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November 7, 2012

6 Steps to SEO Blogging Success for Law Firms

blog.pngOne of the most difficult tasks in legal internet marketing is motivating and showing attorneys how to write their firm's blog. I have decided to create a recipe for blogging success.

Step 1: Know your audience. Understand that each blog that you create has a target audience. Do some research and put some thought into it. If you're a personal injury attorney in Duluth, MN writing about Mesothelioma, your most likely audience is going to be the taconite miners and their friends and family. Stop writing generic articles about premises liability or product liability. Speak towards your client's needs. Instead of writing about faulty drugs, write about specific drug's side effects. So for example, this blog will be targeted towards personal injury attorneys wanting to generate organic seo traffic through blogging.

Step 2: Be sure to value what the customer values most. Since our target market was defined earlier, I think we all know personal injury value above all else...money. I am kidding. Quality relevant cases without wasting time on irrelevant leads. Be sure to always have what your customer values most  in mind when writing your blog. Each client is different but over the course of a law career trends will become apparent. It also helps to be unique and original in your topic selection and write about rare and uncommon topics where your competition is too slow or inept to respond to the market, or the market might be viewed as too small to warrant a blog post.

Step 3: Every blog should include an offer to engage with its readers. Engagement is greater than a free consultation and offering a free consultation is not engagement. Engaging with your potential clientele is easy to do and pays off in spades. Some tactics to start the conversation of engagement;



As a personal injury attorney, it wouldn't be a bad idea to differentiate your offer from those of your competitors, as to my knowledge, everyone and their mother offers a free consultation. That is no longer an offer. Your offer has to make you stand out from the crowd. What will your offer be?. For example, you could also release a free white paper; maybe it could be titled The top ten questions to ask your personal injury attorney before hiring them, in exchange for their e-mail address and permission to contact them. The bottom line being: Be creative with your offers, marketing is great and will make a difference in how your potential clients will view your business, but no amount of marketing in the world will compete or substitute for a greater or better offer.

A FREE CONSULTATION IS NOT AN OFFER, BECAUSE ITS THE SAME OFFER AS EVERY OTHER ATTORNEY IN TOWN. BE DIFFERENT. BE UNIQUE. BE ORIGINAL. Ego te provoco.

Step 4: Discuss the benefits that your audience will gain from hiring your firm. One practice that lends itself to being an example of obvious benefits, would be Bankruptcy practices. The Massachusetts Bankruptcy Blog of Goldstein and Clegg is a good example of explaining the benefits of hiring their firm for a bankruptcy proceeding. Automatic stay stops creditor harassment and collection. It allows a person to gain a fresh start, and start their financial life over again in most situations, often one of the greatest benefits of filing bankruptcy is the ability to rebuild credit. Luckily, a good blog also discusses the cons or alternatives to their services.

Step 5: Discuss the alternatives to your service.  As AttorneySync's SEO Manager, I am partial to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). On the other hand, I can also recognize when SEO isn't the best solution for a law firm. Often if a firm is not seeking a long term strategy wants to see results immediately, or has a smaller budget we recommend a pay-per-click campaign, this doesn't mean that PPC is better or worse than SEO, it simply means that every client is different and has unique firm goals, we will treat them that way as we help them reach their objectives.

With regards to PPC, I always like to tell the story of the hunter and the farmer to illustrate the differences between paid search marketing and organic search engine optimization. Paid advertising is like a hunter. If you're hungry, you can go and get a meal right now. You might pay dearly for it, but it's highly unlikely you will come home empty handed,  and you will likely be able to eat.

SEO is more like a farmer. It takes a lot of work on the front end, your results are delayed by at least a season (a couple months), and there are threats that might threaten your whole crop (Penguin). But, if successful, you will have a source of food (clients) that will last well into the distant future with mostly maintenance as the greatest cost. Typically, a combined strategy using both SEO and PPC is the most comprehensive and works well for clients. Also using PPC is a great way to experiment with a new product or practice type before making a large SEO investment.

Step 6: Provide proof of your value. The proof is in the pudding. How can I prove to you that content marketing (Writing Blogs)  will help your SEO campaign? I can't. But you can prove it to yourself! Install Google analytics with goal tracking for your quick contact form.

