence about your subject matter, and then move on to broader discussions as the paragraph goes on.
14. Clear Next Steps
What’s the goal of your blog? What do you want readers to do after reading it? This is where a call to action comes in. Include a clear call to action with a link to a lead gen form. Maybe you want them to contact you for more info on your services, maybe you’d like them to download a lead magnet. Whatever it is, it should point to moving the reader down the funnel in some way.
The best thing you can do when you set out to blog is to commit to a regular and consistent schedule. However, that can be intimidating if you’re unsure about actually writing the blogs. Start by reviewing this checklist each time you blog. Does your work contain each element?
Many lawyers find that they simply don’t have the bandwidth to create original, high-quality blogs that contain each of these components. In that case, getting help from an outside resource can be useful.