From time to time, I like to use our web analytics to see what questions people have that actually click through to our site from search engines. Recently, someone had searched “Do I need seo for my lawyer blog” in Google. So here’s my response.
In order to properly answer that question, we need to frame how we are defining seo. People have a wide variety of views about what seo is and how it works. Here’s one definition that I have been working with:
Develop great search-mindful content and get it in front of people who are ready, willing, and able to link to and further publicize it.
This definition summarizes several important seo concepts:
- Great Content
The largest factor determining whether or not your blog will be “successful” is the quality of the content that you publish. Great content comes in a variety of forms and can serve a variety of purposes. Ultimately, your content needs to do two things:
- Deliver to your visitors what they are looking for.
- Inspire your visitors to link to, share, and further publicize your content.
In order to develop great content, you need to know who your target audience is and what they are looking for. From there, you need to figure out how they use the internet to find what they are looking for. Sure, many will use search. On the other hand, others may go directly to particular websites or use other web-based tools. Think about all the different types of visitors that may visit your site and how they might get there.
Search engines aren’t like people (at least not yet). They use signals to “read” what your web pages are about and to decide how much authority or popularity your pages have in relationship to all the other pages in their index that are relevant to a particular search query.
Therefore, you have to make sure that your content is giving these signals to search engines. That’s why it’s important to publish content that is search-mindful.
Now before we dive into how to publish search-mindful content, it’s important to remember that you aren’t writing for search engines, you’re writing for people. Remember, that getting a visitor to your web pages or blog posts is only half of the battle. The other half is to convert them into some kind of actionable visitor. Whether they convert into a regular subscriber, download something from your site, submit a web form, or call your office, your web traffic is only as valuable as the actions that your visitors take when they visit.
So how does one develop search-mindful content? The first step is to plan out your blog’s site architecture and organization. Unfortunately, too many bloggers don’t spend time thinking about how their blogs will be organized and how they will manage their content. Here are some things to consider with regard to architecture and organization:
- Domain Selection – Choose a domain that provides keyword signals to search engines.
- URL Structure – Make sure your URLs pass semantic information about your content to search engines.
- Page Titles – Use page titles that reflect what your content is about.
- Headings – Use headings where appropriate in your content.
- Formats – Use text formatting where it makes sense within your content.
- Unique – Make sure that each of the pages and posts on your blog are unique.
Fortunately, most content management systems or blog platforms will handle much of this for you with some basic modifications. I prefer hosting your own installation of WordPress from WordPress.org. However, there are a variety of other blog platforms that efficiently and effectively much of these architecture issues.
Getting Your Content In Front of Your Audiences
Now the important part, you have to get your content in front of people who are ready, willing, and able, to consume it, link to it, share it, and further publicize it.
In order to effectively distribute your content, we’re back to asking about who are audiences are and how they use the web. If part of your target audience is a consumer looking for legal services, think about how that person might look for a lawyer. Perhaps they were given a word-of-mouth referral and now they are searching your name or your firm’s name. What will they find when they search for you? You want content that demonstrates your knowledge, skill, and experience, to appear in front of them. Perhaps this consumer doesn’t know any lawyers. They might use an unbranded search phrase or visit a directory. Again, you want your content to appear in front of them.
While legal services consumers might be your primary audience targets, it’s very important to keep one thing in mind:
Most of legal services consumers won’t be able to link to your content!
And that’s why it’s essential that you get your content in front of those who can. Otherwise, it is very unlikely that your blog will attract new links, which are critical to gaining popularity and authority within search engines. The same is true for sharing and other publicity channels. Here are some ways that your visitors can help you build your popularity:
- Linking – Linking to your content is one of the most beneficial things your visitors can do to help you build your popularity.
- Sharing on Social Media – Sharing your content on social media sites like facebook, linkedin, and twiiter, is also very useful.
- Sharing on their Blog – Sharing your content on their own blogs gets your content in front of an entirely new readership.
- Sharing via Email – You might be surprised, but people frequently use email to share great articles, blog posts, and other forms of web content.
- Sharing via Word of Mouth – And of course, sharing your blog via word of mouth remains probably the most powerful form of sharing out there.
So, do you need seo for your lawyer blog? If you frame seo as I have above, I think that the answer is yes.