Creating a Content Development Plan

A good website is like a good sandwich: it can look amazing from the outside, but if it doesn’t taste good then it’s a bad sandwich. The best way to make sure you have a good sandwich is to make sure you have the right ingredients and organize them in the right way. 

 

In case my metaphor is too wandering, content is to a website as ingredients are to a sandwich. While you can accidentally throw together an amazing sandwich, your best bet is to plan ahead.

 

Auditing The Content You Have

Every law practice has a set of required pages for its site to be an adequate resource for potential clients. These include:

 

  • A homepage
  • A contact page
  • An about page
  • Individual practice area pages
  • A resource page, whether it’s FAQ or a blog

 

Before you even consider adding extra content you need to audit your current pages. Are they optimized and well written? Do you have the basics? If you don’t, fill out your pages with the barebones.

 

On the other side of things, some websites have way too much content. You might need to prune some of it back. If there’s duplicate content or orphan pages your site could suffer. You don’t want a sandwich full of iceberg lettuce. No one likes that.

 

Adding The Content You Need

Once you have figured out what your site is missing, you can get to work adding it. This is a great opportunity to optimize your site! If your existing pages haven’t been updated since 2009, update them now! You’ll be amazed at all the plug-ins available (also, no one uses Flash anymore; get rid of any plug-ins that require Flash ASAP).  You need to make sure you have the fillings of your sandwich before you even think about condiments. 

 

Adding Extra Content

Extras normally include pages like regular blog postings, successful case results, and in-depth resources. To make sure your pages are getting you the traffic and clients you want, you need to ask yourself a few questions before beginning work:

 

  1. What types of cases do I want? You can control what type of audience visits your website through the content you produce. If you have resources in greater depth on a specific issue than any other website, people looking into that issue will find their way to your page. It might not get high traffic, but it will get the right traffic.
  2. What type of expertise are my clients looking for? You’re a lawyer, so you’re in competition with every lawyer in your practice in your area. You need to show that you can not only stand toe-to-toe with any of them, but you are also more knowledgeable than them. Write about the specifics of your practice areas, things that might not show up on the practice area page. Prove you’re an expert.
  3. What is my voice? Your voice is a vital part of your brand. Some firms put more personality in their blogs, some keep it strictly academic. You need to decide what voice you’re putting into the world and keep it consistent.

 

Once you have answered these questions about yourself, you’re ready to start writing. 

 

Consider SEO

SEO is often considered something that can be accounted for later but is really much easier to just account for now. There are ways to optimize a page that barely even impacts writing. Four things you can do to improve SEO without even trying are:

 

  1. Organizing H1s, H2s, and H3s. By setting up your headers that accurately summarize and organize your page you are letting search engines know the content and composition of the page. 
  2. Adding bullet-pointed or numbered lists. Just like with headers, lists help search engines know how you’re organizing your page. A header with a well-designed list can even create a nice featured snippet if you’re lucky.
  3. Internal linking. Linking to other pages on your site not only improves the user experience by helping them visit the rest of your website but it also really helps with SEO.
  4. Add relevant images. Images help to make your page look nicer, and relevant images with accurate alt-text are particularly appreciated by search engines.

 

If you’ve noticed that pretty much all of that advice has been used in this post, good job! Sandwich for you!

 

Getting Help

Not every law firm has the time or writing expertise to do in-house content audits or plan development. This is understandable since the law is a complicated subject with a lot riding on it. You can’t be expected to spend all your time brainstorming your next FAQ. 

Mockingbird is here to help. We are proud of content audits and development plans and will help with link building and PR campaigns to improve your website’s rankings and increase your organic traffic. If you feel like your website could be performing better, don’t hesitate to call us! Helping lawyers is what we do.

Why You Should Be Checking Your Bounce Rate

Relatively underrated compared to such metrics as “pageviews,” a page’s bounce rate shouldn’t be ignored. It’s important to know how many of your website’s pages were the first and last of your website a consumer ever saw. Knowing this might help you to improve your pages.

