Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Website Design and Marketing for Attorneys, Doctors, and Other Professionals
Below are some questions many clients have when they first contact Foster Web Marketing about the online marketing world.
The questions below may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don't find your answers here, you should contact us for answers to any questions specific to your firm.
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What topics should I write about for my personal injury website?
Personal injury attorneys typically work with a wide range of clients who have been hurt in very different kinds of circumstances. One of the biggest challenges on personal injury websites is to create content that can resonate with all the kinds of “perfect clients” you might be looking for. The next biggest challenge is organizing it all in a way that makes sense to readers and leads them toward the right goal.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, you can get started by looking at our general guide to finding topics for website content. However, personal injury law is a broad industry, and your content will benefit from ideas that are a little more focused on what you do best.
Breaking Down the Wide Scope of “Auto Accidents”
In DSS, you can organize your website’s content under different “service areas.” For most personal injury law firms, especially large firms, this is a deceptively simple way to organize big blocks of content into digestible topics for your readers. This can also help you focus your website on the types of clients you’re most interested in working with.
Auto accident cases are a great example of this function in action. If your law firm takes a lot of auto accident cases, you may get better engagement by breaking it down into more specific service areas, such as:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bus and transit accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
You can then write content that is focused on the subgroups of auto accidents that are most relevant to your firm, assign it to the appropriate service area in DSS, and give readers much better options for narrowing their search for content on your website. By writing content that speaks directly to the unique circumstances of each subgroup, you will also generate better and more natural “longtail” keywords that help bring more relevant people in from Google searches.
Breaking auto accidents into smaller categories can also help you come up with tons of highly focused ideas for great content. For example, think about what makes a commercial truck accident different from a wreck with a personal vehicle. What kinds of questions would someone have after they’ve been hit by a drunk driver? What kinds of injuries are more common in certain types of accidents? For the auto accident portion of your practice alone, the potential topics are nearly endless.
Talking About Other Kinds of Injuries
Auto accidents are often a major source of cases for personal injury firms, but that doesn’t mean that you should totally ignore other types of cases your firm is interested in. Think about the kinds of cases you would like to see more of or have taken in the past. You may benefit from creating content focused on other subcategories, such as:
- Medical and drug injuries. If medical and pharmaceutical injuries are a component of your practice, consider writing content that is focused on the major subgroups of cases you take. For example, you might write content that focuses on birth injuries, malpractice lawsuits, or mass drug recalls. You might even create a “cluster” of information-rich articles around a very narrow topic or case type to help launch a focused campaign, such as content about knee-implant litigation or mesothelioma lawsuits.
- Premises liability. Dog bites and slip-and-fall accidents may not be your main focus as a personal injury attorney, but you may want to have a few pieces of content that speak to premises liability clients. You don’t have to go crazy creating content for these cases if they aren’t a main focus, but having a few relevant pieces can help bring in potential clients and educate them about the kinds of cases you take.
- Maritime and workplace injury. If you work with clients who have been injured at work or at sea, your content can be the key to their understanding of the different laws and regulations that apply to their circumstances. This is your chance to explain complex information in an approachable way and really show off how you help. Think about what your potential clients need to know after they’re hurt working on the oilfield, with a railroad company, on a vessel at sea, or at an unsafe construction worksite.
- Wrongful death. Surviving family members often have a lot of questions, and you can provide a more comfortable user experience by writing content that is specifically focused on them and their needs after the loss of a loved one to negligence, regardless of the cause.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to generate so many subcategories of your practice that you confuse people, but you do want to break it down enough to funnel readers to the content that is most relevant to them. Just like Goldilocks, you should aim for just enough subcategories to be “just right.”
Curing Your Writers’ Block When You Run Out of Topic Ideas
Check out step two of our guide to estate planning topics to find out how to dig deeper for topic ideas with a quick Google search. This really is a quick and easy way to find out what else is out there, what kinds of competition your potential clients might see when they search, and what kinds of topics you might have overlooked.
If you’re producing a lot of content across a lot of different practice areas, we also strongly recommend that you plan out a content strategy. With a plan in place, you’ll already know what you need to write about and why, which means less time spent staring at a blank page without ideas. An organized strategy also gives you a better foundation for tracking and analyzing your success with the content you write.
