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Complete review of best blog solutions for law firms

Carrying on from an earlier discussion on a law marketing listserv, Tim Stanley, co-founder of FindLaw, now head of Justia, the leading search engine optimized Web site developer for law firms, and publisher of the Justia Legal SEO Blog (wow, was that a mouthful), posted a great review of blog solutions for law firms. Tim has given me permission to post his post to the listserv which I can safely call a complete review of blog solutions. Take it away Tim.

Here are some quick notes on the hosted services LexBlog, TypePad, Blogger, LiveJournal, Radio’s Manilla and software solutions MovableType and WordPress. I have used others (MSN Spaces :), but they are not likely to be considered by law firms.

Hosted Services

Blogger
Blogger is Free. And from Google. It does not have a lot of features, such as categories, the ability to make multiple RSS feeds etc… Search is a Google Search on the subdomain. The “Next Blog” link could be a link to a list of porn sites, or a(nother) LegalMatch blog (you can publish your blog to a remote server, which will remove the next blog link). And they do not provide RSS feeds, only ATOM feed (except for old time Blogger Pro customers). There are workarounds for the category functionality, RSS feeds and other limitations, but it is not as simple as it should be.

Here’s my links to some Blogger workarounds.

Examples:

  • BizzBangBuzz, Anthony Cerminaro (hosted by Google)
  • LegaLine, Bob Ambrogi (published to his server)

LexBlog
LexBlog is best, well designed templates, solid SEO, strong introductions to the blogging community, and full pinning of the news reader services. Basically you get a great looking custom design and all of the little things to help it produce results. We went with LexBlog and recommend them to our clients.

Examples:

TypePad
TypePad is Six Apart’s hosted blog service. It is pretty good, the standard templates are okay, but not great (and not unique). You can make your own CSS templates if you like, but it is not as flexible as making templates for Six Apart’s MovableType. TypePad does not have the ability to search across posts or to have posts emailed to users (there are workarounds using free third party services). Also the bandwidth restrictions, although not enforced at this time, are relatively low (my dog’s blog is a pro plan that is well over 200% usage of the bandwidth).

Examples:

A few others…

NOTE: Some of the major hosting services, including Blogger’s blogspot,com and TypePad are having their Web sites being made inaccessible by some filters. If you do go with TypePad, I would recommend setting the blog to your own domain name.

Software

MovableType
MovableType is good, but the plugin community seems to be moving/running to WordPress since Six Apart started charging. Very user friendly system, and relatively easy to install the Vanilla version (could be more tricky if you are using your own database for the posts).

The real issue is making design templates and integrating plugins or writing your own code for features, such as code that will truly search engine optimizing the blog, which is not included with base version. As Kevin noted, LexBlog uses a custom implementation of MovableType, with functionality, additional search engine optimization features as well as higher level custom designs.

WordPress
WordPress is not as good as MovableType… yet. This will be the best software in about 2 years. Relatively painless to install. Open Source and Free.

Example: Ken Chan – OneCLE

Manila

I would go with either the above two first. The UI and terminology make the Manilla to use for users/posters. It is just not an enjoyable blogging experience.

Final Notes

We went with LexBlog for the Justia Legal SEO Blog and TypePad for Little Sheba the Hug Pug. If I was setting up and hosting my own blog, I would use MovableType.

There are a bunch of other services (SquareSpace …) starting up / maturing, but I would not really consider these at this point in time from a law firm standpoint.

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