Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, announced last Monday, “If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.” Many savvy lawyers understand that guest posting is a useful item in a legal marketer’s toolbox, and Matt Cutt’s declaration changes nothing for lawyers going about it the right way.
What Is Guest Posting?
Kevin O’Keefe said it best at Real Lawyers Have Blogs: “Bloggers do more than just write posts.”
…”They socialize.” The most successful bloggers are ones who have been able to expand their reach through tactics such as guest posting. For example, Lawyernomics readers have come to expect high-quality posts from experts such as Gyi Tsakalakis, and Stephen Fairley, amongst many other authors. Authorities in legal marketing value guest posting opportunities on Lawyernomics not because of the additional link value our links provide them (the type of guest posts Google is devaluing), but because their contributions drive traffic to their websites, build their authority as a publisher, and are great ways to develop relationships in the field of legal marketing.
What can guest posting do for you?
One of the biggest advantages guest posting gives is its ability to attract new customers. One of the biggest problems we hear in legal marketing is the difficulty in cultivating “qualified leads,” a problem which guest posting alleviates. For example, Casey Berman runs a community aimed at, “helping unhappy attorneys leave the law.” He was invited to contribute to Above The Law, Avvo’s number two legal blog known for its tongue-in-cheek tone about the legal system. I would guarantee that Casey’s guest post not only helped drive traffic to his community, but the new visitors converted at a higher rate given ABL’s jocular audience.
When prospecting guest posting opportunities, use tools such as SEMRush or Quantcast to see how much traffic these websites have. Furthermore, use Followerwonk to utilize Twitter engagement as a proxy for web traffic.
Getting customers through guest posting is great, but this form of user acquisition is subject to high attrition rates. Another benefit of guest posting is the potential to build business opportunities that would have otherwise been implausible. Blogs such as China Law Blog and Volokh Conspiracy receive thousands of readers every month and are great places to become noticed by potential clients. Unfortunately, publishing for such well-renowned blogs in the legal sphere is a hard sell.
In order to be able to contribute to these blogs and drive business back to your practice, map out an outreach and publishing schedule in order to reach your guest posting goals. In order to publish at a top-tier blog, you’ll need to develop relationships with bloggers in their extended networks. A great way to do this is to look at common links in blogrolls and discover which blogs are mentioned often — and reach out to them first.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the readers you’ve gained and relationships you’ve built will solidify you as an authority in your field of practice. Akin to having a respected reputation as a lawyer, building your authority as a legal professional online has similar benefits such as increased leads and better web visibility.
In addition to increasing your client base, having an established authorship profile will increase your SEO presence. Google recently decreased the number of authorship snippets by about 15 percent across search results, citing quality standards as the main reason. As mentioned earlier, guest posting is just one way in which lawyers can establish their authority in the field, so selectively contributing to other publications can be a good way to get noticed by the search engines.
With that said, getting noticed is a double-edged sword. For example, the value that this post provides is questionable. Furthermore, the author’s byline leaves a blatant footprint that reveals their true intentions of optimizing for law school related keywords. Guest posting is a very useful way to gain awareness of readers and search engines, but keep in mind that your articles should always provide a strong value proposition to readers and searchers everywhere.