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Lawyers are notorious for publishing their websites and then abruptly forgetting about them. Unfortunately, outdated content can quickly diminish a lawyer’s credibility. Do not let an apparent lack of attention to detail or an appearance of being “behind the times” cause you to lose potential clients.
I challenge you to set a resolution for your practice to review your content for expired, outdated, or inaccurate information. This article can help you get started.
Examples of Outdated or Expired Content
If you published your website, at least, a year ago, I guarantee you have at least one update you can make to your website copy. If you are not sure, then consider these three common areas where outdated or expired content appears:
- Years of experience. Most lawyers list their years of experience as a factor to instill trust and reliability. As a way to avoid making updates every year, lawyers will choose to write “more than five years of experience” or “nearly ten years of experience.” But then they eventually forget that those numbers are there, and fail to update once they have hit new practice milestones.
- Outdated legal information. One of the best ways to write content for your audience is to provide detailed information about the legal issues you handle. This may include citing relevant statutes or upcoming legislative action. But statutes change and legislative seasons pass.
- Outdated practice areas. This issue arises in one of two ways: a lawyer’s practice evolves to include or exclude areas that were not included in the initial website release, or a certain legal issue appears or disappears due to legal updates. Recent examples of changes in the law include same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana.
How to Identify Which Content Needs Updating
One of the most reliable ways to ensure you keep your content updated is to run a content audit on your site.
A content audit is an all-encompassing view of your existing website copy. There are many benefits to running an audit — one of which is ensuring you have an eye on pages that may require updating in the future. The simplest way to run an audit is to first create a full inventory of your site.
The easiest method of capturing your audit in one place is to create a usable content inventory within a single spreadsheet. This spreadsheet should include at least the following items for every page on your site:
- Page ID
- Page Title
- H1 (main header)
- H2 (subheader)
- Meta Description
- Title Tag
- Word Count
- Content Type (Landing Page, Article, Blog Post, PDF, etc.)
- Content Summary
- Updates Required? (Yes or No)
- Date Audited
- Date Last Updated
The quickest way to gather most of this information is to run Screaming Frog, a free SEO-tool (available for Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu). Once you download Screaming Frog to your computer and run your website, it will automatically report out the main SEO-related items on your site (e.g., URL, Title, H1, description, etc.). From there, you can pull out the relevant data into an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Drive spreadsheet.
At that point, you will need to sit down and spend some time going page-by-page on your website. Review all the content on each page for outdated SEO practices, inaccurate statements, irrelevant content, and other potential content issues. Mark down in your spreadsheet what each page is about and highlight pages that require updates.
This process will take some time if you have a large website. The time spent is well worth it, however, as this audit will help you understand what holes exist in your content, what updates you need to make, and which steps you can take to improve your content to take your site to the next level.
Ensuring Your Content Remains Up-to-Date Moving Forward
It is important that you use your content audit to track your ongoing website activity. Update the inventory spreadsheet as you update your website. And implement an editorial calendar that will help you remain aware of your content as time progresses.
This calendar can be as in-depth as you want it to be. For instance, you could include dates for when you want to run your next content inventory, weekly, or biweekly dates to publish out new blog posts, and as-needed updates to make as you prepare for speaking engagements or CLE presentations.
The trick with a content calendar is that you need to hold yourself accountable to the dates you set. It is far too easy to push off these tasks to “another day” and let them fall by the wayside altogether. If you feel you may fall into this routine, reach out to a colleague to help hold you accountable, have this task as part of one of your staff’s requirements, or outsource the work to your website marketing company. Just make sure you stick to it.
Writing Generalized Copy Is Not the Answer
If the goal for your website is to drive traffic and/or convert leads to paying clients, then you cannot afford to write generalized, or thin, content. Thin content does not connect with your reader and it does not provide enough information to entice someone to contact you.
Make sure you take time to write compelling, relevant content for your website. Then follow up that initial investment by staying on top of your content through ongoing audits.
Free Content Audit Resources
You do not need to start from scratch to get the content inventory and audit process rolling. Here are several free resources to help you:
- Here is a list of several free content inventory and audit templates
- This post offers a greater variety of items to track on your inventory
- Neil Patel has a great step-by-step guide of how to add your Google Analytics data into your content inventory
- This post from Distilled outlines several tools to use to create an editorial calendar
Take a look at these free tips and tools, find the ones that work for you, and get started.
Originally published 2014-01-14.
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