How to Dominate Search Results for Your Practice Area Using Content

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When it comes to ranking in search results, you’re probably aiming to be the best. As web design firm, we understand the importance of helping our clients rank higher than their competitors. From our perspective, there are a number of factors involved in search result rankings. One of the key components of this is your content. So to better help you, we’ve created this webinar on how to dominate search results for your practice area by using your content.


Webinar Translation

All right, great, that’s recording. All right, so write that down, great. So good morning all, my name is Peter Boyd. I am the founder of PaperStreet Web Design. Today, we’re gonna be talking about how to write dominant practice area content for your law firm. The webinar will be recorded, so it’ll be online available on our blog. And you can resyndicate it via either the video or the text content and so forth. Bit of background on our company. We’ve been in business for 15 years now. We’ve helped over 1000 clients with best practices. These are the best practices that we’ve seen working with our clients and so hopefully we can share this short checklist with everyone. So overall, you want to dominate search results for your practice area then you need to produce the best resources online. We believe that if you invest in your content you will continue to rank higher and higher in search. 

The following is gonna be our step by step guideline of how we do this. The critical thing to understand is that most firms today are producing, basically, content that has between 250 and 500 words per page. This is a great start, but most likely it will rank equally with other law firms that also have 500 word pages. This means that you’re gonna be on page two, three, four of search results. Basically you’re gonna sit there and wonder why you’re not increasing in traffic because you have the exact same content as everyone else. What you really need to be doing, is producing the seminal guide in your practice area. That should be the goal. Become a resource in that specific practice area, produce content that clients wanna read online. Google prefers that type of content. 

If you create a practice section with long form content, detail step by step processes, FAQ’s, translated videos and related resources, those are just some a few starter ideas that we have, that’s gonna actually be a success. If you do this, you will come to dominate content over time. It’s hard work, takes time to produce this type of content but it is worthwhile. Moreover, we actually find that it actually helps answer a lot of initial questions that clients have on their first meetings. So you’re gonna save time in your initial meetings with clients. Sorry, you’re gonna save time that way and long term you’re gonna inform your clients and have, you know, a better client roster.

So how to do this? The first area is actually a practice area. Just one to start, we find that firms get overwhelmed pretty quickly. So most firms practice between 3 and 10 different practice areas that we find released on our client roster. What we do wanna do, is get clients to focus on just one practice area. Make it a practice area that’s key to your business, but also, hopefully, relatively noncompetitive. Why key to your business? Well, good business practice dictates that you should put majority of your efforts into what generates 80% of your revenue. So find that core practice area that’s generating all your revenue, you probably know it off hand and start with there. We also like to start with a non-competitive area. Why? So we can see results quickly. Following steps that we’re gonna show actually can take effect within a month or two months of writing the content from start to finish and getting it online. And once you have that you can actually show quantifiable results to your other partners to your, you know if you’re a marketing director to your, you know, the partners in charge. If you’re an associate you can show it to the partners. If you’re a partner you can show it to your, obviously, other partners.  

But overall you can show actual benefits and rankings increase, traffic increase, client inquiries. Once you do that, you can then scale it to the more competitive areas because it’s, obviously gonna be harder when there’s other firms doing the exact same thing. But show proof of concept, take a practice area that can bring in some business that you know is good cases to have and that way you can scale this over time. If you pick a very competitive area, and you don’t do it right to set up, then it may fail and you may not try to do this in the future on any area, that’d be bad. So overall the goal should become an authority in your specific subtopic area, and then you wanna move on to another family law topic. Family law are specific areas I show in a second because I’ll be talking about child custody soon.

We can start with an example on a practice area, if you practice in the area of family law. Like I said we recommend that you pick a subtopic, such as child custody or adoption or any other areas that are good for your business. These are not as competitive as, for instance, family law. So you can start with child custody which is a little bit less competitive, get ranked really high for that, start getting child custody cases then move into, you know, maybe they adoption field, then move into other fields like you know child support and forth. And then maybe you could tackle divorce then tackle family law, but you’ll have a process in place to get this all done. Again, your goal is to become the authority in a specific subtopic area and then move on to other areas. You can also change your tactics if something’s not working well but overall, it allows you to show results quickly.  

Step two, know your competition. Does your competition have a lot of content already or is it relatively weak? Start by visiting the top 10, 20 law firms when you Google your primary keyword phrase. So if you’re going after child custody lawyer, what are the top other firms doing that Google’s actually prefer in content? Sometimes Google prefers short form content, sometimes they’ll be an oddball case where some firm is ranking high for 250 words or so. Usually that’s the case when they have a good back link profile, thy’ere mentioned a lot in the media and they’re, you know, a prominent law firm. Generally, what we’re finding is firm, any firm, that produces worthwhile articles that have like above 2,000 words, which is like four or five Microsoft Word pages, will rank higher. You also want to skip over the directories, directories are being powerful right now that is Google’s preference these days. So you know, you’re not going to beat out a major directory like Fine Law or or Avvo, things like that.

