Anatomy of the Perfect Law Firm Blog – Part 2: Research
This is a continuation of an ongoing blog series that looks at each of the individual parts that make up the perfect law firm blog. Every marketing website on the planet has about 50+ generalized, fluffy articles on how to write a generalized, fluffy blog, but you want more than generalized fluff, right?
We’re here to rise above the fluff (I’d say “noise”, but you and I both know fluff isn’t very loud–nor noticeable!). We’re here to help lawyers and law firms create stellar legal blogs by breaking down each essential component.
The blogs are in sequential order, so it’s best to start from the beginning. If you haven’t read Part 1: Introduction, read that here.
Part 2: It’s All in the Research
Don’t worry about writing the body paragraphs just yet— allot some time to research your topic first. You want to be as knowledgeable as possible before diving into your topic. If this pushes writing back an hour, you’re still going to save yourself time and frustration because you’ll know what you’re writing about. Starting without a plan will lead to roadblocks and a lack of voice throughout the blog.
Think of your blog as a house: You want to have strong foundations to hold it up. Your research is building those foundations.
The Importance of Using Reliable Sources
When researching your topic, you can do a general search first to see what comes up. While these sources may not be linkable within your article, they can give you some beginning ideas of where to look or what other aspects of the topic you should pursue. But watch out for the telltale signs of sites that aren’t reliable:
- The site hasn’t been updated in years.
- Anyone can edit the content on the site.
- The content is riddled with improper grammar and spelling errors.
- The site has poor design.
- The site doesn’t link where it gets its statistics.
To avoid unreliable sites, you can tailor your search so you don’t have to hunt through the pages of Google to find information about your topic. Make use of the Google Advanced Search tool. You can search for domains such as .gov and .edu, which will point you toward reliable articles.
What Sources Can Help You?
Domains like .gov or .edu are more reliable because of what they represent. A .gov domain belongs to the federal government and .edu belongs to an educational institution. Information from these domains are more credible and more likely to be accurate than information from a .com site—the domain used for any commercial site.
When you’re looking for valuable information on your topic, there are many helpful resources at your disposal. You can get statistics, facts, and a better understanding of your topic from these sources:
- Peer-Reviewed Journals. Scholarly journals typically go through a rigorous vetting process before publishing. Several experts in the field will look at an article to make sure it’s accurate.
- Research Studies. These could take you in a direction you hadn’t considered in the past. The information could make an interesting section in your blog or it could be an idea for a different post.
- Government Reports. This information usually includes yearly statistics and trends. You may be able to see information from the current year and you’ll be able to compare this to data from previous years. You can gain a lot of insight on your topic and this will give your writing depth.
While Google may show many usable sources, keep in mind that you’re working with a deadline. Don’t get overwhelmed with sources. You don’t have to strain your eyes or decipher academic jargon for five hours trying to make it through one study. Sift through the sources that Google shows and pick the ones that are useful and understandable.
But Google isn’t the only option for information. You can see what tools you have internally as well. A law firm may know certain statistics or other helpful information on your topic that isn’t easily found online. Don’t be afraid if your information is coming from something other than an electronic source. Add an in-text citation and make sure to cite the source at the end of the blog.
When you’ve read your sources and found the information you want to include in your blog, take notes so you know which source the information came from. This could be having your Word document open next to your source and typing a few preliminary bullet points or keeping a list of your sources. If you’d rather take physical notes, there’s nothing wrong with a pen and a pad of paper.
This small but essential step will keep your sources straight and prevent backtracking or confusion in the future.
Link Your Sources
When you’re quoting or using information from one of your sources, be sure to link it. Readers see that you’re putting in time to research and will be able to see the study or article for themselves. You’ll also have more concrete writing that your reader can connect to. Any vagueness in your writing will most likely cloud it with uncertainty and not be of much help to the reader.
Linking your sources, writing concretely, and using your knowledge to further the topic will gain the reader’s trust. There’s a better chance they will read the article and will return to read more.
Adding your links from trustworthy sources also helps your blog’s SEO. These authoritative “external” links provide value to your blog because Google has analyzed these sources and recognizes the information as accurate and valuable. When you use them to back up what you’re saying, Google will see you’re using credible sources to do so.
Linking your external sources, as long as they’re credible, can help a post climb higher on Google’s search results listings. Keep in mind, however, that authoritative links are just one of the many puzzle pieces that fits into a smart SEO strategy. Good use of internal links, for example, is also just as crucial if not more crucial– especially if the links you’re including are also well-researched and well-written.
Legal InSites takes pride in writing informed, unique content with creative perspectives. Generating this kind of content can drive more traffic to your site and help your law firm. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re always happy to have a discussion.
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