Legal Marketing Review | Internet Marketing Counsel for Law Firms
My name is John McDougall and I am the CEO of McDougall Interactive, publisher of The Legal Marketing Review and an authority on internet marketing for law firms. My team of over a dozen people helps law firms understand how to create a comprehensive internet marketing strategy and how to make use of SEO, Paid Search and Social Media to generate more and better leads.
The issue, however, is that generating endless content ideas is hard. Knowing what your customers and audience would like to read is a struggle within itself.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sure, you could pay for tools that help you discover and come up with lucrative content ideas and while these tools are useful, not every law firm can afford them.
There is a way to come up with consistent content ideas and what’s more, it’s completely free.
In this post we’re going to look at how you can use Google’s People Also Ask feature to give yourself an endless supply of ideas for your blog posts, let’s dive in.
What are People Also Ask boxes
The People Also ask feature is a neat tool developed by Google that appears during a search.
The way it works is: a user searches for an answer to a question or topic.
Google, as usual shows relevant links based on their query. However, they also show similar topics people have searched for.
For example, we searched for the phrase “Questions to ask a lawyer”. When looking for legal practice, you might want to know what questions you should ask during the first, second or even third meeting.
You might already have content on this topic. If you don’t, get writing.
But what about when you’ve written about this topic but can’t think of any other avenues to cover?
That’s where the People Also Ask box comes in handy.
Alt tag: people also ask Google
As you can see, other people who searched for “questions to ask a lawyer” have also asked things like “how do you prepare for a lawyer consultation?” “does it cost money to ask a lawyer a question?” “how do you pay for a lawyer with no money” and “how do I find the best lawyer for my situation?
As you can see, a simple Google search has given you four extra content ideas.
In this study by Get Stat, you’ll see that the People Also Ask feature has been on a steady increase over the years.
Why are they important for your law firm
The People Ask Ask feature is important because it shows intent. You might have a list of great content ideas you want to write about, but do your ideas align with what people are actually searching for?
In many cases, no.
You see, what’s interesting to you as a lawyer might not be interesting to the people you want your content to target: potential customers.
The people also ask feature doesn’t just work for question type search queries but all.
Let’s look at another example.
If you deal with family law, you might want to write content about “family legal advice” however, as a top-level topic, it’s quite broad. There are loads of different avenues you could go down.
Now the reason this is good for SEO is that it gives you direct ideas for what people actually search for. You can use these topics as either H2 tags for our articles, or even titles for the articles themselves.
Use it to create FAQ pages
In many cases, the best way to put together FAQ is to see what questions your audience and customers ask most regularly.
But what if your customers don’t ask anything? What do you do then?
You can use this Google function to put together your FAQ pages.
You see these are real questions asked by real people. Granted, they didn’t ask you them but they’ve asked Google and because of this, you can be sure that when someone lands on your website, goes to your FAQ page and sees answers to the questions they have, they’re bound to want to know more about your firm.
Use it to come up with content ideas
We’ve already established that the People Also Ask feature is a great way to come up with content ideas.
In most cases, you won’t use this tool entirely to create your content ideas, but you will use it to supplement the ideas you already have.
One of the greatest things about it is the endless nature of the tool.
Going back to our family law example.
The first term was “family legal advice”
Now let’s pretend, for example we clicked the first link in the feature box.
Google will now do a new search based on that question and…. You guessed it, you’ll have a new range of questions to think about.
We can do this again, too.
The point we’re trying to make here is that the People Also Ask feature will present you with an endless supply for content ideas simply because, for every question that gets asked by a user, there are plenty of similar queries.
If you’re looking for new content angles, or perhaps just content ideas in general, the People also Ask will be a great benefit for your law firm.
Ranking for people also ask
Not only can you use the People also ask to generate new ideas for content, but you can use it as a lead generation tool as well.
Imagine if when a user searched for a question, your website showed up in the People Also Ask results?
You’d see a huge increase in traffic and that traffic could even convert to leads.
In order to do this though, you need to get your website set up in the right way.
Having easy-to-understand FAQs that directly answer the questions will increase your chances.
Coming up with great content ideas for your law firm is hard, we get it. But it doesn’t have to be that way and you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a month either.
Google has a wealth of content ideas just waiting for you to get stuck into.
We want to know about your experience with the People Also Ask feature! Have you used it before to generate ideas for your law firm?
Or perhaps you didn’t know it existed? Leave your comments below.
