It's well-established that blogs are a great way for lawyers to promote their expertise, and to create keyword-rich content for search engines. But managing a law firm blog with multiple attorney contributors can pose challenges. An excellent recent case study on MarketingSherpa explored how one small accoustical consulting firm got eight of their engineers to begin contributing on a regular basis to a blog that now accounts for more than 50% of natural search-generated visits to the firm's website. Since this consulting firm sells expertise (to architects, building owners, etc.), their step-by-step tactics are useful for law firms.
In a nutshell, here are the steps that the firm followed (to read the full case study entitled "Create and Manage a Team-Authored Blog: 8 Steps to Reap SEO Gains" visit MarketingSherpa; subscription required for access):
Step #1. Establish a goal for the blog
The firm settled on two primary goals for the blog: (i) to educate readers about major issues in the acoustical engineering industry, and thereby position the company as a thought-leader without being excessively self-promotional, and (ii) to create a new source of keyword-rich content to complement the SEO strategy for their website.
Step #2. Develop keyword lists to incorporate into blog posts
The company developed a list of their target audiences -- architects, engineers, building owners, and attorneys -- and then identified the different phrases used by each group to describe their acoustical consulting needs. The blogging team also developed keyword lists of different phrases associated with their major industry sectors, such as: healthcare, auditoriums, industrial, education and worship.
Step #3. Create editorial calendar
With keyword lists established, the team created a full-year editorial calendar to ensure the blog’s content covered all phrases on the lists. The editorial calendar assigned a different market sector to each week’s post. For example, one week would cover healthcare, the next would cover industrial, and so forth. Next, they mapped out a specific topics to cover within those sector categories. For example, if the team was planning several posts on healthcare acoustics during the year, they broke down the subject into more specific issues, such as MRI noise control and privacy regarding HIPAA regulations.
However, despite the calendar, the team realized the importance of maintaining the flexibility to swap out a scheduled blog post if there was a piece of breaking news they wanted to write about instead.
Step #4. Enlist key team members as blog authors
The company decided to involve multiple blog authors in order to lessen the burden on any one person to provide posts each week, and to create a natural diversity in phrasing and word use (resulting in better search-optimized content). Since the company's consulting engineers were accustomed to preparing reports for clients, they felt comfortable writing for the blog. Ultimately, eight out of the company’s 10 engineers volunteered to become blog contributors. Each blogger reviewed the editorial calendar and decided which topics they wanted to cover.
Step #5. Provide writing guidelines
The company reminded authors that their work was a form a corporate
communication. Contributions could not contradict the company’s overall
message or recommendations the firm would provide to clients.
A 500-word target length was established for each blog post. Writers were reminded not to create whitepaper length articles, but rather to develop bit-size chunks of information that demonstrated the firm’s expertise.
Step #6. Set generous deadlines
Because writers chose their own topics, they knew well in advance of when blog posts were due. But the team also set formal deadlines to accommodate the editing process: blog posts were due from writers one month prior to the scheduled publish date.
Step #7. Use an editor to polish and optimize posts
One team member was assigned the role of editor to review all posts for compliance with the guidelines and effective execution of the SEO strategy (e.g., composing appropriate meta title and description tags). After additional changes by the authors following editorial review, and a final review by the company's president, posts are approved for publication. The team estimates it takes about 5 hours to get a post from initial drafting to publication.
Step #8. Share metrics, comments and success stories with writers
The company incentivizes authors by providing them with a byline for all posts, notifying them of any comments and inbound links, and providing recognition for popular posts in the company newsletter.