Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tips on Writing User Friendly Articles

Writing an article for posting on a website or blog seems simple enough but if not done right, you can lose your reader – not to mention all-important search engine optimization benefits. Take a moment to review our tips for writing effective articles to reach and engage consumers.

Important SEO Tip -- Use common sense terms and phrases. One of the most important tips when writing articles is to keep search in mind. You want to include key words in the title and body that a potential client might type in when they begin searching for a topic. One way to think about it is to consider how a potential client would ask a question that your article is answering. Many people simply type a question into a search engine, like “how do I avoid credit repair scams?"

For example, a attorney wrote a useful article on how to build a defense against a police officer’s”speed estimation” training. He titled the article what he thought would be obvious: Cross Examination of a Police Officer's Visual Estimation of Speed. Unfortunately, the average person doesn’t think that way so the article was not receiving the exposure it should.

We took a look at the article and recoded the title tags to read Beating a Speeding Ticket. It is now receiving a great deal of traffic for key words such as “how to beat a speeding ticket in court” or “beating a speeding ticket.”

So when writing, think of how consumers will search for your article.

More Do’s
  • Include an Intro – A brief introductory paragraph lets the reader know what your article is about. Be sure to include the sub topics and keywords as the intro can be used as a teaser in RSS feeds and search results.
  • Keep it Organized – Readers often scan articles to determine if they’ve found what they’re looking for. Headers and sub-headers are a great way to break up text and organize the page for a quick-scan. Numbered or bullet lists are also an excellent tool for readers to quickly understand your key points.
  • Show Your Expertise – Write about topics that answer questions you receive from clients and that may not be readily available on the Internet. For example, instead of writing about DUI laws in your state, write about what to do (or not to do) when pulled over or defense strategies you’ve used successfully.
  • Use Examples – When explaining a particular element of a case, process, or law, use an example from a previous case to demonstrate how that element is used in practice. This helps build rapport with the reader, showing them you know how to help with their situation.
  • Visual Aids - Sometimes a table or chart can present the content into a more readable format. This is especially true when making comparisons or showing statistical data.
Important Don’ts
  • Do Not Post Duplicate Content – Please do not pull articles or content that have already been posted to another website (like your firm’s website or a blog). Re-posting it will not drive more traffic to your article and may get your site penalized by search engines.
  • Do Not Advertise – It’s tempting, but unnecessary. Advertising diminishes the value of the article and makes consumers suspicious. Articles are a way for you to dispense knowledge, build your online reputation, establish authority and build a rapport with readers. All you need is a highly visible byline, and clients will have every opportunity to contact you should they so desire.
Email Us! – If you have difficulty with the submission process, need ideas for topics to write about, or have content that you’re unable to upload (such as PDF’s, images, videos), email and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Educate Consumers with Video

Video is an excellent way to connect with consumers online. But how do you make good use of video?

Combing through attorney videos, I noticed that many take the time to make a video, but they stop with an ad about their company (i.e., we are Jane law firm and I can help you with…). These types of advertisements are a good introduction to your firm, but consumers crave more. Attorneys should share useful information with consumers pertaining to their legal situation.

Here are some ideas:
• Provide an overview of a particular law in your state
• Give tips on what to do in a certain situation – such as what to do if you are in an accident
• Address frequently asked questions that you receive from clients

Consumers will find much more benefit if you use their time to educate them rather than “sell” to them.

The above video is a good example of an attorney combining information with advertising. He starts off providing tips for drivers on how to avoid a DWI and then talks about how he has helped his clients in the past (the “soft sell”).