Content Marketing for Law Firms
The Power of Content Marketing for Law Firms
Publishing high quality content that satisfies searcher’s intent can help your law firm SEO and content marketing efforts generate more leads and dramatically increase your conversion rates. Small businesses that blog generate 126% more leads and convert 6x more of those leads than those who do not.
Content marketing is not just throwing up blog posts about topics that you think are important. A content marketing strategy is about publishing content that people want — content that people are looking for.
Let me be clear here: creating content that talks about some new award you’ve received is not content marketing. Answer questions that people have, teaching them new things, providing them with interesting data and stories.
That’s content marketing.
In this article you’re going to learn why content marketing is effective, why most law firms suck at it, the types of pages you need to make as well as other key concepts to take into account when establishing authority online through content creation.
Why is Content Marketing so Effective?
When people have questions they usually search for answers on search engines like Google. Think about it. Isn’t that what you do? Now imagine you can be there to answer people’s questions when they have them. That exposure to your law firm is critical to increasing your lead generation rate.
Does that mean they’ll convert right then and there — the moment they read your blog? No. In fact, it’s pretty rare. Choosing the right attorney is not a process people just make on a whim. They look around the web, read reviews, ask friends and family, and so on.
The primary reason content marketing is so effective is that you leverage your ability to be helpful and present at each stage of their decision process. This increased exposure increases the likelihood that when they are ready to make their choice — they’ll choose you.
An Example for Personal Injury Firms
So what does this look like in practice? Suppose someone was recently injured in a car accident. What topics do you think they’ll search for? Are they going to start by searching for “car accident lawyer”?
Of course not.
They’ll start by searching for something like:
- car accident not my fault what to do Volume – 400/month
- who pays for car damage in a no fault state – Volume = 200/month
- no fault accident who pays – Volume = 200/month
We call these types of searches Top of Funnel (TOFU) searches, meaning that people who search for these things are nowhere near being close to converting but they do fall within our target audience.
Ideally, we would target these sorts of terms and provide people with content that answers these questions and and potentially follow up questions they might have.
Now, some percentage of people who search for answers to this question will be too lazy to want to hire an attorney to get them the best insurance payout and some won’t be eligible for anything that meets the injury threshold requirements for torts.
Of those that do, they will often have additional questions. With a little keyword research we can find things like:
- minor car accident settlement amounts – Volume = 350/month
- no fault car accident settlement – Volume = 70/month
- no injury car accident compensation – Volume = 40/month
- how to get money from a car accident without a lawyer – Volume = 300/month
- how much to expect from a car accident settlement – Volume = 300/month
These are called middle of funnel questions. Would you like people to land on your site whenever they have these sorts of questions? Then you need to start producing content!
These people are literally golden opportunities just asking to be converted! Even the people who are asking how to get money without hiring a lawyer! You can tell them how to do it and then make them aware of how complicated it can be and how much easier it is to hire a professional attorney — not to mention how an attorney will typically be able to get them the most money from a settlement.
You can often guide people from this step directly into a conversion action closing your page out with a call to action that prompts them to get in contact with you or submit a question form. Not everyone will convert though — including people who do plan on hiring an attorney.
Why is that?
There could be any number of reasons. People like to compare things. People sometimes prefer to find a local lawyer that can help them. Some already have a friend who practices law that can help them.
What matters is that some percentage of those people are converting right then and there and if you’re not there to catch them you’re missing out on lead opportunities as well as not starting off with a head start on your competition.
The next thing people might start searching for could be comparisons of local attorneys or lawyers in general. So this might include things like:
- lawyers near me – Volume = 34,000/month
Damn! That looks great right? 34,000 searches per month! That’s gotta be the term we should go after, right?
Not quite. The people who search for that may be pretty far from you (that search volume is the national average) and they also may not be looking for a personal injury attorney.
I’m also convinced that a fair percentage of those monthly searches are performed by lawyers checking to see where other lawyers rank!
So we’ll narrow things down a bit and dive deeper:
- car accident lawyer near me – Volume = 1,300/month
- car accident lawyer atlanta – Volume = 200/month
See how quickly that tapers off?