Start writing blogs using the formula described in this blog. Sit back and watch your tracking data as the number of people who land on your blog as an entrance page, and those people who choose to contact you via your e-mail contact form on your website.

Write a blog a week, for 3 months and track your traffic, conversions and, most importantly, return on investment from blogging via the number of contacts you receive from your new organic content marketing strategy. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised at your results. Feel free to drop me a line and tell me how you did via Twitter at @JLBellefeuille

For those of you looking for the quick and dirty guide to get to the top of Google's search engine results pages, you've come to the wrong place. Write for a reader, not for a spyder. A good content marketing strategy part of a balanced SEO strategy, but is not by itself a SEO strategy. Good luck blogging.
January 31, 2012

Were You Looking For Law Firm SEO or Paid Search?

Searching.jpgI spoke with a number of lawyers over the last several weeks that came to our agency in search of law firm SEO services........at least that's what they thought they wanted.

Really what they were looking for was more business through the internet. The particulars of which strategy they should use in order to make that happen was the reason they were talking to me in the first place. However, there is enough hype around SEO these days that most law firms assume this is route they need to take.

If a law firm has the appropriate budget, time, and resources available they should be involved in SEO, paid search, email marketing, social media, content creation, and every other type of online marketing avenue But in many cases, time and money are finite resources. As a result, a law firm must prioritize which strategies make the most sense depending on the needs, goals, and resources available.

While there are many online marketing strategies one might consider, I want to focus this post on 2 strategies specifically related to search marketing. Law firm SEO and paid search.

When Would A Law Firm SEO Campaign Make Sense?

An important point to understand is that SEO is a long-term strategy.  You are investing in a strategy that will build equity in your online properties.  The benefits are that you don't have to pay the search engines directly to be listed in the "organic results".  By and large, the natural results are the most clicked listings on a search results page so they attract the most attention and traffic.  In addition, once you've reached a tipping point, your traffic and leads should continue to increase while your monthly investment remains the same.  The result is that your cost per lead should go down over time.

Something to consider is that the process takes time.  It isn't an advertising strategy where you pay money month 1 and the leads are rolling in by month 2.  As I wrote in another post explaining why SEO isn't an advertising strategy:

SEO is a marathon not a sprint.  I like to think about executing SEO in the context of gaining or losing weight. If you want to lose weight you need to put together a plan that includes eating properly, exercising, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, etc. It isn't something that happens overnight, in a week, or even in one month. It's a series of small activities and best practices that build on each other over time. No one, outside of scam artists, would promise you healthy weight loss, overnight, by paying some money and taking a pill.

SEO isn't so different from this. There is no quick fix or magic pill. It is the art of building your online reputation to increase awareness and lead flow to your firm. SEO in 2012 is not just about manipulation of Google results in an attempt to rank #1 for a given term. In fact, with personalized results and Google, Search Plus Your World, you can see that the results are increasingly different for each user depending on a variety of factors. SEO needs to be a component of a larger inbound marketing strategy in order to be truly successful and long-lasting.

Understanding the monetary investment as well as the time investment required to perform successful SEO is critical.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if a law firm SEO campaign makes sense:

  • Do you need new leads today or can you afford to wait?
  • Do you have the budget in place to stick with an SEO campaign for at least 8-12 months with minimal return at the start of the campaign?
  • Do you have the time to participate in some aspects of the campaign?
  • Are you a good writer?  Do you have people at your firm that are available to write articles?  If not, can you afford to pay professional writers to help with content production?
  • Do you have a foundational understanding of SEO and the activities that are important for its success? 
  • Are you looking to build a sustainable online presence that will generate leads consistently or are you looking to pick up a few clients in the short term?
For more in-depth information on organic search strategies you can check out our guide on Organic Web Strategy for Law Firms.

When Might a Paid Search Campaign Make Sense?

Paid search is an advertising strategy.  In a nutshell, you bid on keywords and pay Google when someone clicks on your ad.  It's more like traditional advertising in that your ads go live as soon as you create your account. This is contrary to organic and local results discussed above, which will take longer to develop.