 

Judging Bounce Rates

Just like limbo at a party, you want it as low as possible for everyone. That being said, different pages will inherently have different bounce rates. Informational pages are likely to have higher rates due to the audience’s ability to get the information they were looking for and leave. Contact pages are likely to have lower rates because very few people click into a contact page from a browser. 

When looking at bounce rates, it’s important to remember page content and user intent. 

 

Improving Bounce Rates

If you want to improve your bounce rate you have to focus on user experience. This means optimizing everything.

 

Page Speed

Nothing gets a user to leave like making them wait. Compress your images, check your loading speeds, and making any necessary changes.

 

Page Design

Look at your pages as if you had never seen them. Are they visually appealing? Are they thematically consistent? Do they make you trust the website? Would it be easy to find an enticing next page to visit? 

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” fix it. Your page is your front entryway. If a visitor enters and doesn’t feel comfortable they’re going to leave.

 

Optimize Content

Content should be optimized for fast reading. That means short sentences and short paragraphs. It also means that the content needs to be useful and relevant. Don’t sacrifice quality for brevity; you can write a longer piece if you really need to.

 

Internal Linking

If your page is well written, interesting, well designed, and loads quickly, one of the best ways to get people to go to a different page is with internal linking. This allows easy access to other pages on the website. We’ve all been down Wikipedia rabbit-holes and ended up learning about the history of some bridge in North Dakota.

If you think your website needs to improve the bounce rate on some (or all, we don’t judge) of its pages, contact us and we can help you figure out how to find and improve your bounce rate.

See Your Competition’s Backlinks

Whenever you set out to get more organic calls to your website, one of the first things you do is get links. As you can imagine, there are a LOT of ways to go about doing this, some tedious, some creative, some misguided, some lucrative. So before you get started training to set a world record for most knives juggled while blindfolded on a tightrope for a link from Guinness, make sure any easy, high-value opportunities have been identified.

What Easy Links Does Your Competition Have?

One of the first things to do for linkbuilding is to run a competitive audit. This is one of the best ways to make sure your bases are covered when it comes to easy backlinks, as well as a way to pinpoint creative strategies for down the road. In a nutshell, this article will help you identify which competitors to emulate, dig up their backlink profile, and recognize and acquire good opportunity links.

1. Identify Competitors.

To do this, simply run a search in Google for whatever keywords you want to show up for. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, these might be “personal injury lawyer”, “car accident lawyer”, “medical malpractice”, etc. Note the top organic search results for the range of terms you’re targeting. Skip the ads, the map, “People also ask…”, we’re looking for the first true organic landing pages. I recommend getting a list of 5 or so domains from these results (the highest in search results). What we now have is a list of competitors that are doing well at what you want to do well at. As a starting point, why reinvent the wheel when it’s possible to see what’s making their sites tick?

2. Competitor Backlink Scan

Now that you have a big list of competitors, it’s time to narrow that number down. For this part you’ll some sort of backlink analysis tool. I like to use Ahrefs.com, but Majestic and Moz Open Site Explorer do the same thing (note: only one of these, Moz, is free, and unfortunately you get what you pay for). All of these tools have some variety of a bulk domain upload. If you’re using Ahrefs, yours will look something like this:

 

From this list, depending on how involved you want to get, you can take a closer look at one or all of these domains, starting with the highest. I’ll typically take three.

3. Identify Opportunity

Once you’ve chosen your domains to zoom in on, plug that domain into the domain analysis tool you’re using (no longer on the bulk tool, but using the  individual domain tool) and navigate to the backlink list. in Ahrefs you’ll see this:

Where do we go from here? This is the more labor-intensive part. It’s now your job to comb through all the websites pointing to competitor’s sites and identify links that can be recreated. Particularly easy opportunities are directories. On the list above I see a “http://www.bdirectory.org/”. Now that we have a linking domain picked out, we have a few questions that need answering:

  • Is this a website that you want a link from? Check out the article I wrote on this here. Basically, is this a legitimate website that has users and a caring webmaster, or is it spam? If spam, opt out.
  • What’s involved in getting a link? Some of the time this can be as simple as building a profile and hitting submit. Sometimes this requires a bit more legwork. After assessing the site (by means of the article linked to above) determine how much time and energy is appropriate for what links. This takes some trial and error to get a sense of, but really boils down to reaching out to webmasters in creative and persistent ways asking them to feature content that already exists on your site.

