The pressure to constantly produce fresh content is turning many businesses into would-be publishers. Apparel retailers offer tips on clothing fit and accessories. Outdoor outfitters provide resources about backpacking must-haves and publish articles about how to train for specific adventures. Pistachios and Tic Tacs are on Twitter. Online, silence is not an option.
Having a daily article quota may work for journalists, and even big brands, but it is unrealistic for attorneys. Attorneys should play the content marketing game, but in a manner that best promotes business development while preserving time and mental resources for important matters — like clients and the law.
Why content marketing?
Content marketing serves several purposes. It helps establish your firm as an authority to both Google and prospective clients. It helps attract a specifically targeted audience, and at the same time it can work to introduce your firm to new audiences. However, the ultimate goal of content marketing is to drive readers to take action, preferably in the form of contacting and retaining your firm.
This goal can only be accomplished with a content marketing strategy. Publishing just to have words on the screen is a waste of time. Evergreen content is an integral piece of a comprehensive content strategy.
Why evergreen content?
Evergreen content consists of articles, videos or other material that is continually relevant. Evergreen content is timeless; it does not have an expiration date. Once published, it can be a resource for years to come. Since it has the value of lasting relevance, evergreen content can also be repurposed and used in many different forms — from an ebook to a white paper to a long-form page to a podcast to a seminar — and anything else you can think of.
Evergreen content also has SEO value. It can drive traffic for years, building authority and reputation in the eyes of Google.
What are the characteristics of effective evergreen content?
Usefulness: The first rule of content marketing is write about topics that your clients will find meaningful. You have experience working with a variety of individuals; what questions come up most frequently? What concerns do new client most often express? Write about these topics.
Most importantly, give readers an action they can take. For example, a personal injury attorney could provide a list of helpful questions to ask during an initial case consultation, or an estate planning attorney could outline steps to take before choosing a trustee. You can also offer an incentive, like a free download, that either summarizes or elaborates on the topic. (Never offer this for free; always require an email.)
Thoroughness: Since evergreen content aims to attract readers for a long time — and since you are not producing evergreen pages frequently — it can be longer than a standard article or blog entry. Dig deeply into a subject and elaborate on areas that a mere surface treatment would miss.
Conciseness: Recognize when more words are helpful and when they are not. Do not overwrite a simple how-to. Edit relentlessly. Internet users have patience for in-depth, even lengthy pieces, but no tolerance for unnecessary filler. If a subject can be covered in 500 words or less, then that is all the space it should get.
What types of evergreen content can law firms publish?
How-tos: Often, people who need to hire an attorney begin by researching an area of the law. An individual may, for example, wish to designate an agent as a healthcare power of attorney or establish a trust for the benefit of a child with a disability. Another may have been injured in a public venue, but may not be sure whether to proceed with a personal injury case. People who are unfamiliar with legal processes will want to know what to expect from a lawsuit or settlement, and they will want information about how to handle the situation. How-tos that are relevant to your area of law can answer such questions in detail and will likely be relevant for years to come.
FAQs: FAQs are a close cousin to how-tos. In addition to being good evergreen content, FAQs can also help with SEO. FAQs can be used to target valuable long-tail keywords — those that are three or four words or longer. Some examples include, "How do I declare bankruptcy?" or "What is collaborative divorce?" or "What is the difference between a C Corp and an LLC?" These keyphrases may be searched for less frequently than popular phrases like "divorce attorney," but because of their specificity they deliver traffic that is more likely to convert to leads and clients.
E-courses or video tips: This strategy involves creating a package of articles, slideshows or videos that cover specific parts of a more lengthy process. For example, litigators could detail what to expect during pre-trial, possible settlement, trial and appeals in a four-part series. These courses can be promoted in a series of additional posts, or even press releases, which add further content and search marketing value.
Infographics: Infographics are not the hot trend they were a year or two ago, but they can still be useful. Infographics highlighting bicycle safety tips or outlining the DUI case process provide knowledge for which people are actually searching. If infographics are well-researched, organized and tell a story, they will attract traffic.
"History of" articles: A "history of" article looks at an area of the law from a historical perspective, like the development of corporate real estate regulations or the history of child custody laws. This type of article allows you to thoroughly investigate a subject and provide information that is not likely on your competitors' websites. Remember, Google values uniqueness. History of articles provide content both visitors and search engines will find interesting.
Glossaries: The legal profession is rife with terms many people do not know or understand. Collect these terms, along with simple definitions, and publish them on a glossary page. This type of evergreen content will almost never have to be updated, and it will likely rank well in search results for specific legal terms.
Evergreen content helps differentiate you from your competition and works as a valuable SEO resource. It is long-lasting and easily repurposed. Additionally, supplementing your content strategy with evergreen content helps take the burden of production off your firm. And, updating older evergreen content is a good excuse to publish a short post announcing the update. Evergreen content may also get picked up or linked to by local bar association or chamber of commerce. The long-term rewards provided by evergreen content are well worth the effort of production.