You also have more control of your offer, URLs, address, and links you choose to display in your ads.  It is a great choice for law firms that are looking for more immediate results.

Some drawbacks to consider are that paid search can be expensive.  It's extremely competitive, especially if your competition has hired paid search managers to optimize their accounts.  Also, once you stop paying for ads you are no longer showing up in the results.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if a paid search campaign makes sense:
  • Do you need leads immediately?
  • Do you need a solution that doesn't necessarily require a large time commitment from the firm?
  • Are you just looking to pick up a some clients in the short-term?
  • Do you want a solution that provides for more flexibility in your monthly investment?

Hopefully this gives you a little more insight into deciding which search strategies make the most sense for your firm.

Photo by Danard Vincente

January 25, 2012

8 Tips On Writing Great Web Content For Your Law Firm's Website

writing.jpgI talk with lawyers everyday that have websites they need help marketing. They want their websites to bring in more traffic, more leads, and more clients. When I ask how often they are updating their sites and what type of content they are producing, the other end of the line is usually met with silence. The fact is that in today's online marketing universe, you need to produce new content for your website on a regular basis.


Why Do I Need To Create Content?

There are a myriad of reasons why you should produce new content for your site on a regular basis. In the interest of keeping this post succinct, I'll list 5 of the most important reasons in my opinion:


1. Fresh content helps to build links to your site - As you may have heard before, "Content is King". The truth is that in order for your site to gain more trust and authority in the eyes of Google, you need acquire links to your site. One of the best ways of doing this is to produce content that other sites want to link to. Simply having a firm profile and section on what you do isn't going to get it done. This is why you need to produce fresh, relevant content on a frequent basis.

2. Creates more outlets with which consumers can reach you - Most consumers on the web will find your site through the use of a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Creating more pages for your site creates more entry points for consumers looking for your services. Think of the search engines as a yellow page listing in this respect. Each new piece of content gets you another entry or listing in the Google index, increasing your footprint on the web.

3. Shows your expertise in your field - By sharing knowledge and expertise in your area of practice, you help to solidify your credentials and ability to help potential clients. The web is a big place and simply talking about how great you are doesn't necessarily build trust. However, educating consumers with your expertise can help separate you from the pack, build trust, and attract more clients.

4. Helps with rankings and SEO - Search engines like sites that are updated on a frequent basis. This shows you care about your service and site. It gives the search engines a reason to "crawl" or come visit your site more often. Ultimately, this is going to help boost your rankings and bring in more traffic.

5. Allows interaction and relationship building with your clients and other professionals - The web is an interactive medium. Media such as television, radio, magazines, etc. are passive in nature. You produce content and people sit back, relax, and consume it. The web is different in that it is far more interactive. By utilizing tools such as blogs on your site, you can create content that will encourage conversations, comments, downloads, inquiries, etc. Creating effective content will increase interaction, which will build professional relationships, create leads, and ultimately new clients.


8 Tips On Writing Great Web Content

So now that we've established important reasons for creating content in the first place, let's discuss some tips to keep in mind as you are producing the content:

1. People on your website scan the pages...they don't read them - Keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Use headlines and bolding that highlight your key messages.

2. Use bullet points - People love lists on the web. When lists and bullets are used appropriately, a user can more easily scan and digest the points you make.

3. Be conversational, less "markety" - I always stress that people want to buy from other people, not faceless firms. This is especially true when selling professional services. Make sure you write with your voice, while maintaining a professional tone.

4. Stay away from legalese - Not only does the average Joe not understand it, but they will quickly dismiss your material and move on to another site. Attention is fleeting on the web, if a potential client doesn't understand what you are saying they will quickly go somewhere else.

5. Use pictures and illustrations in your writing (where appropriate) - Using photos, illustrations, and videos creates a better, more engaging experience that draws a reader's interest.

6. Consider your audience - This is a similar point to staying away from legalese. However, the point I want to make is that your content shouldn't be Alan Dershowitz style legal briefs, unless you are writing exclusively for other attorneys and legal professionals. Your articles should be lighter in nature and helpful to the lay person who might be looking to retain your services. Stay in a universe they can understand and relate to.

