Coming up with new content that distinguishes you and your law firm online is probably the most important part of your web strategy. And yet, even a cursory look around the web reveals that content development is not a very high priority for most attorneys. In fact, what we see most are regurgitated news stories, thin analyses of of legal issues, and lawyers telling website visitors how experienced they are.
The good news is that this dearth of quality legal content is an excellent opportunity for those trying to distinguish themselves from their competition. Here are 20 basic content ideas for your law firm’s website/blog that can help you be different:
- Question & Answer Pages – It’s a simple fact that most people don’t have experience with the law. That’s why there are lawyers. And that’s also why when people look for legal information online, it’s generally because they have a question. This makes question & answer pages extremely effective. On the one hand, optimizing for questions is likely to give you an advantage in terms of search position. Further, providing a helpful answer is likely to help you convert a visitor into a potential client inquiry (i.e. consultation request, phone call, email, etc).
- Informational Videos – As universal search results become more prominent, informational videos can help you compete for more competitive search phrases with lower SEO investments. The key here is to keep your videos informational. Don’t make an advertisement! Talk about issues that you see in your practice. Discuss general hypothetical situations and the factors that go into obtaining a particular outcome in a legal matter. Keep your videos short (under 2 minutes) and don’t speak in legalese.
- Podcasts – Podcasts are another personal way to reach your audience. Almost like mini-radio shows, podcasts can also be downloaded so that visitors can consume your content even without access to the Internet.
- Whitepapers, Guides, Downloads – Your web content should be focused on providing a certain amount of free helpful information to your visitors. Providing free whitepapers, guides, and other downloadable content can be an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise and stay in contact with website visitors.
- Checklists – Lists are very popular with Internet users. Checklists provide quick reference to information that people can actually use. We have found that checklists are particularly useful for people facing injury/accident and criminal legal matters.
- Respond to Blog Comments – In my humble opinion, responding to blog comments is one of the most under utilized web strategies. When someone takes the time to leave a legitimate comment on your blog, it’s almost discourteous to ignore the comment. While lawyers should keep rules of professional responsibility in mind when commenting, there is no blanket rule that prohibits lawyers from leaving responses to blog comments online.
- Participate In Discussion Forums – While there is much buzz recently about social media, discussion forums, which have been around much longer than Facebook and Twitter, are another excellent way to interact with people searching for answers online. Depending on your practice, both LinkedIn Answers and Avvo’s Answer areas are certainly worth considering. Again, be sure to consider the limitations of your state’s ethics rules. However, don’t be crippled into fear by ethics rules to the point that you don’t participate.
- Infographics – These are graphic representations of information. They can provide your visitors with complex information in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. Infographics are a great fit for lawyers trying to explain difficult legal concepts to the general public online. And the best part is that not very many attorneys are doing them!
- Attorney Biographical Information – While most attorney websites/blogs contain some biographical information, 9 times out of 10, it’s done very poorly. Again, depending on your practice area(s) most Internet users simply aren’t looking for a laundry list of your credentials. No don’t get me wrong, providing relevant experiential information is critical. However, don’t dedicate prime profile real estate to where you went to law school and whether or not you were on law review. Tie your biographical information to how it makes you particularly adept at solving your visitors’ problems.
- Press Releases – This is another content strategy that can really work. However, it’s very important that your press release is actually newsworthy, as opposed, to yet another advertisement. In addition to writing a great press release, think about using press release distribution services for distribution. If your press release is sufficiently newsworthy, it might actually get picked up by a journalist. This could lead to an interview opportunity.
- Poll Your Readers – Polling readers gives them another way to interact with you and keeps your site interesting. Polling can also give your site gravitas as other readers can see how many people are actually following, reading, and participating on your site (blog comments do this too).
- Guest Blogging – Ok, so perhaps this isn’t a completely unique content strategy, but providing guest posts to other topically relevant blogs is very effective in increasing your readership and attracting links to your own blog.
- Commenting On Other Blogs – Can you tell that I think comments are important? In addition to responding to comments on your blog, go out and comment on other topically related blogs to which you have something valuable to contribute. Don’t comment for the sake of commenting. Use commenting to reflect your expertise, but most importantly, have a conversation.
- Testimonials – Testimonials can be a touchy subject. However, they are probably the most effective way to build trust online. Providing both professional and client testimonials to your visitors is very powerful stuff. You should also let colleagues and clients know that they can easily leave testimonials on sites like Avvo, Google Places, and LinkedIn too.
- Email Marketing – Building email lists of people that have opted-in to receive information from you is a great way to “touch” your visitors on a regular basis over a much greater time period. There’s a lot to talk about with email marketing but here are some quick tips: provide useful information, keep them short, don’t bombard your lists.
- Seminar/Book/Article Reviews – Reviewing the work of others demonstrates your knowledge and familiarity with the subject-matter. The law can be a very technical area and review what others have to say about a particular subject can be very helpful for those researching the subject online.
- Images – Using images on your website/blog may seem simple enough, however this is another area that many lawyers struggle with. Images can help your content standout. Clever, humorous, or educational images will not only help your content standout, but will also help to attract links and shares.
- Tell A Story – Telling a good story always resonates. Obviously, storytelling can be a difficult skill to develop. My suggestion is that you start with simple straightforward stories about experiences you have had as a lawyer. It should go without saying that you protect client confidences. However, generalizing & changing names can easily be implemented to protect client confidences and identities. If you decide to publish a fictional story, make sure that you don’t mislead readers into believing it to be true.
- Interviews – Interviewing others and getting interviewed is a great format for helping your web visitors know more about you. In fact, the interview style can be very effective in conveying attorney biographical information.
- Create A Tool or Reference – Is there a calculation that your visitors might be interested in making? While the law can be very subjective, murky, and unclear, there are some things that can be calculated. Issues related to child custody, bankruptcy, and insurance come to mind. Providing your visitors tools to perform calculations or reference areas where they can look up information are very good at attracting eyeballs and links.
So, there you have it. 20 Law firm web content ideas that can help you increase visitors, engagement, and attract links. And with all your web content, make sure that you keep usability considerations in mind. Always remember the lessons of Jakob Nielsen:
People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. In research on how people read websites we found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. (Update: a newer study found that users read email newsletters even more abruptly than they read websites.)
I hope you are able to put some of these content strategies to work on your own websites/blogs. Good luck.