Friday, 17 May 2013

The Secular Lawyer: Seperation of Website and Blog

For me personally, I just knew this as of instinct: that your legal blog should be entirely seperate of your legal website. I felt it self evident. Though I was aware that many legal heads and law firms neither practiced this doctrine nor did they get it. I never wrote about it however; but I always felt it needed said.

That's where lawyerist.com comes in. Lawyerist founder Sam Glover digitally penned a piece in April 2013 called, 'Your Blog does Not Belong on Your Law Firm Website'. This built on a similar essay that dates back to November 2011 entitled, 'Get Your Law Blog Off Your Website.'

Why do we require a seperation between the two? Sam explains.

The best extract from Sam's first essay (November 2011):

Law firm websites

'A law firm website is a marketing tool that serves one purpose: getting visitors who are potential clients to contact the firm. It is usually fairly static, and should contain information about the firm and its attorneys and practice areas, and make it easy for potential clients to contact the firm and find the office. Most people will visit the firm website once or twice, and on the basis of those visits decide whether to contact the firm or not.

There are lots of good secondary purposes for a law firm website. Some firms include client portals, resources for clients, and more. But if a firm’s website doesn’t turn non-clients into clients, it’s failing at its primary function.'

Law blogs 

'A blog is not a direct marketing tool; it serves a very different purpose. Blogs are meant to be read. By people, that is, not search engines. They can (and should) include FAQ posts and award announcements, but those posts won’t keep readers coming back. Blog posts are not ad copy (nor are they legal briefs). Blogging is often a unique combination of journalism, commentary, and (sometimes) inciting a riot.
If the main purpose of your blog is to attract search traffic, you are doing it wrong. Law firm websites and blogs have completely different purposes, content, and audiences. They don’t even belong on the same domain.'

In his second essay (April 2013) Sam goes deeper and provides 4 reason why to seperate blog and website: 

'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.'
Well there you go, the comprehensive low down on why lawyers and law firms need to seperate blog and website.

16 comments:

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  2. I agree that law blogs should be separate from websites. A blog should be examined as a tool that gives valuable info to those in need of it the most. It's where legal advice, tips, and current state of affairs should be, info that stirs discussions and encourages other ideas as well. A blog promotes organic Law Firm Search Engine Optimization by promoting natural efforts to increase rankings in search engines.

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