How To Optimize The Layout Of Your Law Firm Marketing Blog
Like restaurant menus, the readability and appeal of blog webpages are greatly determined by their layout. Readers often visit blogs in order to internalize bursts of knowledge in short, readable posts on specialized topics, which means that they expect to navigate your law firm’s attorney blog page quickly and easily to find the information they’re looking for.
Is the layout of your blog page satisfying readers or turning away potential clients? Read on to uncover the benchmarks of the optimal blog page layout.
1. The best blogs avoid being top heavy
Blogs that are “top heavy” are those that feature a large number of advertisements on the upper section of their webpage, pushing content down below “the fold” (the portion of webpage shown without scrolling down). Ads tend to turn off viewers, especially if they are the first thing they see when landing on a webpage. In general, users want to see content or relevant images immediately upon visiting your attorney blog.
As if that wasn’t enough to dissuade law firms from going overboard on including advertisements, Google’s Top Heavy algorithm punishes webpages that stack ads above the fold, essentially ranking them lower on Google search results pages. This could have a negative impact on the amount of traffic routed to your blog webpage.
2. Utilize colors and themes that are consistent with your firm’s branding
Choosing the right colors and design theme directly impacts the user experience and blog reputation. For instance, you probably wouldn’t trust a bankruptcy blog that features a hot pink background and rampant kitten icons. Your attorney blog webpage’s color palette and design theme should reflect the attitude and brand your firm’s attorneys convey to clients in person—professional, capable, and helpful.
3. Sidebars provide valuable real estate
Your blog webpage doesn’t have to be barren. Feel free to take advantage of sidebars. These sections are typically easy on the eye and can feature recent content, links to your attorney blog’s most popular posts, client testimonials—the sky is the limit!
4. Take advantage of navigation bars
A navigation bar at the top of your blog webpage provides a roadmap for readers. Users should always be able to use the navigation bar to jump back to the homepage from each blog post or page. Also, consider including a tab that routes to a page featuring your firm’s bio and specializations—the point of the attorney blog is to market your firm’s services, after all—as well as buttons that leads to a testimonial archive, a comment submission page, and/or a page introducing the firm’s prominent attorneys.
5. White space isn’t always a waste of space
You don’t have to fill every inch of space in order to make the most of your webpage. Sometimes, white space can clean up the webpage clutter and emphasize the most important element of your attorney blog—the content.
Google has three main sites for informing the public about its developments. These are all blogs: the Matt Cutts Blog, Inside Search and the Webmaster Central Blog. Although each site is meant to address a slightly different audience, as their purpose is to explain amendments to a search engine, all three can be pretty technical. If you are an independent lawyer trying to run your own website and have little technical knowledge, you would probably find the Matt Cutts Blog more digestible. The Webmaster Central Blog is better suited to the technicians who actually run and manage the site and provide technical services.
The Webmaster Central Blog covers issues such as changes in the ranking algorithm and the search engine’s web crawler. It also, however, covers details of analytical tools. Google’s Webmaster Tools can help you analyze the traffic that comes to your site. With a little training in usage, anyone trying to improve the performance of a website will find these tools useful. If you have started to use the Webmaster Tools to examine your law firm’s Google ranking, you will need to check back with the Webmaster Central Blog periodically.
The site has a fairly low frequency of posting. You should expect roughly five posts per month. There is no set schedule for posts. They arise in line with developments of which the company believes the public needs to be informed.
The format of the blog covers two columns. The left-hand column covers two thirds of the width of the page and the right-hand column occupies the remaining third. There is no menu and little navigation structure. The right hand column contains links and a few tools, including a search facility. The links include keywords, which enable you to filter the displayed articles to a specific topic. The main body of the page contains the news articles. Each article is headed by a title, followed by the date and time of the post and a level of complexity of the article
(Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced/All). There is no set length for the articles on the blog. However, the entire article is shown on the main page. If you click on the title of the article to go to its dedicated page, you won’t see any more than you can read on the main page of the site. However, you will get to see the comments added by readers and get a chance to ask questions by posting your own comments.
The Webmaster Central Blog posts are much shorter than posts you will see on other blogs and SEO news sites. Although each post covers a complete topic, that topic might just be one aspect of a tool. If you are not familiar with the subject of an article that interests you, you will need to look elsewhere for further details on that tool.