Storytelling with case results can also be an awesome source of content that resonates with your readers. Case stories tend to be “evergreen” content that showcases you at your best and educates potential clients by example.
If you’re still having trouble finding engaging topics to write about online, talk to us about a free FWM marketing analysis, which will give you a better idea of how your content is going over with your readers and what you can do to increase engagement with the potential clients who matter most. We are dedicated to your success, and we love talking about how attorneys can create better content for the Web.
What's the best way organize my law firm's website content?
Then, when people then look at the blog page on your website, they’ll have the option to narrow their browsing by the topic they’re most interested in: Because your “perfect clients” search the Internet for everything, it is wise to constantly improve and update the content you write for your website. While what you write for your potential clients is important, curating your website’s content may be even more important in a digital world. You can write exactly the kind of content that your perfect clients are looking for, but still see it fall flat because it’s hard to find and poorly organized on your website.
Are you ready to whip your website’s content into shape? You might want to get started by performing a complete content audit. This process will give you a better idea of what kinds of content you already have and how to categorize it in a way that makes sense for you and your readers. After that, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start organizing.
Step 1: Break Down Your Practice Into Its Component Parts
You may be a personal injury attorney, but your cases probably fall into a few specific categories. For example, you might primarily do car accident cases, wrongful death cases, and dog bite cases. If you want to improve your online content and make it work better for you, you may need to break down your practice into appropriate “service areas” based on the kinds of cases that best represent your practice or that you want to attract. After all, someone who is attracted to your website after a dog bite is unlikely to be interested in your guidance for car accident victims. Make it easy for them to see only the content they want to see.
In DSS, you can create “service areas” or “practice areas” for these niches and subsections of your practice, then organize your blogs, articles, FAQs, and more under those categories. For example, you can choose a category option when you enter or edit a blog in DSS:
Then, when people then look at the blog page on your website, they’ll have the option to narrow their browsing by the topic they’re most interested in:
Categorizing content under relevant practice areas also helps you lead readers to other relevant content, whether you’re manually adding links to your pages or using DSS’ capabilities to feature related content in sidebars or panels:
Step 2: Create Compelling Content That Fits
Organizing your content not only makes it easier for potential clients and search engines to find you, it also creates an excellent framework for your ongoing content creation. Writing content for these specific audiences will stimulate more relevant keywords and key phrases, giving you a better chance to beat out your competitors for highly specific searches. Rather than competing on a broad level with many other law firms in your area, you will get better results by focusing on creating content for the specific areas of your practice.
If you are a personal injury attorney, for example, try writing content focused on a specific niche of your personal injury cases rather than competing with everyone in the large pool of personal injury cases. You might create a “motorcycle accidents” category, then try writing content that focuses on what an injured motorcyclist would want to know after an accident. By writing about motorcycle accidents, you are targeting a more specific market with your attorney website content and helping to produce quicker, better results for your audience.
Are you itching to get started? Find out more about choosing topics and categories for:
- Personal injury attorney websites
- Estate planning attorney websites
Curate Your Online Content With Help From the Pros
If your goal is a quality, information-rich site that will be recognized by search engines and potential clients alike, you have to stay on top of your content. Does your content lack structure? Contact us today to learn more about organizing your online content and writing for the audiences you want to bring through your door or ask for a free demonstration of content management with DSS.
What are the best practices for call-to-action buttons?
A call to action (CTA) is a critical part of all the content you create to market your business. While you can write out a CTA in text or even speak it out loud in a video, using a graphical button that directs users to a contact form, offer landing page, or other goal is an attractive and effective way to entice your readers to click. Sound good? Find out how to add styled buttons to your website content.
However, if maximizing clicks and contacts is your goal, not just any button will do. You can easily customize your buttons to get the most out of your efforts. Take a look at the examples below, which illustrate some of the best practices for custom CTA buttons.
Example 1: Short, Sweet, and to the Point
This example from our own website may seem simple and straightforward, but it’s also highly effective because:
- It uses words that entice people to click. Generic web buttons use words like “submit” or “enter.” Custom buttons let you change up the wording, but you can take a cue from the old standard by using words that stimulate action. Try to use imperative verbs (“get,” in this example), words that signal value (“free”), or words that create a sense of urgency.
