Is Content Really King?

The Answer: Yes, Only if It’s Quality Content

The very overused phrase of “content is king” needs to be updated to “valuable and helpful content is king and everything else is filler.” With a thoughtfully and strategically crafted content strategy, you can “passively” generate leads by targeting intent-driven keywords. Users often use long-tail keywords and have a goal in mind: “I need to better understand this topic before I take action.”

If valuable content is king, then cornerstone content would be the equivalent of a Greek god – it’s one of a select group of specialized content pages that stands out far above the rest. It’ll very often have a high engagement rate with users sticking around for 2-3 minutes (or more!) along with taking a conversion-related action. In the case of most law firms, the conversion is often a phone call, contact form submission, or engaging with chat.

Wordstream defines cornerstone content as:

“A high-value, foundational piece of content that is intended to help you start building traffic and brand awareness by showing people what you offer. Your cornerstone content should be highly relevant to your business goals – it helps you establish authority in your industry and will bring in a steady stream of site visitors who are likely interested in.. the services you offer.”

In short, investing the time and money in cornerstone content has these benefits:
Establishes authority and trust in your business
Increases your brand awareness
Brings in relevant site visitors
Builds natural links
Builds the top of your sales funnel

How to Determine What to Write

Crafting a piece of content worthy of wearing the cornerstone hat takes time and research. It’s not simply drafting a lengthy essay with a bunch of keywords shoved in there. This is where the help of a SEO manager comes in handy or setting aside a few hours on a Friday to think about key differentiators between you and your competition.

Here are some ways to approach your writing strategy:

What is your area of specialized expertise? For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney who primarily takes on multi-vehicle auto accidents, what information can you provide that’s helpful to someone searching the web if they’re stuck in insurance company limbo?

What relevant information can you provide to a potential lead in an easily digestible way? For example, you can break down a complex subject such as being arrested for felony weapons possession into a guide “5 Things To Do After You’ve Been Arrested for Weapons Possession.”

If you have the help of a SEO specialist, you can add a layer of data-backed strategy by exploring Google Search Console for keyword themes, mainly what your site is appearing for and not getting as many clicks. Here are some examples:

A criminal defense attorney appearing in SERP for drug offense terms in a different county. Is a “Guide to Drug Offense Charges in X-County” something worthwhile?

A personal injury attorney appearing for different child injury related keywords, users floating around to a couple pages, but no conversions. What are some themes on those couple pages you could expand on? Or could you consolidate those pages into one stronger page with expanded content?

Practical Application

Here are a couple of examples of cornerstone content in a real-life setting. One firm is specialized and has an established online presence that was built over time. The second firm handles cases in a broader practice area and has invested a significant amount of time in content and SEO over the course of 2021.

Personal Injury, Child Sexual Assault Cases

This firm is based in Louisiana with an emphasis in clergy sexual assault cases. They have a broader practice area of handling sexual assault cases specifically for minors by an adult. Much of their research-based information for long-tail queries is in their blog. They have been great about utilizing keyword data from Google Search Console as a guiding point for creating new content pieces.

Over the six months, they continually get clicks for these terms related to child predators.

For those keywords, we’re seeing these pages get clicks. There’s clearly a winner here in what page is getting the most attention and user interaction:

That blog post has relevant information that aligns with the user’s intent. That post is about four years old, received one minor content update last year, and has been a steady source of leads.

For this particular law firm, that post generates at least a few high-quality, high intent leads per month with one having turned into a major case. That alone has paid for the research time, getting the content written and optimized, and added to the site.

That post has been a versatile asset that could be used in various means from creating brand awareness, establishing thought leadership, and improving local authority.

Criminal Law, Defense

This firm is based in Kentucky with a primary focus in criminal defense cases. Throughout 2021, they worked closely with Mockingbird to develop a targeted content strategy aligned with specific themes, questions, and concerns of their potential clients. They have been great about connecting with their clients at a more human level and addressing each concern thoughtfully and tactfully. This provides a real-world context of what potential clients are experiencing.

There is a clear keyword theme over the past six months:

Further down the queries list are various terms related to gun laws and the age of consent in Kentucky.

These pages are the popular places according to Google Search Console:

Those pages get a lot of screen time with the average user spending over a minute, clicking to another page, then taking a conversion action such as calling the office or submitting a contact form. For the time invested into creating those pages, they’ve generated dozens of new clients.

Invest in Meaningful, Quality Content

I wish I could kick the phrase “content is king” to the curb. Adding content for the sake of adding content bloats your site and diminishes its effectiveness.

This is where working with a SEO manager becomes helpful – they will help you understand the data, pair with your practical experience as an attorney, and create helpful, quality pieces that will not only help improve the organic performance of your site, but also establish you as an authority in your market.

The strongest cornerstone content pieces are built with ongoing collaboration between the attorney and SEO advisor. It’s definitely worth taking a few hours every month to brainstorm, create, craft, and launch a new content piece that aligns with your greater business goals.

8 Questions to Ask While Looking for a New Marketing Agency

Whether you’re looking to jump ship from your current marketing agency or starting from the ground up needing an entire online presence, there are certain stereotypes and truths people lean on:

  • Nobody likes their marketing agency and it’s a constant battle to get anything done.
  • Somebody loves their marketing agency and won’t tell you who they’re working with.

