Don't be a blind blogger

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Traci Gentilozzi

Blogging. It’s an inexpensive way for law firms to reach potential clients and help solidify a firm as the go-to expert in a particular area of law.

Research shows businesses that blog, including law firms, get 55 percent more website traffic than businesses that do not blog. Good reason to blog, right?

However, don’t think that simply putting your fingers on the keyboard and typing will get immediate results. In other words, don’t blog just for the sake of blogging. This kind of “blind blogging” will not produce the results you want, no matter how many blogs you write and publish.

What are the desired results? They are:

1. People find the blog on your law firm’s website.

2. People read the blog.

3. People engage with and share the blog.

4. People think of [insert your law firm name here] when they have a legal issue involving [insert your firm’s practice area here].

Blogging is a commitment that should be part of a law firm’s overall marketing plan. If a firm blogs regularly but then stops for weeks (or even months), the firm’s return on investment has been lost during the downtime. In other words, the firm has lost the online “boost” and credibility it received when blogging on a regular basis.

To receive the benefits of blogging, a blog search engine optimization (SEO) strategy must be implemented. SEO involves creating online content so search engines will find it, will understand it and will trust it. The big benefit of SEO is getting a high ranking on the search engine results page when people search online. Being at or near the top of the results page typically leads to a higher volume of blog and website traffic.

While SEO can be detailed and complex, it doesn’t take a technological expert to optimize a blog post so it will be found, read and shared.

Here are some tips for writing SEO-friendly blogs.

1. Select a focus keyword that people will actually use when searching online.

Think about – and choose – a focus keyword that the target audience (potential clients) will use when searching online. For example, a Michigan adoption attorney blogging on the rights of biological fathers might use the keywords “biological father rights in Michigan adoptions” or “biological dad rights after Michigan adoption.”

2. Use natural variations of the keyword throughout the blog.

Write the blog for the audience first, using natural and conversational language. Then go back and optimize it. Use the focus keyword in the first paragraph, then use it two or three times throughout the blog. Be sure to use variations of the keyword, keeping the tone natural. But be careful: repeating the focus keyword too often (known as “keyword stuffing”) is an SEO no-no. In fact, Google penalizes websites for keyword stuffing.

3. Look at things from the search engine’s perspective.

Search engines, especially Google, know what their users like and dislike. When users read a blog, share a blog or link to a blog, this tells the search engine that the reader liked the content and it should be remembered for similar searches in the future. Also, keep in mind that search engines prefer lengthier blogs over shorter ones.

4. Before publishing, review the blog for mistakes and readability.

Before you hit the publish button, check the blog post for punctuation, spelling or grammatical errors. Mistakes reflect poorly on a law firm and can negatively impact the firm website’s search rankings.
Also, be sure the blog post is concise, to the point and informative. And write in plain English, not legalese. After all, your target audience is potential clients and not other lawyers.

To help readers quickly scan the blog and determine if it’s what they’re looking for, be sure to use short paragraphs, plenty of white space, subsections and headings, images, bullet points and bold text.

5. Incorporate the focus keyword into essential elements.

Use the focus keyword in the URL, blog title, at least one section header, the meta description (short explanation of what the blog is about) and when naming the images used with the blog.

6. Add internal and external links.

Be sure you include links in the blog to related website pages. This not only let readers find additional information, but also helps build trust and credibility. Links also offer readers a way to further explore your law firm’s website, increase the time a reader stays on the website and help the search engine “crawl” your website and understand it better.

When creating links, be sure to use “anchor text” that accurately describes what the link is about. And don’t overdo the linking – it may be viewed as spammy.

7. Promote, promote, promote!

Once the blog is posted, share it across your law firm’s social media sites, send it to email lists and include it in your e-newsletter. This drives traffic to the blog and increases its visibility.

Another important step in blogging is cross-linking. Make sure relevant pages on your law firm’s website include a link to the new blog post, and that other blog posts on the site link to it, too.

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Attorney Traci R. Gentilozzi owns 360 Legal Solutions, PLLC, a company that focuses on legal content development and promotion for sole practitioners and small firms. She previously worked for Sinas Dramis. She is editor of BRIEFS, the monthly publication of the Ingham County Bar Association. Reprinted with permission from BRIEFS.

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