- It is short and easy to read. Just a handful of words on the button itself should get your point across. If the text on your button runs too long, or the text is too small to read comfortably, then you run the risk of readers not recognizing it as a clickable feature. If you need more than a few words, consider using a smaller line of text underneath or over your shorter, attention-grabbing text—or save it for text alongside your button on the page!
- It makes effective use of simple graphics. Part of the fun of custom buttons is that you can dress them up with a little branding. The simple addition of our DSS-logo graphic brings a little something extra to an otherwise bare-bones contact form, while still looking neat and professional.
Example 2: Put the Emphasis on What’s Important
This example from a live-chat provider offers a quick lesson in using multiple buttons to spice up your content, while still leading readers to your goal:
- The most important button stands out. If your goal is to get your readers to click, your main CTA button should always stand out on the page. Put it front and center or where the eye naturally goes as you scan through the page. Although you can put more than one button on a page, remember to use them sparingly. Giving your audience too many options will scatter your efforts and potentially leave them confused about what they’re supposed to do next.
- It takes color seriously. While a button works the same regardless of color, color is one major factor in how appealing it is to your website visitors. Take that into account as you create buttons for your website. Think about your brand colors and the look of your website, then create a button in colors that fit in while still standing out. Using contrasting colors or a little white space will make buttons “pop” on the background, but you can experiment with what looks best to you. In this example, the orange stands out clearly against the dark background, and the button that isn’t the main call to action uses a less attention-grabbing color.
Don’t Forget to Test What Works Best!
You hear it from us all the time, about nearly every aspect of your digital marketing strategy, but always test your ideas once they’ve been implemented. You can make educated guesses about what will motivate your potential clients to reach out to you or take another action, but you can never fully know for sure without tracking, testing, and analyzing the performance of your CTA buttons.
Do you need help adding beautiful buttons to your website? Do you have questions about what makes a great call to action or how to track your conversions? Give us a call at 888-886-0939 to talk it over with our web marketing and design experts.
Why isn’t my law firm's website getting me business?
It’s a nightmare situation. You built a website for your law firm, but it isn’t helping you get new clients. What’s going wrong? If all the nuts and bolts are in place for Google to find your business and crawl your website, then the problem lies somewhere in the user experience.
Almost every element of a website impacts the user experience. If you aren’t getting the kinds of results you are looking for from your website, then it’s time to analyze some key areas:
- Look, feel, and functionality. Visitors expect a website to be easy to use and easy on the eyes. If the layout and navigation are confusing, or if your website’s design gets in the way of functionality, then you’re going to drive visitors away. This all holds for mobile, too, so make sure your website is just as attractive and intuitive for visitors using mobile devices.
- Content. High-quality, relevant content is what drives your perfect clients to your doorstep. If your content is thin, full of grammar mistakes, and over-stuffed with awkward keywords, then it’s time to focus your efforts on improving. Think about what your perfect clients want to know and want to read, then develop a content strategy to meet their needs. Your content should also include customized calls to action that clearly guide readers toward the next step.
- “Goal” pages. Speaking of calls to action, your main “goal” pages—like offer landing pages and contact forms—should be optimized to convince users to click or reach out. If people are landing on these pages because they’re interested in what you have to offer, it’s your job to make sure that it’s enticing to take action. It should be clear what they should do, what happens next, and why it’s an important step for a potential client. It is critical that these pages and forms work exactly as intended, so test them routinely.
- Trust signals. As common as it is to do business online these days, people are still hesitant to reach out over the internet to an unfamiliar law firm. By featuring testimonials and case results on your website, you can go a long way toward setting new visitors at ease. This is also a good time to look at your overall online review strategy and make sure that your reputation is positive and consistent across the Web.
- Little extras. Little touches on your website can be big converters. Along with an overall attractive and functional website, additions like Live Chat and site search can show your potential clients that you truly care about their comfort and convenience, no matter what they’re looking for.
It’s a lot to look at, but it’s important that you consider everything that affects your potential clients when they use your website. Do you need help? We highly recommend that you open up your website and work through our intensive UX Checklist to make sure that your every facet is totally optimized and ready to rock for your business. You can also give us a call at 888-886-0939 to pick the brains of our digital marketing and design experts.