Remember, linkbuilding is only limited by your creativity and persistence. Competitive auditing is one way among many of finding links and finding inspiration. As you go through competitor link lists approach each of them from a creative standpoint on how you might be able find an in and get a link, this can vary wildly from site to site. Remember that you will get frustrated. Of the webmasters that you reach out to, less than 10% will respond. That’s just part of the game.

Chrome is Updating and Leaving Mixed Pages Behind

In an announcement on October 3rd, it was revealed that Google Chrome will be phasing out access to pages with mixed content, citing user security. 

 

What Does This Mean?

If your website has secure https:// connections, but includes media without secure linking, Chrome will flag the page as insecure. Beginning in December 2019, Chrome 79 will allow users to toggle their security settings. They will be able to allow the browser to access insecure scripts and otherwise blocked content. Google will release Chromes 80 and 81 in early 2020 and promise to upgrade media with http:// security to https:// automatically. The update will allow mixed images to load, but with a “Not Secure” warning appearing in the Omnibox. 

 

How Does Mixed Content Affect User Security?

Mixed content provides malicious website builders an opportunity to tamper with content to influence visitors to the page. They can do this by adding cookie trackers to hidden scripts or messing with media links. Due to the prevalence of https:// security, and the relative lack of upsides to having mixed content, Chrome has decided that it’s more efficient to block all mixed content and upgrade the passive content of images, audio, and video.

 

Is My Website At Risk of Being Blocked?

Always make sure to check that your website is up and running and complying with all search engine and browser guidelines, but chances are that the largest risks to your site will get upgraded by Chrome with Chrome 80 and 81. If you would like some easy and/or free ways to quickly check your website for potentially blocked pages, check out Search Engine Journal’s article on the update. A number of good resources appear at the bottom of the page.

If you would like help building or maintaining your law firm’s website, contact us here at Mockingbird Marketing. The services we offer include web design and SEO for your business, as well as web-traffic monitoring and PPC.

6 Ways for Clients to Find You (SEO 101)

If you are a veteran to SEO and digital marketing, you probably already know the ins and outs of search engines, internal linking, and any way a client might be able to get to your page. If you’re not a veteran, all these terms might be a bit overwhelming. This is a list of the six basic types of traffic your website might get, and this is for you.

 

1. Organic traffic

Often considered the best type of traffic, organic traffic describes when a client searches something related to your business and ultimately find their way to your page. You don’t have to pay to get them there, they find you on their own. It’s the romantic meet-cute of web-traffic.

The best way to increase your organic traffic is to improve your website SEO. Work with Google’s algorithms to increase your page rankings, and make sure to have content the client both wants and trusts. 

 

2. Paid Traffic

Paid traffic is made up of clients who got to your page by clicking through an advertisement. There’s some overlap between paid and social traffic, but for the sake of this article let’s say that paid traffic is any advertisement on any web-platform. 

Advertising will only increase your customer base if the page they land on is well built. If a client clicks on an advertisement and finds a slow page with bad content, they’re likely to bounce (leave the page in less than 10 seconds without interacting with any aspect of the page). Advertising costs money, so make sure you make it worth it for the people who click-through.

3. Social Traffic

Social media is a huge opportunity for growing your brand presence, and if you don’t have a solid presence on whatever platforms are popular in your country you’re neglecting a huge portion of your market. Not only will a presence on social media open you up to a much larger client base, but it will also help to build your brand identity. At the very least, it will be an easy access point for customers to find information about you. Even if you never post anything make sure to put all your information on your social media platforms. Business location, hours, contact info, all this will make your business feel more trustworthy and accessible.