You do want to target those types of terms as well but you want to be sure you’re hitting as many of the TOFU and MOFU terms as possible because even if you don’t convert them at those stages of the customer journey, you at least have a chance to build a bit of rapport and will be a more recognizable (i.e. trustworthy) name when they begin searching for local car accident lawyers.
Content marketing spans more than just blogs and SEO by the way. Content can exist on social media also. The real power of using SEO for content marketing is to capture interested parties early on so you can then retarget them with specific advertising on social media, YouTube, and so forth. The trick is knowing how to target people effectively using the right audiences based on their behavior and the content most likely to resonate with them at their stage in the journey.
If that sounds confusing, I understand. That side of things falls outside of the scope of this guide but if you want to learn more you can reach out to us.
Now that we’ve talked about why content marketing is so effective we need to discuss some common pitfalls seen in the way law firms produce content.
Most Law Firms Suck at Making Great Content
Creating great content is about more than just the words you write and the images you use. It’s about the way you make people feel and what you’re able to do for them with your content (or empower them to do).
In essence, it’s about impact.
Think about some of the textbooks you’ve encountered over the years. You may not have put a lot of thought into it at the time but textbooks that are formatted and organized well are often easier to learn from. If you can’t remember any examples of textbooks that had a particularly poor design, think about books you’ve read — or hell, even emails you’ve received.
Content that is structured both visually and conceptually is far more useful (and consumable) to people than content that is not.
Be Relatable and Write for Your Audience, Not Your Peers
My personal preference is to use examples, analogies, stories, and a bit of humor to keep my content enjoyable for people. The most important thing is that I am writing for my audience — and you should too.
If you’ve read enough of this guide you’ve likely come across a few parts (especially within the ranking factors chapter) that left you a little confused. In other words, I wouldn’t be surprised if some folks didn’t think to themselves, “What the hell is he talking about?”
Trust me, this guide could be a lot more technical and bewildering. The goal is to eliminate as many of those potential points as possible. I have to constantly remember that I am not writing this for other computer scientists to understand — I am writing it for attorneys, paralegals, et cetera.
As such, when you’re explaining a legal concept to someone it is an utter waste of your time to merely state the statute or to talk in the jargon of your profession. If that’s what you normally do you need to stop. That will only make you look vain at best and unapproachable at worst.
I know this is hard for a lot of attorneys to do because they want to look professional and ensure they’re stating the facts as well.
I get that. First off, to the layperson, the one that’s going to hire you, you’ll still look professional. More importantly, you’ll be relatable.
Fun fact: People hire people they can relate to.
And let’s be honest here. What you’re really worried about is looking unprofessional in front of other lawyers who might check out your site. You want them to think highly of you right? Of course you do, that’s why you have all of those awards and badges on your site that no one but other attorneys care about.
Seriously. This has been researched. The average person who’s going to hire you honestly doesn’t give a damn about those awards. They don’t know what they are or how hard it is to get them. All they know is that nearly every law firm they look at has them and just assume they’re like the participation trophies given out to kids so their feelings aren’t hurt.
Keeping Things Legal
I get that there are many restrictions around what you can and cannot say. Your profession has, in its infinite wisdom, written more laws to restrict how it can and cannot be marketed than any other.
From the outside looking in this looks like kids making rules up whenever they don’t like the way other kids are playing.
I know some of you may take offense to that. And that’s okay. Nothing happens when you get offended. I’m just saying what I know a lot of you are thinking because I have to get you to understand what’s wrong with the way things are in order to get you to try anything different. We’ll talk later about why being a bit different can be good for you (i.e. get your firm more cases).
While my tone isn’t something I would recommend to most law firms it is beneficial for me because it weeds out the types of clients that aren’t a good fit. I don’t want to work with law firms who are stuffy, stuck in the past, and get their feelings hurt by a few words. I only want to work with firms that want to win — firms that want to beat the competition.
So what are you to do? My advice is to state the law and then follow it up with a summary for the layperson. Give them an analogy. If you’re not feeling that adventurous, give them a few example scenarios from caselaw.
And use your boilerplate disclaimers wherever pertinent as well. You know the drill — and if you don’t, your marketing firm should.