- Look, feel, and functionality. Visitors expect a website to be easy to use and easy on the eyes. If the layout and navigation are confusing, or if your website’s design gets in the way of functionality, then you’re going to drive visitors away. This all holds for mobile, too, so make sure your website is just as attractive and intuitive for visitors using mobile devices.
What topics should I write about for my estate planning website?
Content-packed websites are a great solution for estate planning attorneys because there is often so much information to communicate to your clients and potential clients. Featuring a mix of in-depth educational content, quick answers, and interesting guidance actually saves you time in the long run, while still helping engage and convert the people who visit your site.
At Foster Web Marketing, we are big believers in planning out content strategies ahead of time. When you have a content plan, you have a roadmap that will help you cover all the most important topics in ways that make sense for you and your website’s users. Whether you are building up all your content from scratch with a new website or just auditing an older site’s content, here are some suggestions for topics that will help you accomplish your goals.
Step One: Cover All the Basics
Your first priority is to provide basic top-level content targeted toward your perfect clients. This means providing answers to the most basic questions that they may have about who you are, what you can do for them, and what they can expect from you.
Think about this content as the “bones” of your site. What kinds of information do you expect to see on an estate planning website? What are the most common questions you hear from clients? What kinds of general information would be helpful to link back to when you need to talk about more complicated or specific issues?
Not sure what we mean? Here is an example of what a plan for top-level topics on an estate planning website might look like:
- Wills. What is a will? What are the types of wills? Can my spouse and I draft a joint will? What happens if you die without a will? How can I execute a will? How should I pick an executor? What does an executor do?
- Advance directives. What is a durable power of attorney and who should hold mine? What is a living will? What is a health care proxy? Do I need a DNR (do not resuscitate) order?
- Trusts. What is a trust? What are the types of trusts? What are the benefits of a trust? Do I need a trust if I have a will? What do I need to know before naming a trustee? Do trustees need attorneys?
- Special needs trusts. What is a special needs trust? What should I consider if my adult child needs a guardian? Can I use a special needs trust for a spouse with special needs?
- Gifts. What is the maximum gift I can give without being taxed? How does the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act work? What is the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act?
- Probate. What is probate? How long does probate take in your state?
- Litigation. How can I challenge a will? Who can challenge a will? What can I do if I have been unintentionally left out of a loved one’s will? How do courts decide on ambiguous wording in a will?
- Estate taxes. When is an estate taxed? What is the generation-skipping transfer tax? What is a step-up in basis?
- General. Why should I work with an estate planner? What is the fee arrangement? What documents do I need to bring to our meeting?
As you can see, we’ve first broken our ideas into major topic areas, then into questions that can be answered in individual articles under the major topic. To apply this method to your own website, sit down and determine your major topic areas, then write out the kinds of questions you need to answer. Plan articles that will answer each of those questions, and schedule them on your content calendar.
Don’t worry if it takes months to create and publish everything you need at this stage because the investment is worth the timeline. Ultimately, all of this is “evergreen” content that will be useful and relevant on your site for years to come.
Step Two: Give Them Something Extra
Once the basic topics are established, you can do a little research to further flesh out your content.
One great way to do this is to do a Google search for a generic term related to your practice, like “estate planning law.” This gives you several options for developing topics. First, you can look at competitors’ sites that rank highly and see what kinds of content they currently offer, as well as what more education-based sites (like Wikipedia) might have to offer when your potential clients perform a search. Google also gives you several options for digging deeper right on the search page.
First, you will see a “People Also Ask” box on the search page:
Second, you will see a “People Also Search For” box as you click through results:
Third, near the bottom of the results, you will see some suggested related searches:
What all of that means is that, with a single Google search, you get essentially four different springboards for content ideas.
Still Need Help Coming Up With Content Topics for Your Estate Planning Website?
Ultimately, there are lots of ways to come up with new topics and ideas for content, and lots of those methods will work for anyone in any industry. Learn more about how to find topics for online content.