Shopping for a new agency can feel similar to shopping for a new home — there are parts that are exciting with possibilities of a great future while other parts can feel long and tedious. This is especially more daunting as a small or medium sized business owner who may or may not have a dedicated in-house marketing person who understands what to look for. There are so many fancy, technical buzzwords flying around and the promise of Shiny Tech Object (SHITO?), it can be overwhelming. There are many company types ranging from the established smaller team to the big and corporate. Which is the right fit? Am I choosing the right agency? What if I made a mistake?

I’ll break it down to 8 questions:

  • 4 questions to ask yourself before you start shopping
  • 4 questions to ask your potential new agency

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Shopping

What are you looking to achieve with your marketing agency? It’s important to identify some high-level goals to help give you a better sense of direction in the agencies you research. Are you looking to build an entirely brand new site? Are you looking to get a social media presence going? Do you want to update your logo and brand? Defining these high-level goals will help you refine your agency search.

What type of personality or team do you work well with? One of the many keys to a meaningful and successful relationship with your agency is finding a personality you work well with. For example, if you’re constantly busy and are prone to missing deadlines for internal projects, you may work better with someone who sends you regular reminders and hops on weekly check-in calls. If you want to take more of a hands-on approach with editing your website or crafting content, you may work better with someone who is also great at coaching and guidance. You and your agency are a team. Being a successful team means everyone working collaboratively together.

What is your marketing budget? This number doesn’t need to be categorized. It’s more of a “how much am I willing to spend on specialized services?” This varies greatly depending on the size of your practice, your cash flow,  practice area, and geographic region. For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney located in Dallas proper in Texas, you’ll very likely need a higher budget than a steady family law attorney in smaller towns around Lubbock (smaller city in Texas). A good rule of thumb is to think about marketing services in a retainer or hourly rate similar to how you bill/charge your clients.

What is important to you in a marketing agency? Create a simple list of the qualities and services that are important to you. These can be high level things. For example, do you prefer to have one point of contact or access to the entire team? Is having an after-hours phone number mission critical for you? Do you prefer an agency who’s in the same time zone as you? Having this list handy ahead of time will help you vet different agencies to your needs.

4 Questions to Ask Your Potential New Agency

What metrics do you track to gauge the performance of my website / SEO efforts / advertising campaign? Any agency worth their weight will have a reporting system in place to present the data (industry term: KPIs or “key performance indicators”) in an easily digestible way. Depending on the goals you’ve established with your agency, the tracked metrics may vary. The report should come with a call from your digital strategist to discuss the numbers together. Your agency should also be ready and open to sharing the not-so-good and bad news. Not every month is going to be absolutely amazing from the get-go. It’s a fact of life that there will be some months where the performance has slowed, remained flat, or declined — this is normal and to be expected. If you get a sense of “toxic positivity” from your potential new agency, that’s a cue to keep looking. If an agency heavily promotes or promises gleaming results without setting expectations of the bumps along the way and the financial investment needed, that’s a big cautionary flag.

Could I talk to my potential account manager? During the sales process, your main point of contact is the salesperson who is operating in a very different capacity than your day-to-day account manager. Ask your salesperson if they can schedule a call with your account manager. This will provide a great opportunity to get to know another person on your marketing team. If you get the feeling you and your future account manager are going to be a good fit, then that may be what seals the deal for you. If you get a vibe that the account manager may not be a good fit, that’s alright too. You can ask if there is someone else available or keep searching.

What is the process for transitioning between sales to your account management team? Depending on the agency’s infrastructure, sales and your day-to-day team may work in a vacuum independent from each other with different environments which could potentially create an unpleasant experience for you. Ask your salesperson what the transition process entails. It could range from internal workflows that are out-of-sight, a call or two to introduce you to your team, or a mix of the two. How long will it be for your account manager to reach out to you? Are there any other forms or small items needed from you in the meantime? Having these expectations ahead of time will help make things easier for you.

What if I’m having an emergency problem with my website? This goes into the “life happens” bucket — servers may go down, you forgot to renew your domain name, or the new IT guy mixed up some changes between the website and your company email. It’s important to ask who to contact if you have an emergency. Does the agency have an after-hours help email or phone number? Do you contact your account manager? In the rare case a website emergency happens, you have a path and plan to make sure it’s resolved ASAP.

Bonus Item!

After you have talked to and narrowed down your agency choices, be sure to read through the details of their contract (most agencies will send this ahead of time to help close the sale). Most contracts include the normal details such as explaining terms and vocabulary, and provide a breakdown of what is included with the services and/or packages you are going to purchase.

The key items to look for are specific to the termination of the contract. Life happens and you may need to leave the agency at some point. It’s imperative to check for any funky cancellation terms and what you’ll be receiving when you leave. Some agencies sneak in fixed terms in tiny font such as being locked in for several months and/or having to pay a pricey cancellation fee if you terminate early. Be sure the contract states you will receive your content and website files in the case you decide to leave. With contracts being sent via email, it’s easy to open the contract and make the font bigger on your computer screen. Take the time to read through the terms. If anything looks odd, be sure to ask your salesperson for clarification. It’s best to get ahead of those questions rather than getting into a series of calls and emails about it later.

In Conclusion…

Taking the time to ask yourself and your potential agency these questions will help save your time, money, and sanity in the long run. Hopping from agency to agency can be costly and a big headache. I recommend investing the time up front to do your research, review the proposals and contracts you receive, and choose a team who aligns with your business goals while also providing a roadmap for steady growth.