Okay, we’ve covered what not to do — now let’s talk about the two primary types of content you can produce on your site to position you in the path of your potential clients:
- Practice Area Pages
- Blog Posts/Resource Guides
Practice Area Pages
These are essentially your sales pages or what we often call “money page” in marketing. They are the primary pages which pitch your service to people in such a way to convince them to become a client.
They’ll include things like what service you provide, your results, customer testimonials and other social proof, contact forms and other compelling calls to action. Again, the primary goal of these pages is to convert people who land on them.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can just talk about how fucking star spangled awesome you are and expect visitors to just go, “Yep. That’s the person I want to work with!”
Answer Potential Objections
You can take a lesson from what we’ve discussed previously about the searcher’s journey and create a practice area page that answers a few of the most common questions people would ask right before they made a decision and let that flow naturally into an attempt to close them as a lead.
For example, you could answer questions like:
- What do I need to file a case?
- How long does it take to settle a case?
- What do I have to do? Do I have to go to court for anything or miss any work?
- How much can I expect from a settlement?
I know a lot of these questions cannot be universally answered. The same thing is true in my industry (how long does it take for SEO to work…).
You can provide answers anyway. The most important thing is that you be honest and transparent. Don’t just say, “The amounts awarded in a settlement vary case-by-case,” and so on. That won’t satisfy anyone and won’t make you stand out to anyone. Instead, be frank with people. Explain why the settlements vary and why you can’t give clear cut numbers. Also talk about how you know that’s frustrating but that your hands are tied.
Follow that up immediately by letting people know that if they’ll call you for just 10 minutes you’ll be able to give them better answers that are more specific to their situation.
Let Others Do the Talking for You
Okay, I know this is going to be a radical concept but people trust what other people have to say about you more than what you have to say about yourself.
Leverage testimonials. If you don’t have any, get them. Even better, get video testimonials. Even just 2-3 people in a testimonial video is enough. The key is to have it edited in such a way to make it seem like more. Here’s an example of a marketing video put together for a divorce attorney in North Carolina that is a shining example of what works well.
If you want to convert more visitors to your site include more of your clients and how they succeeded and less about yourself. Every customer is the hero in their own drama. It’s our job to be a supporting actor in that story — to help them succeed and win.
I know you can come up with something better than, “Get the compensation you deserve.”
Still want to include more of yourself on your pages because it makes you feel better? Fine. Take photos of yourself with your clients. Make them the prominent ones in the photo.
Why does this work so well? Because your site visitors can identify with them. They will see themselves in them and imagine themselves winning and being happy just like them. When all they see is you, there’s a disconnect. They cannot identify with you because they are not like you. It’s as simple as that.
Blog Posts and Resource Guides
If you want to see specific examples jump to the Blog & Resource Page Examples section.
Blog posts are your secret weapon in the pursuit of ranking higher on Google. This is where you’ll target those top of funnel topics that people search for before they’re aware they need an attorney as well as the middle of funnel topics that they search for when they’re seeking more information about lawsuits and legal matters.
So many firms execute this poorly. They make their blog posts too sales oriented and turn off potential leads or they don’t create them at all.
This is fine. That’s your opportunity.
In addition to blog posts you can make in-depth resource guides. There are several no-fault states. If you create and optimize a comprehensive piece of content that serves as a guide to no fault laws in all 50 states and U.S. territories you can rank nationally for a term like no fault states.
What’s the point of ranking highly for a term directly related to your profession nationally?
We’ll talk about the concept of authority and its importance later but for now understand that when you establish a national reputation for topics related to your field, you will see a direct impact on your ability to rank your service pages for local based search terms as well.
To be clear, if you rank for no fault states nationally you’ll be able to easily rank for terms like car accident lawyer near me.
Resource guides and blog content make it much easier to build links, which we established the importance of in chapter 2.
Law Firm Practice Area Page Examples
Use a different page for each type of personal injury cases you take. For example, you could have separate pages like:
- Boston Car Accident Lawyer
- Boston Truck Accident Lawyer
- Boston Medical Malpractice Lawyer
You can create a single “Personal Injury” page that serves as a hub for all of its subtopics, however. I would actually encourage this, especially if you have a large firm that takes on additional types of cases like divorce, criminal, estate, IP, et cetera.
For our purposes we are using Zaner Harden Law from Denver.
