Whether or not they successfully follow it, most professionals have at least heard the message of not allowing their online writing to read like a journal article or to be filled with jargon. Subjectively good writing is only half the equation, though. If you want your online content to draw new clients to your firm by increasing your search engine rankings, you also need to understand the technical aspects of content marketing and the science behind SEO writing.
This blog is provided for general information only. Always talk to a laywer or other appropriate professional before making decisions.
How to Know What to Write About
When you first launch your website, you’ll probably include general information about each of your service areas. Later, you might go back to add more detail or create a new page or section about a hot topic. As a general rule, it’s never going to be a bad idea to add new content that you think will help your clients. If you need new ideas or want to optimize your performance, you’ll want to spend a little time examining your site’s search engine performance.
Using Google Search Console for Content Ideas
Google Search Console is a free tool that gives you details about how your site appears to Google. Set up takes just a few minutes using the step-by-step instructions provided by Google. Once your site is added, you’re looking for two metrics.
- Search Traffic->Search Queries:These are the searches visitors are using to find your site. Don’t see a search that you want to lead to your site or see that a query is farther down the list than you’d like? Create content around that query.
- Google Index->Content Keywords:This page looks at the content on your website itself. Unlike Search Queries, only single keywords are displayed rather than phrases. As with Search Queries, if a keyword is missing, lower than expected, or showing a lower than desired significance, create content around that keyword. If you have already created content on that topic, go back and make sure you used that specific keyword.
Knowing Who You’re Writing For
It’s also important to keep in mind who you’re writing for. For example, a criminal defense attorney might not just be writing for defendants but family members looking to get a loved one out of jail. Also, consider your target audience’s level of sophistication, such as their level of education and their experience with your topic.
What Does Create Content Even Mean?
Creating content could mean:
- A new service area page.
- Expanding on an existing service area page.
- A new blog post or article.
- Adding a new section to a blog post or article or rewriting to include specific keywords.
The more you want to boost a keyword, the more you want to include. Once your service area pages are filled out, add additional blog posts and articles on related topics. One of the best ways to keep coming up with fresh ideas is to take two or more keywords that you want to improve the performance of and come up with a blog or article idea that is related to all of them.
Creating Page Titles
The most important function of the page title is to get visitors to click through to your page when they see it in search results. Page titles should be simple and to the point. They should always be no longer than 65 characters because that is all that is displayed. They should also include your main keyword or keyword phrase.
Here are some examples of titles a law firm’s practice area pages might use.
- Personal Injury Attorney in Orlando Florida | Smith Law Firm
- New York City DWI Defense Attorney David Jones
- Child Custody | The Family Law Firm | Los Angeles, California
Here are some examples of law firm blog post titles.
- How do you bail someone out in New York City?
- How is child custody determined in Seattle, Washington?
- 5 things to consider when deciding between a corporation and LLC
Creating Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short summaries you see under the page title in search results. They come from three places:
- If the search term is contained on the page, the text around that search term will usually be displayed.
- Otherwise, if a meta description was created by the author, that meta description will be displayed.
- As a last resort, the search engine will show the first sentence or two from the page.
Why Meta Descriptions Matter for SEO
Meta descriptions have a negligible direct impact on search rankings, but they are key in the user experience and have a large indirect effect. This is because search engines track how often searches click through to a page. If searchers click a page, it’s probably relevant, and it moves up. If searchers ignore it, it’s probably not useful, and it moves down. Therefore, a meta description should be tailored to encourage users to click on your page instead of the others next to it in search results.
How to Write a SEO Meta Description
A SEO meta description should capture the main idea of the page, show visitors that you have answers to their most important questions, and encourage them to take action (learn more, schedule an appointment). Try to include your most important keyword or keyword phrase to help show why the page is relevant. Meta descriptions are capped at 160 characters — anything above that is not displayed.
