By Kevin O'Keefe

Lawyer Blogs > what is a blog?

What is a blog (weblog, their formal name) ? A Web site, usually maintained by one person or small group that is easily updated on a regular basis, has a high concentration of repeat visitors, has its content pushed to subscribers by RSS (really simple syndication) and usually allows for interaction by commenting on the ‘bloggers’ posts. Blogs are often highly focused around a singular subject or theme. The aim is to provide the blog’s readers with a continuous source of news and available resources about a given topic. Maintained by professionals like lawyers, blogs build and enhance the reputation of their publishers.

Let’s examine the components of a blog:

  • A Web site. That’s really all a blog is. Most of the time new entries will be placed at the top and a set of links will appear on the side pointing to similar sites or blogs. But that’s really just the result of the blogging software templates people have used to create blogs. Blogs could be created to look and function like any Web site. Blogs are viewed with a Web browser such as Internet explorer as in the case of any Web site. Blogs also come up in search engine results the same as Web sites.
  • Usually maintained by one person or a small group. Blogs are usually personal publications as opposed to Web sites which are published by an entity or organization. There are blogs published by a few people on a collaborative basis but again blogs tend to identify with their publisher. Readers get an honest feel for who the blog publisher is and tend to form a stronger bond with the publisher than with a firm that publishes a Web site.
  • Easily updated. Adding a post to a blog is darn near as easy as writing an email. New blogging tools allow you to type into a blank box, click a button and ‘shazzam,’ it’s up on the net and syndicated to your audience. In addition blogging tools allow you to incorporate html code by highlighting text and clicking a button so you can bold, underline, italicize or hot-link text so it links to another Web page.
  • Updated on a regular basis. This is big. Blogs need to be content rich. Good blogs are a ‘Web filter’ for news, information and resources on a particular topic. A blog should be updated a few times a week. Doing so, readers look to the blog publisher for information and your blog will perform much better in the search engines.
  • Highly focused around a singular subject or theme. The public has the impression blogs are for activists or folks journaling their everyday lives. Not true for professional blogs. There are blogs about specific areas of the law, science, medicine or business. The more topic focused the more people who will read your blog and the more likely search engines will provide it a high ranking.
  • High concentration of repeat visitors. You and your blog are going to be your current clients’, prospective clients’, the public’s and the media’s eyes and ears on a particular topic. As opposed to most Web sites, these folks are going to visit your blog as a result of receiving notice of new posts via syndication or email.
  • Content pushed to subscribers by RSS (really simple syndication). People need to come to your Web site to read your content. With a blog, you will syndicate or push your content to your readers through a ‘news-feed’ reader on your audience’s computer or via their email. More on this in my syndication piece.
  • Interaction by commenting on the blogger’s posts. Most blog software allows readers to comment on posts added to the blog. This is important for two reasons. One, a sense of community develops around the blog resulting in mutual learning and adding to the blogger’s image as an expert on the topic. Second this adds to the blog’s content, making the blog a ‘go-to’ place for information on the topic and increasing the blog’s relevance for search engines.

Come to think of it, a blog sounds a awful like a Web site with some bells and whistles that make it a more powerful marketing tool for a lawyer than a typical Web site. Erik Heels, a leading Internet lawyer and author, may be right when he defines blogs as websites created and maintained with weblog software. Eric’s also right in saying “Should law firms publish weblogs? Definitely.”

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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