The Internet has been full of ads for as long as anyone except hardcore old generation computer geeks has been using it, but in recent years, the commercialism of the Internet has become more pervasive and insidious? Remember the early days of the World Wide Web, when you could easily spot ads because they were clearly displayed at the top or bottom of a lovingly crafted website that had, and sought, no other source of revenue? You could read a thoughtful essay on, say, the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, and at the bottom you might see a Pepsi logo, which you were free to ignore.
Even when search engines became central to the web surfing experience, as it was then called, you usually had to navigate to a web page before seeing an ad. Today, many searches yield a results page with one or more ads displayed above the first, which is to say the most relevant, result, and from there on, Google’s bots endeavor to bring you customized commercial messages with every click.
The bottom line is that Google is always evolving, and getting your website listed on the first page of results is no longer a guarantee that prospective clients will click on it. Your SEO goal for 2019 should be to have your law firm’s blog cited as a featured snippet.
What Is a Featured Snippet?
The featured snippet is a relatively new feature of Google search results pages, a concession to frustrated users who are tired of wading through the ads to find the content they were searching for. They belong to an era where many search engine queries are direct questions. Maybe the librarian in your high school told you that media literacy meant knowing that you should type “noneconomic damages personal injury lawsuit” into a search engine, but today’s search engines can deal with search terms like “how much money can you get for pain and suffering.”
A featured snippet is a box, displayed above the search results and above the ads, that endeavors to answer the question. The body text in the box is a short paragraph or a list of bullet points with information that answers the question, and at the bottom of the box is a link to a web page. Your goal is for that web page to be one that belongs to your law firm.
Why Blogs Matter
As a rule, the home pages of websites cannot be featured snippets. The featured snippet can only link to a content page within your site, such as the description of one of your law firm’s practice areas, or to a post from your site’s blog. It is in your interest to write blog posts that directly address the questions that prospective clients of your law firm type into search engines.
Legal Content Writing
Researching the search engine queries of prospective clients and writing content that addresses them can be a full-time job. You can count on Law Blog Writers to create informative, readable content that directly relates to your prospective clients’ concerns.
Imagine that little Billy Bloggins walks into his third grade classroom on a day that seems at first like any other. He tries to turn in his homework that was officially due a few days ago, but the teacher refuses to accept it because the statute of limitations has passed. At lunch, a classmate borrows a dollar from Billy so that he can buy a bag of chips. Billy agrees but makes the classmate promise to pay him back in solido. In P.E. class, Billy’s team performs abysmally at kickball, but a severe thunderstorm leads to the game ending early.
Billy’s team taunts the other team about how they don’t get to enjoy their victory because they didn’t actually win, and they respond by gloating that Billy’s team was on track to lose. The coach says it’s a moot point; the game ended with a force majeure event, not with a victory for either team.
Clearly, this paragraph includes terms that were not part of your everyday vocabulary before you studied for the LSAT. They sound confusing and inappropriate outside of formal legal writing. The moral of the story is that these terms do not belong on your law firm’s blog any more than they belong on this blog.
Think Like a Prospective Client
One of the main purposes of a blog is to help your law firm’s website rank higher on lists of Google search results. In other words, you want people to find your law firm’s website when they type search queries into Google that are related to your practice area. Someone who knows almost nothing about estate planning, but now needs information about it, will type “What happens if someone dies without a will” instead of “what happens if someone dies intestate.” They will probably know what “intestate” means after reading a few web pages that they find as a result of their search. Your law firm’s site will not be one of them unless you find a way to phrase things in terms that non-specialists who want to find out about them might use. People who have never hired a family lawyer search for “back child support,” not “arrears.”
When to Use Legal Terms When Talking to Non-Lawyers
Blogs are meant to be informative, and people read law firm blogs to learn about the law. That includes learning legal terms relevant to their cases. Explaining the meanings of legal terms in your blog posts will make the posts readable, and even shareable. Do not, however, do so at the expense of language that prospective clients would use; Google has no concept of synonyms. Once you have met with the clients, it is fine to use technical terms that you have discussed with your clients and which you are sure they understand.
Contact Legal Blog Writers
Writing is a lot of work, even when you intentionally use a simple writing style. You can count on Law Blog Writers to create engaging, readable content to help prospective clients find your site and learn about your practice.
