Your Blog Still Does Not Belong on Your Law Firm Website

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Last night, Kevin O’keefe tweeted a link to my “classic” post on law blogging, “Get Your Law Blog Off Your Law Firm Website“. My favorite part about that post was how few of the commenters showed an ability to consider the Internet from any viewpoint but SEO.

One commenter in particular (an appellate lawyer, natch) kept stubbornly insisting that it made sense to have his blog on his law firm website because he ranked #1 on Google for his target search terms. (If I had a dollar … )

First, ranking #1 on Google for some keywords is not the same thing as getting clients to pay you for legal advice. This (very common) way of looking at SEO overlooks the fact that, at some point, actual human beings will be looking at your website. It’s great if you can generate a lot of search traffic, but to what?

You are focused on SEO. I am talking about user experience. Your SEO-optimized blog-on-your-law-firm-website is a sucky experience for people who want to read your blog. Building readership and ranking well in search results are different and not-always-compatible goals. Then again, if SEO is your all-consuming goal, just never mind.

Second, even if SEO is your all-consuming goal and you feel like you are providing a good user experience as well, that is not a good reason to put your blog on your law firm website. A separate blog can send just as much great SEO juice to your law firm website as an embedded blog can generate. Possibly more.

(Also, if you are an appellate lawyer and SEO is your all-consuming goal, what are you on about? Do you expect quality clients to Google for an appellate lawyer? You need good referral sources, not Google juice. Your blog might play a role in that, even if it is on your law firm website, but you should not be focusing on SEO beyond your name.)

Third, what the hell good is a law blog nobody wants to read? At best, a law blog on a law firm website is like a great magazine in a proctologist’s waiting room; you aren’t going to read it unless you are already planning to be there for what you assume will be an unpleasant experience. How often are you going to go back to read more from that magazine?

Fourth, and finally, if you just can’t get your head around setting up two websites, Greg and I agree that you should just start a blog, and put your law firm website on it. It may seem like the same thing, but it’s not. Blogging builds your reputation. It can help you earn media. It expands your network. All your law firm website really needs to have is your picture, a contact form, and your phone number. You can put those things on a page on your law blog. If you are going to start a blog, consider just not having a law firm website altogether.

(image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahandmikeprobably/4373846392/)

Legal Marketing

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  • http://www.jeffvail.net Jeff Vail

    I generally follow this separate site approach with my firm website and blog. While my blog primarily covers legal topics related to my practice areas, I like the flexibility to write on other topics that may not have direct relevance to my firm. I know my blog helps with SEO for my firm website, but that’s of relatively little importance to me as I run a very low volume practice and actively discourage internet visitors from calling. The goals I do try to achieve with my blog, in order of importance, are:
    – (1) Provide a resource of value to other lawyers related to my practice area so I stay in their mind for potential referrals and so I have a good reason to talk with them over lunch or a beer. I don’t post frequently enough to be a weekly read for attorneys, but I have heard from many people that they’ve got me bookmarked and they visit to look into specific topics. Similarly, my SEO approach on my blog is organic, and very “long-tail” oriented–I want attorneys to find my blog when they search for a wide variety of topics. For this reason, I think it’s more effective to have my blog separate from my firm website. I want my firm website to be decently ranked on a very small set of search terms (‘Colorado business litigation’), but I certainly don’t want to constrain my blog to focusing on those terms, so separating them helps here.
    – (2) Backup when a visitor to the firm website wants to dig deeper. I view my firm website as primarily an “online business card/brochure”–if a potential client or potential referring attorney goes to my firm website, there are links to the blog to show that there is more than fluff to my focus on open-source knowledge management, process innovation, and project management. For this goal, I don’t know if separating the blog helps at all, though I don’t think it hurts.
    I’m continuously refining my website/blog plans (and hope to do more when I have a lull in litigation), but I know it has been a great help in establishing my practice. If you run a high-volume practice, maybe SEO should be the #1 focus of your website/blog, but the greatest value to me (and I’m guessing to most lawyers) has been to help with networking, both online and off.

    • http://www.sjfpc.com STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION)

      Jeff, could not agree more with your comments. See mine below.

  • http://consumerlawyer.mn/cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi Randall Ryder

    I’m leaving my blog on my website. And you can’t stop me.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      So long as you know I’m right.

  • http://elderlaw.info Brian Barreira

    Wow, a post begun by reason (or excuse) of a tweet about your earlier post. Reminds me of a self-portrait that Colbert has shown on his show. I agree not only with your original post, but also with your post begun by the tweet about your post. My blogs are not on my biographical site, but a key part of my biography is on my main blog. Also, thanks to last week’s lexis-nexis website upgrade, now a feed from my blog is on my website.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Hey, it’s my blog. I can pimp my old posts all I want!

      Also, ‘sup blog-not-on-law-firm-website buddy!

  • http://alecrippberger.com Alec Rippberger

    “A separate blog can send just as much great SEO juice to your law firm website as an embedded blog can generate. Possibly more.”

    By “embedded” are your referring to adding a blog via iframe or something similar? If so, I agree with your point. If not, no way José.

  • Thomas

    I love how people can pull statements out of their ass and make it so.
    “A separate blog can send just as much great SEO juice to your law firm website as an embedded blog can generate. Possibly more.”

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com Dan

    I completely agree with you. The excuse I get from lawyers who do otherwise (in addition to the SEO one) is that it’s easier. Yeah, so?

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/gyitsakalakis/ Gyi Tsakalakis

    start a blog, and put your law firm website on it

    I would slightly modify this to: start a blog, and put your law firm website in it.

    Obviously, this won’t work for firms (especially larger firms).

    But for solos/small firms, you can have the best of both worlds on the same domain. Put your content out front-and-center (posts). Provide readers with ways to learn more about you and what you do (traditional website content).