All posts on this blog are written by Google employees and the name of the writer, with a link to his or her Google + profile appears at the end of each piece.
Quicksprout is a presentational vehicle for Neil Patel, a young SEO consultant. Neil offers services to websites specifically to increase the number of visits to them. The art of driving traffic to your site is a niche of SEO that focuses on the external qualities of the site. Consultants specializing in conversion would then have the responsibility of designing your site and your offer into something visitors would want to pay for. The site’s address is http://www.quicksprout.com.
As a legal professional with little time on your hands, you may soon become annoyed by the Quicksprout website. An overlay advert covers up the screen periodically offering special deals on Patel’s services and tools. You can get to the blog by clicking on the “Blog” link at the top of the screen or go directly to the page by entering http://www.quicksprout.com/blog/ in your Web browser’s address field. At all costs, avoid clicking on the “PRO” link at the top of all pages on the site. This is a sales page and it will not let you out. You will get trapped into a cycle of two alternate pages of offers triggered by a navigation message box.
The blog layout follows the conventional pattern of a wide left column containing the stream of posting and a narrower right column for shortcuts. Patel manages to squeeze in adverts for his services and products in the right column as well. Neil Patel writes all the blog entries himself and the articles give insights into link building, social media, paid advertising and site design. Beware, he also inserts an advert for his services every two or three posts. Clicking on one of these will get you trapped in a sales drive loop.
Patel writes a new post every two to three days. Each post is headed by a title followed by the author name and date of the post. Most posts have an image, but all show about the first three paragraph of the article in the main posting stream. You get to the full story either by clicking on the title or on the “click to continue” link at the end of the snippet. Once in the full article, you have to close an annoying popup advert that overlays half of the story column, in order to read the text. The article is followed by a comments section.
Neil Patel’s style of writing is easy to follow and he does not indulge in jargon. Any visitor researching the topic of sourcing traffic for a site will be able to understand the information in this blog. An independent lawyer, looking for an edge for his own website will pick up some useful tips of site design. However, Patel’s main specialization is bulk traffic, which is not relevant to local law practices. You need to attract clients who are in your locale and looking for your practice specialization. Therefore, you are more likely to visit the Quicksprout blog when you first design your site, rather than as an ongoing tip sheet on trends.
Bruce Clay, Inc is an SEO and digital marketing consultancy named after its founder, Bruce Clay. The company has been active in SEO since 1996, giving Bruce Clay 18 years more experience than Rand Fishkin’s Moz. The company is based in California and has offices in India, Switzerland, Japan and Brazil.
Bruce Clay, Inc offers SEO services to clients and also produces analysis tools, which are available on subscription. These are bundled into the SEOToolSet. You might not be interested in paying for the company’s advice, or using its tools. However, the BCI website contains a blog that can help you keep abreast of current tips and tricks the company prioritizes.
The Bruce Clay website address is http://www.bruceclay.com. You can access the blog from the site’s Home page by clicking the “Blog” link next to the site’s title. You can get straight to the blog page by entering http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/ in your browser’s address bar. The blog is not a news page and does not have the same volume of posts as sitgs like Search Engine Watch or Search Engine Land. You can expect a new post on this blog about every two or three days.
The target audience for the blog is the SEO strategist cadre. Occaisionally, articles will be of interest to law firm practice managers or independent lawyers managing their own site. The article, Rank for Your Name: Reputation Management for Lawyers – and Anyone Whose Name IS Their Brand is a must-read for lawyers who give their names to their practices. Those who build or manage law firm websites will not find much of interest on the site. Their is very little technical advice in the blog postings. While the tone and format of Moz Blog articles give them the feel of tutorials, or how-to guides, the Bruce Clay blog entries give overviews on trends and ideas for changes to websites.
As with most of the other SEO blogs you are likely to encounter, the layout of the page gives a wide column to the left of the screen covering two thirds of the available with and a second right hand column containing sidebar information. The Main column contains the blog posts. Each post is preceded by its date, then its title and then the author and the date and time of posting. You will see the initial two paragraphs of the story on the main blog page. In order to see the full article, you need to click on its title, which is a link. In the story’s own page you will see the entire article followed by a comments section.
You will usually see ten postings on the initial blog page. You can click on the “Older Entries” link at the bottom of the page to see more articles. Posts are displayed in chronological order with the newest first.
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