Are you concerned about being able to do it all yourself? Do you need help planning a content strategy or writing online content to fit your perfect clients’ needs? You can always contact us today to talk about our coaching and content-writing services and how that might fit into your overall marketing plan.
How can you create effective subject lines for email marketing?
It doesn’t matter how relevant and compelling your email content is if people aren’t opening your emails in the first place. Are your subject lines the problem?
The subject line you choose for your email is one of the first things your audience will see as they scan through their inbox:
It’s also one of the first parts of your email you’re prompted to write when creating a new email campaign in DSS:
Ultimately, subject lines are a key part of what captures attention, motivates people to open your email, and makes them want to learn more. They may only consist of five or ten words, but they are a powerful part of email marketing success!
To make the most of it, every email you send out to your contact lists should feature a unique subject line that not only meets some basic functional guidelines, but also gives readers a reason to dig deeper.
Basic Guidelines for Email Subject Lines
Before we get to the fun part, let’s talk about some of the most basic guidelines for crafting an effective subject line:
- Don’t use spammy words or punctuation. At best, anything in a subject line that sounds overly sales-y is likely to make you look untrustworthy. At worst, your email will be filtered out and marked as spam. Stay on the safe side by avoiding excessive punctuation, buzzwords like “free” or “guaranteed,” words in all caps, and anything else that might be read as dubious in your subject lines.
- Keep it short. While opinions vary on exactly how long your subject lines should run, the consensus is that concise is typically better. Shorter email subject lines tend to be easier to scan and understand, so they’re more likely to grab readers’ attention. Plus, shorter subject lines are less likely to be weirdly truncated on mobile devices.
- Experiment and evaluate. Email marketing lets you hone in on narrow target audiences that are highly specific to your goals, so it’s important to track and test different ideas until you hit the “sweet spot” for your perfect clients. You might try a few different subject lines for each email campaign, and then modify your strategy based on how your unique audiences react. Find out more about how to evaluate and optimize your email campaigns.
Get Creative With a Simple Exercise for Compelling Subject Lines
Once the basics are locked down, it’s time to think about what you can say—in just a few words—that will introduce your email content and compel readers to click.
If you’re not sure how to get started, here’s a quick exercise that we recommend:
- Open your favorite magazine, blog, or article site.
- Write down a few headlines that jump out at you. For this example, let’s say you wrote down “The Secret History of the Vikings,” “Nine Disturbing Facts About Milk,” and “How to Choose the Best Running Shoes.”
- Break each headline down into a formula. For example, “The Secret History of [Topic],” “[X] [Adjective] Facts About [Topic],” and “How to Choose the Best [Product or Service].”
- Under each formula, construct a few potential subject lines based on your practice areas. For example, “The Secret History of Estate Planning,” “Five Honest Facts About Auto Accident Claims,” and “How to Choose the Best Treatment for Heel Spurs.”
- Don’t be afraid to change things around or come up with your own formulas. In the end, you should have a great list of potential subject lines for your email campaigns!
This exercise will definitely give you a good idea of current trends and general expectations, but it doesn’t have to be the limit of your creativity. Some other ideas for crafting subject lines might include:
- Using questions. For example, “Do You Know Your Rights After an Accident?”
- Highlighting deadlines. For example, “Last Chance to Sign Up!”
- Offering a results-oriented preview. For example, “We Helped 43 Truckers Collect Unpaid Overtime”
It’s okay to be creative and have a little fun with your subject lines, where appropriate. The most important thing is that you keep your audience in mind while creating them. Think about who you want to reach with your message. Think about what’s important to them and what motivates them. Always write subject lines that are meant to be read by real people.
Do you need help writing stronger subject lines? Do you have questions about how to succeed with your email campaigns? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our marketing experts to talk about how we can help you optimize your email marketing success.
How can I use my website's content to build trust with potential clients?
When potential clients search for an attorney or doctor online, they are usually confronted with a problem and confused about whom they can trust. That means that the content you choose to feature on your website—and how that content is presented—can have a big impact when someone needs your help.
Does your content make you seem trustworthy? Are you offering what your potential clients need? Here’s how to make sure the content on your website is ready to make a positive impression.
