There was a time when everyone knew, and agreed, a law blog was an independent publication that did not belong inside a law firm’s website. It was common sense.
Today, many misguided law firms are placing law blogs inside a website under a news/publications/resources section, just as they began publishing articles, information, and press releases on websites almost 20 years ago. Smaller firms and solos have a tab on their website labeled “blog,” often offering as much value to users as the long-gone list of links.
Some of this is caused by website developers and marketing agencies, whose founders and principals have never blogged to build their reputation, relationships, and business, advising law firms to put their blogs inside their website. It’s to hard to advise on that which you don’t understand.
Add to the confusion that some law firms are chasing website traffic as a measure of a return on investment for lawyers blogging, as opposed to measuring success by reputation, relationships and, ultimately, a substantial jump in revenue.
I sat down with a mind map and quickly came up with 20 reasons — in addition to common sense — that a law blog does not belong inside a law firm’s website and ought stand as an independent publication.
- Mantle of expertise that comes with independent publication. Like authoring a book, a good, independent blog gives a lawyer instant credibility.
- 86% of people do not trust advertising, and a website is advertising. A law firm website is important, but it’s advertising. A blog is a publication offering insight and commentary, commanding authority and trust.
- Fuels passion for publishing. Good blogging in a niche you enjoy is fun, rewarding, the source of positive feedback, and a door to meeting countless people. You don’t stop doing what you enjoy. You get better at it.
- Guest posts. Ask an influential person in your niche to write a piece for your law firm website. Kind of silly. Easy to do with a recognized blog.
- Interviews. As a law blogger, it’s a snap to send three or four questions to an influencer or someone you want to engage and post the answers to your blog. Not with a website.
- “Must-read publication.” When was the last time you heard an industry leader, in-house counsel, agency head, judge, reporter or blogger say that’s a must-read law firm website?
- Shared on social media. Content moves socially today from person to person via established trust as much as content is viewed via search or being pushed at people. Niche blog posts are much more likely to be shared than website content labeled a blog.
- Clients hire lawyers, not law firms. Lawyers get known for their experience, knowledge, and influence. Lawyers’ names get built via blogs that become known publications, not content in a website.
- Search engine performance on subject. Blogs outside websites are out-performing similar content published inside a website.
- Focus on purpose. Firms who blog outside their websites are focused on a strategy of establishing “go-to” lawyers on niches, building out relationships, and growing revenue. Such firms are not distracted by measurements, that though applicable to other products and services, are not applicable to lawyers and law firms.
- Drive more traffic. If it’s traffic you’re after, the aggregate web traffic from a law firm’s good blogs and their website will be greater than a website’s traffic, including their blogs buried inside.
- Revenue. I have yet to hear from any lawyer or law firm that they are realizing millions of dollars a year in increased revenue by virtue of the relationships and reputation built by blogs inside a website. I have heard it countless times from lawyers and law firms whose blogs are outside a website.
- Keeping lawyers. Tell a good lawyer realizing a name and revenue from blogging that you are pulling their blog inside a website. They will leave the firm. You’ll not attract lawyers with a book of business built through networking online that includes blogging by having blogs in a website.
- Long-term brand and relationships. Firms who have staked a claim in blogging are building a name for the long haul. Their lawyers are building relationships that will last a lifetime. Websites don’t do that.
- Citations. Good blogs get cited by other blogs, reporters, and courts. I won’t live long enough to see a court cite a law firm website as authority.
- Position lawyer as authority elsewhere online and offline. Blogging lawyers who are regularly cited and whose commentary is regularly shared establish themselves as trusted and reliable authorities. They become known irrespective of their blog. The ability to accomplish this is severely linited by blogging in a website.
- Incorporating blog posts into a website. Independent blog posts are easy to reference on a website. RSS feeds enable blog titles, post titles, and excerpts to be displayed anywhere on a website, including a lawyer’s bio page, a practice group page, a news section, or a home page
- Easy up and down. Independent blog publications can be launched quickly, at little cost, even in a matter of days. Website development costs more and moves slower.
- Lawyers stop posting. Blogs, especially those inside inside a website, can become stale. An independent blog can be taken down and archived immediately. Stale blogs remaining on a website for an extended time are a problem.
- Publishing technology. Good blog publishing technology and software is constantly being upgraded. Upgrades are being made and features are being added seamlessly without disruption many times a year. Website technology is often outdated, is not built for publishing, and is usually only updated when a new website design is done.
Confusion is rampant among Internet marketing today. It’s easy to get lost. But there is no refuting the business success, and in some cases a new career, that lawyers who publish good blogs as independent sites, have experienced.
I hope lawyers, law firms and marketing professionals find this list helpful.