If you want a bit of a summary on why SEO fails before you dig into this chapter start with this list of things to avoid.
Tech issues: Slow page load, not having a secure site even if you don’t do ecommerce (SSL), broken links, pages that result in a 404 error, lack of 301 redirects from old URL’s, improper use or redirects and poor site folder architecture can all mean that your cute blog goes to waste. SEO is not dead and tech nerds that can help you fix these issues before you blindly plod along with content is essential.
Bad links: If you have bad sites linking to you that an SEO firm got, thinking they would help you, get them removed or use the disavow tool. Google search console is where you upload your list of admittedly bad links to the disavow program.
Lack of links: Google still admits that content, links and rankbrain (basically artificial intelligence) are the three big ranking topics you need to address. If you just have average content, you wont get links. If you don’t promote your content, you likely won’t get links.
Doing regular content but not properly using keywords: The average writer says they “know SEO” but do they really know how to craft a careful keyword strategy? If not, you fail. You also need to understand how to add related keywords (LSI) that give more depth to your content and help make it more relevant to users intent.
Focusing only on keywords and not also on topics: Do you know what topic clusters are? You need to because they are crushing it in terms of making content rank. If you want to rank for let’s say birth injury lawyer, either on your practices area page or on a resource page/post, write a very long page – like 1600 to 2,000 words or more. Make it all about the topic and have a short paragraph on the 12 or so most important aspects of Birth Injury Lawsuits. Then link from each general paragraph about each topic to another shorter post of say 750 or 1,000 words that dives deep into that content. Link back and forth from the cluster subpages to the pillar mothership pages and voila, your page will kick ass over one page about the topic – even if it that one page has lots of keywords in it.
High bounce rate: Go into Google analytics and check out how often people bounce off your site if they land on one page and never go to another. If people hate your site, why should Google love it? Add better headlines, better images, more info. for the customer, a video, links to supplemental info etc. When people stay longer and visit more pages Google will factor that in when deciding if you deserve to be top ten.
Having a poor click through rate: Make sure when people see your listing in the search results that it entices them to click. When possible, don’t just add keywords to title tags but add a value proposition or some emotion.
Getting ranked anywhere below top ten: The top 5 results get 67% of the traffic. 6-10 only get another 3%. So if you do SEO half heartedly, do not expect to get leads. Go onto SEMrush and check what terms you rank for on page 2 and 3 of search results. Then make the pages that cause those ranks even better. Add more content on those topics to take advantage of being within striking distance of your SEO actually mattering.
Doing the tactics but not being a true thought leader: Google will sniff out if you are respected on LinkedIn, your content is shared, liked and loved. Think you can game the system? Go to Google headquarters and smell the fresh black ink on the hundreds of whiteboards burning with the math of algorithms designed to stop black hats and spammers.
Not having strong brand signals: Do people search thousands of times a month for a firm you compete with but only hundreds of times for you? Try adding your brand name as a search in SEMrush to see what the monthly search volume is on your brand. We will get deeper into the various brand signals another time but know that you need to be respected to be ranked, not just check a bunch of SEO to dos off your list.
Check and make sure you do not do these things or you will fail to get real leads from your law firm’s SEO strategy in 2019.
If you need help on some of them, hire an SEO agency that specializes in law firms like us or anyone who leads with quality content and knows how to address these key search engine optimization issues.
Sometimes marketing is just a big pain in the butt. Your competitors are doing it better than you. The leads aren’t coming in and your local lawyer SEO firm is blowing hot air.
That’s when you realize you have to start by avoiding mistakes and make sure you are on the right path before chasing the rainbows and unicorns of the latest marketing trends.
Here are five things to avoid that would surely make your marketing fail.
1. Taking a casual approach to load time and mobile optimization
If your site takes more than three seconds to load, you lose almost half of your visitors.
GTmetrix is an excellent tool for checking your load time and it will give you a bunch of suggestions on how you can fix your pages speed problems. 315,571,612 pages have been analyzed so far by their tool.
Download an optimization report, send it to your developer and ask them to fix the clearly documented issues or find someone else who can.
Here is a screenshot of GTmetrix ratings one of my local Law Schools – picked off the top of my head and the first I checked to use as an example:
Ouch. Suffolk, please give me a call…
It doesn’t take a genius to know that having a fantastic mobile experience on your website is critical, yet it’s incredibly common for law firm and related websites to load slowly and have navigation and mobile issues.
