Content marketing has many moving parts. From keyword research and social media strategies to repurposing content, reviewing analytics, and tracking key performance indicators, everything needs to work together to make up an overall plan. It needs to be flexible, with the ability to change based on the efficacy of your efforts, trends, search engine considerations and other factors that affect your firm’s brand, messaging, and practice areas.
Each step of a law firm content marketing plan has a defined purpose and contributes to a business goal. Whether that goal is to build awareness of legislation changes or attract new clients, every piece of content you create needs to be part of a strategy. Otherwise, your efforts won’t deliver the best outcomes, and they could even harm your brand.
Content creation is the first stage of content marketing for lawyers. There are three key parts to the creation process:
- Pillar pages, content clusters and internal linking.
- Tools – ideation, optimization, and editorial calendars.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) strategies
But first, understanding the role of content to reach business goals and the audience(s) you need to engage with is crucial to create effective content.
How Law Firms Can Attract Clients through Content
In the legal industry, there’s the added difficulty of communicating complicated and confusing legal topics to an audience that has little or no understanding of them. Legal terminology and jargon are something the average client will need to be explained to them in a way they can relate to. While some legal terms can’t be avoided, it is possible to reach, engage and influence others.
Simplifying language, creating infographics, and even short videos or online guides are ways to share information with your audience and position your firm for new and returning business. In fact, using a mix of formats is an excellent content marketing strategy.
Quality and effective content has a clear purpose and defined audience, considers trends, includes valuable SEO tactics relevant to content marketing, and outlines how it all works together. Combining these factors and strategies during the content creation process will help build brand awareness, authority, and credibility. Ultimately, when done right, the content will result in leads and other positive connections with the audiences that matter most to your firm.
While the later stages of content marketing are extremely important – distributing content and analyzing key metrics – if enough skills, time, and other resources aren’t put towards content creation, the results won’t be nearly as impactful. Anyone can send out an email newsletter and make posts on a blog or social channel, but if what you deliver doesn’t resonate with your audience, time will be wasted, and opportunities will be lost.
Put simply, your law firm’s content needs to be written and presented strategically. Having a team skilled in content marketing is key to building a strong, trusted brand.
Effective Content Marketing is Difficult but Doable
With the ease of online business platforms like blogs and websites, emails and newsletters, and social media, it’s tempting to put little time towards planning what you want to say. But the problem with this easy access is that many businesses don’t consider how their audience needs to be spoken to, how they’ll respond, and where to deliver content. It’s difficult to not only gain traction and prominence online but also to stay relevant and maintain your presence.
For example, there may be an important change in legislation that could open the doors for lawsuits, but simply announcing this on your blog or social media once or a few times won’t nearly do what it could. The keywords and search terms used in your content, tone, readability, where you share and how often, whether you’re already considered an authority or not, and having a content strategy all affect your success.
Content Can Develop Brand Recognition and Authority
When done right, the content your law firm creates will not only reach but influence your target audience. So, how do law firms build expertise and authority in a competitive, online environment? They need to prove they’re credible and trustworthy sources of information and demonstrate this through a solid content marketing plan.
Building brand recognition is a key component of business success, no matter the industry. As consumers, we need to see and hear about products and services many times before they stick. It takes time to get your messages through and takes even longer to influence potential clients (get them to take action).
Search engines put much greater weight on the quality of content across all platforms and need to see topic clusters that show importance and relevance. Achieving this and becoming a leader in your practice areas means you need to publish quality content regularly.
The search landscape is always changing. Currently, businesses need to have content like pillar pages and topic clusters to build credibility in the eyes of search engines. This means your content marketing plan needs to include pages and posts with valuable information and trustworthy links that delve deeper into details and consider the various angles and key points at greater lengths.
The content you deliver should have a purpose, message, goal, and consistent style. Targeted language and readability are important, and when a prospect searches for legal services, being accessible and present where it matters is crucial. But ensuring brand recognition, a benefit of content marketing, requires knowing what the audience learns versus what you want them to and adjusting your content as needed.
Effective brand development requires creating and exuding an approachable persona. Years ago, stuffy, formal language was common, but this approach died quickly. Today, the public demands businesses show a level of humanity in order to relate to and trust them. We’ve learned that consumers need content that’s easy to understand.
Getting Leads through Legal Content Marketing
Law firms work with people who have experienced something significant, stressful, and often life changing. Hiring a law firm is an important step for anyone needing legal services. Understanding the weight of a potential client’s decision to take legal action and put their trust in the hands of people they don’t know is key to developing a strong relationship, even before they’ve hired you.
Your website, blog, social media channels, newsletters, and other content sources should be gateways to even more value and relevance to the user. Legal content should be easy to access and navigate, easy to understand, and even easier to take action – like fill out a contact form, use a live chat, or call.
Knowing what your audience wants and needs to know is an integral part of any content marketing strategy. Once you develop a strong footing, continuing to guide and engage your audience through accessible information and clear calls to action that show your expertise and leadership is an ongoing process.
Effective legal content generates leads, engages your target audience, and creates loyalty and trust, but it takes skills, resources, and a significant investment of time to execute a content marketing plan. If you don’t have employees in-house to focus on and strategize content, outsourcing this is important.
Pillar Pages, Content Clusters & Internal Linking
Search patterns change all the time, but the most recent trends show the need for and benefit of content clusters and pillar pages. Long-tail search terms are all the more common, and these clusters and pages are the perfect way to answer these queries.
