In Kevin O'Keefe's prolific Legal Blogging LinkedIn Group (4,268 members and growing), Lawrence Berezin poses a question that actually still comes up a lot:
Are you blogging off site, or is your blog part of your website? Can you share your thoughts on the pros and cons of each?
Ok, so maybe my title is a little misleading. After all, we're not really pitting websites against blogs here, rather discussing an aspect of implementation.
While I recommend you view the full discussion for yourself, there were a couple points that I thought worth reiteration here.
From John Craske:
You can do both - and they both have benefits - but they are different beasts.
A blog on your website (or off-site but branded and with the same tone/voice) can provide news and insight about your firm - which can be useful for clients, suppliers and perhaps attracting talent. But on-site blogs will almost always feel 'corporate'.
Blogs off your website and with a different tone and style are a much more effective way of generating community interest and conversations and can even boost visits to your main website more than lots of other SEO activity. They are much more 'personal' and better at building a reputation ... and from that referrals (but its a long game).
From Susan Kurz:
In answer to your recent question, I don't believe that that a blog should have the same "tone" as the website on which it's housed. In fact, I encourage each of our attorneys to find their own tone, style, and approach with the blog posts they author -- in my opinion, one of the main reasons for an attorney to blog (aside from sharing information and serving as a resource) is to allow clients, potential clients, and referral sources to gain a deeper understanding of the attorney's areas of interest/knowledge and to provide a window to their own views and personalities.
From Pete Boyd:
Successful blogs can be on their own domains, subdomains, and/or subdirectories - that is just the location of the conversation. The difference between a successful blog and unsuccessful blog usually comes down to the quality of content and the ideas of its authors.
The most important aspect is that the blog must have a unique voice and write informative posts. If you are a thought leader, then you will be successful, no matter the location.
From a pure branding aspect, the blog should be on its own domain. From a pure SEO goal, the blog should be within a subdirectory of the main web site (i.e. /blog or /keywordphrase). There are even more reasons for doing both than detailed here. It really is a case-by-case basis for each firm depending on their goals.
While I agree there are several situations where having your blog and site on separate URLs has SEO benefits, I can also think of many situations where installing your blog on the same URL as your website can have SEO advantages.
However, I certainly agree that it's essential to implement your blog in a way that makes conversation the priority.
I think it's difficult to make a general rule on this without knowing a little more about the firm's specific goals and existing web presence.
A similar discussion was also started by Geri L. Dreiling, Esq. in our Lawyer Marketing LinkedIn Group.
Geri asks: What’s the Difference Between a Law Firm Blog and a Website? She also provides some distinctions at Legal Media Matters:
Law Firm Website
Generally a law firm’s website contains static sections with descriptions of the types of legal services offered. It includes basic information explaining who your firm is and what it does:
- A home page introducing the firm to potential clients
- A practice areas page listing the types of cases the firm handles. The website may also contain several subpages that explain the types of cases in further detail
- An attorney page containing the biographical information of members of the firm
- A contact page with the firm’s telephone number and address and an online contact form
Law Firm Blog
A blog is generally an easy-to-update collection of short articles known as posts. Blogs are updated frequently, and visitors tend to read the newest posts. Common topics on law blogs, or blawgs, include:
- New or recent court decisions or rulings that affect the firm’s practice area
- Current events that involve the firm’s practice area
- Answers to clients’ frequently asked questions
- Legislative developments
- Opinion or editorial comments about legal news or trends
Finally, this post simply wouldn't be completel without noting what Kevin has to say on the issue:
Putting a blog your law firm's website makes as much sense as adopting law firm policies requiring that the firm's lawyers only speak at industry conferences held in your firm's conference room and that your firm's lawyers only be quoted in your firm's publications, as opposed to industry and widely read periodicals.
As with other online reputation building decisions, choices about website and/or blog implementation need to be made after cafeful consideration of many factors.
Still, no implementation should ever discourage discussion or detract from your professional reputation.