How to start web page writing when you don’t know where to begin
Geri L. Dreiling
Writing pages for your law firm’s website can, at times, be daunting — especially when you’re staring at a blank computer screen and wishing that the legal content would just magically appear.
In writing countless numbers of web pages for attorney websites, though, I’ve found that following seven steps can make the process more manageable.
1. Research your keywords.
Keywords are the string of words that people type into a search engine such as Google when they’re looking for information. Researching the keywords that are searched most often but have the least amount of competition will help improve your search engine performance.
For law firms, geographic locations can form the basis of many of your keyword phrases.
Although it can be time consuming, making the effort to understand how prospective clients might go about finding you and using that information to inform your writing is important. If you do not have time to conduct the research, outsource it to a legal content writer who can prepare the information for you.
2. Pay attention to keyword placement and page length.
Estimates vary when it comes to the optimal word count for a web page that provides the necessary legal content for prospective clients and search engine optimization, but generally it lies somewhere between 300 and 700 words.
At Legal Media Matters, we aim for about 500 words, repeating a keyword phrase four to 10 times. Generally speaking, keyword phrases are often most effective in the title, in the lead paragraph and at the end of the page.
However, keyword usage must be natural. The main priority is making the text attractive and helpful for human readers rather than machines. As with any new endeavor, mastering these parameters takes some practice. If you’re short on time, it may be easier to hire a legal content writer to handle the matter for you.
3. Write fresh legal content.
Don’t plagiarize. When you’re writing your web pages, it’s natural to look at how your competitors have handled a topic. It may be tempting to use those passages on your own website, especially if the competitor’s site is performing well in the search engine rankings.
The first reason is the moral and legal one: You’re taking someone else’s words and representing them as your own. Second, it can hurt your website’s performance. Search engines reward fresh content. If you simply duplicate what someone else has written, you’re going to do more harm than good when it comes to your search engine position.
4. Limit jargon and legalese.
Potential clients turn to the Internet in search of information. If your reader needs a legal dictionary to interpret your prose, he or she is likely not going to continue reading. Instead, the prospective client will search for another website, one that he or she can understand.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid legal terms all together. In fact, some of those legal terms might be good keywords. For example, the terms “copyright” and “trademark infringement” should serve as keywords for an intellectual property law firm’s website.
Nina Totenberg, the legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio, is a master of explaining legal concepts. Listen to a few of her news segments for ideas on how to communicate complex topics in a comprehensible yet informative manner.
5. Turn your draft over to a copy editor.
It is easy to miss grammar and spelling mistakes when you’re too close to your copy, and when you work with keywords and legal terms a draft can quickly become unreadable. You need to have someone else read it over before you publish it.
I would be lost without my copy editor, Kerry Bailey. At Legal Media Matters, legal content for our clients’ websites is given a thorough copyedit before it is deemed publishable.
6. Provide contact information and a call to action.
Make it easy for prospective clients to contact you. Make sure to incorporate your contact information — be it a phone number or a link to an online intake form — and urge your reader to get in touch with you.
When you’ve finished writing your page, ask yourself: “What do I want my reader to do next?” The answer will be your call to action.
7. Assess your performance.
After six months, evaluate the performance of your web pages. Which pages are generating hits? Are those visits coming from search engines? If so, which keywords are bringing readers to your site? You can use the insight gleaned from the pages that have performed well to boost your underperforming ones.
Do you have any tips of your own you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment in our response section. And if you have questions about our seven tips or simply want to outsource your legal content writing, contact Legal Media Matters via our online contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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