In the last few years there’s been a startling proliferation of content on solicitor websites. At the same time expectations of visitors (potential clients) have soared. A steady stream of 300-500 word blogs might once have really helped the growth of your firm’s site, even if these articles were essentially regurgitated news stories or a repositioning of advice already well-worn on dozens of other sites.
Not any more.
Shorter pieces might be attractive because they appear easier, quicker and cheaper to produce than more extensively researched pieces. But as we have seen, content must present information in a way that’s useful and relevant to a clearly defined audience. In a legal context this means asking if readers can find out more about their legal position or predicament from your content. It’s harder to do this with shorter content.
WHY PRODUCING CONTENT COULD BE A WASTE OF TIME
If you are posting articles without any kind of strategy – as a kind of tick-box exercise (‘everyone else is doing it’) – then you’d probably be better not producing it at all.
Joe Pulizzi is an authority on content marketing. He’s behind the Content Marketing Institute. According to him “mediocre content will hurt your brand more than doing nothing”.
Law firms that churn out derivative, ill-thought-out content are probably wasting their time. With so much well-targeted content out there, yours will get lost. Search engines won’t find it and no one will read it. But if you understand the importance of quality content and are prepared to invest some time in generating it, think about longer content that has the potential to truly engage and impress readers.
WHAT IS LONG-FORM CONTENT?
As search engines and consumers of legal content become more sophisticated long-form content has grown in importance. It usually means content that’s more than 2,000 words in length. But it can include much longer standalone guides or commentary.
SEMRush, an American SEO research company has found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. Incredibly, the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.
6 REASONS TO CONSIDER LONGER FORM CONTENT
- It helps SEO. Longer content is likely to contain more ‘long-tail keywords’. These are the specific search terms that people enter into Google when trying to find an answer to their query. If people spend more time reading your content Google should notice it.
- It doesn’t have to mean more expense or time. If you are currently posting a couple of short blogs a week you could spend the same amount of time and money producing two much longer articles a month. We have started to suggest this to clients. If Google prioritises the highest quality content, longer content has a greater chance of performing better. Length in itself can suggest quality. Well-written longer content stands a greater chance of containing useful advice simply because it contains more information.
- You can use it alongside shorter content. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Some information lends itself more to a short blog post. And if you try to lengthen content for the sake of it, it will probably end up unwieldy and off-putting to any visitor.
- Market leaders use it. Look at any Magic Circle firm’s website and you’ll see great examples of long-form content. Few firms have the resources to go to the lengths of Clifford Chance, a firm that regularly posts long-form content. But if you are already spending time producing content it’s worth creating content that will work. And because so few of your competitors are creating this type of material to any significant degree it can be hugely effective for small and medium-sized law firms.
- It drives engagement. The longer and more useful the content the longer people are likely to stay on your site. Sure, they may not read everything at once but analytical content highlights your expertise. It positions you as an expert in the minds of potential clients.
- It’s free. Not for you (disappointingly) but for potential clients. And we have already shown how meaningful, free information can help drive the right kind of visitor to your website. Today it’s more about this and less about the volume of visitors you attract. There’s nothing to be gained from holding back on providing extensive insights and ‘free’ information on your site.
LET YOUR CONTENT STAND OUT
Of course not everything is suitable for long-form and the worst mistake you could make would be to write pieces over 2,000 words that have no relevance or do not seek to explain things to your readers. They’ll just get bored and leave your site.
But we think long-form content is increasingly attractive. And it’s not hard to see why. In an environment where there is so much content out there individual law firms need to markedly differentiate themselves. Your competitors probably aren’t producing much long-form content. So it’s a great way to make your law firm stand out.
And here’s Joe Pulizzi again on long-form content:
Those marketers who take a longer form approach can immediately position themselves and their stories as differentiated simply because of the length. When all your competition is going small, maybe it’s your time to go big.
Remember when you produce a piece of long-form content you create a genuine, valuable asset for your site and your law firm.