Lawyers ask me all the time “What is the most effective way to market myself?” I tell them it’s a no-brainer. Use a blog for five reasons:
- Blogs build reputations quickly
- Blogs deliver high search engine results overnight
- Blogs deliver content to your targeted audience through syndication
- Blogs keep you front of current & past clients
- Blogs attract potential clients
- Blogs are easy to use for publishing to the Internet
- Blogs are inexpensive
Blogs build reputations quickly. Readers visit a blog because it is interesting and useful. Because blogs reflect a person’s interests they become a resource for information, news and links on a specific topic.
A lawyer whose blog focus is on a particular area of the law becomes known as a expert in that area. Providing a valuable resource for the law, news and insight on this area of expertise is enough to garner a following among colleagues, current & past clients, the public, and the media. A lawyer taking the extra step to comment on the information she is providing on the blog is looked at as insightful and informed.
Lawyers have long understood that sharing information is one of the best ways to gain respect in their field. Historically, a lawyer would have had to publish a book or magazine article or speak at a seminar. Plus such opportunities were tough to come by until the lawyer became well recognized. A blog eliminates the gatekeepers a lawyer reaches their audience directly.
A reputation can be built quickly with a blog. With the right announcements, online publicity and additions of valuable content to the blog, there is no reason a good lawyer cannot establish themselves as an expert among a broad based community within six months to a year.
Blogs deliver high search engine results overnight. Google gives preference to Web sites that are updated frequently and that it determines to be relevant. Relevance is measured by incoming links from other sites.
Each time content is added to your blog it has been updated. The next time google ‘spiders’ your site google will see that your site has new content. Once google realizes that your site is updated frequently, it will visit your site more often. In a short time your blog will be ‘spidered’ on a daily basis. I have posted to my blog and found the entry on a search at google within a day or two.
Because a lawyer’s blog will be a resource for people & organizations looking for information in the area of the lawyer’s expertise, the blog will be linked to by their own Web sites and blogs. This process is accelerated by a ‘linkage campaign’ telling targeted Web sites & blogs about your resource and suggesting they may wish to link to your blog as a resource for their audience. The more focused the expertise the more links you’ll create.
The combination of currency of content and links to the blog will result in a rise to the top of google search results very quickly. When people do a search in the area of the lawyer’s expertise they may well find the blog above older and more comprehensive sites.
I can’t tell you how often I have looked for a lawyer at google by area of the law and location and found little more than ‘junk sites’ offering a directory of lawyers that is empty and or some service offering nothing of value. A lawyer with a blog on that topic listing their location would come out on the top of that search. I did a search this evening for “California intellectual property lawyer.” I did not find a large firm with a long history and a big marketing budget. I found number one in the results a blog by Denise Howell, a California intellectual property lawyer, of course.
Blogs deliver their content through syndication. Readers of a good blog use the blog as a resource for information. Users want to know about new content added to the blog. Blogs use a RSS (real simple syndication) feed that allows readers to receive new posts to the blog via newsreaders they have on their computers. In the alternative, readers may subscribe to receive the syndicated content by email.
We have all visited sites we thought offered valuable information. Often we never returned to the site forgetting all about it and not being able to find the site when we went looking to return. Combine that with a lawyer’s desire to push content out to existing clients, the public and the media and syndication is a big plus.
Blogs keep you front of current & past clients. Mindshare is an invaluable client retention and new client development tool. We want current & past clients to think of us when they have new legal needs. We want these folks to recomend us to prospective clients. Lawyers have historically done this with mailings, hard copy newsletters and socializing. Blogs are a much more cost effective and timely way to do the job.
Blogs attract potential clients. We know of search engine results already. When people click to your blog they will begin to feel they are dealing with a trusted expert. You are personable, down to earth and writing in a way average folks can relate to. There is consumer friendly legal information about the area of law in which the lawyer specializes, when people may be able to handle such a matter on their own, resources & agencies that may be of help, when the help of a lawyer is needed and how to select that lawyer.
Blogs are easy to use for publishing to the Internet. Lawyers are probably the worst creatures in the world for spending a bunch of money on a Web site and never updating it. That’s the result of a lot of things:
- Vendors and developers of Web sites not caring what the site does after they hand it off to the lawyers
- Lawyers not understanding the need to add content to draw clients and perform in the search engines
- Lawyers and their staffs not knowing how to do all the technical stuff such as ‘html coding’, uploading the content to their Web site and linking the content to the necessary pages on their site
- Lawyers not wanting to incur the costs of updating their site
In some cases, posts can be added to a blog as easily as it is to write an email. The heavy upfront costs of a Web site are eliminated and money is now available, if needed, for locating content, posting it to the blog and a little Internet marketing work to draw people to the blog.
Blogs are inexpensive. In theory a blog could be run by using a monthly Web based service for $15 a month or even for free by downloading blogging software and installing it on your own server. Though there are some innovative lawyers, most will not have the time, patience or technical aptitude to take advantage of these next to nothing prices.
However, a lawyer willing to spend some time working the blog on regular basis can run an effective blog by hiring someone to set things up (technically and for a professional look) and to teach the lawyer how to use the blog. To perform at a better level a lawyer could have someone do research for new content, add the content to the blog, do an online public relations campaign and perform ongoing search optimization work. Such work will still be more cost effective than ineffective Web sites sold by some developers and far less than offline advertising.
If you are a lawyer looking for the most effective way to market yourself, get blogging or find someone to do it for you.