 

4. Local Traffic

Local traffic is only really relevant if your business has a physical location that customers can visit. If this is your business, its vital that you set up your business information on the main Location Citation Sources. This will help build your local customer base and increase the trustworthiness. 

Local traffic is the more palpable version of social traffic: set it up well and people will find you without knowing who you are; just set it up and people who know who you are will be able to find you.

 

5. Referred Traffic

Referral traffic comes from clients following links from other webpages. Maybe they found their way to the website of your furniture business through a link you put on a Smithsonian article about antique chairs. Maybe they found their way to a legal blog through a random link to a 2017 post about the State of New York banning child marriage. Referral traffic is a significant percentage of web traffic, and link-building is a task that shouldn’t be neglected. The number of links referring to your website helps to build your page rankings in search engines like Google.

 

6. Direct Traffic

Direct traffic comes from people typing your URL into their browser or clicking on a bookmarked link. Direct traffic can be hard to analyze, as there’s no real information on why or from where the client decided to visit your website. This isn’t ideal for tracking client behaviors or knowing what changes to make to optimize your online presence, but it is traffic.  

 

There is overlap within these subsections of web traffic: Facebook Ads blending from paid into social, links in Twitter posts sitting on the intersection of referral and social, a local news article linking your local law firm bridging the gap between local and referral. The best way to increase your traffic from all origins is to make sure your website follows SEO best practices and is prepared for optimal user experience.

Backlink Explosion (How to Monitor the Quality of Your SEO “Experts” Link-building Work)

Wondering what your SEO company is doing to generate all those backlinks (despite the fact it’s not moving the needle AT ALL for inbound traffic, calls or business)? I just got off the phone with a firm questioning their current agency’s reports that were assuring the client they were generating hundreds of backlinks a month. This was delivered along with a thick slice of “SEO is a long term game, you just need to be patient” cake.

So we dug in a bit deeper to see just what was going on. Apparently, they’d gotten 93,000 new links over a roughly 6 months period.

Hmm…

From a total of 11 referring domains.

Double Hmm…

Here’s what the backlink profile looks like according to aHrefs (and btw, yes Google can algorithmically ID these patterns).

 

 

This is clearly spam (i.e. unnatural, non-editorial links that at best, won’t help your site perform). So you can do this type of monitoring yourself of the link-building efforts of your own SEO…here are the red flags I’m seeing:

  1. A massive influx of links at a certain time.
  2. 93,000 links coming from just 11 domains… which is not indicative of someone organically linking to interesting content.
  3. This is reflected in the DR (Domain Rank) score put out by the aHrefs tool. Note that these scores are always bad estimations of Google’s perspective of a site’s overall authority, but they are directionally useful. For context, for a client like this (criminal defense in a mid-sized city), Domain Rank scores should be in the 35-45 minimum range.

If you want to go even deeper – the aHrefs tool shows exactly which domains the links are coming from (in our example, 99.9% of the site’s 93,000 backlinks came from 2 of those domains… not coincidentally owned by the same company).

Note that this is an extreme example which I selected to illustrate the point.  Overall the reporting is going to be much more nuanced… but still worth watching especially when your agency tells you they are busy building backlinks but won’t show you the results.

A Guide to Creating Linkable Content

You’re the small fish in the ocean. The ocean is filled with sharks. As a local business, you are faced with the challenge of finding ways to compete with bigger companies with possibly more years of experience and undeniably deeper pockets. So how can you make the most of what you have? Consider three practical suggestions to make sure you put out content that will make others want to link to you.

Create Helpful Resources

Take the initiative to put together a calendar or lists of local events and attractions that will pique the interest of your target demographic. Not only will this make you stand out against your competition, but it will help your business be top-of-mind when potential clients are browsing for events in the area.

