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High-quality content is essential for lawyers who wish to use their websites as an effective marketing tool. While there is no magic formula for producing content that will appeal to readers and also perform well in search results, we have found that certain components consistently make legal content readable and searchable: legal substance, originality, length, keyword density, and connection to the reader.
To help our legal industry clients maximize their online presence, we advise incorporating as much high-quality written content into their websites as possible. This content can take the form of website pages written by the clients themselves or outside writers. In either case, in order for your site to succeed in the rankings race, adhering to a some fundamental content quality standards is key.
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1. Legal Substance
A key component of website content that can boost your site’s rankings is substance, or writing that conveys useful information, helping to establish you as an authoritative source of knowledge in your field. In the legal industry context, this generally means including a discussion of the substantive law standards that apply to your practice areas, and the jurisdiction(s) in which you practice. It is always important to keep your content as reader-friendly as possible, so you want to avoid getting too academic. Ideally your content will strike a balance somewhere in the middle, containing legal information that is helpful and educational to prospective clients, while keeping the narrative as digestible to the average person as possible.
Example: Many of our clients feel that the best website content is that which focuses on the firm’s past successes, accolades, or strategies. One client, we’ll call them “Firm ABC” had about ten pages of content when they came to Justia, but when we evaluated it, we noticed it was pretty much all about the firm’s successes and commitment to excellence. Upon our recommendation, the firm rewrote all of those pages to include substantive legal discussions (in this case, explanation of topics such as chain of evidence, fruit of the poisonous tree, and Miranda rights). As a result, their ranking in search results went up and they saw more conversions.
It is also critical that all content posted on your site be original, meaning that it does not contain any text that appears in the exact same form on other websites. It is also important to minimize the amount of duplication among the pages on your site. While it’s ok for some of the discussion or concepts to be similar across pages (which is likely if you draft multiple pages about different personal injury case types, for example), you just need to make sure that none of the text on your site has been copied and pasted from other sources on the internet.
We recommend that all practice area pages be at least 500 words long; this is not really a magic number, but it does help ensure that you have a solid substantive discussion on each page. The bulk of the text should consist of substantive legal content, rather than solely marketing language or a simple description of your firm’s legal services. Posting short content pages can hinder your site’s performance in the search engines, so it’s worth investing the time to draft sufficiently long narratives on each page.
4. Keyword Density
Another important element of written content that will help your site succeed is keyword usage, or the incorporation of terms related to your target practice areas and geographic locations. A common misconception is that the more you use these terms, the higher your site will rank. However, overuse of keywords (also called “keyword stuffing”) can actually hurt your site. Posting content that sounds unnatural, generic, or spammy can cause the search engines to penalize your site, so it is important to find the right balance when incorporating keywords. Google has posted a helpful article about how to use these terms appropriately on your site.
5. Connecting With Clients
Sticking to the rules outlined above can help your site rank well. However, once a prospective client finds your site and clicks through to your home page, you want to make sure that you have also included a few facts about your practice that will explain to readers why they should choose you. Discussing your number of years in practice, key philosophies, and how you can potentially help your clients are all ways of making your site stand out. In order to help you convert site visits into new business, we also recommend including a “call to action,” or information regarding how a prospective client can learn more about your services by contacting your firm and/or setting up an initial consultation.
Sticking to these guidelines has helped many of our legal industry clients to establish themselves as sources of high quality information on the internet regarding their practice areas, and to improve their search engine rankings.