As a digital marketing firm in South Carolina, my company provides content writing and marketing services for many attorneys and law firms. I, personally, have written many thousands of words for my own law firm’s website. I understand how difficult it can be to both come up with topics for a law firm’s blog and to create original content.
In this article, I’ll explain why it is critical that you avoiding plagiarism (scraping blog content) in your law firm website content, I’ll offer some useful tips for researching topics and creating original content for your law firm’s blog.
Google May Penalize Your Law Firm’s Website for Duplicate (Plagiarized) Content
If you are trying to come up with content for your law firm’s blog, chances are you will eventually experience writer’s block. According to comedian Steve Martin, overcoming writer’s block is an easy process:
Go to an already published novel and find a sentence that you absolutely adore. Copy it down in your manuscript. Usually, that sentence will lead you to another sentence, and pretty soon your own ideas will start to flow. If they don’t, copy down the next sentence in the novel. You can safely use up to three sentences of someone else’s work — unless you’re friends, then two. The odds of being found out are very slim, and even if you are there’s usually no jail time.
Although Mr. Martin gives some solid advice on overcoming writer’s block, the chances of being found out for copying other writer’s content on the internet are high (not to mention that plagiarism is unethical and potentially illegal). In fact, if you duplicate another law firms’ content for your own website, you may find that your website either does not rank well in search results or has been dropped completely from Google’s index.
Duplicate content is content that appears on the Internet in more than one place. Multiple instances of identical content make it challenging for search engines such as Google to determine which version of the content is more relevant to a given search query. Stated another way, search engines will rarely show multiple duplicate instances of content and will choose which version is most likely to be the original or the best. In some instances, Google may actually penalize your website for duplicative content:
In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.
Tips for Researching and Writing Legal Articles for Your Law Firm’s Blog
1. Choose Relevant Topics. In my experience, blog posts that provide instruction or explanations are very effective ways to connect with your readers. Posts should cover answers to issues that relate to your practice areas.
2. Research Your Topic on the Internet. I am not talking about legal research. Instead, I am talking about researching whether someone has already written about your topic.
If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research. ~ Wilson Mizer
- Bookmark Other Blawgs – Coming up with topics. can be challenging. If you stumble upon other legal blogs that regularly publish content that you believe your audience may find useful, bookmark those blogs in your browser for future reference to get ideas for new articles for your website.
- Use Google Alerts – Another way to keep blog topic ideas flowing is to set up Google Alerts to monitor the web for new content. Google Alerts will send you an email when it finds new results—such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, etc. – that match search terms that you set up.
The goal here is not to copy other authors but to write a BETTER article. Here are just a few suggestions for improving on the content you’ve found:
- Expanding the Topic – Change the scope of the topic by focusing on a particular issue or going further in depth into the subject.
- Write for a Different Audience – For example, you might be a plaintiff’s lawyer who finds a personal injury article written from a defense lawyer’s perspective. Take a different angle toward the subject by writing for injury victims.
- Change the Format – For example, let’s say you find a good blog article on Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Instead of writing about the subject, you may create an infographic that gives readers an easy-to-follow visual format to understand the subject.
Before you start writing your blog article, I encourage you to read my post, “4 Reasons Why Your Law Blog Stinks (and How to Fix It). This article should get you pointed in the right direction to create quality content for your site.
Content Marketing Services for Law Firms
If you’re like most attorneys, you may find yourself too busy to devote time to writing content for your blog. If you need help with lawyer websites, JustLegal offers (plagiarism-free) legal content writing services.