Cater to Featured Snippets

Google is a source for quick answers, and users will often stop looking if they find what they are looking for in a featured snippet. Knowing this, it’s crucial that you format posts in a way that caters to this. Optimize your content in a way that it comes as the answer to a question to increase the likelihood of being Google’s first choice in a featured snippet

Featured Snipped Example

How-to lists are ideal for encouraging this type of result. A personal injury lawyer may want to create a checklist for what do to after being in a vehicle accident, while an immigration attorney could opt to publish an FAQ page for common issues clients face.

Yes to Video, But Do it Well

Video can be an invaluable tool to have in your repository, but don’t be tempted to have video for the sake of having video. Consider what content will be most useful to your clients and focus less on generic company updates. For example, a criminal lawyer could produce a video along the lines of, “What You Should Do if You or a Loved One Have Been Charged with a Crime” to cater to the practical concerns of potential clients.

One move to appease YouTube’s ranking system is to entice users to stay on YouTube longer, since your channel is rewarded the longer the Watch Time of your user (a.k.a. the more time someone watches that your video stays on YouTube). A practical take on this is to break videos into shorter segments as parts to a series, with having Part 1 then Part 2 and so on. This way, you increase your business’s chances of ranking higher in a Google search.

Key Takeaways

Before diving into a blog post or video production for attracting potential clients, take a step back to make sure you know what will interest them. Ensure that what you are creating will be useful for your target audience. Your goal is to make helpful content for people that are in need of your services, and for that content to be the stepping stone that leads new clients straight to you.

 

Source: https://searchengineland.com/practice-useful-marketing-for-local-business-content-success-300397

 

Bird Droppings: Voice Search Technology…and More!

Welcome to another edition of “Bird Droppings.” A simple list highlighting recent articles relevant to legal marketing in order to help bring you up to speed with what’s been happening in the industry over the past few weeks! Make sure to check out our upcoming events at the end of the list!

Industry Articles:

Turn your videos and webinars into major link magnets.

Google expands the “menu” option in GMB beyond just restaurants. Add your menu of services today!

Campaigns without keywords are the future!

If you weren’t already posting to GMB, you should now.

Trying to locate your law firm’s Google My Business CID number to keep track of merged or removed listings? Joy Hawkins from Sterling Sky explains how.

With significant changes in local search, contributor Wesley Young provides tips in order to keep your local business in the SERPS.

AdWords has FINALLY implemented notes within their dashboard! Just like Google Analytics annotations, you can now call out significant changes over time.

Google is cleaning up some reviews and is no longer counting reviews from “A Google User” in their totals.

How voice search technology is reshaping SEO in 2018.

Industry Tools:

May 2018 Adobe XD updates.

Upcoming Events:

2018 PILMMA Summit – Sept 12 | St Louis, MO

Local Business Marketing Summit – Sept 19 | Free Online Event

Bird Droppings: “Business Description” Returns to Google My Business…and More!

Welcome to another edition of “Bird Droppings.” A simple list highlighting recent articles relevant to legal marketing. Find a variety of links that we have gathered to bring you up to speed with what’s been happening in the industry over the past few weeks!

Industry Articles:

Law firm in Louisville, Kentucky who incentivized people to review the business see all but one review disappear.

A guide to writing irresistible calls to action.

Google now showing answers without any additional search results for some queries.

Notes are coming to AdWords.

After nearly 2 years, editable business descriptions are again part of your law firm’s Google My Business page. Colan Nielsen show’s how to set them up and the guidelines for doing so!

Sites that follow mobile-first indexing best practices will be migrating over now.

Tools in the Industry

Jitbit.com tool “SSL-Check” crawls site for pages that aren’t secure.

February 2018 Adobe XD Updates

Upcoming Events:

Practice 360° | A Day for Lawyers & Law Firms Presented by the D.C. Bar – April 23 | Washington DC

10 Things You Should Be Doing vs 10 Things You Must Stop Doing – May 18 Seattle, WA