There are tactics for publishing a website that constantly has new material and finds new ways to engage clients.
There are undisclosed methods for publishing current articles on a law firm website that clients expect to see.
And there are unadvertised techniques to satisfying Google, which gives high rankings to websites that are updated frequently with original, new material.
Together, these are the secrets of content marketing. Once you use them, you’ll get the page views and unique visitors that turn into new clients. If you don’t master them, you are stuck with the option of dumping money on advertising, search-engine optimization, pay-per-click, and other artificial contrivances.
“Where do you get your ideas?” is a question I’ve received since I started as a journalist right out of college. The answer is that I keep my eyes and ears open and supply myself with as many fresh ideas as I can find.
Let me share what I’ve learned since I started blogging 10 years ago. Using the tactics described below, my blog at Larrybodine.com has gotten 1 million visits. By updating The National Trial Lawyers website every day with news of verdicts, settlements, and new cases, we’ve attracted 200,000 users since January 1 who have generated 535,000 page views.
For lawyers, the object is to publish news in your area of practice. It doesn’t have to be about your own activities – you just need to communicate what is happening in your field. For personal injury attorneys, for example, this means reporting and commenting on new verdicts, appellate court rulings, and new litigation.
1. Join a Group on LinkedIn and Read the Updates
There are some excellent LinkedIn groups such as Mass Torts Made Perfect, The Legal News Group, The National Trial Lawyers, and Personal Injury Group, where you will find case outcomes, legal trends, and insights on fighting corporate defendants. The updates and discussions are substantive and timely – and are grist for the content mill on your website.
2. Follow Tuned-in Lawyers on Twitter
You can find out who they are on Fridays, by searching the hashtag #FF and the word lawyer. These lawyers are the social media mavens who track important legal news and send out tweets with links to important events. All you need to do is follow them and wait for a timely event to pop up in your practice area. Also, open your Twitter account and search for #legalnews – you’ll find links to articles about personal injury, law practice, the Supreme Court, and more.
3. Set Up 20 Google Alerts on Various Aspects of Your Practice
These are free, automated searches of the Web conducted by Google and delivered to your inbox. I prefer the “As-it-happens” delivery setting so that I can immediately send out an update and attempt to be one of the first with the news. You should create variants of each alert, tracking news in your city and state, lawsuits, motions, case outcomes, appeals, and different aspects of your practice. The more information you have coming in, the greater the choices you’ll have for updates on your own site. Best of all, Google Alerts are free.
4. Find Your Greatest Hits
Read your analytics to find which articles you published attracted the most readers. In WordPress, I like to go into “Site Stats” of Jetpack to see which article got the most views over the preceding 30 days. It’s also fascinating to see which one got the most views over the previous quarter. These are your greatest hits – articles that were hot when you published them and are still sizzling.
The ultimate secret is to be genuinely interested in what is happening in your area of practice.
This gives you the opportunity to update or revise one of these articles, which you already know is in high demand. Further, you can visit “Content Drilldown” for your website in Google Analytics (it’s in Behavior/Site Content/Content Drilldown). You’ll see which of your articles or blog posts got the most page views – meaning these are the topics you should write about again.
5. Find Colleagues Who Will Guest Blog
Sometimes the best writer for your website is a friend or a referral source at another firm. By offering the person a byline when he or she writes for your website, you are bringing in a completely fresh perspective. The guest blogger gets additional exposure and a link back to his or her site, and you get great content and third-party credibility.
6. Subscribe to E-newsletters on Current Legal Events
The daily ABA Journal newsletter is always fun and sometimes useful. Law360’s daily updates are solid gold. The American Association for Justice (AAJ) and LexisNexis publish terrific newsletters, too. Watch articles in Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack and visit WisBar.org for daily legal news. You can also tap into newsletters that focus on your practice area. All it takes is finding one item that captures your imagination, and you’ve got a blog post or article to write.
The ultimate secret is to be genuinely interested in what is happening in your area of practice. The more you enjoy knowing, the more items you’ll find that your clients want to read, and your website will write itself.
7. Newsjack Breaking Legal News Stories
The idea is to comment into a breaking legal news story and then use Twitter to interject into the story. Not only does newsjacking create timely content, it may generate publicity as well.
Prepare in advance by collecting the Twitter “@” handles of journalists whom you want to reach – you can search Twitter to find them.
Identify a breaking news story – this is easy by visiting https://twitter.com/i/moments/ and seeking a law-related story.
Immediately comment on the story in your blog– with text, a podcast, or video.
Send a tweet to the news reporters to notify them that you have a relevant comment. This will prompt reporters, who are still gathering the facts, to contact you.
Even if no reporter contacts you, you have made your blog or website part of what everyone is talking about.
A good example of a breaking legal news story to newsjack was when the “Affluenza” defendant Ethan Couch was arrested in Mexico. The story broke at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. News reporters covered it throughout the day, frequently posting updates. It created an opportunity to comment – on his “affluenza” defense, drunk driving, wrongful death in car crashes, wealth and the courts, and Couch’s general chutzpah – and to be part of one of the updates.