Law Firms & Content Strategy

There’s an old adage on the web says ‘content is king’, and that continues to be true even when selling professional services. Your content is your drawing card. It acts as proof that the writer is knowledgeable about their subject, but more important, is an absolute requirement to drawing new visitors to your website. Without content, the only visitors your website will see will be from your existing clientele and offline relationships.

The irony of course is that many law firms, even those substantial in size and resources, have a minimal content offering. If we consider that now in 2007, many firms have had an online presence for 10 or so years. And if we also consider that website content is cumulative, and the majority of law firms rarely (or do not) cull their content offering, then… What gross size would you consider to be appropriate for a law firm website? more than 2,000 pages in size? 5k? 10k? 30k?

From my list of global 100 law firm websites, we see that 65% have less than 10k pages published.  And from personal experience I think I can safely estimate that with smaller firms, in general, online publishing does not exceed 1k pages. So the next question, as noted over on the VLLB, is bigger necessarily better? My answer would be a very firm – it depends. :-)

Benchmarking the raw size of those websites was interesting to me because, in my opinion, legal web marketing is currently going through a big change; with firms moving from a single domain presence to more of a multiple brand / multiple website effort, ie. my hub-n-wheel approach.  This may be one of the last points in time that we are able to measure (most of) a firm’s web presence without identifying and reviewing all the pieces of the puzzle.

I expected to find a lot of very large websites in that list, and surprisingly did not. To me that indicates many firms are still working off of brochureware websites — lawyer profiles, transaction lists, media quotes, representative clients, deals, etc.  And running against conventional wisdom, I do not see that as an entirely bad thing.

Firms with long standing content initiatives may already have drafted content in place, but face the challenge of keeping their offering attractive and current. They face decisions about when to spin that content off into other websites, how to rework & republishing the most valuable content, and when to cull. Is it easier to create content from scratch? or to get decisions made about existing content? my opinion – a coin flip. Depending on the environment, either could be a big challenge.

There’s also the matter of web strategy. If a firm knows exactly which audiences it’s targeting, and puts up niche information that draws qualified leads from key decision makers, the size of the website will have very little to do with its rate of success. As a web marketer, I see the value in both (1) casting a wide net of content to draw audiences, and (2) identifying and expanding the most successful methods.  

What may be more important in reading that list, is what it tells the individual firms about the overall health of in-house routines and processes regarding the web.  If a firm has a 1000 or 2000 lawyers and can’t produce more than a page per lawyer, their troubles may be more systemic in nature. Firms with robust web publishing operations typically have:

  • a great in-house committment to writing by lawyers;
  • a defined content strategy;  
  • a solid understanding of the desired audience;
  • approprite publishing vehicles in place;
  • active efforts to market both the content and authors.

Put these elements together, and great content can help firms connect with new audiences. I believe that. And while a bigger website may not necessarily be better, I do think it represents an understanding that modern global business relationships have a strong virtual component, that law firm brands are constantly in flux, and that people’s opinions are altered by online exposure. 

So maybe bigger is better? Execution has to count for something. Right?

Comments

  1. Most law firms see blogging as a marketing – instead, they should see it as a way of making their notes, thoughts, and ideas about particular themes both accessible and public.

    A good CMS will allow an individual lawyer to keep his or her notes or thoughts on some legal issues fully in view.

    The process of making yourself clear to non-lawyers results in both decent traffic flow and some neat articles.

    @ 6:54 pm
  2. This post has been picked up by Jessamyn West over at Librarian.net(http://www.librarian.net) in Carnival of the Infosciences #77 – http://www.librarian.net/stax/2120/carnival-of-the-infosciences-77/ .

    Congratulations!

    @ 8:16 pm
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