7. Include calls to action - It is important that you tell your readers what to do once they have read your article. Encourage readers to contact you, submit a request for a free case evaluation, download a helpful guide or e-book you write. Work this into your articles or place them at the end. Encourage interaction.

8. Write about how you are able to help the potential client - Many law firms talk a whole lot about themselves, but not much about the problems of the potential client. Rather than simply talking about the firm or individual attorney achievements, frame the achievements and expertise of the firm from the standpoint of how it will help solve the problems and concerns of the site visitor. This is an important distinction.

A great book to read on the subject is Net Copy by Nick Usborne. It is a quick read that addresses how to approach writing for the web.

This is a great article from the godfather of web usability, Jakob Nielson, discussing how users read on the web.

Photo by Churl

August 4, 2011

Google News Badges & Subject Matter Experts

Google News recently became more social by releasing Google News Badges.

According to the update:

"The U.S. Edition of Google News now lets you collect private, sharable badges for your favorite topics. The more articles you read on Google News, the more your badges level up: you can reach Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and finally Ultimate. Keep your badges to yourself, or show them off to your friends."

The Greater Significance

At this time, the impact of these Google News badges isn't entirely clear. However, when you start to look at the bigger picture you can see the puzzle pieces Google is putting together.

The grand plan appears to be a fundamental shift in how Google views authority on the web. Google wants to tie authority and expertise back to individuals and real people. Proof can be found in the approach with Google+ and usernames and changes such as Authorship Markup. They are looking for signals beyond links and social is becoming a more important component of the algorithm. Google wants to identify subject matter experts and deliver their expertise to its users.

What this means for law firms is that they are going to have to get serious about becoming online publishers, content producers, and subject matter experts in their respective fields.

The days of throwing up a 5 page firm website, performing some link building, and thinking you have a web strategy in place are long gone.

July 13, 2011

What Is Inbound Legal Marketing?

Inbound legal marketing is marketing that is focused on getting found by customers. It is the art of "pulling" customers to you rather than "pushing" your message out to them through interruption-style advertising.

No one does a better job of explaining the philosophy and practice of inbound marketing than Hubspot, pioneers in the field. Here is a short explanation from Hubspot on Inbound Marketing:

In traditional marketing (outbound marketing) companies focus on finding customers. They use techniques that are poorly targeted and that interrupt people. They use cold-calling, print advertising, T.V. advertising, junk mail, spam and trade shows.

Technology is making these techniques less effective and more expensive. Caller ID blocks cold calls, TiVo makes T.V. advertising less effective, spam filters block mass emails and tools like RSS are making print and display advertising less effective. It's still possible to get a message out via these channels, but it costs more.

Inbound Marketers flip outbound marketing on its head.

Instead of interrupting people with television ads, they create videos that potential customers want to see. Instead of buying display ads in print publications, they create their own blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading. Instead of cold calling, they create useful content and tools so that people call them looking for more information.

Instead of driving their message into a crowd over and over again like a sledgehammer, they attract highly qualified customers to their business like a magnet.

The Foundational Components of Inbound Legal Marketing

In order to execute a successful inbound legal marketing campaign, there are three main components:

1. Content - You need to have a strategy in place to create engaging, useful content. This can include more than just text articles. It can also include videos, infographs, ebooks, webinars, etc. The content is the tool that is used to attract potential customers to your marketing.

2. SEO - Search engine optimization is the practice of making sure your content can be found through the search engines. This is important because search engines currently act as the gateway to the rest of the internet. Search engines are where the majority of your customers will begin the process of searching for legal representation.

3. Social Media - Social media plays an important role in your inbound marketing efforts. It allows you to build relationships with people who can help distribute your content and get the word out about what you do. Increasingly, it plays a larger role in your search engine visibility as well.

People use the Internet in a variety of ways. When your website, blog, profile, or other "professional online presence", becomes a source of information, answers, and solutions you will see that it attracts potential clients looking for your legal services.

This, in short, is what inbound legal marketing is.

May 31, 2011

Where Is Search Headed & How Does This Impact Your Law Firm?