What your goal should be is to…you don’t have to possibly beat them out but you have to really, hone in on your practice area to get a lot of content online. But they’re always gonna be somewhere in the top 1 to 10 slots and it’s gonna be hard to push them out. Google will put in a few law firms though so that’s where you wanna actually focus on becoming those few selected ones that are on the first page of search results. Back to what your competitors are doing, figure out what specific law firm sites and other pages in raking in Google are doing. Do the competing firms only have 250 words? Great, you might only have to produce 500 or 1,000 words. If they competing firms have 1,000 words you need to produce you know several thousand words on the topic though. The more detailed their content is, the more detailed yours is gonna be.  

You can easily check out how long a page is on their website just by cutting and pasting. Take the content from their actual website, cut and paste in Microsoft Word, go and click on word count. It will tell you how many words there are. So if you’re unsure, typically a paragraph has around 100 to 250 words per page, you can just count that as well, I mean per paragraph. But overall, what we wanna do is write more content than your competitors. This is actually backed up by Rand Fishkin at, he recommends 10 times content. This is somewhat where the idea came from. So if you’re writing…you know, typically you’re writing 500 words per page, you may wanna increase that to several thousand. I don’t know if you need to go to 5,000 words just yet, which would be 10 times content, but you know, if you go four times content you’re probably gonna beat out a lot of firms.

So step three, how do, next step is how to outline the content. This is your primary practice area so you probably know it pretty well. I’ll give an example on child custody that I’ve helped out one client with. I recommend, and this is how I write for my company and other clients, is start out with an outline. Bullet points, helps focus your thoughts. Write your main headline for the page, write your 5 to 10 subheadings then sub bullet points under that. You can specifically include overview questions, how to processes, case studies, other topics, sub topics. Once I have that outline done, then I actually start writing one or two paragraphs per bullet point. I just go down the page, some times I skip around. Nice thing about this is all those bullet points become headlines and they become subheads and they can become the H1s and H2s on the page with you know keyword phrases in them and this helps with the readability and organization. No one’s gonna read a 2,000 word article on your website but if you break it up into subsections and easily scannable areas, they are going to read those headlines and if something interests them, then they’re gonna, of course, read that section.

An example of this is the child custody page. So this is kind of a quick outline I did for child custody in Florida. Headline’ll be Child Custody, How Does it Work in Florida? And then I’d have a few paragraphs on that. Then I’d have a few paragraphs in the overview of it, then how does the process work? What to expect? Realistic outcomes. Obviously you don’t wanna run a felony [indiscernible 00:08:37] rules but you know, you can realistically expect what you know, and tell clients what type of outcomes are gonna come out of this. Do it on their past cases and so forth, or just your past statistics. You wanna go over the laws of child custody, you know, the well for a child parental rights wishes the child courts discretion. These are all, individual paragraphs you can write on that, if you’re writing more than several paragraphs you might actually want to turn it into a detailed sub page of its own.

You can have like an intro paragraph and say want to learn more? Click here and it goes to a very specific page, do that if it’s a very hot topic area that you really wanna rank high for, so if it’s visitation and custody for instance, you’re linking to a page that’s just about visitation and custody. Awesome, that’s gonna rank high on its own. But you can see this is a very detailed outline, this would easily get anyone to tell the words. I actually wrote about 2,000 words in about two hours of work on this topic area, took me about you know 20, 25 minutes to come up with this outline and then an hour and a half to start researching and check out all the content. Then, of course, it goes through an editing process, so that took longer. You can include Frequently Asked Questions over there, related articles. You don’t wanna link to related firms, but you can link to government resources, other topic areas and so forth, things that are noncompetitive.

Step four, now that you have an outline, there are two ways you can attack your writing and main pages of the content. I recommend going with a single longer page actually, that has all our information. We’re finding that those are becoming the seminal resource online and Google’s preferring those. So if you write 2,000 words, there is a theory, you can split that up into you know 400, 500-word pages and if there are on specific some topics, those subtopics could rank high. But what we’re finding also is if you combine them into one longer page, those long page form content, even if it’s a little bit longer to read people preferring, and Google’s definitely preferring it in the search results. And it’s all in one area so it’s easy to scan down. We estimate that you can usually research and write an article about 2,000 and 5,000 words in probably a half day at work. You might already have the resources available so you could probably do it in less.

There is a downside from branding perspective. My design team hates long form content, you know, it’s a long page you have to scroll down. Long pages can be boring to read but it’s a challenge to designing to do a better layout, maybe make headlines better, more clear, split up the pages, maybe have like a side menu that allows the user to scroll down and see the different areas of the page quickly. So if they get bored with the section they can scroll down further with anchor tags. You can also split content, one area, again, becomes very lengthy and kind of dominates the page, make that its own page. Just put an intro paragraph there, type in a link, go to the other page. But overall, we do prefer long page form content right now and it can be a one page that you can link everything to, so you can even point clients to saying, “This is my thoughts on child custody. Read it, you’ll understand everything, then we can discuss.”

