Content marketing. No doubt you’ve heard of it, but do you understand the benefits of content marketing and the role it can – and should – have in your law firm’s overall business strategy? If you’re a lawyer and haven’t invested in it, it’s past time you did.
Table of Contents:
Why Lawyers Should Invest in Content Marketing
There are several moving pieces of a content marketing plan. When done correctly, lawyers will see increased conversions and leads, higher traffic, longer site visits, better search engine rankings, and a loyal customer base.
It’s important to connect with and influence your potential clients through the content you deliver. People who need legal services, especially for personal injuries, must feel comfortable with their lawyer; they need to have confidence in your legal expertise and abilities and easily find you and the information they seek. But lawyers need more than a simple website and paid ads to compete for clients. They need to build credibility through regularly distributing relevant information based on a content marketing strategy. And it can’t be done with minimal effort.
Understanding how your audience uses search engines, where they go, and what they do after arriving on a blog post or website can greatly improve the impact of your legal content and brand recognition. Pillar pages and content clusters are two of the newer but highly important pieces of content you should focus on. Tools to organize and measure the efficacy of what you create can help maintain clear direction in your efforts.
The fact is content marketing for lawyers takes time and buy-in. A clear plan, including a content strategy with a defined audience, goals, and metrics, is needed to position your firm as a trusted leader with expertise in your practice areas. Since the search landscape is continually changing, staying on top of and adjusting your online content is vital for success.
Here we review the main components of content creation, distribution, and analysis, but first, you need to understand why lawyers should invest in content marketing and who your audience is.
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Lawyers & Their Target Audiences
A target audience is a group of people or businesses you want to reach, engage, and/or influence. Some of the main target audiences for lawyers include new, current and past clients, other law firms, and legal organizations.
When creating and executing a content marketing plan, your law firm needs to know and understand your target audience. Content formats and delivery should consider where they get information, their characteristics, region or city they reside in, age range, and education level.
If your content marketing plan is customized and includes this deep understanding of your target audience, you’ll be positioned to maximize its impact.
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Content Formats for Lawyers to Leverage
The term content covers a range of formats, and it’s important to incorporate a mix of them. Blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, and webpages have not only text but also images, videos, and graphics.
It’s essential to explain legal terminology, information, and legislation in relatable language and through a mix of content formats based on who you’re targeting. Far too often, lawyers use legal jargon and too-formal language when creating content intended for clients and potential clients. This can cause your audience to disengage – such as leave your site or blog – and seek information elsewhere. Once they leave, getting them back is much more difficult.
While simple language written for lower reading levels is necessary for clients, formal language and legal terms have a place in your firm’s content marketing strategy. Lawyers and legal organizations are other audiences a firm may target, and it’s not only acceptable to deliver content in a different way than clients but necessary.
Content formats that lawyers could leverage in their content marketing strategy include guides, videos, and infographics. They can be used to explain what the average person considers dull and help your audience navigate and learn about complicated legal information.
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Improve Brand Recognition
Brand recognition is a key component of business success. Content marketing helps develop brand recognition by providing regular and quality content relevant to your audience. Using various communication channels, such as websites, blogs, newsletters and social media pages, lawyers can increase business exposure to reach current, returning, and potential clients.
The content you deliver should have a purpose, message, goal, and consistent style. Targeted language and readability are important. When a prospect searches for legal services, being present and easy to find is crucial. But ensuring what the audience learns and developing the correct impression comes from the strength of a content marketing strategy. Developing and nurturing your messages helps achieve brand recognition.
Simply put, lawyers need to be accessible and present where it matters. With the role of online communications, what you offer and why someone should choose your legal services needs to be clear.
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Develop Expertise & Authority
In the current online environment, businesses can’t just tell customers they’re the best; they need to prove it. They need to demonstrate their authority and expertise, and effective content marketing plans will do this. How? Planned, strategic content builds topic authority. Providing useful information backed with credible sources and links to other important information demonstrates your knowledge and further reinforces your place in the legal industry. The content that lawyers publish should answer questions their potential leads may have, ultimately persuading them to contact your law firm.
When someone searches for legal information, the content they find is what determines their next step. If a person lands on your law firm website, it should be clear what you do and how you do it. Your legal content should show your expertise, lead to other valuable information, and have calls to action.
Hiring a lawyer is a big decision. Because of the importance of legal services and the competitive industry, developing topic authority takes time. As a lawyer, you need to have a strong online presence that truly connects with those who need you. A static website and sporadic blog posts without direction and purpose won’t get traction, and your law firm will be unable to build the right level of authority.
When done effectively, custom content is more effective at generating leads and creating a loyal customer base than paid search ads. In fact, it creates three times the leads of paid search, highlighting the importance of a good content marketing strategy – and a dedicated investment of time and resources to execute it.