Pillar pages are the main, broad topics you want to rank for in search engines. They provide a summary of the many facets of a topic, while linking to related content. Pillar pages stay relevant and are a gateway to the more detailed information that your audience would benefit from.
Once your broad topics are selected, firms need a collection of pages and blog posts that add value and are of interest to your audience. The use of internal links encourages site visitors to learn more, all while staying on your site.
Blog posts with the content cluster strategy include more specific keywords and phrases related to the pillar page. They provide additional information right from the source and set the stage for strong calls to action. The goal is to create a comprehensive resource of multiple keywords and phrases around a topic that you want to rank for. Simply put, your blog and website become a full-service portal of information without users going back to a search engine.
For example, if your firm specializes in elder abuse cases, you’ll want to rank for related searches. To do so, you’d need a pillar page and links to content clusters on your website and blog. These secondary pages, or content clusters, could cover the history of elder abuse in the U.S., the process of an elder abuse lawsuit, and important statistics and relevant resources.
When someone is looking for legal advice or services, your content should prove your firm’s knowledge and expertise, positioning it as the best choice. The content cluster model helps build trust, all while indexing more pages on search engines. But the content in these clusters needs to be delivered in a timely manner. Effective content needs to be in a language that fits your audience and covers the different subtopics and angles relevant to the topic. This is where content tools come in.
Once your law firm knows what it should be communicating and building brand authority on, using optimization tools that position you to rank for the search terms your audience uses should drive what you create.
The content marketing tools explained below include idea generators, optimization tools, and editorial calendars to ensure your pillar pages and clusters deliver information to those that matter. They also help organize your team, keep everyone in the loop, and reflect the overall plan for your law firm’s content strategy.
Ideation, Editorial Calendars & Optimization Tools
An important part of law firm content marketing firms includes content ideation, a term that reflects the process of identifying topics relevant to your industry and target audience. These content ideas are followed by research on keywords and long-tail search terms to guide language and improve SEO.
During content ideation, your firm should consider how you want current and prospective clients to see you and what areas of law you specialize in. You have to anticipate the questions your audience has and answer them, but it’s important to remember that what you want to communicate versus what they actually absorb are often different. Recognizing this hurdle will benefit your content marketing strategy.
With the emergence of pillar pages, the ideation process should result in broad topics and more specific topics that relate to and support those broad ones. This process reveals what your firm should focus on and makes the planning and execution of your content more effective.
Benefits and Role of Editorial Calendars
Planning when and where to publish your content is the next step. It’s important to publish regularly, and through the channels your audience frequents. Editorial calendars are a way to organize and plan your firm’s content to help ensure you deliver content regularly and with purpose. Search engines consider the relevancy and timeliness of content, so planning when and what you’ll publish is important.
Content outlined on editorial calendars should break down the content type and author while also setting a clear path of publishing dates and deadlines. Calendars are an effective way to organize work and easily see what the next week or month looks like. Deadlines for completion, edits, and launches that are laid out through an editorial calendar can do great things for your content marketing plan.
It can be as simple as using an online calendar through an email account or creating a spreadsheet in Excel. However, editorial calendar tools, services, and apps specifically designed for content coordination make creating and following the calendar easy.
SEO, Long-Tail Search Terms & Online Trends
Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed a lot over the years, along with the online landscape. Google’s algorithm no longer bases rankings purely on keywords; SEO isn’t about fluff content stuffed with keywords and links. Instead, search engines are smart enough to recognize what quality content looks like and its relevance to the user.
When done right, content marketing will improve search engine rankings, and your firm will see more leads. While content still needs to include keywords, SEO strategies are most effective when content topics are the focus. Once topics are identified, keywords and phrases – especially long-tail search terms – should be included in the content. You need to know what language potential clients are using to find you and learn about what you offer.
A common trend is long-tail search terms. People search in more informal, conversational tones, such as full sentences and questions, to find what they’re looking for. They’re specific and intentional, and ranking for these phrases can provide significant results if properly incorporated into your content marketing strategy. Why? Long-tail keywords often increase conversions when implemented in online content.
It’s simple: the more your law firm optimizes its content with keywords and phrases identified with optimization tools, the more search engines will be your friend. Covering topics that your potential and returning customers are interested in helps rankings and contributes to brand awareness and leadership. The goal is for your firm to become the go-to source for potential clients who are looking for information and services that you specialize in – the services they need.
Content Optimization Tools
Content optimization is highly beneficial to the content marketing process. There’s content optimization software that helps identify topics your audience is interested in, keywords, and results measurement. They find gaps and discover opportunities to rank for search terms that have high value for your firm.
There are different levels of tools and services for content optimization. Many free options provide basic functions, like keyword suggestions, but lack the ability to provide topics to focus on. More robust tools can identify which pages on your site need to be optimized and tell you whether you’re using keywords too much or too little.
There’s a wide range of SEO tools out there, and it can be difficult to decide which is best for your law firm. However, there’s significant value in optimization tools, and they should be part of your law firm’s content marketing strategy.
Content Creation is a Strategic Process
Content creation must be planned and strategic to deliver the best results. It involves using SEO strategies and understanding how to speak to your audience and where to reach them. Tools to generate ideas and improve search engine optimization and those that provide timelines and set deadlines can greatly help the creation process. These tools also improve efficiency on a marketing or writing team by organizing tasks and sharing details.
The next part of content marketing involves distributing your law firm’s content. If these first steps are done right, you’ll be better positioned to distribute your messages and analyze the results of your efforts.