2. Writing average content just to fill a quota
It’s not a bad idea to have a weekly blog post that isn’t super long or super mind blowing. That’s fine. But don’t expect that to rock the world. Just because you can get your law clerk or intern to write for free doesn’t mean it’s going to move mountains without strategy.
The type of content that works these days is longer, deeper and apparently more fulfilling. According to a study of 1 million results “the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words”.
It should be in depth and completely cover the topic like 5 feet of snow on the Colorado mountains.
Great content is easy to promote and share but weak content is pretty much impossible to promote and generate interest in beyond a casual glance or a few searches here and there.
Just don’t stop all content thinking everything needs to be 150% amazing. That can sometimes lead to writer’s block.
Write and write at various lengths to see what works for your audience but make sure some of your content is exceptional. Your lesser content should provide a clear purpose as well like a weekly simple update on topic or monthly news roundup.
3. Building a new website based simply on your own tastes or the design of a developer
Modern websites are built on A/B testing. You need to prove the theories of your messaging with A/B testing software, not through the committee of the highest paid attorneys or marketing people.
Tools like Optimizely, VWO and others can help you bring a bit of science to your creativity.
Even your agency should be humble enough to admit that when they design your website, layout it’s navigation and write headlines, that it could always be improved through testing exactly what will trigger people to fill out your free consultation form or download your latest e-book.
Try testing these types of things:
Long vs. short copy
A landing page using a tool like Unbounce a website page
Calls to action that don’t assume to the person is ready to buy yet – like E-books not just free consultations
4. Failing to recognize the power of artificial intelligence
Various software tools can help you gather data about how you should be picking keywords and topics as well as writing to specific personas or groups of people.
Big data can help inspire big wins because it adds information that humans can’t compute on their own.
Grammarly just got $110 million in VC funding to create a tool that leverages big data to help you understand the likes and interests of your target audience.
Spellcheck and grammar check, yes, it has that. Robot using crazy math to help you write, yes, it has that too.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
“In April, it suggested 14 billion improvements across its service.
The tool parses text, breaking it up into phrases and sentences. It applies various algorithms to analyze the text using technology such as natural language processing and machine learning.
The app then provides suggestions and explanations—to get users’ trust and to help them become better writers.”
Want your blog post to resonate with 20 something women interested in saving money? Shakespeare couldn’t hold a candle to a competent writer that holds in their hands the keys to the kingdom based on the scraping of various social media profiles to understand the likes and interests of specific groups of people and then correcting your tone as you write.
OK so this tool doesn’t exist exactly yet but it will and when it does, if your competitors use it and you don’t, you’ll be making one of the biggest mistakes in marketing: Living in your own little bubble of what you like and expecting your website visitors to like the same.
AI tools are sprouting up everywhere. Legal Robot for example, simplifies legalese into simple language for anyone to understand.
Here’s how they pitch it:
“Legal Robot uses machine learning techniques like deep learning to understand legal language, then compare the language with other contracts to identify boilerplate vs. custom, measure the complexity and readability of the language, and identify the responsibilities, rights, and terms of an agreement.
The information is presented in a way that encourages exploration of the contract in a way that is far more interesting and understandable than legal language. This allows people to quickly interpret the components of the contract, quantify specific risks, as well as identify and resolve defects so people can be more confident in what they sign.”
Are you letting others get ahead of you with law firm marketing technology?
5. Pointing the finger
In my 23 years of employing digital marketing tactics, the worst mistake I see people making is blaming marketing failures on anyone.
photo credit: frankieleon
The quickest way to get things on track is to take responsibility for the success or failure of your campaigns. I learned this the hard way with my own marketing.
Your marketing agency works for you and if they’re not doing a great job or at least proving to you that they are trying every single day, then you should fire them. If they are working hard and you are working hard alongside them, the success will come but neither party can be complacent for a minute in this fast-moving marketing landscape.
Don’t just point the finger, do something about it, whether that means a new agency, a new team member or a new more consistently productive you. Or all 3.
Boldness beats whining or procrastinating. Again, I learned that the hard way, so I am the first to admit I have been there and done that.
These are just five things that come to mind when thinking of the problems of the clients and prospects we speak with every week.
But I bet if you take each of these seriously and put even 15 minutes a day into turning them around from big mistakes to big wins, you will have more leads flowing into your pipeline than stars in the Milky Way.