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Increase Conversions through Content Marketing
Once you’ve created strategic content with clear directives that encourage your audience to act, you’ve set the stage for content marketing conversions. However, getting these conversions takes considerable effort. Why? Your content strategy must work towards getting high search engine rankings in the legal practice areas you specialize in, and it’s not easy to do.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial when developing and distributing content, and there’s a direct correlation between effective SEO and leads. Organic results, or non-paid content and ads, results in more conversions. Showing up when your target audience uses search engines like Google is possible with a solid content marketing plan. To rank well, legal content created for clients and prospective clients must integrate the right keywords and search terms, but there’s a greater emphasis on high-quality and high-value content. Since about three-quarters of users don’t scroll past the first page of search results, getting high rankings is a must.
While you want to do well on search engines, you need to rank for the right search terms. You should rank for the search terms and keywords relevant to your practice areas and business goals. There is little benefit if you get someone to your site, blog, or social media pages, but they leave without delving further, or you haven’t provided the information they need. This is why generating valuable and targeted content is an important step and should remain a key focus with each piece of content you create.
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Content Marketing Step-by-Step
There are many steps in content marketing for lawyers, and we know the importance of customizing tactics and strategies throughout the process. In its simplest form, legal content marketing can be broken into three parts: content creation, content distribution, and content analysis. Each of these has specific strategies and deliverables to complete before moving onto the next step.
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Part 1: Content Development
Knowing your law firm’s goals and key messages, how SEO impacts content development, and understanding where to reach your audience will guide the first part of a content marketing plan: content development. The best plans include various content types, direct the audience to more information, and are strategically delivered through a mix of communication channels.
The development phase of content marketing for lawyers includes:
- Pillar Pages, Content Clusters, and Internal Linking
- Ideation Generators, Editorial Calendars and Optimization Tools
Pillar Pages, Content Clusters & Internal Linking
Effective search engine optimization (SEO) for law firms involves pillar pages, content clusters, and internal links. Years ago, SEO tactics focused on keyword stuffing, but search engines today are much smarter. Google’s algorithm can determine whether the content is high quality and relevant. If what your law firm is saying has value and is in the right language for those seeking answers or information, you’ll be positioned properly to meet goals.
The use of pillar pages involves longer content formats that focus on the broad topics you want to rank for. They’re essentially a gateway to more content, like topic clusters, which focus on the more specific keywords and phrases related to the broad pages.
When done right, clusters are easily navigable and provide users with as much information as they need to prevent them from going back to a search engine or a competing law firm’s content. To do this, internal links are a key strategy to leverage throughout your online content.
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Editorial Calendars, Ideation & Optimization Tools
Content marketing for lawyers is most effective when strategically planned, and the big picture is clear. To ensure this happens, editorial calendars, idea generators, and content optimization tools combine to deliver across platforms in the best possible way. These tools direct content development and work towards achieving your law firm’s business goals.
Ideation tools are used to discover topic ideas and keywords you should be ranking for based on your practice areas and expertise. They guide content direction by identifying what an audience is looking for while also considering your competitors. From there, a content creation plan can be further broken down to include subtopics or content clusters.
Optimization tools are another valuable resource when creating a content marketing plan for lawyers. They consider all aspects of content structure, from links and headings to metadata and keywords and language. Given organic content generates more leads than paid, optimizing what you publish is vital in the content development and analysis phases. Deciding when and where to publish is where editorial calendars come in.
Editorial calendars can be leveraged to organize content teams and ensure the strategic direction of the content creation and delivery process. They have many features, and the depth of those features varies depending on the calendar and type of plan. Many include features to assign tasks, share the purpose and outline, identify keywords, and connect directly to document sharing programs.
Part 2: Content Distribution
Content distribution is the second part of a content marketing plan for lawyers. It ensures the content you strategically develop for pillar pages, content clusters, and other formats is distributed in the right places and in the right way.
Core focuses of the distribution process include:
- Paid and Organic Social Media Strategies
- Refreshing and Repurposing Content
- Content Curation, Aggregation and Publication
- Social Media Monitoring Tools
Paid & Organic Social Media Strategies for Lawyers
Social media is always changing, but one thing remains constant: businesses need to be present on the platforms their audience uses and deliver value to their followers. Your law firm can’t afford to post without direction.
Since social media users are brutally picky and can be quite unforgiving, the social media content you post needs to be strategic. It is far too easy to scroll past posts and hide – or even unfollow – a business, so you need to share content in the right language and proper format for your target audience and include appropriate calls-to-action.
To meet the needs of followers, a lawyer’s social media strategy should include paid and organic posts, and the two should complement and enhance each other. When done right, social media greatly contributes to the impact of your content marketing plan.
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Repurposing & Refreshing Content
Since the online world is fluid, content’s timeliness, relevance, and value are key factors in search engine rankings. Once a law firm achieves a strong presence on search engines, it’s tempting to move onto the next task, but it’s a serious mistake to think that your content efforts are complete. After a while, content goes stale, and the SEO impact will suffer.
Keeping your place on Google involves maintaining and nurturing content. One of the most influential and effective strategies to keep your search engine rankings is by repurposing and refreshing existing content.
A lawyer’s content marketing strategy should include adding and updating your most important and high-performing pages and blog posts. Turning quality content into guides, blog posts, social media snippets, videos, and FAQs are great places to start. Identifying subtopics and new angles to grow and leverage existing content can have an astounding impact on rankings, reach, and influence.