    What you really don’t want to do (and what many lawyers love to do) is make “blog” a tab in the navigation of a law firm website that contains heavy marketing copy. Those are the blogs that no one reads.

    TL;DR: Start a blog, feature blog content prominently, weave biographical and practice information into it for those readers who want it.

    • Mike

      I agree, less marketing message and more informative content!

  • http://www.darlingtons.com James Swede

    Our blog is integrated with our site and does very well thanks. I don’t see any compelling reasons not to have it as part of a site, better if you did that. And, yes you’re right, it’s all about conversions, but a blog can be practical as well as academic and our leads to conversions as well. In short, it’s a non issue, blog or no blog.

  • http://www.gelmannorberg.com/ Gelman Norberg LLC

    It is absolutely true that Blogging builds your reputation and can help you earn media by expanding your network. So, it is important that your law firm website needs to have is your picture, a contact form, and your phone number. You can put those things on a page on your law blog.

  • http://www.page1solutions.com Dan Goldstein

    There is no reason why you can’t have two blogs, one on your law firm website and one that is a separate stand alone blog. The only question is whether you have the time or resources to support putting quality content on both that will benefit and be interesting and engaging to your end users, whether they are consumers or other lawyers.

  • http://www.georgecreal.com George Creal

    Why? I understand why Kevin O’Keefe thinks so he owns lexblog. I can set up feeds for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook etc. I don’t want to over stuff my blog posts with key words and risk a google penalty, so my posts are generally just informative. It shows prospective clients you ar credible and drives traffic to your site. Other than you saying it what authority or evidence do you have that it really is a good idea.

  • http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/ STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION)

    I tend to agree with this line of thinking and especially for the reasons Jeff so aptly lays out. Here is another benefit of having both. Recently, I have seen both my blog and my website being on the first page of Google searches for say Philadelphia Tax Attorney. I think this just lends more credibility and gives readers/prospects more information when they are considering retaining my services.

  • http://www.facebook.com/studio89a Jason Rogers

    A blog post is usually on a separate page than, let’s say, your attorney bio page, so who cares if its within the same root domain or on an entirely different domain? Do people actually stop and wonder, while they are reading a blog post, how many clicks away the firm About Us page is?

    Imagine this:

    “Hmmm. This is a great blog post, but man, knowing that there is attorney biography 1 click away really makes me nervous. I wish this blog was on a totally separate website.”

    Or this:

    “Wow! This is great information. Too bad it’s on a law firm website. How do I know this information is really legit? I mean it appears to be written by lawyers…at a law firm. Hmmm. I better get information somewhere else.”

    My point is that if your blog is useful, no one cares if there is a firm “attached” it. Attorney’s marketing to other attorneys is akin to big ad agencies “doing it” for the awards and recognition. WIth this mindset, you forget about the actual customer – and what they want.

    I love how (most) attorneys think that their industry is somehow immune to ALL the things that typically work well well for most other industries. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sam’s posts and usually agree, but have differ with this one. I am not an attorney, but I do provide SEO services to law firms – in a very “un-SEO” like manner. Good SEO is seamless and you should not able to tell that it has been optimized. Hard? Yes. Possible? Absolutely.

    Who came up with the idea that your law firm has to be boring? Who say’s that a firm can’t formulate such an interesting strategy that people will love to come back to your website over and over to see what you post next week? If the lawyerist were a law firm and this site was “on” or “in” your firm website, I wouldn’t care, nor would I bounce because of it.

    Your blog CAN generate solid leads AND clients. I have proof. I will not get into details here (and this is not a sales pitch – I don’t want any more work) but I have seen small firms with 70% of retained clients coming from their website/blog. Good ones. Long term retainers. Landmark cases. Even wrongful death cases resulting in the city police dept. being sued – and settled. Clients walk in with a printed out blog in-hand and say “I don’t want this to happen to me”. That has happened many times, oddly enough.

    I was recently involved in the facilitation of a focus group that was actually part of a mock-jury trial and asked them questions in an effort to determine how to better establish trust on a firm’s website. Their biggest complaint was that too many firms come across as used car salesman; they talk about themselves too much and “yell out” how good they are (the results of marketing to other attorneys and not the client).

    I am definitely going to attempt to get this blog-on-your-firm-website question inserted into the next round of focus group questions, if I can. If anyone is interested, shoot me an email.

    Thanks for the great post!

  • http://www.obuinteractive.com Dean

    I’m of the mindset of leaving your blog on your website, not by itself.

    From a marketing standpoint, somewhere in your blog you are referencing your law firm and your expertise and your personality. Your blog can be a way of connecting with your audience on a more dynamic personable level, in combination with normal static content on your website. It allows for user interaction in the form of comments. It allows for indirect conversion points such as “sign-up to receive alerts”, get an e-book (kind of rare in the legal space but you get the point) etc.

    All of this can be under 1 roof, and best of all, you don’t have to waste the resources and breath in marketing 2 separate websites. In terms of SEO, chances are a blog on your website will bring more traffic to your website, more links and more brand mentions.

    Like one commenter said, a blog can be whatever you want it to be which is the truth, it really depends on what your goal is. And Kevin might be bias :)

    Keep it under 1 roof!

  • http://www.keithwilliamslawgroup.com/ Jennifer

    My blogs on both my sites (4 attorneys, 2 companies – kind of confusing), work very well where they are – on my sites. I can drive social media traffic to it, have it ready to back up my email newsletter, link to news (PR) releases on the site, etc. I’m not saying off site blogs wouldn’t benefit in a small way, but in my situation, they’re working well where they are and I honestly couldn’t handle yet another platform to provide fresh relevant content to anyway.