It’s a common question. How often should your firm be blogging to get value for search visibility? There are differing opinions. Some may tell you that the more you blog, the better. Others may have a number of posts per week or month that they say is a minimum, or ideal quantity.
In the recent past, there has been a lot of discussion about law firm blogs. There is debate about:
- How many times per week (or month) a law firm should add new posts
- Whether blogging more actually leads to more cases and better results from the web
- Whether a law firm’s blog should be on the same domain as their website
- What kinds of posts may be effective, and what kinds can actually have negative effects
- The need for blogs to provide “fresh content” for search engines
- Lots of other related topics
If you want straight answers to all of these questions, well, unfortunately it’s not that simple. With everything that we know about law firm blogging, and everything that Google has said about content in general, the best answer is, it depends.
To be transparent, for quite a while, Consultwebs has believed in the value of blog posts for many reasons:
- Blogs are a consistent source of “fresh content” for search engines to crawl and index.
- They provide an opportunity to test long-tail content ideas.
- Posts can build the overall site relevance for a particular topic.
- They can bring link-earning opportunities based on coverage of niche topics.
- Blogging gives firms an ability to rank and gain visibility for recent events or time-sensitive topics.
- They provide opportunities for content sharing on social media and chances for brand exposure.
Are these reasons still true? Yes. So what needs to be reevaluated? Everything.
One thing that we know very well is that every law firm is unique. Firms have different skill sets, years of experience, and levels of success among their attorneys. They focus on different practice areas and specialize in different types of legal services. Law firms have different brands, tones, personalities and reputations, with different types and sizes of audience for their marketing and communications.
So is ongoing blogging an effective strategy for law firms? It really depends on the firm and the analysis of their blog in the context of their overall marketing efforts.
So What About Google?
Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” They are in the business of bringing great, useful, helpful content to people based on the searches they perform, to ensure that people have good user experiences and continue to use Google as much as possible.
Here are a few facts to consider about Google’s guidelines for quality content. Google has a 160-page pdf available online with thousands of pieces of information to guide its search quality raters. In section 3.1 of the document, which is called “Page Quality Rating: Most Important Factors,” the first concept listed is “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.”
Section 3.2 goes on to explain more about the “E-A-T” concept, but in summary, Google favors pages where expert sources provide helpful and valuable information about topics on which they have authority.
How Does This Apply to Law Firm Blogs?
There are many good examples of blog posts written by attorneys or other legal professionals that showcase the “E-A-T” that Google mentions. Many blog posts have unique insights, important updates for certain groups, and great value for those who read them.
Many posts are well thought-out, have a specific purpose and fulfill the needs of users who read them. As we understand, Google wants to serve up the best results to each searcher in the hopes of providing a good experience and ensuring the highest likelihood of that user continuing to use Google for search. Therefore, great content with great user experience often rises to the top of the search results.
Too often, however, law firm blogs are full of posts that have been created to fill a quota. There has been a thought in the past that firms need to blog every week, or every day, or even more often for “SEO value.” It seems the true “SEO value” is actually in lockstep with value to the user. Blog posts with little unique value to the audience for which they’re intended seem to have little value in the eyes of Google as well.
So how often should your firm blog? Seems like the answer should be the same as if you asked, “How often does our firm have something to say that is unique, useful, and shows our expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness on a specific topic? How often can we provide a great user experience for someone in search of some information?”
Reasons to Continue Blogging
For attorneys who are writing blogs that truly convey their expertise in a particular area, it may make sense to continue blogging. If the activity is bringing positive value and leading to new clients, firms may even want to up their efforts. Some great reasons for law firms to keep writing their own blogs may include:
- They’re truly sharing unique expertise with the public through their blog to strengthen the firm’s brand.
- They’re signing referral cases due to content they have written.
- They have a large, relevant audience and are keeping top-of-mind awareness with them, evidenced by comments, shares, and other forms of engagement.
- They love doing it and don’t care what kind of time it takes from other activities.
Potential Negatives of Blogging
Especially when written for the wrong reasons, some blog posts can actually have negative effects on a law firm’s website performance. For example:
- Blog posts can compete with other, more conversion-friendly pages on a law firm’s website for search terms bringing users to a lower-priority page.
- News-based blogs, especially those about accidents, can sometimes bring negative feelings from visitors, reinforcing some negative stereotypes about law firms.
- Blogging can be extremely time-consuming, taking resources away from other, potentially higher-return marketing activities, leading to low or negative ROI.
- If not carefully reviewed and pruned, blogs can add a tremendous amount of thin, outdated, or underperforming (low traffic or engagement metrics) content to your website over time.
- They can hide exceptional content from visitors who find your website through other means than the keywords the blog post ranks for.
- Blog posts can potentially create brand confusion with new visitors if the content does not reinforce your expertise or mission.
Taking A Look at Your Blog
As with any marketing activity, blogging should be analyzed to see how much value comes from the investment. Concepts like exposure, branding and awareness through blogging are very hard to quantify. Some data, through analytics, conversion tracking and intake processes, can also help you get a feel for the value of your blog.
Large amounts of relevant traffic (that is traffic from your market), significant numbers of conversions, or comments from new clients about reading your blog, could be good indicators of positive value.
However, if your blogging efforts aren’t in line with Google’s guidelines of “E-A-T” and aren’t providing a great user experience, delivering unique information, you may want to reconsider your approach.
Should Blogging Efforts be Refocused?
This is probably the biggest and most relevant question to answer for your firm. If your blog is delivering great information to users and bringing you success online, you likely want to continue with your approach.
However, many firms may discover by reviewing their blogs and data with a bit of scrutiny that it may not be worth the effort and investment. If your strategy has been to publish new blog posts at regular intervals for “SEO purposes,” you should certainly take some time to reevaluate. That exercise can cost your firm money, and worse, it could prevent you from engaging in other activities that could bring more value to your firm.
For example, you could invest resources in:
- A website redesign to add functionality and conversion-friendly elements
- Reviewing important pages to ensure the content and design are meeting visitor needs.
- Creating content that answers questions and can benefit visitors throughout your site
- Optimizing your local presence
- Updating older content that used to perform well, but has lagged
- Doing giveaways and / or community activities to expand your audience on social media.
- PPC, social media, or other paid digital advertising
- Sponsoring great organizations to expand your brand in a positive light and gain potential links to your site
- Adding substantive content pages and resources to your site, instead of posts
- Commissioning a creative asset to be produced for your firm’s website
Your firm’s marketing should strive to bring in more clients in more efficient ways. When one technique is no longer among the most efficient, it should be reduced or discontinued to make way for new, better-performing efforts. By reviewing Google’s guidelines for quality and evaluating your success from blogging and all other marketing activities, you can gain a clearer picture about what’s working, what’s not, and what needs to change.
As the industry continues to evolve and your competition gets smarter and more effective, you must also transform your marketing to stay ahead and to ensure the health and success of your firm.
So how often should your firm blog? The answer depends on how often you have something truly valuable to say.