Search engine logosPart of our jobs as web marketing consultants for law firms is to stay abreast of the changes that happen in our industry. In fact, what I believe separates the men from the boys is the ability for a company to understand not only how to leverage results with the way things currently are, but also being able to predict where things are going. Since search engine optimization is such an important part of any law firm's web strategy, I wanted to discuss where I think search is headed and how this impacts your law firm.

Where Is Search Going?

Search engines such as Google and Bing are working to make search more like a digital representation of the offline world. In a recent article by Aaron Wall over at SEO Book, he discusses this idea:

At one point in time online was a new and (fairly) level playing field where one could win based on meritocracy. Increasingly though search is becoming "a digital representation of the physical world." To win online you will often be required to win offline.

...at some point jumping through technical loopholes will be so tiresome & expensive that it will be cheaper and easier to create the signals Google wants to see through brand, public relations, and consumer experience than it is to try to fake them.

As search is becoming "a digital representation of the physical world" some of the best SEO tips in the years to come will have nothing to do with sitting at a computer. In due time, in search, there will be no security through obscurity.

As Google continues to add signals to it's algorithm from mobile devices, social signals such as +1, local and review signals, etc. search engine optimization for law firms will increasingly become less about how to game the Google results and more about developing a trusted brand online. Search engine optimization is becoming a way to position your website, blog, profile, or other "professional online presence", as a source of information, answers, and solutions to a potential client.

How Does This Impact Your Law Firm?

This forces your firm to become more active participants in the development of your content and reputation online. Whether that takes the form of investment into content development in house or through a third party, having a strategy in place to create, share, and publicize content is going to be essential. And this content is not limited to just writing articles. Videos, reviews, infographs, newsletters, webinars, are all the types of content your firm should be looking at if you are interested in building a long term online marketing strategy.

Additionally, the content needs to have real substance behind it and be genuinely helpful for your potential clients. Simply churning out articles or other content for the sake of it isn't going to be as effective as creating content people actually find engaging and interesting enough to share.

Don't Make Excuses

It's easy to dismiss legal content as "boring" and the type of stuff no one wants to share. That simply isn't true. That's a lazy way of thinking about it. The problem of boring content exists with most legal content online today but that simply means there is a lot of opportunity for someone to do something a little bit different and present the information is a unique way. It comes down to allocating the appropriate resources into your online content strategy and development to come up with something a little different. The problem isn't that all legal content is boring, the problem is that most law firms present it in a boring way.

May 16, 2011

Using Google Reader

RSS feeds are a great way to keep up with news and topics related to your specific legal niche. I use my RSS feed as a way to centralize the blogs and content I want to stay up to date with, discover ideas for blog posts, follow the conversations in my industry, monitor my competitor's activity, and more. However, many lawyers I speak with aren't familiar with RSS or the use of an RSS reader such as Google Reader.

What Is An RSS Feed?



WhatisRss.com tells us:

RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it.

RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site's email newsletter.

Our email boxes are already flooded with too many emails and receiving blog updates this way can be cumbersome. Subscribing to RSS updates through a reader is a more advisable way to consume the blog content. Benefits include:

  • Reducing the time and effort needed to check websites for updates

  • They help to aggregate all your information into one space, a sort of personalized newspaper you create

  • It allows you to pull information from the web rather than have information pushed to you via email

  • You can easily unsubscribe from feeds

  • You can keep information more organized via tagging, labeling, categorizing, sharing, liking, etc.

Google Reader

In order to subscribe to RSS updates, you will need to use an RSS Reader. My RSS reader of choice is Google Reader. Here is a short video explaining Google Reader and how to use it:

Google Reader Mobile

Google has a very good mobile version of their Google Reader as well. It offers many of the same features and benefits of the desktop version.

April 21, 2011

Top Spot Or Bust

It's no surprise that getting to the top 3 spots of Google can help increase the traffic to your firm's website. However, a new study shows just how dramatic the difference in click-throughs is among the different positions on the first page.

According to the study:

Websites ranked number one received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent; number two had a CTR of 12.5 percent; and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent. Being number one in Google, according to Optify, is the equivalent of all the traffic going to the sites appearing in the second through fifth positions.

optify-ctr-1-20.png

In short, getting into the top spot for a particular keyword can triple your traffic for that particular word.

