Years ago, content marketing strategies could be a lot simpler. All you had to do to drive traffic to your law firm’s site was to post content laden with the right keywords.
Then Panda happened. In 2011, Google updated its search algorithms through its Panda update. Panda changed our lives – or at least how we approached content marketing.
Content Marketing in a Post-Panda World
It would be an understatement to say that Panda was disruptive. Suddenly, all that keyword-laden content was useless, and everyone scrambled rethinking how to assemble and execute a content marketing strategy for their law firms.
When the dust settled, savvy content marketers realized that the update actually rewarded doing the right thing. Good content meant good content. And Panda ensured that good content was rewarded with traffic from Google’s new search algorithms.
What Is Good Content?
We’ll start with what good content is not. Good content is not overly stuffed with keywords. And it’s not written in legalese to show how smart we are. Good content informs; it educates. It isn’t written with some target keyword density in mind. And it doesn’t talk over the heads of those who follow the search engine links to your sites. Good content and good content strategies also have to recognize that you are not writing for other lawyers. You are writing for people seeking the services of lawyers. You have to position law firm content so that it appeals to people who may have basic, or even no, understanding of law and lawyers.
Are Keywords Still Important?
Yes. Google’s algorithms still use keywords to determine what your site is about. But, today, post-Panda, the idea is to create a site, page, and posts that educate, that address the topic and do not exist solely to launch keywords into cyberspace. Keyword stuffing actually seems to be penalized by Google when it ranks your site.
Sometimes, the best way to write good content is to look at the content produced by others in your space — other law firms. What do they rank for in search engine results? What don’t they rank for in those results? Learn from their successes and failures and use those insights to craft your own content.
What Else Leads to Good Content?
It is important to update content once it is posted. Search algorithms seem to value fresh content over stale, forgotten content. This makes sense. If you’ve come to the web to seek advice, you are more likely to value advice written this year, than something that was produced 15 years ago and never touched again.
Length is important too. The ideal length of a blog post needs to balance between delivering quality information, holding a reader’s attention, and satisfying the non-human robots that are going to evaluate it for its search engine ranking. Research generally indicates that the attention span of today’s generations is shrinking, which seems to call for shorter, more concise posts. But, other research indicates that posts that surpass 1000 or even 2000 words perform the best in Google’s search engine rankings. The takeaway here is that you need to write for both purposes, which means a content strategy that uses a mixture of short posts between 300 and 500 words, and longer-form posts that educate at a deeper level and get picked up more readily by search engine robots.
The important thing with longer-form posts is to ensure that they remain readable and digestible, by breaking them out into chunks of smaller text blocks that can be scanned and understood easily and at a glance.
That means short paragraphs and effective use of headings and subheadings.
The Bottom Line
In the end, good content strategies rely on good content. Even if you manage to crack Google’s search algorithms, once visitors arrive at your site and read your content, the quality has to be there, or they will move on without contacting you or retaining your services. In the end, the goal of every law firm’s website should be to attract business, not just traffic.