They have a list of subcategories of personal injury below their practice areas navigation item. This is a great approach except for the fact that when you click on Auto Accidents it doesn’t actually take you anywhere. Instead when you hover over it a secondary menu appears on the side that provides you with additional options. This won’t impact their SEO much but it is bad UX.
Their page dedicated to car accident cases is a fantastic resource. They have a lot of statistics and answer a lot of questions. They could likely benefit from having some of this information separated onto blog posts instead but it’s working well for them here.
The only thing I would have done differently would have been including client testimonials higher up on the page.
They have a call to action button on the top of the page for people who are ready to contact them immediately as well as one at the very bottom of the page for people who need to be warmed up a bit before being pitched.
Law Firm Blogs and Resource Page Examples
Blog posts and resource pages are a lot more text heavy in most cases. The information you’re giving people is the foremost priority of these types of pages.
The most important thing for these pages is that you’re answering the searcher’s question in a useful way.
This piece talks about slip and falls and addresses a common sentiment many people have: apathy. It’s a rally cry to not stand idle and hold people responsible. I personally like it because it takes the best approach to combat apathy — making people realize their inaction could lead to others being harmed as well.
Many people can shrug off an injustice to themselves because they’re lazy but those same people will rally with righteous indignation at the idea of injustice occurring to others.
Creating Topic Clusters of Legal Content
The concept of topic clusters is not new. That being said, many websites that use them implement them poorly or flat out incorrectly.
This may get confusing. Bear with me.
When you build a topic cluster, you build your content around one main pillar or hub. The hub is the core topic you’re targeting and branching from it will be several subtopics or spokes. Each of these spoke pages cover some facet of the primary topic (hub) and link back to it. They also interlink between each of the pages in the cluster but not to pages outside of the cluster.
How to Write In Depth Content for Establish Topical Authority
Some folks may recommend that you need to write long-form content to keep users on the site for longer periods of time because dwell time is a ranking factor for Google.
We do not take the position that dwell time is a ranking factor. Folks who point toward dwell time as a ranking factor do so because Nick Frost, the head of Google Brain stated the following at a conference:
However, Nick never said dwell time was a ranking factor. He stated that how long someone stays on a page and when they go back are inputs given to the training models for Google’s machine learning algorithm. This is not the same as being a ranking factor or variable.
However, Google does keep up with what you search for. As such, they can track whenever you perform a search, reach a page, hit the back button and perform another search or visit another page.
How do we know this? Watch the following:
In the example above Google tracked that we visited the US Concealed Carry website and returned to Google’s search results.
So what are they measuring? Whether the content satisfied the searcher’s intent.
When content satisfies your intent you may swipe back but that in and of itself is not bad. Perhaps your next search could have been something like “where to buy a gun?” That is an entirely separate query from “concealed carry laws” and so the algorithm can reasonably assume the first page you visited answered your question sufficiently enough.
Had you returned to the search results and visited another page before concluding what we call the searcher’s journey, then that’s a signal to Google that the first result you visited was not sufficient. When that happens often enough that’s a clear signal to Google to drop that pages lower in the search engine results page results.
Adhering to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness
On August 10, 2018 Google filed a patent named Website Representation Vector to Generate Search Results and Classify Website. This patent has language that closely resembles expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) principles established in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator’s Guidelines.
It also closely corresponds with the Broad Core algorithm update known as the Medic update that occurred on August 1st, 2018. This update caused dramatic shifts in the ranking results for many websites. Especially those in the health and financial industries.
This update showed that Google cares about information from credible sources.
How does this affect attorneys? Well, in a variety of ways. You can best position yourself by ensuring your reputation is well established throughout the web. That means on sites like Wikipedia, on review websites like Yelp and Avvo, in news articles, etc.
Establish author pages for your blog posts and articles. Include links to other properties where you appear online (especially third party website) as well as relevant biographical information like the university you graduated from, organizations you belong to and other items you might include on a resume to establish your authority.
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An avid advocate for small business owners and victims of personal injury. Committed to helping the best attorneys help others.
Founder of Ardent Growth. CMO of RunDoyen. Author of the #1 Guide to Google My Business.
B.S. in Computer Science & B.S. in Philosophy from MSU (with honors).