Let’s not beat around the bush: Most lawyers and law firms don’t have a good handle on what it takes to compete in today’s increasingly digital world. Business is being won and lost online, often without firms even knowing they were in the running.
Prospective clients are searching for solutions online, conducting due diligence on websites and LinkedIn profiles, and winnowing down their options based on what they find (or don’t).
The ways in which lawyers and law firms are found online are influenced by many factors, including SEO, content marketing, and social media presence. With clients to serve, deadlines to meet, adversaries to contend with, and many other marketing priorities to focus on, it’s not easy to be up to speed on the most up to date digital marketing strategies.
Without a doubt, one of the best ways for lawyers and law firms to be found online is to maintain a blog. A blog is a platform to share ideas and insights and engage an audience. Search engines love law firm blogs because, unlike “salesy” practice area pages, blog posts (done right) provide answers to questions that people are posing online.
The problem is that many lawyers and law firms don’t have the capacity to keep up with a blog (or, as is often the case, multiple ones). A blog that isn’t frequently updated is neutral at best, and can be a liability. Indeed, if visitors come to your site and see that you haven’t posted since 2017, they may wonder whether you’re on top of the issues affecting their industries.
So, what to do if blogging is not an option? How can you be found online if the search engines aren’t pointing traffic your way?
The answer: guest posting. If you don’t have the time or resources to invest in transforming your own website or blog into a high traffic, authoritative platform, then use someone else’s to share your ideas and insights with a wider audience. Creating and publishing content on sites that your target audience (and Google) already knows, likes and trusts is one of the best ways to attract attention, build your reputation as a thought leader, drive high quality traffic back to your own platform, and increase the domain authority of your website.
How Content Marketing Leads to New Business for Lawyers and Law Firms
I’ve written about why content marketing is the best form of marketing before but let’s briefly recap.
Lawyers and law firms win business when they are perceived by prospective clients as the right expert to provide a solution to a specific problem. To demonstrate expertise to a wide audience, it’s important to engage in content marketing by sharing insights in the online marketplace of ideas.
Specifically, content marketing involves publishing free content for users in order to drive traffic to and engagement with your firm’s website and brand. Your content is a gateway to the rest of your site, and if your site is built to convert visitors into leads, you can turn traffic into new business.
Content can take many forms, from written articles, to interactive videos, to informative podcasts—all created with a strategic purpose and specific goals in mind. If it’s high quality content, it can keep the content creator at the top of search engine results and top of mind with prospects.
Why You Don’t Need a Blog to Win Online
Despite its potential, many lawyers and law firms give up on content marketing and resort back to pricey outbound marketing tactics (like advertising) because they don’t realize results from content marketing quickly enough (or at all). Indeed, even if you’re putting the work in to produce high quality content on a consistent basis on your law firm’s blog, there’s no guarantee that your blog posts will rank highly enough in Google search results to get noticed.
Moreover, blog posts won’t get your hired, and getting hired is the ultimate objective of content marketing. The purpose of a blog post is to serve as a gateway to an attorney bio or practice area page—a “sales” page—on your website. You want to draw people in with your thought leadership content and then direct them to your sales pages where you make the case that your legal services provide a solution to a problem they’re facing.
So here’s the challenge that most lawyers and law firms face: They need to publish thought leadership content online in order to showcase their expertise to prospects who are searching for solutions online, but their website and blog aren’t ranking highly enough in Google search results for their thought leadership to be found.
What’s the solution to this challenge? The best way to overcome the SEO weakness of your own law firm website is to guest post on other platforms that have high domain authority, are already known, liked and trusted by your target market, and, as a result, showcase your expertise to a wider audience.
How Guest Posting Gets You Found Online
If your firm’s on-site content is not being found, then consider publishing more of your content off-site on third-party platforms. Executives, entrepreneurs, and other consumers of legal services are busy. When they spend time online, they’re visiting sites they know, like, and trust.
By understanding where members of your target market consume their information, you can seek to publish your thought leadership there. By having your byline and a link back to your website appear on a platform that the audience you are trying to reach already trusts, you can leverage the credibility that those platforms already have with their audience, thus helping you to build trust with new audience members. The content you share on those platforms creates a digital breadcrumb trail back to your own website.
In addition, by including a link back to your firm’s website, you’ll increase the chances that your website will start ranking more highly in Google search results.
SEO is a tricky topic. Google doesn’t spell out the exact formula for getting a site to rank. However, Google has made clear that earning links from other high quality websites is one of the most important factors in improving SEO performance. If high “domain authority” sites are linking to content on your website, then it’s a good indication to Google that your website contains information worth ranking.
Accordingly, not only does guest posting get your thought leadership in front of a wider audience, it also helps immensely with SEO.
Skeptical? Here’s an example from my own experience executing this strategy.
Our agency provides content marketing services for law firms (as well as other professional services firms). Naturally, we want to rank highly in Google when prospective clients type the phrase “law firm content marketing” into the Google search bar. However, this is a competitive term—lots of agencies want to own real estate on page one of Google for “law firm content marketing.” I blog about this topic on our own site but I supplement this strategy by publishing content on third-party, authoritative sites as well. And the results speak for themselves
By using BuzzSumo’s Content Analyzer tool, I’m able to track where my off-site content is ranking in search results, and my posts about law firm content marketing published on Attorney at Work and JD Supra currently hold the second, fifth, and sixth spots on page one of Google. (You can view these posts here, here, and here.) Not only do these posts lead readers who are interested in law firm content marketing back to my website but the links back to my site also provide important signals to Google that help with our SEO.
Three Tips for Getting Started with Guest Posting
Here are three tips to get you started with guest posting:
Find the Right Platform: Start by asking yourself, “What is the go-to platform where my target audience consumes content?” This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily be looking for the platform with the biggest audience. It would be great to publish something in The Wall Street Journal, but a smaller platform that is geared directly to your niche may be just as, if not more, effective to showcase your expertise.
Pitch an Original Idea: If you want an editor of a site with high standards to pay attention to your guest post pitch then you need to come up with an original idea. Do your research. Take note of the types of content and topics that are popular on the site you’re pitching. Monitor the news and stay on top of issues trending in the industry you’re focusing on.
Create High Quality Content: This should go without saying, but if you’re writing for an authoritative site you need to bring your “A-game” and create great content. Write with the blog's audience in mind. Don't hold anything back for fear of giving away the “special sauce.” Cite authoritative sources and use research data to buttress your points. And, of course, use plain English and not legal jargon.
Guest posting holds lots of promise. If you’re just getting started with content marketing, it’s the best way to build an audience and get your own website to rank in Google search results.
Interested in learning more? We help our clients find and capitalize on great guest posting opportunities. Give me a call at 313.432.0287 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat.
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We work with professional services firms to develop content marketing strategies, create visual storytelling assets, and build brands and websites that lead to new business.
If you’re interested in increasing the returns on your marketing investments, contact me to set up a free consultation to discuss how we can work together to define clear goals, create a specific plan of action, and implement marketing tactics that will help your firm grow.