When lawyers look for ways to increase the number of new clients at their law firm or, in practice areas where such is relevant, to give clients the incentive to hire the same law firm multiple times, they often run into lots of irrelevant advice online. Even when they consult professional marketing agencies, the strategies the marketing agencies come up with often seems tone deaf, because generic principles of marketing and customer satisfaction do not apply to law firms the way that they do to many other types of businesses.
People who hire lawyers are not exactly customers. No one wants to go back and fight another DUI charge because the lawyer they hired the first time was awesome; it is not like going back to the same restaurant next week because you enjoyed the food there so much the first time. Despite the differences between law firms and other types of businesses, a post on MyShingle encourages law firms to adopt some “client first” strategies, inspired by “customer first” marketing tactics employed by other businesses.
Walking Clients Through the Process
The services for which clients hire lawyers are complex and require specialized knowledge; if this were the case, then clients would simply write wills and draft business contracts on their own, instead of paying a lawyer to help them. Despite this, the more lawyers help clients understand every step of the legal action in which they are involved, the more empowered they feel. Explaining to clients, from a statutory and practical perspective, what you are doing build trust between attorneys and clients. Here are some ways lawyers can help clients see the big picture about the legal process in which they are involved and understand their role in it:
· Checklists on relevant pages of your law firm’s website
· Videos readily available on your law firm’s website
· Blog posts about specific cases in your practice area from your state
· Acknowledging, in person or by email, ways in which your clients’ actions have helped their case
Communication Is Key
Lawyers already work hard and have very little free time; no one is suggesting that you spend even more time working than you already do. Clients value responsiveness from lawyers, though. Here are some ways you can stay in touch with clients without giving up all your privacy and free time.
· Set up an email account or phone number for text messages where clients can ask their questions after hours. If your law firm is big enough, have different lawyers and paralegals be responsible for reading the messages on different nights of the week.
· Send a weekly newsletter by email about your law firm’s activities and about current news related to your practice area.
Let Law Blog Writers Do the Writing
Many “client first” services require your individual attention, but you can easily hire professional writers to write an informative blog. You can count on Law Blog Writers to create well researched, readable content to help your current and prospective clients stay informed.
If you are young enough to have gone to college in the Internet age, then your parents or teachers probably cautioned you against posting comments or pictures of yourself that would make you appear unprofessional. That meant no pictures where alcoholic beverages are visible and no text that contained profanity. Now that you are a lawyer, the bar for professionalism is a bit higher than “no cursing and no drunkenness where prospective clients can see you.” Meanwhile, the Internet has crept into virtually every corner of our lives; people who Google your name can read online reviews of your legal practice, and your only defense is confidence that prospective clients will be able to tell the difference between honest criticisms (written by people honest enough to sign their names to the review, one can hope), out-of-context screeds written by people who took major offense to a minor social faux pas on your part, and fabrications by trolls.
Like it or not, the web brims with content about you, most of which you cannot control. What you can control is your law firm’s website. People who are seriously considering hiring you will read your website in enough detail to find out about what makes you unique. Here is how to present yourself in the best light.
You Are a Person, Not Just a Business
Most law firm websites contain a page about each lawyer working at the law firm. Your law firm bio should be specific enough that people know you are not trying to hide a lack of credentials, and it should focus on your legal career but contain enough personal details to make people feel like they are getting to know you. Here are some tips.
· Mention your law school and undergraduate university by name, and mention graduation dates. So what if people can tell approximately how old you are? They know you are a real lawyer.
· Include a few sentences about what got you interested in the legal profession or in the practice area you chose.
· Link to news articles or the text of court decisions for cases on which you worked and which highlight your accomplishments.
· Limit the mention of your spouse, children, and pets to one sentence. People may relate to you if their family has something in common with yours, such as if they got married the same year as you did, if they also are the parents of twins, or if they have a dog of the same breed.
· Do not talk about your travels or hobbies; it comes across as rubbing it in your clients’ faces that you have money and free time. Once you meet prospective clients in person, feel free to discuss your travels, your cooking adventures, your vinyl record collection, your favorite sports team, or any other topic that is appropriate to discuss with someone you just met.
Get Legal Writing Help
Only you know yourself well enough to write your bio, but when it comes to writing informative blog posts for a general audience, you can rely on professional writers to produce regular updates to your blog. You can count on Law Blog Writers to create engaging, readable content with just the right tone for your target audience.