Friday Scribbles: What’s Happening This Week at Scribe

Potential clients in need of legal representation typically start in one of two places: references from friends or a quick search on the web. Even if they start with the word-of-mouth method, chances are they’ll then turn to Google to evaluate the law firm for themselves.

But every law firm is on the web. How do you make your firm stand out?

By offering a helpful, accessible, content-rich website that answers prospective clients’ legal questions and explains their general options. The ideal way to build this type of resource is to create a legal blog that focuses on the legal issues that are most lucrative to your law firm.

The key to stealing the spotlight in a sea of competitors is to create up-to-date, high-value content that provides understandable and helpful information. Your blog should encourage your readers to spend time on your site and motivate them to engage with your team.Your website is the online equivalent of a smile and a handshake: it should inspire confidence in your visiting prospective clients. They want to know that your lawyers have previously dealt with situations similar to theirs. They want to know that your lawyers are smart, personable, and capable of handling their legal issues. They want to know that your lawyers will listen to them and advise them in words they can understand.

In other words, a good blog can help your firm build credibility.

Most importantly, strategically drafted content can markedly improve your law firm’s page ranking through tactical search engine optimization techniques. This, in turn, can increase your web traffic, your social media following, and your overall visibility.

While maintaining a blog is a bit of a trickier proposition, starting a blog is relatively painless. If you have just a few hours, you can create your blog and start publishing on it today.

How to Start Your Blog

Get your blog going by following these steps.

1. Choose a blogging platform.

Depending on which web provider you use for your firm’s website, you may already have a blog built in. For example, Squarespace offers ready-made blog pages within its website templates. One of the most popular blog platforms is WordPress, which offers free blogs. Invest in a paid site for your firm blog, though—the advanced features will pay for themselves in improved results.

2. Choose a blog theme.

Once you’ve chosen a blogging platform, you may have the option to choose a theme for the site. For instance, with WordPress, you can customize your blog’s appearance, including fonts, colors, and layout. Create something that matches your firm’s branding. If you have the resources, you can hire a web developer to build a custom theme for your blog.

Whatever theme you choose, keep the navigation simple and ensure that your blog is optimized for mainstream web as well as mobile browsers. Many prospects will find you on their phones, so your blog content must be as easy to read on a small screen as it is on a full-size monitor.

3. Pick your plugins.

WordPress or another platform will get the job done on its own, but you’ll benefit from the bells and whistles of some features that are exclusively available through plugins.

One plugin that we rave about is Yoast, which is designed to boost your blog’s traffic through search engine optimization (SEO). There are tons of other plugin tools; experiment to see what works best for you.

4. Create masterful content.

Okay, now we’re getting to the harder part!

At least once a week, post something new for your readers. This will keep your audience engaged and ensure that your firm remains top of mind. Search engines reward sites for fresh content—so long as that content is also high quality. (We’ll discuss the quality of your content more in a future post, or you can reach out to us for some immediate suggestions.)

Make sure you use your blog’s category and tag features to make your posts as easy to navigate as possible. These tools also help search engines understand the structure of your site.

Categories are the broad topics that your blog discusses; tags are narrower subjects. Think of a category as an entire college course and a tag as the subject of a single lecture. So, if you’re an employment attorney, you might have categories for discrimination, harassment, and wage and hour law. Within discrimination, you might have tags for age, disability, race, gender, and so on.

5. Disseminate and amplify your content.

What you don’t want to do is spend hours writing an excellent, insightful, dare we say brilliant blog post … that no one ever reads. You’ve got to get your blog out there in the public view.

That means that once you’ve hit “publish,” it’s time to amplify your message and maximize your blog traffic. You’ll find myriad options for sharing your posts on social media. One tool that we enjoy, and that integrates well with WordPress, is CoSchedule. If CoSchedule is too robust for your needs, try Shareaholic.

Ready for a bigger readership? Consider creating a newsletter that delivers your blog posts directly to your prospects’ inboxes. Give readers the option to sign up for your e-mail newsletter through a tool like MailChimp.

There you have it: that’s all you need to start your law firm’s blog.

Bonus Tip

Keep in mind that the most successful legal blogs are those that follow a clear content strategy to build a comprehensive and useful resource for prospective clients. Take the time in between writing blogs to create your strategy so you can grow your content thoughtfully. Include a plan for how you can reach prospects in various stages of engagement, address all of your key practice areas, and establish a reasonable publication cadence that will build and sustain engagement.

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