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How effective is a general law blog for the entire law firm?

January 26, 2015

John Hopkins who heads up all things digital for the Florida law firm of Searcy Denny 
asked over on my LinkedIn Legal Blogging Group if it was more effective for a firm of 33 lawyers to have individual blogs for lawyers or one blog for the entire firm. For both SEO and readers. 

A “general law firm blog” with a large number of lawyers covering various areas of the law tends to be a non-starter. In Hopkins’ case, one blog covering various types of plaintiff’s claims.  That doesn’t mean though that you’ll have a blog for each lawyer.

Think of a blog as a niche magazine. Who would subscribe to a blog that’s a blend of “Modern Bride, “Field & Stream” and “Runners World?” 

Busy members of your audience will not want email updates or RSS feeds from your blog when some of the areas covered are of no interest to them. 

Influencers and amplifiers (bloggers, social media users, traditional media, associations) will not subscribe to your blog as these folks tend to be niche focused as to the publications to which they subscribe. Think probate litigation, Connecticutt employment, estate planning, infrastruture, Ninth Circuit appellate,  M & A, and food safety law.

If the influencers and amplifiers do not subscribe to your blog, it will be difficult for your blog to gain traction and subscribers. Your blog will not be cited by other bloggers or reporters. Those liberally sharing third party content on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook will not be sharing your posts. It’ll be like blogging in the middle of a cornfield, no one will see you.

Law firm blogs can be tough to get off the ground and sustain. Law bloggers need love and success to stay motivated. 

Getting cited by other bloggers, posts shared on social media, called by reporters, invited to speak at a conference, client kudos and a compliment from a judge are the things that keep lawyers blogging. They’ll keep lawyers motivated to blog until they reach the ultimate goal of landing high quality work via word of mouth and relationships built through blogging. 

A general law firm blog requires a lot of push on the part of individual lawyers. If blog posts are not getting cited and shared, lawyers need to strategically share individual posts by email with specific clents and prospectice clients. Lawyers would be advised to do this some anyway, but it can be awful tough to have to push your blog posts out of the cornfield.

Blogs not getting cited and sharred will do worse on search. Google is looking at influence and authority as determined by third party recognition. 

General law firm blogs forfeit the mantle of expertise law blogs can claim. What’s the name of the blog? Smith Jones Law Firm Blog? This says little more than we are a law firm and we have a blog. 

Compare that to California Water Law published by Frank Trelease. Shouts integrity and niche expertise. 

That’s a blogger I am going to cite as a blogger on California environmental law. That’s a blogger who I am going to call as a reporter when working on a story on the water rights of adjoining vineyards. That’s a blogger whose posts I am going to share on social media in my role as a university professor and consultant.

Law blogs are not the same as articles on a website and email alerts. They don’t belong in a website in any form. They are a different animal. 

Not to worry about SEO first. Search peformance comes from blogging well. Google will see the niche subject you blog on and your growing influence in the area. Your posts will rank high. In time, your posts may be included in Google News, something a general law firm blog could never accomplish.

I understand the motivation to just get a blog done, to have it on the firm’s website for search engine optimization, to satisfy the competing interests of all the lawyers who say they want to blog and to satisfy your fear that without a lot of lawyers there will not be enough content.

Don’t bend. You’ll likely learn to regret it.

You’ll not get blog traction. Lawyers will become disgruntled. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, based on the lawyers’ time, will be lost. You’ll not build word of mouth, trust and relationships. You’ll not gain business. 

There are exceptions to the rule. One would be a magazine site which would enable a firm to have a standalone publication, seperate and apart from the firm website. The goal would be to demonstrate expertise, personalize firm leaders, to gain trust and nurture existing relationships. That’s different than a general law firm blog. 

Some individual lawyers may have their own blog, but not having a general law firm blog does not mean every lawyer needs their own blog. Not every lawyer is born to blog. Group law blogs jointly authored by a number of lawyers are prevalent. 

The key in group blogs is emowering indidual lawyers to cover those areas of the niche they most enjoy following. Lawyers should also be encouraged to write in their own voice and style. Readers are atrracted to personalities, just as they are in the case of a newspaper or magazine columnist. 

New to blogging as a law firm? Get started with two to four blogs focused on niches. Maybe it’s one. 

Ideally the areas in which you blog are aligned with your firm’s overall business strategy. To maintain clients in some areas, while growing the client base in others. You may identify a niche opportunity not being addressed by anyone.

If you grow to ten or more blogs in the years ahead, that’s great. You’ll have developed new business. You’ll have some “blog champions” who can advise and coach future bloggers. You’ll be ready to currate and aggregate your blog content.

Go individual blogs. You’ll discover what blogging is all about and build word of mouth and relationships in niche areas serving you for the long haul. 

Image courtesy of Flickr by Netlaw media

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