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by OppGen

What is SEO and why does it matter for law firms and the legal industry?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a digital marketing strategy with the goal of getting your website to rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keyword searches.

Unlike search ads, SEO is an organic strategy, meaning you don’t pay the search engine to place your law firm’s website on SERPs for certain keywords.

Depending on the area of law your law firm specializes in, paid search ads can be very expensive. For example, personal injury law ads are one of the most expensive advertising segments on Google — and that is across all industries, not just the legal industry.

SEO is a marketing strategy that can help bring in more clients and cases more efficiently, more consistently, and more cost-effectively compared to other options (though you certainly can — and should — invest in paid search and SEO).

 

Why are blogs important for legal SEO?

The best legal SEO programs are made up of 4 components:

 

1. Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on tackling issues like website speed and coding. Google has been moving toward a mobile-first system with SEO, meaning that websites are judged first by how quickly they load on mobile devices.

At this point, it is a must to have a website coded for mobile devices and not just desktop computers.

 

2. Local SEO

In most cases, law firms are local to specific locations. This puts them at a good advantage for SEO provided they know how to use it.

One common Google search involves looking for a service or company “near me.” Google takes a searcher’s physical location at the time of their search and will display whatever they searched near them based on that location. When a prospective client nearby searches for “law firm near me,” it’s imperative that your law firm shows up, whether as a search result or on Google Maps.

One way to do this involves making sure your law firm has a Google My Business account with the correct business name, address, and phone number. It also helps to make sure your law firm is listed in relevant directories, too, and in the legal field, there are many listing options available to you.

 

3. On-page SEO

On-page SEO revolves around the content on your website. “Content” can be many things: videos, podcasts, photos, and blogs.

For those slightly familiar with on-page SEO, you might think that filling up a webpage with the same keyword over and over again can get you to rank high. This is no longer the case.

Today, on-page SEO means you need to create highly detailed, relevant content that your target audience finds valuable. This also means you need to make sure your content is readable — not only will your target audience be reading this, but so will search engines. Search engines read websites similarly to how humans do.

 

4. Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to the processes of link building, shares on social media, and getting five-star reviews.

Link building occurs when links on other websites point back to your law firm’s website. The more links that direct people to your law firm’s site, the better (as long as those pointing back to you are good resources, that is), because search engines recognize that when more people are sharing your content, it means your content is useful.

 

What do any of those 4 components have to do with the importance of blogging for SEO?

Each of these components play a key role in SEO, and you can’t have one without the others if you truly wish to have an effective SEO strategy.

That said, blogging is a key part of on-page SEO strategies. Even though you can’t keyword stuff pages anymore, you still can create valuable content for your target audience. It’s those pages that are most likely to be shared with others and can help you build a system of backlinks, pushing your website higher up on SERPs for relevant keywords.

Although search engines are beginning to include audio and video into searches, blogging will always be one of the most efficient and simplest ways to rank on Google and Bing for relevant keyword searches.

It’s much easier to set up a target keyword and try to rank for it compared to audio and video, which are still new. Compared to those other mediums, blogging has a lower entry point. Videos and audio require equipment and editing software. If you don’t know how to edit audio or video (both of which are time-consuming processes), you’re going to struggle to create good content, which is the goal of on-page SEO.

Everyone can write — but that doesn’t mean just anyone should.

 

Why should I have a legal SEO writer?

Though you don’t necessarily need to hire a legal SEO writer, you should consider working with someone who writes with SEO in mind.

Writing isn’t as easy as it looks, and that goes for SEO content writing, too. Writing about a subject you’re overly familiar with often means you may use jargon that most readers won’t understand. Let’s be honest: the average American isn’t going to read a legal document for fun. Most legal documents are dry and hard to read. That is the exact opposite of what you need for your law firm’s blog.

You can’t write a blog for a more general audience (compared to your colleagues in the legal industry, at least) that’s written like a legal document. It needs to be simplified in a way that anyone can understand. And that is a skill not everyone has.

It’s important to have a good writer who understands SEO and can weave target keywords into an easy-to-read blog post.

 

How to write a good legal blog using SEO

Choose your keyword(s)

The keywords you choose to target will determine the likelihood of your website ranking for those keyword searches. Some keywords are nearly impossible to rank for, while others are easy to rank for but aren’t searched very often. You won’t know the keyword difficulty or search volume unless you use a website like SEMrush or ahrefs. These websites track keywords, search volume, keyword difficulty, and more. Ideally, you’ll want to use keywords with a relatively low keyword difficulty and high search volume. These websites do require subscriptions. If you don’t understand some of the terms or ranking information on these sites, it may be a better investment to partner with a marketing agency that has access to them and will create content for you, such as OppGen Marketing.

Another consideration to take into account: Would someone who is looking for your law firm’s services use any of the keywords you may want to use? If not, drop those from the list. Knowing your audience and what keywords they could use matters a lot.