Long Tail Traffic

Optify's study examined the click throughs on both head terms (keywords with more than 1000 monthly searches on Google) and long tail terms (keywords that had searches of less than 100 a month).

According to the study:

Head terms had a higher CTR (32 percent) in the number one position than long tail terms (25 percent). However, long tail terms had a higher overall CTR on Page 1 of Google than head terms (9 percent vs. 4.6 percent).

From a strategic perspective, you won't see a huge benefit in terms of traffic for your head terms until you reach the first 3 spots in Google. However, for longer tail traffic once you reach the first page you can see decent click through rates.

What Does This Mean For My Law Firm's Search Marketing Strategy?

Your search marketing strategy should target keywords you have a realistic chance of reaching the top 3 spots for (ideally position #1). Simply getting on the first page for a high volume keyword is not as effective as reaching a top 3 spot for a keyword with less volume, but one that will result in much higher click through rates because of your position.

You really need to take a good look at the competition currently ranking for a keyword at the top of the results. What does their link profile look like? What type of content strategy do they have? How old is their domain? Where are they making investments online? Without a fundamental understanding of these details, you could invest a lot of time and resources into an SEO campaign that has very little chance of beating out the current "top dogs".

The other half of the strategy is producing quality content, on a regular basis, so that you can get visibility (ie: reach the first page) for long tail keywords. This will enable you capture traffic from the segment of people that are using Google as a research tool.

The value of content production extends beyond simply attracting visits from long tail keywords. Quality content engages your visitors, converts more leads, attracts links, and develops your reputation. As my colleague Gyi Tsakalakis says:

When you boil it down, effective law firm SEO strategy involves publishing great search-mindful content and developing creative strategies to get that content in front of people who are ready, willing, and able to consume, link to, and publicize it.
March 25, 2011

How To Automatically Post Your Blog Articles On Your Law Firm's Facebook Page

I have had a number of lawyers recently ask me how to automatically post their blog articles onto the law firm's Facebook page.  While there are a number of Facebook applications that will pull in RSS feeds, most of these appear in their own section of the Facebook page.  Not on the wall of your page.  You can see an example of a separate RSS newsfeed section from AttorneySync's page below:


rss-feed-facebook.JPG

By posting articles directly onto your wall, the articles will appear in the newsfeeds of the individuals that "like" your firm's Facebook page.  This will increase the exposure of your content and deliver it to the individuals that signed up to receive updates from you.

Networked Blogs


The service I recommend for automatic wall posting is called Networked Blogs.  Networked Blogs is a Facebook application that allows you to register a blog, claim the blog as your own, and then syndicate the content from the blog onto your personal Facebook profile and any Facebook pages that you have admin access to.  You are not required to syndicate to all these spots, you can pick and choose where you want the posts to appear.

The Process


To get started you will head over to Networked Blogs and click the "Add your blog" button at the bottom of the page.  This will take you to Facebook where you will login and arrive at the Networked Blogs application.  You will click "register a blog" in the upper right.

register.JPG

Fill in your blog information and click next.  In the next step, the application will ask if you are the author of the blog.  You will click yes and the app will request that you verify one of two ways.  Either having Facebook friends verify or embedding a widget onto your blog (which you can subsequently remove after verification).  While it is a good idea to eventually verify your blog, this is not a necessary step to do right away.  To move ahead, you can simply click "I'll do it later" underneath the verification method selections.

This will take you to the registered blog page.  From here you can select "Set up Syndication".

syndication.JPG

This will route you back to the Networked Blogs site to select your syndication options.  From here you can choose the Facebook profiles and pages you want the blog articles posted to.  You will also be able to select your options for what images to display with the post and whether to use the Networked Blogs toolbar.  You will also have the option of adding a Twitter account where you can automatically feed in your blog posts.

