Blog and Law Firm Web Site: Keep them Separate? Ummm, No.

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Recently, LawyersUSA ran an article interviewing Lexblog’s owner Kevin O’Keefe. He stated your blog and law firm website should be separate. I disagree.

A Blog on a Web Site, is not a blog?”  That is just semantics.
First, just because you don’t have a blog on its own domain, with its own brand, does not mean it’s not a blog. Blogging is all about conversation and information (and sometimes a bit of a soapbox). Whether you hold that conversation under your domain, a new domain, a subdomain, or a subdirectory of your domain, does not matter. The domain is just giving the address of the conversation, not restricting the boundaries or dictating the conversation.

For instance, we are going to have this conversation here under www.paperstreet.com/blog/. Yes, we could launch www.paperstreetblog.com or something catchy like www.speakoutpaperstreet.com. The conversation would not change. We choose to host the blog under our domain for several reasons:

1. SEO – Having the blog under your main domain increases the amount of links to your web site and enhances your main sites SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. It also allows for your site to increase its overall size and content. A full discussion of this can be found here and here of the benefits. Put simply, links to internal pages of your web site (i.e. your blog), increases your overall PageRank of your main site. Moreover, more content on your site increases its relevance. Probably one of the most successful SEO blogs online has its blog under its main site, so does another successful SEO site too. They must be doing something right.

2. Maintenance – Putting your blog under your web site decreases your maintenance costs, design costs, and hosting costs. You can have one web host (thereby saving hundreds of dollars per year), you only have to design once (thereby saving thousands of dollars), and for any updates to the web site / blog, you only have to do once, versus on two sites. This might be small change to some firms, or a deal-breaker for some firms. It all depends on your marketing budget, but should be considered.

3. Credibility – A blog on your web site increases credibility (not decreases). When a user hits the site, they can read not only about your firm, but also dig deep on your commentary on your practice areas. You can use your blog as soapbox, a forum, social commentary, and latest / greatest of what is new.

4. Branding – You create a brand. You hopefully are using your logo the same on everything, your brochures match, your web site matches, so why would you start creating a new brand for just your blog?

Statistics Please
Second, I would like to see the statistics on linking to law firm web sites blogs and/or blogs with their own domains. While I agree that most journalists will not link to a law firm web site directly, unless it’s the topic of the article, they would have no problem linking to the blog on the law firm web site. The same goes for the online community too. Most people will not know the difference between blog.paperstreet.com or www.paperstreet.com/blog/ or paperstreetblog.com. Yes, if the blog just has marketing material, no one is going to link to that. However, good statistics between blogs under a main web site domain and blogs on their own domain are needed in order to substantiate the claim that a separate blog address is needed.

Credibility
I firmly believe that the online presence of any law firm should consist of a web site and blog. They are one in the same these days, as the technology is very similar. In fact, you can power most web sites with blogging software and most web site software has blogs built into the technology too.

Your web site should contain a blog; your blog should contain information on your web site. Put everything you need under one domain, market that and you will prosper. The fact that you have a blog highlighted on your web site and is branded the same, increases your credibility. It makes it easy for the user to read up on not only your firm, but your ideas and commentary too.

About You
Yes, on a blog your About You section should contain information about your firm. Leave the blog for its purpose . . . commentary.

Where a New Blog, New Brand, New Domain is Appropriate
In some instances a new domain, new brand for your blog is appropriate. I will highlight some here:

  • If your firm is large and you want to uniquely brand a practice group.
  • If you have competing practice groups at the firm that need separate brands (i.e. injury vs. defense).
  • You have a controversial topic or odd topic that you may not want to fully relate to the firm.
  • When you want to setup an information portal on a topic area, that is unrelated to your firm (or just sponsored by or at least not hyped a lot).
  • If you truly want to detach your message from your firm’s branding. Although, everything finds its way back if its controversial enough.

Conclusion
If you want our advice, put your blog under a subdirectory of your main site for instance www.yourdomain.com/blog/. Create a single brand for your firm.This will increase your credibility, decrease costs, and increase your optimization efforts.

Final comments
I fully respect LexBlog’s work in the blogging area, but it’s interesting to note that Kevin’s own blog for Lexblog is on his own web site’s domain. Of course it’s under a subdomain with different branding, so it’s not embedded.

Also, I would have responded on Lawyers’s USA blog/web site, except you have to be a registered user to respond. In order to be a registered user, you have to be a subscriber. I think we would both agree that makes this blog / article area not a true blog.

Finally, note that we have clients who have blogs under their own sites and on their own domains. We recommend different solutions based each clients unique needs.

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