Last but not least, make sure your keywords are relevant to what it is you offer. Relevance is really important, and you don’t want to market something you don’t offer. But that doesn’t mean you are limited to just writing about legal issues. Look into a newsjacking approach. Newsjacking is a strategy that utilizes current events and writing about them from an angle you’re familiar with. For example, if you’re a personal injury lawyer, you could write about the Surfside condominium collapse in Florida and discuss what legal actions, if any, people have in a situation like that one. 

There are many different topics and keywords out there — it’s a matter of researching them.

 

Make an outline

Before creating the blog, make an outline and think about section headers. Blogs should not be formatted like a book or legal document. They need to be broken up into sections. Not only that but these sections should also be related to your keywords. If you can make sure your keywords are part of some of the headers (your keywords should always be included in the h1 header, which is also known as the title header).

Other SEO blog outlining tips:

  • Include your keyword(s) in the h1/title head and at least one in an h2 header
  • Use only one h1/title header per blog
  • Make subsections using h2, h3, h4, and make sure that h2 is larger than h3 and h3 is larger than h4
  • Make the last section header a call to action (CTA)

 

Write the blog post

Now that you’ve created the outline, you can finally start writing the actual blog post. You can certainly use the target keywords a few times, but be careful not to overdo it.

If you include images in your blog (and you should!), make sure you utilize the alt text tag. Alt text describes the image and will appear on screen readers. This helps people with visual impairments know what is in the image. Plus, it’s a good place to include a keyword, but the keyword is not the most important thing with alt tags — that would be accessibility.

 

Have someone outside your law firm review the blog

As much as you may want to have one of your fellow attorneys review the blog post, it’s a good idea to have someone who isn’t in the legal profession read it. This could be a friend, a spouse, or the person who handles all of your law firm’s communication. As long as they don’t have a law degree or practice law, anyone is fair game.

Once you find someone to read and review the blog, ask them to summarize what exactly it is they just read. If they’re able to summarize what it was about correctly after reading it, congrats! You have a blog post that is accessible to the general public.

 

Post the blog

Now that you’ve had the blog reviewed and made any edits or changes as needed, it’s time to post the blog to your law firm’s website. But there are a few things you need to include before you hit that post button, starting with a featured image.

With featured images, it’s important to use an image you have the rights to use. There are free stock photo sites that allow you to use photos for free, such as Pexels; and then there are subscription-based sites like Shutterstock. Both types of sites have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is a good idea to use both.

Another option for images is Creative Commons, which allows you to use images provided you follow the requirements for each type of license. For example, most Creative Commons content requires you to credit its creator. This can be done at the bottom of the blog post. But make sure you review each license carefully; there are some that will not let you use the content for commercial purposes. Others won’t let you modify the images in any way. Always review the Creative Commons license before using any content. 

You’ll need a meta description, too. Meta descriptions are the summaries that appear on individual search results. Meta descriptions should include the keywords you want to try to rank for and should be no longer than 160 characters in length. Anything longer than that will be cut off.

You can also adjust how the blog’s title (known as a title tag) will appear on search engines, too. It’s generally recommended that your title tag is somewhere between 50 to 70 characters in length, though Google has said there is no limit to the title tag’s character length. However, there is still a cut-off point measured in pixels, and this is where using a plug-in like Yoast can come in handy, as it can give you an idea of when the title tag is too long.

When posting your final draft of the blog, make sure its URL contains the keywords you want to rank for, too. This makes it easier for search engines to find, and it’s far more organized than letting the content management system (sometimes abbreviated as CMS) use the publication date or a string of random numbers for the URL.

Another thing to check before hitting that publish button: use your name as the author of the blog post to help establish not only your law firm’s authority, but yours, too. 

If you don’t want to publish your blog immediately, most content management systems allow you to schedule it for publication on a specific date and time. Otherwise, go ahead and click the publish button.

And now, you wait for an increase in traffic and hopefully emails and phone calls from prospective clients. Keep in mind that SEO is not immediate or automatic — it will take time before you see any increases in clients.

 

Share the blog to social media

Your post has been published. Now what? Easy: Share the blog to your law firm’s social media accounts. It’s an easy way to build up backlinks and possibly have others in your social (media) circle share it, too.

You may want to sit back and celebrate the publication and shares of your first legal SEO blog — but the journey’s not over yet. You’ll have to keep creating SEO-friendly blogs if you want to continue to see an increase in clients for your law firm. Search engine optimization is an ongoing strategy that never truly ends. Once you start, you should not stop.

 

Contact OppGen for more information

For some people, the fact that SEO is a never-ending strategy is too much to deal with. It’s too easy to run out of blog topics or keywords. Maybe you’re too busy to keep track of SEO.

Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to hire a legal SEO writer or a digital marketing company that can create original content for your law firm’s website and brings in more clients. And OppGen Marketing is here to do just that.

To learn more about OppGen’s legal SEO marketing program, contact us today, or fill out our free digital audit for valuable feedback about where you can improve your law firm’s SEO strategy and more.

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How Important Are Blogs to Legal SEO?