More than ever before, today’s consumers are using the Internet to answer their legal questions and find a lawyer. For that reason, it’s essential for lawyers to have a strong presence online. But that doesn’t just mean having a website – there are many other tools that you should make use of in your online marketing efforts.
You should also be using social media, have a solid LinkedIn profile, and maintain an active blog. Blogging is one of the easiest and most effective ways to build brand awareness for your firm and get more client leads online, but yet so many law firms still fail to utilize it.
How to Start a WordPress Blog for Your Law Firm
WordPress is an incredibly powerful blogging platform, and best of all it is very easy to set up and use. It is estimated to power almost half of the top 100 blogs on the Internet, and millions of other websites in every country around the world (check out these impressive WordPress usage stats). Here’s how you can start your law firm blog in 5 easy steps using WordPress.
Step 1 – Register a Domain and Set Up Web Hosting
Although it isn’t technically required, it’s a good idea to register your own domain name and set up a web hosting account. Having your own domain allows you to brand your blog properly and associate it with your area of practice or your law firm.
If you already have a law firm website, you probably already have a web hosting account. If you don’t, here are a few reliable and inexpensive web hosting companies to choose from:
All of these hosts offer customer support and easy WordPress installation. Some of them also include free domain name registration when you sign up.
Step 2 – Install WordPress
The next step is to install WordPress on your web server. WordPress is known for its ease of installation and use. Most web hosting companies will even give you the option to install WordPress directly from your hosting account with just a couple of clicks.
If your host does not offer an automatic WordPress install, you can do it manually (or have your IT guy do it for you). You just have to use FTP to upload the files onto the server. Here are the complete installation instructions from WordPress.
Once you have WordPress installed and your domain name is active, you’re done with the hardest part. Now you just have to customize the look and feel of the site and launch your blog to the world!
Step 3 – Choose a Good Theme
WordPress is basically just a website in a box. It makes it incredibly easy to customize the appearance and structure of your site, and to manage all your content from the dashboard. A “theme” is basically just a skin that changes how the content is laid out and formatted, what fonts are used, what the color scheme is, etc.
WordPress comes with a couple basic themes pre-installed, but you should consider customizing it to make your blog stand out more and fit with your overall law firm branding. There are thousands of themes available for download online, or you can hire someone to build a custom one for you. But whatever theme you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Easy Navigation – You want to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to navigate the site and find the content that appeals to them. Make sure you choose a theme with a simple layout and straightforward navigation.
- Browser Compatibility – Your blog should look good and function correctly on every device and browser. So make sure your theme is optimized for all the major web browsers: Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.
- Mobile Friendly – These days, mobile Internet usage is surpassing desktop usage. It’s essential that your theme uses a responsive design so that it scales down the content and images nicely for viewing on smartphones and tablets.
Can’t find a good theme that meets all of these criteria? Colorlib is a good place to start with some simple, responsive themes that are free to download and easy to customize.
Step 4 – Install Some Plugins
The basic, out-of-the-box version of WordPress is great for creating and managing content. But, to really create a blog that is going to help you grow your law practice, there are some other features you’ll want to have.
Plugins allow you to do just that – they are “add-ons” that each have a specific functionality that does not come standard with WordPress. Some features that you will most likely want to add to your law firm WordPress blog include:
- SEO optimization – SEO (search engine optimization) is key to get more traffic to your blog. The Yoast plugin is the gold standard for WordPress SEO. It has some powerful features and it’s completely free.
- Easy sharing on social media – Having your content shared on social media is a great way to get more traffic to your blog. There are a bunch of good plugins to add social sharing on all your blogposts. Shareaholic is a good one, and the one we use on our blog.
- Email and lead collection forms – Make it easy for your blog readers to sign up for your email newsletter or contact you if they have more questions. If you use an email newsletter service like MailChimp or MadMimi, they have their own plugins you can install. For lead collection, here is a free form builder plugin you can try out.
Step 5 – Create Your Content
Now that you’ve got your customized WordPress blog with your own domain, a beautifully designed theme, and some powerful plugin functionality, all you have to do is start blogging! Here are some tips to help you get started:
Know the difference between posts and pages
Posts are organized by date, and they are meant for content that is published on an ongoing basis. By default, all your posts will be listed in reverse chronological order on the homepage of your blog. Pages are meant for static content and are not organized by date. Here is a more detailed explanation from WordPress.
You will probably want to use posts for each new article you write. You might want to use pages for things like a contact form, an “about our law firm” page, etc.
Use tags and categories to organize content
Categories and tags make it easier for visitors to navigate your blog and find content that they are looking for. They also help search engines to crawl your site and associate related posts with each other.
Categories are meant to be broader topics by which your blogposts are grouped. For example, an IP law firm might want to have a category for each major area of IP law, i.e. Trademark, Patent, Copyright, etc.
Tags are meant to be more specific topics that are covered within a given post. Many people assume that tags are simply the keywords in a post, but that isn’t really the case. They are meant to refine the category classification to give readers a better idea of what the post is about.
For example, a post about Apple and Samsung’s ongoing patent battles would be in the Patent category, and it might have tags like “Apple,” “Samsung,” “Litigation,” etc. Here’s more info on categories and tags from WordPress.
Write a new post at least once per week
Frequently updating your blog is key for a few reasons. For one, Google and other search engines favor websites with more content and content that is fresh. If your content gets stale, your search traffic is likely to suffer.
Also, you should keep your blog updated in order to provide your readers and newsletter subscribers with new content to consume. It’s a good way to keep in touch with them and to ensure your law firm stays top of mind, should they ever need legal advice.
Lawyers striving to compete in today’s changing legal marketplace need to establish a strong presence online. Having a law firm blog is a key piece of your online marketing arsenal, and it it’s something that should not be overlooked.
Maintaining an active blog is a great way for prospective clients to find your firm online. It is also useful for building an email list for your newsletter, keeping your current clients up to date and engaged with the firm, and establishing your firm’s credibility in your field.
WordPress is a powerful blogging platform that’s free to use and simple to set up. Get started with WordPress today and launch your law firm blog in just a few easy steps.