LexBlog is getting inquires from large law firms asking if it would be worthwhile to move their blogs from being independent sites onto their law firm website. The question appears to be driven by the desire for search engine performance.

The firm or someone advising the firm believes by moving independent blogs onto the firm’s website, the search engine performance of the website would be improved. Based on how well large law firm blogs are performing on Google that sure seems terribly misguided.

Look at the search engine performance of a few large law firm blogs.

Chicago Attorney, Dave Donaghue, a partner with Holland & Knight, blogs on Northern District of Illinois IP Cases on his Chicago IP Litigation Blog. The blog holds two out of the first five results on Google for a search on – Chicago IP.


And the second result on a Google search for – Chicago IP lawyer – even beating lawyer directories such as lawyers.com and Avvo, which work hard to perform high for such a search.

Chicago IP Lawyer Google Search

Sheppard Mullin blogs on legal issues facing the fashion, apparel, and beauty industry on its Fashion and Apparel Law Blog. The blog ranks number two for a Google search on – fashion law.

Fashion Law Google Search

Maryland Attorney, Brian Higgins, an associate with Blank Rome, blogs on IP issues at the Maryland Intellectual Property Law Blog. The blog holds the first three search results for a Google search for – Maryland IP.

Maryland IP

And the top five search results on Google search for – Maryland IP Lawyer.

Maryland IP Lawyer Google Search

Philadelphia Attorney Sean Wajert, a partner with Dechert, blogs on legal issues relating to mass tort and large scale product liability cases on his blog, Mass Tort Defense. The blog holds the top four results for a Google search on – mass tort defense.

Mass Tort Defense Google Search

As well as the top four results on a search for – mass defense lawyer.

Mass Tort Defense Lawyer Search on Google

It would be difficult or impossible for the respect law firm websites to achieve such Google rankings if you moved these blogs onto the firms’ websites.

It’s very possible that putting the blogs on the law firm websites would increase traffic on the law firms’ websites. That’s by very nature of having more content that could be retrieved on search.

But moving blogs onto law firm websites for better search results on Google seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  • The illustrations in this article really drive home the point you are trying to make. Firm websites for lawfirms with many practice groups are designed to illustrate that the firm can aptly address a client’s every legal need. Unfortunately it is impossible for a law firm website to SEO and win top placement for every practice group or every attorney – there’s simply too many search terms.

  • Thanks for the comment Jennifer. Large law firms with practice groups ranging from securities litigation to environmental law to commercial real estate to bankruptcy are not going to be able to rank well for those areas. As my readers know, I don’t think search is the leading way for good lawyers to get work. Word of mouth, a strong reputation, and relationships are preferred to search. But if you are going to place some emphasis on search, blogs are a much better way to get high rankings.

  • Hi Kevin,
    You provide empirical evidence for blogging on separate domains. And for many firms, it makes the most sense from an SEO perspective to use multiple domains. However, I’ve seen examples of the opposite.
    While there may be several other reasons for not blogging on your law firm website domain (which you have astutely made on previous posts) there are situations where unifying multiple domains as subdirectories of a primary firm website or blog can concentrate their “search engine potency”.
    The structure might look something like this:
    FirmDomain.com
    FirmDomain.com/AutoInjuryBlog
    FirmDomain.com/HospitalInjuryBlog
    etc.
    Again, there may be other reasons not to structure like this, however, from an SEO perspective, this might makes sense in some situations.

  • Kevin, excellent evidence here. I think we touched on this exact argument in our discussion a few weeks back.
    One additional point I’d like to add though is that law firms should be linking to each external blog article from their main firm sites.
    These firm site links would be an easy way to increase backlinks to the external blog, further elevating the blog’s status on Google, as well as providing valuable exposure to the great content found on the blogs.

  • shg

    Yet again, I’m confused. Adrian Dayton writes that blogs should always be tied to the law firm’s primary URL, never a separate entity. And Dayton, of course, is a keynote speaker at so many of the social media conferences. You attend those too sometimes, don’t you Kevin?
    Surely Adrian Dayton must know what he’s talking about, or he wouldn’t be such a big time social media guru, beloved by all the social media marketers.

  • Can’t help Scott, not sure what Dayton’s logic is. I have not attended conferences where Dayton has spoken. Perhaps he could share the names of the blogs for the clients he has worked with who have set them up as part of their law firm website.

  • Scott,
    Not sure where I stated that blogs should “always be tied to the law firms’ primary URL” – in fact none of my clients have blogs tied to their law firm URL.
    I think Kevin presents a pretty compelling argument here.
    The blogs of my clients are stand-alone as well, but are linked on the law firm website homepage. See http://dorsey.com as an example.

  • Great, great article. Over in Scotland, we are seeing some smart firms have standalone blogs, just as they have standalone Twitter accounts, which can link back into the main law firm website.

  • shg

    Adrian, I believe it’s your latest blog post, this one (with Kevin’s permission) http://adriandayton.com/2010/11/dear-law-firms-stop-hiding-your-blogs/ , where you write:
    “By using subdomains they keep their firm’s brand front and center and have flexibility in naming their blogs anything they like. This method allows for consistency across all of the twenty-six blogs they publish. Other firms should take note and follow this example as a means of streamlining their content to a growing contingent of more educated consumers.”
    Since it’s dated November 15th, I would assume that it remains sufficiently fresh in your recollection that you didn’t forget it between the time you posted and the time you commented here.

  • Kevin:
    I have to laugh. We’ve been having this same argument for years. I guess that if you say it often enough, people will start believing you. However, there is absolutely no SEO downside to incorporating a blog into your main site. The fact that some blogs now place highly for a particular keyword phrase only proves that they place highly for particular phases.
    This is just dead wrong:
    “It would be difficult or impossible for the respect law firm websites to achieve such Google rankings if you moved these blogs onto the firms’ websites.”
    Why not point all your Lexblog links to Blank Rome’s homepage for “Maryland IP Lawyer”?

  • I’ve never heard of Adrian, but the post referred to is a guest post done by someone else. The blogs the writer mentions are for sub-domains too. I’m not sure, but is that another discussion altogether? It looks like those blogs are by Lexblog as well.
    Back to the issue: There’s “more than one way to skin a cat.”
    BUT: I think it’s pretty clear that all things being equal (same amount of posts and inbound links), a blog that is practice specific (like Kevin advocates for) will rank better than a firm website w/blogs and multiple practice areas b/c:
    1)the content is solely related to that search term – it won’t get watered down
    2) the domain name is keyword related (last time I paid any attention, Google still likes that).
    3) Added benefit: I think Kevin mentioned before that people are more likely to link to a blog post that is actually on a blog rather than a long firm name website.
    Possible arguments for having multiple blogs on a firm websites:
    1) the firm domain name is authoritative. I assume a new blog at lexblog.com/new-practice-area-blog or new.lexblog.com would rank pretty well.

  • I disagree Patrick. It would be impossible for a large law firm to break out multiple practice areas – in some cases 25 or 50, and achieve these sort of rankings. That’s irrespective of the multiple marketing and relationship building reasons that a law firm would want it’s blogs outside the website architecture.

  • I disagree Patrick. It would be impossible for a large law firm to break out multiple practice areas – in some cases 25 or 50, and achieve these sort of rankings. That’s irrespective of the multiple marketing and relationship building reasons that a law firm would want it’s blogs outside the website architecture.

  • Steve Matthews provides some insight on this topic here: http://bit.ly/c6AH1h