Trustworthy Online Content Brings Potential Clients Through Your Door
Trust converts. Even Google has urged businesses to pay attention to what motivates potential clients when they search for answers online. If you are looking to establish your credibility and build trust with your online visitors, here are some things your online content should offer:
- Helpful answers. Most of your potential clients will find you because they had a question and typed it into a search engine. Think about the most common questions you hear from new clients, and put yourself in your potential clients’ shoes. Create content that provides answers and points readers toward the next step. If you can provide helpful and relevant answers to their questions, then they will be more likely to trust you and turn to you for advice. You’ll also be more likely to show up in search results for people who need your help.
- Relevant video. Don’t underestimate the power of video content! This is your chance to let clients know that you are a real human being who is available to them if they need help. Videos can do a lot to show clients what your brand is all about, who you are, and how you can help them solve their problems. With videos, you can get a lot across to viewers in a short amount of time, which is especially great for mobile users.
- An idea of what to expect. Many potential clients who are facing legal or medical troubles are anxious about what to expect and how long it might be until they see some resolution. Offering this information up front can go a long way toward making your potential clients feel more comfortable and in control. Let them know what your first meeting might be like. Show photographs of your office and staff. Explain what they might need to bring with them or what they might be expected to do. Explain your payment policies. Let them know what kind of timeline to expect. Being straightforward and transparent with your potential clients from the start helps them feel at home and positions you as a trustworthy professional.
- Prompt responses. You need to be quick to respond online because people won’t wait around. Your content pages should load quickly, both on desktop and mobile. If a current event or change in the law is making waves in your community, providing more information and immediate responses to questions can establish you as the authority to turn to with legal problems. If someone reaches out to you after reading your online content, you should be there to answer him. Let people know that you are paying attention and that you are there for them exactly when they need you.
Finishing Touches That Keep Potential Clients Engaged and Coming Back for More
How you present your content matters, too. Make sure that you write with the reader in mind. Make your content easy to scan and understand. Break up “text walls” with headlines and relevant images, and make sure everything looks great on the page. Your most important content should be easy to navigate to from your homepage, and it should also be easy to get to related content on your website. Overall, aim to create a positive user experience on your website that lets your potential clients know that you care about them.
If you’re a DSS user, you’re probably already taking advantage of our sidebar modules that point readers toward relevant content. For example, if someone finds an article on your website about truck accidents, they’ll also see suggestions for related content:
There are also several ways to include in-text links that point readers toward other information on your website that helps clarify or expand on the ideas you’ve presented:
Connecting relevant content on your website helps establish your authority and lets readers know that you have much more to offer.
The more you allay fears, show your human side, and demonstrate your expertise in your online content, the more likely it is that your potential clients will feel at ease and trust in your legitimacy. If you need help writing attorney website content that establishes your credibility, contact our digital content experts for guidance or sign up for a free marketing analysis.
How do I develop a digital content strategy?
Stop writing online content just for content’s sake! You need a plan if you want to succeed.
Google has been clear that it is looking for online content that is:
- Useful and informative.
- More valuable than the content on other sites.
- Credible and high quality.
- Engaging for readers.
If you aren’t hitting the mark with your online content, then your search rankings will suffer. The good news is that you can avoid problems by planning a content strategy to help you better provide exactly what Google and your online audience want. Then, add an organized calendar that keeps you on track toward your content marketing goals. That’s it! You’re ready to create more effective content for the Web.
What Is a Content Strategy?
A content strategy is simply a plan for how and why your content will be created and managed.
It may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. We like to break it down into a few simple steps so you can start laying the groundwork for your content strategy right away:
- Identify your perfect client. What kinds of clients and cases are you trying to attract? Who is your target audience? If you aren’t sure who you’re writing for, you can’t create an effective strategy to attract them. Want to get started? Find out how to identify your perfect client.
- Define your goals. Why are you creating content? What do you want to achieve? Some examples of common content goals include brand awareness, increasing traffic, generating leads, converting leads into clients, improving client retention, or driving new referrals. Putting a laser focus on your goals and your perfect client are the two most important things you can do for your marketing.
- Develop list of topics. The topics that you write about should be important to you and your perfect client. Think about common questions and things you’d like your potential clients to know before they meet with you. Not sure where to get ideas? Find out how to find topics for online content.
