You may be surprised by my answer here, and maybe I am being a bit contrarian or borderline idealist, but I do not believe that most lawyers should have a blog on their website.
What? Are you crazy?
I know that there are over 7 million results on Google when searching for, “should lawyers blog?”
When looking at the results on that page and the next few pages, almost all of the articles (except one by ATL’s Keith Lee) are waxing on the many, many benefits of blogging for lawyers.
Of course, almost all of the benefits cited though are marketing related, like ranking better due to SEO or getting more leads due to your new incredible authority because you have a blog.
I will admit that we have had friendly debates in the past with LexBlog’s Kevin O’Keefe about lawyer blogs in the past, but that was before I came around more to his argument. We still differ on some nuanced things, but the big piece we agree on is that lawyers should blog—but only if they WANT TO BLOG.
Blogging is work. It takes time to research and put out 1000 words each week. It also tends to put you out there very publicly as on one side of an issue, which can result in less-than-fun reactions in the comments on your blog or on social media.
So why would a lawyer want to blog?
I believe that lawyers should blog if, and only if, you have a topic you have a passion for that you are willing to share ideas about while curating opinions and information on the topic. Your passion should drive you to want to have a voice in the conversation.
And guess what, if you are blogging for that reason, you are certainly not outsourcing your blog writing. What freelance content writer or marketing agency is going to be able to accurately represent your voice in these important conversations?
What I am saying is that you should not outsource your passionate voice on your blog.
What? A marketing agency telling me not to outsource blog posts to their writers, there you go again Mark, are you crazy?
Crappy Blogs are Hurting Your Brand
If you are blogging, or in reality, trying to come up with a bland 400–600-word blog post each week because you read somewhere that doing so would make your site rank on the first page of Google for “divorce attorney Atlanta GA,” then you are blogging for the wrong reasons.
You are creating a section of your law firm website that says you know how to talk a lot about nothing. Talking about nothing may have worked for Jerry Seinfeld but this is probably not the brand you want to convey on your website.
Full disclosure here, a few years ago you would have still heard us telling lawyers at CLEs that blogging is a good marketing tactic for SEO and ranking.
Yes, it worked, but the more we focused on the long-term with our law firm clients, the more we focused on the law firm’s overall brand; which encompassed the experience a prospective client had from their first Google search looking for an answer, to the interaction on the website, the initial phone call conversation with the receptionist, to each and every meeting with their team at the law firm.
The more we looked at the blogs most law firms had, and even some of the ones we were creating, we realized that many blogs on law firm websites were taking away from the client experience, not enhancing it.
On top this “aha” moment, I have been forced to read so much—let’s be blunt—crappy content over the years when providing web presence consultations and audits I felt there had to be a better way.
When I asked the attorney about the blog content, most all said it was there because the lawyer was told he needed to buy a package of content each month for SEO reasons.
Many of the lawyers were not even required to approve the content, it just showed up on the blog each month. That’s just crazy and ethically dangerous. None of the companies selling these packages ever tell the lawyer that they should be the ones writing the blog content, either.
Let’s assume over the years that about ten thousand solo, small, and medium law firms were sold these packages of four blogs a month. That is almost half a million blog posts a year not written by the attorneys themselves about anything they care about. The content I have read on law firm websites managed by Justia and Findlaw certainly show that you can only write so many blogs before they all start to sound the same and provide no differentiation benefit for the law firm.
If you have ever had this type of package sold to you, you are likely cringing right now as you know exactly what I am talking about
I did a search for “divorce attorney Atlanta GA” and quickly found this law firm website, with what looks like an outsourced law firm blog. I don’t know this firm, but you can see that this content is not adding any benefit to the client experience. It is just a regurgitation of another article about something that should likely just be on some pages about divorce practice area elsewhere on the website.
How to Lose the Blog, Not the SEO Value
Based on my findings, I put a challenge to our team a couple years ago. How do we allow law firms to get rid of most of this blog content that is not providing value and, in fact, probably hurting the brand, but also not lose any overall SEO gains arrived by the consistent blog posting over the years?
I told the team that if we are the legal marketing experts we think we are, and Google’s goal is really to try to put the best information in front of web searchers, then there has to be a better way to get the SEO benefits for a law firm website and still provide the right information, consumer experience, and brand experience for the web searcher (and prospective client).
Over about a year we tried a lot of different strategies and were finally able to see some success. Armed with the ability to have a quality website experience for the law firm’s prospective clients without a bland blog not written by any lawyer in the firm, we affirmed our thinking.
There are other ways to approach the search engine optimization content benefits that are more in line with most law firm’s brand and can highlight their knowledge and experience.
Things like answering all the frequently asked questions you get each and every day from prospective clients, sharing deeper information about all the different sub-issues for each practice area you handle so someone can relate their exact issue to your services better, or referencing information about specific laws and potential outcomes or warnings that are not easy to find on government websites.
You can write hundreds of pages of content that adds value to the person searching Google to try to get an answer to a question and shows that your firm is an obvious authority on the topic. All without having to have the word BLOG in your menu bar.
As a side benefit to the above, a lot of that content can be outsourced to a new associate, paralegals, or even outside freelancers or agency with experience in the legal industry. One exception we feel strongly about is that the frequently asked questions should be answered by the lawyers who handle the same questions on the phone or in person with prospective clients.
Next time someone tells you that you need a blog for marketing reasons, know that they are falling back on an old tactic that is not going to provide the overall long-term brand experience you want your law firm website to portray.
Now, remember, I am not saying that lawyers should never blog. If you do have a topic you are passionate about and have been thinking about getting your voice into the conversation with a blog, then, by all means, do so.
You can add that blog to your website and ask your website agency to show you how to post blogs to the website. They can even give you a few tips on some onsite SEO things to do to maximize the effort you are putting in. You may also want to give Kevin O’Keefe a call to talk about joining the LexBlog network.