Done properly, the practice of “newsjacking” represents a prime marketing opportunity in exchange for low or no financial outlay. By aligning your SEO strategy to include swiftly posting content that addresses current, popular, law-related news stories, you can net more bang for your inbound marketing buck.
Understanding the basics
Massive media attention for a given trial means massive increases in internet searches on related terms. Those search terms and phrases may involve the names of the litigants or their attorneys, legal aspects of the trial (e.g., “how is murder different from manslaughter” for the Michelle Carter case or “what happens in a mistrial” for the Cosby case), or aspects of the case that are not necessarily law-related (e.g., “teen suicide” for the Michelle Carter case or “date rape drugs” in the Cosby case).
In today’s 24-hour news cycle, time is money. Literally. The currency of the internet is counted in clicks and shares. The value of this sort of shareable content, even that of exquisite quality (e.g., that provided by a reputable source such as an attorney), decreases exponentially over time. While the Cosby trial and the Carter case are hot commodities in the third week of June, by the time Independence Day rolls around, or perhaps long before that, its value will have decayed considerably.
The key is to create relevant, quality content quickly. Speed counts in the game of newsjacking. When working out your firm’s individual calculus for speed vs. quality, it is important to remember that blog posts are editable, but time is not. The valuable traffic a given event draws out is time-limited. For law firms, valuable traffic is the sort that may eventually result in more clients and more billable hours.
While you obviously must avoid posting grossly inferior content, don’t allow a penchant for perfection to rob you of a fleeting, but valuable moment of opportunity. In a lot of cases, getting it out there is more important than ensuring you’ve adhered to every conceivable grammatical rule or that your choice of accompanying graphic is as appealing as possible. Content can be updated and tweaked at any time, but the lifespan of a viral topic exists only in a narrow window of time.
When choosing a story or trial to highlight, social media is your best friend. On Facebook, look at the “Trending” panel (in the center, right hand side) for leads. Though the “Top Trends” tab on that panel is often the most fruitful, don’t ignore its more specific, companion tabs. The politics, science, sports, and entertainment tabs are rich with potential, as well.
Similarly, consider using Twitter as another resource for trend spotting. On the left side of your Twitter page, you will find a constantly updating list of hashtags that are currently trending. A quick click and a glance through posts containing the tag are often enough to tip you off.
Additional trendspotting resources include this one from the Legal Marketing Association and Google’s own tool designed specifically for this purpose. Spotting a blog-worthy trend doesn’t have to be a lengthy, involved process. Sometimes, it is as simple as turning on the television or taking note of law-related news stories colleagues are discussing over lunch.
Though timeliness is an essential component of successful SEO strategy for law firms, take care to assure that any hyperlinks you use are high quality links. Sites such as Heavy.com or Buzzfeed, for example, may be temping to use, since they often feature almost instantaneous “stories” on recent news. Avoid this temptation. Instead, strive to include links from established news outlets, governmental sites, educational institutions, or in a best case scenario, a well-respected, law-related blog or resource.
Linking to spammy sites in the name of timeliness is counter-productive from an SEO standpoint. Google’s all important algorithm judges you by the company you keep. Your own trust and authority — vital aspects in Google’s page ranking decision — take a hit when you link to non-authoritative, untrustworthy domains. The same rule also applies in reverse: spammy sites that link to you can also decrease your ranking. For a deeper exploration on this topic, Moz’s coverage is unmatched.
SEO is not a one-and-done situation. Your job isn’t over, in other words, once your website is up and running. Google’s rankings are not static. In fact, if your website is largely static, you are doing yourself a profound disservice. Google rewards domains featuring fresh, spiffy, content. Regularly posting new content on your firm’s blog is a no-brainer. If you’re not doing it now, you should start. Today.
By posting newsjacked content, you kill two birds with one stone. Not only are you ramping up your SEO by posting new content. But you are also turning up the volume by tapping a specific type of traffic: people who are interested in law-related cases. In other words, potential clients.
Part of Google’s algorithm for page ranking involves social shares. Social shares offer Google’s spiders “proof” that your content is valuable. More importantly, that it is valuable to the right types of people. The Washington Post or CNN sharing your post carries more weight that a random Facebook follower. Both, however, count.
To increase sharing of posts, it is vital that you make it simple and seamless for readers. Include buttons on each post that allow one-click sharing to all major platforms. Be sure to also include buttons on each page linking to your own social media presence on each of those platforms.
Both the Carter and the Cosby cases, as our exemplars, are rife with newsjacking potential, and aren’t limited to firms exclusively practicing criminal law. Angles range from the broad to the specific. Think creatively about aspects of the case that may tie in to the type of law you practice or the interests of the clients you serve.
A few potential topics leveraging the Carter and Cosby cases include:
- Explore the benefits and risks of foregoing trial by jury
- Discuss the parameters of punishment in your locale vs. the locale in which the defendants were tried
- Craft a piece that examines the interaction of mental illness and the law
- Explain how mistrials come about and how they are resolved
- Create a post focusing on the myriad ways in which technological advances demand our laws to evolve to accommodate new forms of old crimes
At Mankato Web Design, we partner with our clients and empower them with smart website design, savvy ecommerce strategy, and stellar marketing services. Contact us for more information on how MWD can help take your online presence to the next level