Law Firm Website Redesign: Move Your Standalone Blog to Your Website

Judging from lunch and happy hour conversations at the LMA 2012 annual conference, we’re in for a wave of law firm website refreshes and redesigns. There was a lot of discussion about incorporating features to increase website traffic and visitor engagement, but no one was talking about the single most effective way to do that: moving their standalone blog to their website.

Maintaining a blog separately from your website just doesn’t make business or practical sense.

  • Websites that incorporate a blog component typically perform better and require less time and expense than maintaining two or more content management systems.
  • Your blog allows you to easily publish new content your site on a regular basis, it is built to be search engine friendly, and it is simply easier (and cheaper) to manage one site instead of two!buy
  • It is much easier and less confusing for your prospects and leads to find and engage with you when you are directing them to just one site.
  • You typically don’t change most content on your main website pages, like your attorney bio and practice description pages. By keeping your blog as part of your main website, the static pages of your site benefit from the optimization and fresh content published on your blog.

Don’t Believe Your Website Developer. It Absolutely Can Be Done.

On the Inkling Media blog, Ken Mueller noted:

” Businesses get a website, and then they get a blog….Usually this is done because they don’t know how to add a blog to their site, or their web CMS isn’t blog friendly. If that’s the case, you might want to think about a complete redesign of your site to something that includes a blog, and again, I’ll put in a big plug for self-hosted WordPress sites.

“So why is it a problem if your blog doesn’t reside on your domain? Because you’re sending all the traffic to another domain: your blog. A blog will get heavier traffic than your site, and it’s more likely to have regularly changing content and important keywords, as well as attract inbound links. If that happens on your blog, your website is getting none of the credit.

“And don’t think that URL masking, redirecting, or even pulling the blog in via frames will help. The SEO credit will still go to the blog domain, not your website domain. The goal is to drive traffic to your site and get the SEO credit for it. This is a bit harder to remedy than the first three, but a quick chat with your web designer will let you know what your blogging options are for your site. And don’t take “No” for an answer. I’ve spoken to several businesses whose web team told them it couldn’t be done. If that’s the case, and SEO is important to you, it might be time for a new site (and a new web designer).”

Get Off on the Right Foot

Don’t forget, you don’t even need a “website.” A blog IS a website — a dynamic website. You can have pages on a blog and, with some of the great WordPress themes on the StudioPress Genesis Framework, you can create an attractive, high-impact website with full blog integration.

 

 

Social Media Law: Before SOPA and PIPA

The recent national furor over SOPA/PIPA  underscored the centrality of social media law to the way we live now.

The editors of Socially Aware, Morrison & Foerster’s blog on the law and business of social media, recently published an infographic timeline of legal milestones that have shaped the course of social media’s evolution — for good or ill.

 

Any landmark cases you’d like to add?

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 12.14.11

A digest of social media advice and tips for legal marketing.

Blogging for Law Firms: Be a Lint Roller for Ideas

The all-powerful Google search algorithm now commands us to post fresh, frequent content if we want to be noticed. Easier said than done, right? Where are all the story ideas going to come from?

Short of a natural Barbara Cartland-esque gift for prolific writing, most bloggers will benefit from cultivating habits of constant vigilance, hunting and collecting. I call my system the lint roller approach because I cover a lot of area in a short amount of time, picking up a lot of small things I otherwise might have overlooked.

The estimable Heidi Cohen observed last week:

“While people collect everything from stamps to back issues of National Geographic, to be an effective writer or blogger you must always be gathering new ideas. To this end, capture ideas for articles, headlines and graphics whenever and wherever you’re inspired. Jot them down before they vanish into thin air. You can use an old-fashioned pencil and notebook or modern electronic device. It’s important to build the habit of securing the inspiration for future use….Organize your notes so that you’ve got most of your article started. Contrary to what you may believe, once you build this writing habit it’ll be second nature and will yield a stockpile of partially written articles.”

Which leads naturally to another useful piece of advice:

“Have an editorial calendar. By planning out your writing schedule for the near future, you’re subconsciously preprogramming your mind to look for specific types of information [emphasis added].”

