I first heard about law blogs back in the early 2000s, when I was writing discrete, informational text entries, published in reverse chronological order, categorized by subject matter and syndicated for distribution to a wide audience, for a large legal news publisher.
Law blogs were reportedly a game-changing technology that allowed anyone to publish discrete, informational text entries, displayed in reverse chronological order, categorized by subject matter and syndicated for distribution to a wide audience.
For those already inside the publishing business, blogging was nothing new. Blogging looked like old-fashioned reporting dressed up in the latest cybergarb. (Actually, there was one difference: The only sources consulted by law bloggers were themselves.)
Here’s a fun game to play. Whenever you encounter a law firm slogan or tagline, say, “Prove it.”
Most taglines crumble in the face of this command. Decades of being subjected to commercial messaging have made us wary. Whether we know it or not, at some level, when we encounter marketing, we all say, “Prove it.” Websites that can’t respond to this constant challenge will not connect with visitors.
Too many taglines are like drive-by shootings. A quick rhetorical hit before the website speeds away on other business.
Fortunately, law firms can deliver on their tagline’s promise in a number of ways. By fleshing out the tagline’s meaning in content on “About” or “Mission” pages. By using the tagline as inspiration for blog posts. As a unifying theme for a series of case studies. Through copywriting that tells stories that make the tagline meaningful and real to prospective clients. Through visual imagery or through profiles that give the firm’s attorneys opportunity to deliver on the tagline’s promise. Or simply through the design of the website. Let me show you what I mean.
Most law firms with business practices are anxious to get their names in front of in-house counsel. If you’re in that boat, you should look hard at publishing with state bar journals. Here’s why: Every attorney reads these publications.
Specialty legal publications such as those produced by American Lawyer Media, Law360, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg BNA, and others, do a good job reporting news for a niche readership in many subject areas. In theory, they should be attractive vehicles for reaching in-house counsel. In practice, however, they’re not. I’ve been told more than once that the steep prices charged for these services place them beyond the budget of most in-house counsel law libraries. (Mentions of publication in these services look good on the firm website, however.)
Law blogs? In theory, the audience for a blog post is vast. In practice, information overload and findability challenges limit the effective reach of blog posts. According to a 2015 Greentarget/Zeughauser Group survey, just 35 percent of in-house counsel respondents rated law blogs as the most valuable form of law firm content. They liked client alerts more. Not everyone agrees, however. Regardless of where you come down on this debate, clearly many in-house counsel regularly read law firm blogs. Still, there’s no guarantee that they are reading your blog. This is particularly true if your firm is not actively promoting its blog posts.
For law firms that care about search engine traffic, the task of acquiring backlinks is high on their to-do list. This is due to the fact that today — and at least since Google’s 2012 Penguin Update — backlinks are a leading signal to Google that a particular webpage contains high-quality content.
Google’s PageRank algorithm piggy-backs on the collective judgment of the Internet by treating backlinks as one indicator (among many) that a website contains quality information. Google wants to present the best available information to its users, so PageRank sorts the highest quality websites to the top of search results responding to user queries.
Regarding backlinks, the consensus view among leading search engine marketers is that Google considers:
All three attributes are important: number, quality, and relevance. Large numbers of backlinks from low-quality, unrelated websites don’t move the needle anymore.
My piano teacher was a patient woman. Most weeks I’d show up at her house unprepared, plodding through the assigned pieces.
“Did you practice last week?” she’d ask. “This is very rough.”
“I did,” I lied.
There was no need for further interrogation on my practice habits. My playing spoke for itself.
Many times my teacher grew exasperated and shouldered me aside, playing through the assigned piece perfectly, not as a musical performance, but as a melodic accusation against my indolence. Other weeks we would go through the motions — her pretending to teach, and me pretending to learn — until our time together concluded.
If I sincerely wanted to learn to play the piano, she repeatedly advised, I should approach practice sessions this way: Work on the difficult passages first, play assigned scales and exercises next, then return to the assigned repertoire, again emphasizing the difficult passages; finally, finish up with fun, easier pieces from past lessons. Play slowly at first, build speed later, follow the fingering notations.
Five minutes later I was on my bike headed home, thinking, "I wish I knew the trick to getting good at piano."