- Document your strategy. Write down your goals, topic ideas, and vision of your perfect client or clients. Keep an ongoing content calendar—we’ll walk you through that below—to help keep you on track. Check your progress by gathering and analyzing hard data on content performance. As you continue to plan ahead and adjust your content strategy, this kind of documentation will be worth its weight in gold.
Once you know what you want to achieve and why, it’s time to create a content calendar to make it all happen.
How to Create a Content Calendar to Support Your Digital Content Strategy
We recommend that you start by developing a three-month content strategy and creating a content calendar that contains all this information in one place. To help you get started, here’s an example content calendar for a personal injury attorney:
Having a pre-planned content calendar lets everyone on your team know what’s happening and when. It helps keep you organized and focused, and it streamlines the content creation process. The bonus is that it’s also easy to go back and see what you’ve covered in the past and what you need to do in the future.
You content calendar should include:
- Monthly topic themes. Choose one or more general or “big picture” topics to focus on for each month of the plan, which you’ll support with more focused individual pieces. You should also choose an appropriate call to action to use throughout the month to help encourage your readers to take the next step.
- A list of individual content pieces to support monthly topics. Variety is the spice of your online content marketing. Keep your readers engaged by creating different types of content that support your monthly theme. Decide how many pieces of content you’d like to create each month, and come up with detailed topics for each one. Along with your blog posts and website articles, you should also include a plan for any other content you plan to create during the month, such as email or print newsletters, drip campaigns, email blasts, and guest posts.
- Planned publish dates. Decide on publication dates for each piece of your content. We recommend that you schedule content evenly throughout the month so that you are consistently releasing new content and encouraging repeat visits. This is also the time to determine if and when your content will be shared on social media sites.
Once you have a strategy and calendar in place, it’s time to start writing. Be sure that you always aim to write original, interesting content that you’d want to read if you were in your potential clients’ shoes. Don’t forget to proofread and edit your content before publishing to the Web!
Do you need help planning or creating online content that will wow your perfect client and boost your success? Start by signing up for a free marketing analysis that will help you identify what’s working, what’s not, and how to create a better strategy for the future.
How should I update my marketing in 2018?
Online marketing has changed a lot over the years, and those changes can happen fast. Are you ready for a fresh perspective? With the start of the new year, here are the three things to do that we believe will have the biggest impact on your online success in 2018.
Marketing to Your Perfect Client
Over the past few years, Google has set the pace for marketers to get back to the basics with their online marketing. It’s no longer about attempting to “game the system.” Instead, Google urges marketers to create websites, content, and ads that speak directly to the people they want to attract. Everything you do should be helpful and relevant to your perfect clients. While keywords and behind-the-scenes SEO still play a part, all the content you create should be created with your audience firmly in mind. From meeting your clients in online “micro moments” to creating targeted ads on social media, it’s all about knowing your audience and delivering something that will wow them.
Your current and potential clients should be impressed everywhere they run into you online. It’s up to you to create the content they want to see and to deliver that information quickly, conveniently, and smoothly. In practical terms, achieving this goal might mean updating your website to current standards, developing a stronger content strategy, changing up your paid ads, or simply spending some extra time meditating on exactly who your perfect clients are and how to reach them better. If you aim to deliver a perfect customer experience and user experience online, you’ll ultimately get more mileage out of your digital marketing dollars.
Marketing to Local Audiences
Google has put more emphasis on local SEO over the last few years, and we expect to see that trend continue. In fact, Google has been making a lot of adjustments to local search recently. With those changes, we've seen some clients suffer from not being in their target area in Google's eyes, so they aren't showing up as often in local packs. This is definitely something to keep an eye on over the next year. Local results will likely continue to grow in relevance and popularity, especially as mobile traffic continues to increase online.
Need a refresher on local SEO basics? Find out more about how to improve your performance in local search.
Marketing to Mobile Audiences
Mobile was important last year, and it’s going to be even more important this year. If we’ve learned anything at all about digital marketing in the last few years, it’s that mobile is here to stay. In terms of specifics, we believe it will be important to continue to emphasize mobile-first development. The AMP Project, an open-source initiative that aims to provide faster and better online performance across all devices, will be a part of this. Our goal is to roll out AMP across the board in 2018.
