I review legal content on dozens of law firm sites each week, and the one thing they all have in common is, their content sucks. Prospects could care less about how amazing you are or how many awards you’ve won; they want to know if you can help them with their problem, that’s it. It is that simple, answer questions your prospective clients have or may have simply and straightforwardly, and you will see a dramatic improvement in your conversion rates.
Writing great content for attorneys or any website has long been one of the most important factors when trying to attract quality prospects to your site. Among the most critical factors is content engagement. Writing great content that answers essential questions your customers have about your services is what Google is looking for from your site. Consider the fact that most black-hat techniques, including keyword stuffing, reduce the quality of the text. No one wants to read through awkward, ill-structured, and poorly phrased text that was written primarily for search engines and not people. Hence why Google is now considering content engagement among the primary ways of ranking websites.
Keywords are still important. They will help your clients find you. But the text cannot be so saturated with keywords that it lacks the common elements that separate bad writing from good.
So the question then becomes: how does Google attempt to rate content engagement and what does that mean for your website ranking? Furthermore, can you use this knowledge to rank better?
There are three main categories of engagement metrics that Google employs when determining a visitor’s level of engagement. Those are:
- Duration of time spent on the page
- Number of pages visited in one session
- Bounce rate
Bounce rate measures the number of visitors that leave your site immediately upon reaching it. The other two factors are fairly self-explanatory.
For Google, the sense of doing this is to give weight to the user’s experience of the page. For content marketing specialists, this means predicting what sort of questions your ideal clients will be asking about their case.
We already know that they’re going to want to learn as much as they can about their prospects and how their case is going to be litigated or managed. Lawsuits are stressful, as are most legal proceedings. They exist to manage some dispute. It’s impossible to think of a legal proceeding that isn’t stressful.
How do we manage stress? Generally through rationalization. We come to terms. Think about that for a second. We find catharsis in an awkward or stressful situation by coming to terms with it.
Therein lies the power of excellent content on your law firm’s website. But it’s not just smoke and intangibles any longer. Google measures how well your site satisfies your client’s needs.
Non-Content Related Considerations
Content is huge, of course, but the success of a law firm’s web page cannot be entirely reduced to it. Why? Well, your ideal client needs a way to navigate your website. Let’s say that they are in the information-gathering stage. They ask a simple question like: “how much is my traffic accident case worth?” Naturally, they’re worried about missing time from work and what that will do to their finances. They also hope that they’ll get enough money to make it through the next few months while they’re recovering.
Two elements to this allow them to find that information. The first relates to keywords, but also, the structure and design of your page are hugely important to how your clients will engage with your website.
A website can have the best content in the world, but if it’s confusing to navigate, you’ve lost the engagement battle.
How to Make Your Website More Engaging
We’ve handled the why and some of the how, but now we’re going to go into more detail. First, though, we’re going to talk about one trend that has notably shifted recently.
In the past, SEO companies have taken a quantity-over-quality approach to content marketing. In other words, the more stuff that they could stick on a client’s website the better. With content engagement metrics being introduced into the fold, that trend has shifted entirely toward the reverse. Quality is much more important than quantity.
Companies were paying pennies for uninspired dreck that had to be produced as quickly as possible for a writer to earn a living on it. That amounted to penny-a-word writers producing thousand-plus words worth of content an hour. But it wasn’t readable, informative, authoritative, interesting, or useful to anyone. It was writing that existed for the sake of drawing hits on Google. It was meant to be read by search engine bots, not people.
The hope, of course, is that visitors now find the content engaging enough actually to read. Mind-blowing, right?
What is it about your law firm that sets you apart from the rest? People want to know what distinguishes you. They want to know what you stand for. They want to know what drives you.
It’s often said that the most frequently used word in advertising is you.
It helps you develop a person-to-person rapport with your customers.
That’s great. But for professionals, the words I and we are just as important. Remember that your client has only one chance to litigate their suit. They want the best they can get. In other words, they want to be sold on you and your firm. They need to be.
Keeping it Simple
Visitors to your page want to know that you know your stuff, but they also, when researching the various aspects of their lawsuit, they want answers to their questions explained to them simply and directly. One metric that is becoming increasingly important is readability.
Yes, there are algorithmic tests that can determine how “readable” a text is. No, these tests do not tell the whole story. They’re useful to a certain degree, however, because they do test things like sentence length, use of rare words, use of unnecessarily pretentious diction, and syllable count for each word. They then generate a score. Hopefully, this score is above 60. That means that it can be read by anyone with an 8th-grade education or 80% of the American public.
Also, you don’t want to throw everything at the reader on every page. Concise is better. Simple is better. Structured is better.
This ties back into how easy your site is to navigate. The easier to navigate, the better the site for the visitor.
The structure of both content and your website is essential. Concepts must be broken down into small chunks. Information should have a linear progression from the generalized to the specific. These are all elements that make an article or an informative easy to navigate. Your visitors want information that is easy to scan.
The Bottom Line
Google has taken power away from naive algorithms and given the power to visitors. SEO now considers visitor engagement as a critical ingredient to your page’s ranking. It’s better because it functions more like the market itself.
On the other hand, SEO companies and pages that are using old-hat methods to rank their pages are finding their standing slipping.