How to Build an Inventory of Blog Post Ideas

  • Cram your RSS reader with subscriptions – The more raw material you process, the higher your yield of valuable ideas and links. I’ve found that a large number — actually, hundreds a day — of headlines to scan is actually a great forcing function. It prevents me from dwelling too long on individual stories. When I find an interesting headline/blurb, I save the link in a folder and move on. I read them more closely when I’m actually drafting the post. The whole process takes 10-15 minutes a day, which is far less than the time it used to take me trying to research specific ideas in a linear fashion.
  • Set up and monitor Twitter hashtags and lists – If you use a Twitter management dashboard like TweetDeck or HootSuite, create dedicated channels to monitor the tweet streams of the bloggers you follow in your RSS reader, as well as other prolific/favorite idea generators.
  • Plug even fragmentary ideas into an editorial calendar – A lot of my posts start their life as a draft headline entered in to my WordPress editorial calendar plugin — another forcing function. Deadlines — even self-imposed ones — very effectively concentrate the mind.
  • Divide ideas into “breaking” and “evergreen” — Breaking news — like major jury verdicts, high court decisions and Apple rumors — are great for both SEO and organic traffic. Don’t get so wound up finishing evergreen posts that you miss opportunities to ride the momentum of trending topics with your own quick, brief take on the subject.

Do you think that changes in SEO are making blogging for law firms more trouble than it’s worth? Should law firms shift their content marketing focus to other distribution platforms, like JD Supra and SlideShare, and guest posting on more trafficked blogs?

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 11.23.11

Rethinking the Attorney Bio, Part 1: Song of Myself

The pivotal role of attorney bios on law firm websites is well-established and much-discussed. It seems, though, that bios are still mired in a “bolt on” strategy — keeping the basic narrative framework and visual presentation the same, just adding features like videos.

To fully unlock the persuasive power of attorney bios, it’s necessary to craft them like a modern storyteller or bard would. That’s why I was captivated by Kate Battle’s recent post “Creating a One-Sheet for Your Law Firm.” Battle writes:

“In the music industry (as well as other industries), there is something called a one-sheet that bands use for marketing. Back in my college days, I spent a lot of time creating these for record labels and bands. As the name implies, a one-sheet is a one-page document that quickly gives people an introduction to the band, what it sounds like and how to contact the right people for shows, interviews or albums.”

“A few weeks ago, a musician friend of mine asked me if I could send him my one-sheet so he can share it with other musicians who might be interested in my legal services. That made me think: Just because I can’t carry a tune doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a quick and simple way to share information about my business.”

Exactly.


Rather than asking people to effectively read your resume, the “one-sheet” approach gives busy people with a lot of options enough information to develop an active interest and contact you directly.

Battle provides a format to create a simple and effective one-sheet for a law firm, but the same principles and techniques will work for attorney bios:

  • Start with a simple header, listing the name of your law firm, attorneys, practice areas, pricing system and contact info.
  • In paragraph one, give basic information about your firm history and list a few things that make it unique. In other words, what makes your law firm different from others?
  • In paragraph two, expand on your firm’s bio by including more information about your attorneys, recent accomplishments and past successes.
  • As with a band’s one-page, use the next paragraph to share a bit of buzz about your firm. Was your firm recently covered in a news story? Are clients saying great things about your firm? Use this part of your one-page to share a few news bites and testimonials.
  • Close out with information on where consumers can find out more about your firm, such as links to articles, a list of your recent publications, and information on upcoming speaking engagements or law firm events.
  • Finally, hit save and print a few copies. Anytime you discover a new referral source, be sure to send a copy so they can easily tell others why your firm is the right firm for their referrals.
How do you tell your own story in your website bio?

 

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 11.16.11

Honor Thy Gut: Saying “No” (or “Not Yet”) to Social Media

The case for engaging in social media for legal marketing is compelling — but so is the case against it. As with most endeavors, you’re usually better off not following a course of action that you don’t fully support than you are proceeding without conviction. In the age of social media ubiquity, untended and orphaned blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages are more detrimental to your brand and marketing efforts than having none at all.

In a Social Media Today post yesterday headlined “Not Tweeting, and Not Feeling Guilty About It,” Liz Wainger notes:

“If enterprises don’t have the resources (time and energy) to engage on social media, or are unwilling to fully embrace social media, it is better to use other means to communicate until you do.  And for goodness sake, stop feeling guilty about it, and think positively about the ways you are engaging your stakeholders.”

 

So what are some telltale signs that shouldn’t (or aren’t ready to) launch or expand your social media activities — or that you should consider quitting:

  • Lack of an intuitive personal connection to the potential of social media – If you’re not “feeling it” even a little bit at the outset, you’re highly unlikely to work hard enough at it or be patient enough to give it a fighting chance of success. It’s not an acquired taste.
  • Lack of an intuitive connection to the potential of social media by your employees and peers – If you can’t accomplish what you need to without the participation of colleagues, you should not proceed if you have reservations about their buy-in and level of participation. You know that you’re in trouble when you’re told “All they need is some training.”
  • A pattern of starting and stopping – If it dawns on you that you’re going days at a time between tweets and weeks at a time between blog posts, it’s time to either recommit or cut your losses and shut it down.

It’s OK, really. Trust your gut and take on social media when it feels right. It’ll still be there.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 11.02.11