During our new client onboarding sessions, we typically ask law firms about their editorial processes. Most of the time, their response is something like, “we ask our team to blog when they can,” or “we write content when something important happens.” Unfortunately, these ad hoc strategies are unlikely to yield consistent long-term results.
Ideally, your law firm should be posting new blog content two to four times each month. How can you ensure that the content is fresh, informative, and optimized for search? One of the easiest ways is to create an editorial calendar.
What Is an Editorial Calendar?
When our team starts planning content, we begin by creating an editorial calendar, which outlines each topic we’ll discuss in a given month or quarter. The calendar includes the title, a few bullet points about the topic, our primary targeted keyword, some potential sources, and the intended posting date. This calendar serves as a framework for all our content, ensuring that our writers, editors, and clients have the same expectations about blog subject matter and posting schedule.
While an editorial calendar may seem like extra work, it’s a critical step if you want to build a comprehensive, intentional, data-driven content marketing plan.
Why Do I Need an Editorial Calendar for My Legal Blog?
Organic search algorithms are incredibly sophisticated, assessing your content’s depth, breadth, and relevance for a variety of keywords. When Google and other search engines rank website content, they look at a variety of factors, including how frequently you publish and update your content. Generally speaking, you’ll see better organic search performance if you consistently publish new, high-quality content and update your pages and blog posts over time.
If you’re sporadically posting blogs, sometimes posting several in quick succession and then going silent for months, you may be doing yourself a disservice.
However, there’s another issue that arises when you blog without an editorial calendar; you’re unlikely to use keyword and competitor research to improve your content.
For example, suppose one of your partners loves discussing the nuances of Social Security’s Listings of Impairments, which help determine whether someone qualifies for benefits. They decide to write a thorough discussion of a cardiovascular listing entitled, “Navigating Listing 4.04, Ischemic Heart Disease.” The blog is structured like a law review note, with countless citations and footnotes. However, when you look at your search data, the blog has very little traffic and a near-100% bounce rate (the rate at which people visit the page and then leave the site). Why?
Why Keywords Matter
First, let’s look at search volumes for one of this blog article’s top keywords, “ssa listing 4.04.” According to Ahrefs, this keyword gets less than ten monthly searches on average.
The SSA keyword seems to have value because it potentially indicates the searcher has a heart-related disability claim and is gathering more information. However, the low search volume for this keyword suggests it’s not a topic the general public is aware of — which makes sense, considering it’s highly technical and specific.
Instead, consider the search volumes for the following keywords, which also indicate the searcher wants to know more about heart-related disability claims:
- Heart attack disability living allowance: 100 monthly searches
- Heart disease disability: 70 monthly searches
- Is heart disease a disability: 50 monthly searches
- Heart attack disability: 40 monthly searches
- Heart disease and disability benefits: 20 monthly searches
- Disability after heart attack: 20 monthly searches
By focusing on more popular keywords and writing content that targets legal consumers instead of other lawyers, you’ll likely get more traction.
Second, you notice that the blog has a college-level reading level. While the content is dense and informative, it’s too complicated for your clients. Instead of lingering on your website, they’re skimming your page and quickly leaving because they find it intimidating and inaccessible.
Your partner may have a great blog concept, but he’s not speaking your clients’ language. By making the content more approachable (ideally at an eighth-grade reading level), you’ll likely attract more readers and increase the time they spend on the page and on your website as a whole.
How Do I Create a Legal Blog’s Editorial Calendar?
Our writers start by researching potential keywords and topics that will attract a high volume of readers. We use tools to identify long-tail keywords that we believe will appeal to legal consumers and offer a chance to make Google’s first page.
Now, let’s go back to your Social Security disability firm. You decide that your law firm will post two blogs per month. Rather than just churning out blogs, you take a data-driven approach.
Before you start writing, you execute the following tasks:
- Create a list of your clients’ frequently asked questions
- Review your competitors’ blogs for ideas
- Use free tools like Google Trends and Keyword Planner to identify popular keywords
Then, you create a framework that lists a working title, outlines the subject matter, lists potential resources, and identifies when you’ll post the content.
Your law firm’s monthly editorial calendar may look something like this:
|May (Blog 1)||Working title: What Happens at a Social Security Hearing?|
Primary keyword: what happens at a social security hearing (60 monthly searches on average)
Post date: May 7
|May (Blog 2)||Working title: 5 Ways to Improve Your Disability Claim for Back Pain|
Primary keyword: how to get disability for back pain (300 monthly searches on average)
Post date: May 21
Then, you share this document with whoever will write, edit, and publish these blogs.
Allow for Flexibility in Your Editorial Calendars
At LaFleur, we typically create our clients’ editorial calendars months in advance. This approach gives us time to research blog topics, get the necessary client approval, and input tasks into our project management system. However, current events sometimes require more flexibility.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we recently reviewed all of our clients’ editorial calendars. We needed to ensure that the topics were still appropriate. For example, a blog about slip-and-fall accidents in restaurants probably wouldn’t resonate during a shelter-in-place order. When necessary, we pushed blog topics out and rebuilt the editorial calendars to include COVID-19 content.
While the pandemic is a dramatic example, the legal industry is innately fluid and always evolving. You can’t anticipate every Supreme Court decision, new cause of action, or legal issue. When these topics arise, don’t be afraid to update your editorial calendars. However, you should still use the same data-driven practices (like keyword research and competitor analysis) to plan your new topics.
LaFleur: Brilliant Content Marketing for Law Firms
LaFleur helps law firms across the country develop compelling, high-performing content marketing plans. Our team of writers, researchers, and editors can help you attract your ideal clients, build brand awareness, and improve your website’s visibility.