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Content Curation, Aggregation & Publication
Another tactic within the distribution process of a content marketing strategy is curation and aggregation. While content aggregation is simply sharing content from other credible and relevant sources, it can be extremely valuable and strengthen your own credibility and authority.
A benefit of content aggregation is that you don’t have to create the content yourself. It’s a sound strategy to break up content tasks and should be integrated into your editorial calendar.
Curating content should also be part of your plan, and it, too, can save time. At the very least, it gives you a relevant topic to write about. During content curation, your law firm adds its own voice, opinion, and/or message about something another source has published.
Whenever you curate or aggregate another source’s content, it’s absolutely necessary to credit the original author.
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Social Media Monitoring Tools
Since competition is fierce on social media, monitoring the performance of posts keeps you informed of its impact and discover areas to improve on. Lawyers can use a wide range of social media monitoring tools that provide the analytics needed to make the most of their social media presence.
Tools offer both basic and in-depth analytics across the most popular and influential social media platforms. But knowing what to track, what data means, and how to take the results and improve your impact takes specific knowledge, understanding, and experience.
Social media monitoring tools save time and track important data like post engagement, reach, mentions, and even keywords. They offer insight into the impact of both paid and organic posts, ensuring the two strategies are working together to achieve your law firm’s goals.
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Part 3: Content Analysis
You’ve strategically created and distributed quality content. What’s next? Content analysis. This final part of any content marketing plan for lawyers is just as important as the previous two. After all, if you don’t analyze your content’s performance and use the results to increase its impact, odds are you’ll hit a wall. Content marketers know that regular and strategic analysis leads to positive adjustments and identifies and leverages gaps and opportunities to improve your efforts.
There are three main components to the content analysis phase:
- Determining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console: Set-Up and Management
- Competitive Analysis, Keyword Discovery and Position Monitoring Tools
Key performance indicators is a well-known term in the marketing field. They’re the metrics used to track the impact of your content and are specific to your business goals and audience. Since there are thousands of trackable metrics for websites, blogs, newsletters, videos, and social media posts, they should be chosen and prioritized based on your content marketing goals.
Website and blog traffic, pageviews, length of visits, leads, and bounce rate are just a few of the key performance indicators that lawyers could benefit from tracking. Seeing how your legal content reaches, resonates, and influences your target audience provides a clear, data-driven analysis of its performance. It takes someone skilled and experienced in content marketing to fully understand what KPIs mean and how to leverage them.
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Google Analytics & Google Search Console Set-Up and Management
Google Analytics is the most commonly used program to track online content, specifically websites and blogs. From traffic and total page views to user click-through rates, navigation and demographics, the free version of Google Analytics provides enough data to analyze your legal content and the user experience.
At its core, Google Analytics can tell you whether your content is doing what it should. There are endless opportunities to leverage Google Analytics, but there needs to be a focus and a real understanding of what the results mean.
Google Search Console is another tool that will enhance your content marketing strategy when used with Google Analytics. It provides valuable data about the keywords and search terms a company ranks for, as well as its clicks, impressions, and industry trends.
Simple but powerful content adjustments can position your legal services for greater success by using and managing the tools offered through Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
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Competitive Analysis, Keyword Discovery & Position Monitoring Tools
Throughout the development of a content marketing plan, there’s a lot of focus on your law firm’s goals. But it’s important to employ competitive analysis in your content marketing strategy to see what other lawyers and law firms are ranking for and compare them to your own. If a competing lawyer has higher rankings for search terms and phrases relevant to your practice areas, they’re doing better at optimizing and delivering content than you.
Competitive analysis is an ongoing process that’s even more important in the online landscape because of search trends and Google’s algorithm. How people search and how Google determines the best resources and answers to those searches changes frequently, so staying in the know about your competitors will give you invaluable information going forward.
Part of the competitive analysis process is researching search terms through keyword discovery. The results can improve existing content and improve future content. Without these tools, the impact of what you publish and its influence on your audience will suffer.
With endless information at our fingertips, today’s content marketing landscape requires incorporating long-tail phrases and search terms. How we look for information has evolved, and longer, specific searches have become increasingly common to find what we need quickly and without sifting through several sites. Keyword discovery will help tailor and optimize content to maximize its efficacy.
Position monitoring goes hand in hand with other strategies in the analysis phase of content marketing. This type of monitoring strategy can lead to knowing your position on search engines and ensuring you maintain authority on legal topics you specialize in. It can also drive your law firm to do better.
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Content Marketing for Lawyers is a Comprehensive Process
The fact is, content marketing for lawyers is no easy feat, but the benefits are extensive. It takes time and commitment, and it’s rarely done perfectly on your first try. Lawyers must know what to look for and why, who their audience is and what they need, and set realistic goals.
Content marketing plans leverage a range of tools in developing, distributing, and analyzing content. A sound strategy takes the results and current trends and finds ways to improve them. And you can’t be afraid to adjust the direction of your content if you aren’t getting the results you should. Knowing this, just like Google’s ever-changing algorithm, content marketing strategies for lawyers need to be flexible and competitive to meet consumer needs.
Our comprehensive guide covers the various aspects of creating a successful law firm content marketing plan for your legal practice.
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