March 6, 2020

Are your blogs a waste of time?

Half of your marketing budget is wasted – you just don’t know which half.

Possibly the most famous marketing quote of all time – which we’ve paraphrased – from John Wanamaker is 100 years old, but still holds weight today; even in an age where digital marketing makes it easier to measure returns on investment.

Sure, you can run PPC, paid social media, banner ads, and the like, and get pretty much 100% accurate data on what you’ve generated against the spend.  But advertising spend is only one part of the marketing budget.

If you have an in-house marketing team, how do you measure effectiveness of their activity?  How do you assign a value to linkbuilding or SEO work that provides results over the long term and can take several months to see the impact?

At Legmark we’ve been monitoring one aspect of law firm marketing activity recently to determine effectiveness and our findings were interesting to say the least.

Visit any law firm website and you’ll almost always find a ‘blog’ or latest news page full of short articles and updates about the business, legislation, recent work etc.

There is a cost to producing this content, either the marketing team, an agency, or your fee earners are taking a break from generating revenue to sweat over 500 words of content for the website.

But how many law firms are actually evaluating the benefit of this investment or opportunity cost of solicitors writing blogs instead of working cases?

From the research we’ve done at Legmark, it seems not many.  We’ve analysed a number of blog posts for top 200 UK law firms and none of the articles we’ve assessed are providing any value to the business from Google’s perspective.

We’re looking at traffic to those pages, what keywords they’re appearing in search results for, and the length and detail of the content against the EAT (expertise, authority, trust) guidelines set by Google.

If you’re a news website or a publisher of content, then updating the website with regular articles and blog posts makes a lot of sense.  You’ll be optimised for Google News with a specific News site map and you’ll be sharing with a wider audience on social media to drive traffic through the site.

If you’re a law firm, you won’t compete with the news publishers on topical subjects, and you

Google doesn’t like ‘thin’ content – that is web pages with little text on that don’t really add any value to the overall site.  Their own guidelines are explicit in that they want to see content with expertise, authority, and trust.  This invariable means longer, in depth content.

They also consider the amount of time spent on a page as a factor in how high they rank your website.  If your content is longer (and engaging) then naturally people will be on the site for longer.

We’re seeing big increases in rankings for websites that undergo a content purge – removing pages that are not adding value to the site, either by not generating website traffic, or are too short, or aren’t relevant to the main services provided.

If you want to write blogs to share as content on social media, then look at the kind of content that works on social media and do something similar.  If you are writing to generate traffic, then create less articles but make them much longer and focused around specific search terms and keywords.

To help decide on what to write, consider the following key questions for blog content:

  • What is the overall objective for the content – such as traffic, PR, links, brand exposure etc.
  • What’s the subject and how does that relate to what you do?
  • What is your particular expertise in this area and does the content give you the opportunity to show that expertise?
  • Who’s the best person in the business to write this article?
  • Who’s the best person to be named as the author? (This may not be the same as the writer)
  • Can you generate some PR off the back of the article?
  • How are you going to measure the performance of the content against the objective?

You should also look to attribute articles to specific people in the business as Google likes entities and your key staff can be considered by Google as entities if you can build out their online profiles effectively and apply the correct code on the page.

This means that you might decide strategically to have a select number of key staff in the organisation as your designated authors/entities – regardless of who actually writes and creates the content.

Whatever you do, don’t just blog for the sake of it!