The other way is called short form content. It can work. There’s plenty of firms that rank high from individual 500 word pages and then you can link out to other 500-word page, so you could have maybe four or five, maybe 10 or 20 of other outbound links…not really outbound but internal links to other sites or internal content that’s about that particular area. Either way, the key thing is just write. Getting all the content online, whatever format it is in, is the most important thing. And then how you internally link it or put in on one page is important too, but we just want clients to focus on that. Make sure that you’re linking out to government resources, nonprofits and so forth. Again, the key thing is just, again write.

The final step, once you have all your content ready, is to make sure that your content gets indexed. Typically, it’ll take google a few days to, or a week to naturally index the content. You can make this indexing faster by logging into your actual Google Webmaster tool account. We have access to that, of course, we can do it for you. You just actually put in your URL, hit submit, Google indexes it. I’ve seen in instances where the content will be indexed within, you know, minutes actually. It may actually start appearing in the search results minutes later too, it depends on your site and when it gets indexed and how fast it is. Usually Google Webmaster tools is that same day. I have seen like the next day, but usually the same day. If you’re not gonna do that, you can just put it on the site, Google will come back to your site, usually within a week. That’s usually Google’s indexing parameter, sometimes two weeks if you’re really not updating your site. If you haven’t updated your site in a while, it may not come back on until monthly area. If that’s the case, what you probably wanna do is just put out…other than going into Webmaster tools and telling it to index, which would be the easiest, you could actually put some links into social media. You can put some links on the web and your blogs and things like that and then Google will pick up that on naturally too.

But you definitely wanna get indexed, make sure that Google’s seeing all the content and that will at least get it into this overall index and started allowing it to be ranked. Google’s ranking algorithm, words, links and RankBrain basically. Google tool uses links for the basis for determining authority to website. RankBrain is newer algorithm signal, recent released and a machine learning artificial intelligence is helping sort its results. However, the RankBrain is still part of the overall hummingbird algorithm that includes other algorithms which was Panda, Penguin, PayDay, Pigeon, Top Heavy, mobile-friendly and a few others. So there’s over 200 signals. Supposedly RankBrain is the third most important factor and Google will not state what the top two factors are, but we believe there are actually the relevancy and, of course, the links still.  

So your relevancy will come about because you are writing such a detailed article on the topic area but your authority is still gonna come through internal links and external links as well. Overall, in terms of authority and links, we’ve been talking about links for more than a decade now, many predicted to their demise but we actually believe they’re still a major part of the algorithm. We can see that sites that get trusted links from high authority sites rank higher. Not always, I mean, there are some issues sometimes where they have a bad backlink profile or they’ve done some things in the past where even if they get to the trusted links they’re still not ranking high. But typically, if you have high authority sites linking to your site, you’re generally gonna rank higher, especially if you’re writing content that’s this detailed.

Trusted websites that you can get backlinks from, if you can, newspapers, journals, education sites, other top firms if you get some partner sites, magazines, social media accounts. Of course, the various top legal directories are great links to have too. Not all links are good though. Definitely avoid, you know, your link spam. A lot of bad links can actually hurt you more than putting content online. So just make sure that you’re working with your SEO team to figure out what links are good or bad. You don’t wanna get everything, every link out there because you have to vet it.

Finally, we actually like getting good real press, not just issuing press releases. Issuing a press release to rank high doesn’t work anymore, Google specifically states that. But we find that if you actually issue a real press release and actually write on a topic that writers wanna write about, you know, you can actually get picked up in an actual newspaper. That’s actually the goal of a press release. Unfortunately, SEO industry in the past, probably 10 years, has kind of made press releases more spammy so that Google had to crack down on them. But you can still issue real legitimate press releases, get a call from a reporter, they’ll do a story on you and now you have a backlink or citation from an actual newspaper. That’s awesome. Of course, depends on…you need a good idea that you’re doing. If it’s a big case, when there’s a notable case, that’s a great way. If your firm is adding new partners, maybe, might be a descent story depending on how you spin it. You know, if you’re moving office locations, probably not gonna do anything. So it just depends on what type of press release you’re doing.

Final way, article outreach, been popular for a while. You can actually submit your articles to various websites, get your site syndicated on other sites. Typically, you’ll have an authority byline that you get your link back from there. The editorial process could take weeks or months to get approved. Usually, the harder the editorial process, the better the magazine to be in. Most publications will allow you to include that backlink to your specific pages, probably in your byline. That’s the best way to do it. Just link it up your home page. If you have a very specific page you want to, awesome. But overall, this will increase your authority of the very specific sites.

So, hopefully this helps your firm increase your web presence. Again, key thing is start writing. Pick a topic area that you know really well that can help your business and that’s a little bit noncompetitive to start off with, just so you can show proof of concept and then move into the more competitive areas. And then, if you need any assistance, give us a call. That’s our team. And thank you for your time, for this quick webinar.

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