In a blog post last week Legal website developer, Pete Boyd, took issue with my blog post and my subsequent interview with LawyersUSA advising lawyers to get their blog outside their website.

Pete’s a bright guy when it comes to law firm websites and has done some excellent work. But I think he misses the most powerful point of having a blog. It’s not to create SEO for your website. It’s not to get people to look at the wonderful things marketing people have written for copy on your website. It’s not to save money by powering the blog with your website.

Think of the way the best lawyers have gotten their work over the years. Did the best lawyers get their work out of the yellow pages and TV? No. Even as a plaintiff’s a personal injury myself for 17 years and spending a ton on yellow pages, TV, and the like, I got my best work by word of mouth. I got my work because other lawyers, doctors, and the public saw me as a good lawyer with a great team and with a passion for what I did.

Being at the top of the search results for location and what you do as a lawyer is increasingly becoming like running the largest ad in the yellow pages or the most TV ads. A word of mouth generated reputation on the Internet for lawyers is now as powerful, if not more powerful, than an offline word of mouth reputation.

Word of mouth is generated with a blog far, far greater when the law blog is away from the website. It shows your audience you are nor afraid to enter into a conversation and to share of yourself without saying see how great I am, see my 1-800 phone number, etc.

Law blogs inside a website get cited a lot less than blogs outside a website free of all the marketing spin. Law blogs outside a website are far more likely to be referenced in social media (twitter etc) and have their contact syndicated to major news sources such as the WSJ and the New York Times. I suppose law blogs inside a website could do the same, they just don’t.

Pete’s had a blog inside his PaperStreet website for years. I don’t see his blog content being regularly cited in a robust blogsphere and media discussing Internet marketing for law firms. I don’t see his blog posts being syndicated by mass media such as the WSJ. I don’t see his blog posts being referenced on Twitter by the thousands of legal professionals using this powerful word of mouth and branding tool.

Maybe Pete’s offering wonderful insight and commentary on law firm websites and Internet marketing on his blog. If so, it’s not be discussed. It’s not generating citations by other thought leaders and the media or being syndicated to mass media online sites, things that would generate a powerful word of mouth reputation.

Being referenced on other blogs, in the media, and across social media online is 50 times more powerful for a lawyer marketing on the Internet than high SEO.

Who am I more likely to hire, a lawyer #1 at Google for Tampa Personal Injury Law or a lawyer whose name I search at Google and find all types of references to what she’s written about by thought leaders and the media? SEO is great, and good blogs will dominate Google. But strong references to what I am saying, a tacit endorsement of me as an authority, is much more valuable.

As far as complimentary branding and info on the lawyer and their services, it’s all there on a well designed and architected blog. All with strategic linking to a law firm website. Sure, there’s a ton of a law blogs that do not do this branding right. That’s a reflection of many people saying you can do a blog yourself or at little expense.

A lawyer’s most important investment is the investment they make in themselves. An investment that makes certain that the public, referral sources, bloggers, conference coordinators, and the media see the lawyer as a thought leader in their field – see the lawyer as a reliable and trusted authority in the lawyer’s area of expertise.

Realizing that investment doesn’t come because all a lawyers energy and money goes into a website, chasing SEO, and pinching pennies when it comes to a blog, something much more powerful in creating a word of mouth reputation than a website alone.

It’s time we who have practiced law for years and who know how the best lawyers got their work to tell lawyers how to best leverage the powers of the Internet. The timing has never been better on the Internet than now to to leverage social media, blogging being a central part of it, to further enhance a lawyer’s reputation and grow their reputation by word of mouth.

The best lawyers are not going to achieve what they can via the Internet if we’re directing them to more of the same. More money on Websites. More money on SEO. More money on adwords from Google.

Good lawyers need to use the tools at hand to get work and retain clients the way we always have as lawyers – by having an outstanding reputation generated by word of mouth.