That’s not the only reason mobile search is important, though. Google also rewards mobile-friendly sites with better search rankings. It all ties back into providing a seamless and convenient user experience for your target audiences. Whether they choose to interact with business online via desktop computer or mobile smartphone, they are looking for a consistently excellent experience. If your mobile site doesn’t work right or is difficult to use, they will tap away to competitors who can give them what they want.
Online mobile technology is moving fast. If we haven't updated your mobile site in the last year or two, it could probably use an overhaul. Reach out to us for a free website analysis with our experts, and let’s talk about what it will take to update your mobile functionality and improve your website for better leads and more conversions in the new year.
What is the difference between hard and soft 404 errors?
Sometimes, old or outdated pages on your website need to go. Deleting stale web pages or content is just part of regular maintenance, but deleting a page leaves a void on your site—and you need to take the steps to let Google and other search engines know if the content is really gone, or it has just moved. This is why it is so important to understand the different between “hard” and “soft” 404 errors.
Wait a Minute: What Is a 404 Error?
When a searcher tries to open a page on your website that no longer exists, your site generally reacts two ways: by displaying a generic or custom “Page Not Found” page and by returning an HTTP response code 404 from your server that indicates the page isn’t there. While the reader may be satisfied with the displayed message or a redirect to other content, the crawlers from Google and other search engines depend on the code returned from your server to determine if there is content on the page that should be indexed.
Why the Difference Between Hard and Soft 404 Errors Matters to You
There’s a right way and a wrong way to delete pages. Although the difference may not seem that important, especially compared to content creation and your other marketing tasks, going the wrong route means that you’re essentially wasting Google’s time and taking some of the juice away from your real pages—the pages that feature unique information and core content.
Think about it. Do you really want Google to continue to index a bunch of pages on your site that just say “File Not Found,” or would you rather let search engine crawlers focus on crawling your content that still exists?
The Wrong Way: Soft 404 Errors
Don't let the name fool you. Soft 404 errors are much harder on your website's visibility than a hard 404 error. A “soft” 404 error happens when the wrong code (often the 200 response code) is returned by your server when someone tries to access a page that no longer exists on your site. Even if your website displays an error page to the reader, it still needs to return the right error code to let search crawlers know to ignore the page. Or, you have deleted an old page and you redirected it to a new page that isn’t relevant to what the original content was on the old page.
When your website’s server does not return a 404 code (or a 410 “Gone” code in some cases), search engine crawlers are essentially being told content does exist on that page, and will spend time attempting to index that “content.” If the number of soft 404 errors is high, especially in comparison to the number of “real” pages on your site, it can have a negative impact on your organic search performance. Google recommends using Fetch as Google or similar tools to verify whether a particular URL on your site is using the right HTTP response code.
The Right Way: Hard 404 Errors
When everything is working the right way, your reader will see an error page, and your server will return a 404 or 410 response code. This lets both readers and crawlers know that the page doesn’t exist anymore and shouldn’t be indexed, and that page will be removed from search results over time.
This means that the possibly limited time Google’s crawlers spend indexing your site can be concentrated on the pages you really want indexed—and it helps the crawlers better hone in on what your website is really about. And, by using a custom 404 error page or redirecting readers to other relevant and helpful content on your site, you basically eliminate the potential for problems when you remove a page.
Solving the Problems With 404 Error Pages: The 301 Redirect
At Foster Web Marketing, the confusion over soft and hard 404 errors is handled automatically for our clients in DSS. By using a 301 “permanent redirect” we essentially offer an easy way to direct users and crawlers away from a deleted page and toward an updated or similar page. In DSS, you can redirect pages automatically when you delete them. However, you still need to select the most relevant new page of information to send the old page traffic to, or you could still have issues with soft 404 errors. You don’t want to be in a situation where readers are directed to irrelevant pages that don’t answer their questions or where crawlers index the same page over and over again through removed pages. So, if you have content on your website that is not relevant to anything else on your site and you want to get rid of it please reach out to our customer service team to help you figure out the best course of action.
Do you have questions about 404 errors, page redirects in DSS, or how Google indexes your website? Don’t hesitate to give our friendly SEO team a call at 888-886-0939.
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