Continue reading "How To Automatically Post Your Blog Articles On Your Law Firm's Facebook Page" »

February 10, 2011

How To Properly Syndicate Your Law Firm's Content Without Hurting Your Own Rankings

syndicate.pngA component of any well developed law firm internet strategy should include the production and syndication of practice specific, professionally written content. Posting content directly to your website or blog should serve as the foundation of your strategy. However, taking advantage of syndication networks such as JD Supra, Avvo, or ExpertHub can get your content in front of a bigger, more widely read audience. This can be beneficial in driving more traffic to your site, building a larger blog readership, exposure for the firm and attorneys, and increased phone calls.

That being said, it's important to understand what steps to take when syndicating your content so that the search engines know you are the original creator of the articles. Ignoring these steps can result in sites you've syndicated your content to outranking your original articles. While these steps aren't guaranteed to be foolproof, it will help to ensure you aren't sending mixed signals to the search engines.

1. Your Syndicated Content Should Link Back To Your Original Article

If a search engine finds multiple instances of content that are the same it considers all but one of the articles to be duplicate content. When the article you post on another website links back to the original article on your site, it helps the search engines determine the source of the original. Make sure the link is pointing to the original article page and not just any page on your website.

2. Wait To Syndicate Content Until The Search Engines Have Found Your Original

Once a search engine finds and indexes your original article it should time stamp the article and establish it as the original. In order to find out if the article has been indexed by Google, you can perform a search for the full url of your article. While this doesn't always guarantee your article will continue to outperform the syndicated one, it helps to ensure you are sending the right signals.

3. Avoid Syndicating The Entire Article If Possible

Provide a snippet, or couple of paragraphs of the article with a link back to the original. This way you can enjoy the increased exposure of the article on the syndication network and still drive visitors back to your site. This will also help avoid duplication of the entire piece of content.

4. Have The Syndication Partner "noindex" Your Syndicated Article

The noindex html tag tells Google not to index a specific web page. In this situation, your content will benefit from the exposure of the syndication site without hurting your own search engine visibility. The downside is that you have little to no control over whether a syndication partner will noindex a page. Most probably will not, however if this option is available or can be negotiated than it could be worthwhile.



content for law firms

Free Guide: Writing Content For Your Law Firm's Website

Want to learn how writing content for your firm's site can help bring in business?

Download AttorneySync's Free Guide On Writing Web Content For Lawyers.

November 18, 2010

4 Tips On Writing Content For Your Law Firm's Website

copy.jpgWriting content for your law firm's website requires a different approach than most other mediums. The content needs to be informative and helpful. However, you are faced with the unenviable task of explaining, in layman's terms, very complex subjects while at the same time facing the fleeting attention of your site visitors.

I want to address writing content from the standpoint of engaging your visitors and helping to increase contacts from your site.

4 Tips On Writing Good Content For The Web

  1. People scan content on the web...they don't read everything in full - Keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Use headlines and bolding that highlight your key points.
  2. Create Lists - People love lists on the web. When lists and bullets are used appropriately, a user can more easily scan and digest the points you make.
  3. Be conversational, cut down on the "marketing speak" - I always stress that people want to buy from other people, not faceless firms. This is especially true when selling professional services. Make sure you write with your voice, while maintaining a professional tone.
  4. Stay away from legalese - Not only doesn't the average consumer understand it, but they will quickly dismiss your material and move on to another site. Attention is fleeting on the web, if a potential client doesn't understand what you are saying, your competitor is only a click away.

A great book to read on the subject is Net Copy by Nick Usborne.



content for law firms

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November 7, 2010

Content And Content Distribution Strategies

Great information from Dan Ross over on Bagel Tuesday on living in a content-centric world:

All this requires a new way of thinking about your online presence: It's all about creating and distributing content. So the first step to a successful social media strategy is creating an engine of timely, relevant, differentiated content.

I couldn't agree more. In fact, if I had to identify the two most critical components to an effective law firm seo strategy, I would say focus on developing valuable content and distributing that content to legal services consumers, professional colleagues, thought leaders, and those ready, willing, and able to link to and further publicize it.

If you do those two things alone, you are likely to see at least some success online. Combining these two core strategies with additional sophisticated law firm web marketing techniques, including competitive analysis, can significantly increase your visibility and the amount of new business that you generate through the web.