Examples of Meta Descriptions
- Were you injured in an accident near Orange County? Call Smith Law to learn more about how to receive full compensation for your injuries and lost wages.
- Need a will? George Washington is an experienced Chicago estate planning attorney who can help you make sure your family’s future is secure. Call today.
- Need to know how to beat a DWI in Texas? Jones Law explains the DWI defenses that may be available even when you were way over the legal limit. Learn more.
Setting the Page URL
The individual page URL (www.yoursite.com/yourexamplepage) has only minimal effect on search engine rankings, but you should still take the time to create strong page URLs. As a first step, make sure your WordPress site is set to create permalinks from the post name instead of the default setting (when logged into your admin area, go to Settings->Permalinks). This will change your site’s URLs from showing things like www.yourfirm.com/?p=1 to www.yourfirm.com/dui-defense.
Getting the DUI defense keyword into the URL gives you a small search engine boost, but more importantly, it helps your readers and readers viewing links to your site on other sites understand what they’re clicking. If the page that links to your DUI page puts a link on a generic phrase like “drunk driving,” readers can see the dui-defense URL in their status bar and see that the link points to a DUI defense attorney.
The first goal of subheadings is to improve readability and make your content skimmable. Subheadings can also help search engines figure out your page’s key topics. To do this, include your target keyword phrase(s) in your subheadings whenever they fit naturally. Don’t try to jam them in if they make the subheading too long, too clunky, or just feeling unnatural — you’ll lose visitors faster than you gain a search engine boost.
Subheadings follow a standard format that signals to search engines what the most important subheadings are and how the page is structured (in your WordPress post or page editor, look for the drop-down menu at the top of the editing area that has “Paragraph” as a default setting):
- Heading 1(<H1> tag when editing HTML) is for the page title, and there should only be one level 1 heading per page. You should NOT use Heading 1 when creating a page or post in WordPress because your theme should automatically display the title you enter in the title field in the Heading 1 format.
- Heading 2(<H2>) is for top-level subheadings. Use it for your main subheadings.
- For subheadings within subheadings, use Heading 3 under Heading 2, Heading 4 if you want to divide up a Heading 3 subheader, and so on with Heading 5 or 6.
Most sites don’t go beyond Header 3 or Header 4. Instead, they might just separate additional information with bolded lines or introductory phrases or by using bulleted lists.
Don’t forget to use keywords within your content. This might come naturally on pages like Divorces or Wills, but if you’re using legal terms like Promissory Estoppel or Suppression Hearings, don’t forget to include the layman’s terms as well — that’s what potential clients will be typing into search engines. Do this even for the ones that aren’t technically correct; you can use phrases like “commonly known as” or explain why the term isn’t exactly correct.
Learn more about effectively integrating keywords into your content in this article.
Throughout your pages and posts, include links to other relevant pages and posts. This accomplishes three goals:
- Helps visitors find the useful information you have for them and makes it more likely they’ll choose you.
- Keeps visitors on your site longer — an important metric in search engine rankings.
- Helps search engines find all of the content on your site so they can include it in search results.
Determining the Right Length
There is no magical number for content length. The best length is the length that covers the information your reader needs. Remember, search engines are looking for the most relevantcontent not the mostcontent. With that in mind, remember these two things:
- Content that is too short (a few sentences, short paragraphs, or bulleted lists) won’t be viewed as having much useful information. Search engines will drop it lower and visitors will be less likely to find what they’re looking for.
- Content that is too long might confuse search engines if they can’t figure out what the main topics are and might create a wall of text that scares off visitors.
Having a mix of content is usually ideal. Have a single topic that’s useful to your readers that can be covered in 200-300 words? Don’t try to inflate it. Want to create an in-depth guide to really establish yourself as an expert and hopefully get other people to link to your site? Just make sure it’s well-organized with subheaders, lists, and links to relevant information.
While you can learn to do your SEO writing on your own, you may not have time if you’re busy serving clients and running a firm. If so, get help from an SEO writer.