How a Series of Legal Blog Posts Can Hurt Your SEO

Our last post was a blog sample for criminal defense attorneys – a case analysis of the upcoming Supreme Court decision, Carpenter v. U.S. – that was geared towards a lay audience. At the end of that post, we noted how, at 476 words and without a call to action, yet, it was already toeing past the ideal length for a legal blog post. However, it had not yet provided much more than a broad overview of the Carpenter case and its implications.

The blog sample raised an important question: How can you use your legal blog to impart valuable information, complex arguments, and expert insight that go beyond what can be covered in a 500-word piece?

Solution: A Blog Series

The answer is simple: Write multiple legal blog posts on the issue. If it would take 3,000 words to effectively cover Carpenter v. U.S., then writing six different blog posts of 500 words each is an effective way to cover all of the bases.

However, while the answer is simple, the execution is much more complicated because a series of blog posts on a complicated topic can, if done poorly, actually hurt you on the search engine optimization (SEO) front.

Keyword Competition… With Yourself

Legal blog series competes for same keywordsIn a move that we call the Colin “Bomber” Harris, a poorly-constructed blog series can see its installments poach web traffic and other SEO factors from each other, ending with multiple pages that underperform.

While not necessarily “duplicative content” that gets filtered in the results page, writing two articles that effectively deal with the same thing will end up with both posts racking up SEO points for the same search query. This makes both articles underperform – had you only written a single post on the topic, all of those SEO points would go into one basket, rather than two, boosting the ranking of that post far higher in the results. This is especially problematic for certain long tail searches, where this mistake can keep your post off the first page.

How to Not Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Avoiding this SEO dilemma is not impossible. It just takes some planning.

Once you realize that it will take thousands of words to cover a topic well on your legal blog, take a step back, recalibrate, and identify the different pieces of the puzzle that need to be explained. Each one of these pieces needs to be distinct from one another, or else you risk using the same words and phrases in multiple posts, inching your way into “Bomber” Harris Land.

For example, we once penned a series of posts that delved into the controversy surrounding ghostwritten legal blogs:

  1. An overview of the controversy against ghostwritten legal blog,
  2. How ghostwritten legal blogs comply with Rule 7.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct,
  3. How they don’t violate Rule 8.4(c) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct,
  4. Contrary to claims of critics, ghostwritten legal blogs are not “unpopular,” and
  5. Ghostwritten blogs don’t dilute the legal conversation – they cater to a different audience.

Each post in this series dealt with the same issue – criticisms of legal blogs that are ghostwritten – but focuses on distinct aspect in each installment. As with many complicated issues, there was some overlay between the installments. However, each installment focused its attention on a new facet or argument of the criticisms against ghostwritten legal blogs, and included a link to the other installment that delved into another aspect of it.

Perks of Having a Deep Legal Blog

As you continue to blog, you’ll find that writing complex posts and legal blog series becomes increasingly easier: You can draw on prior posts that deal with important legal topics, like expectations of privacy or res ipsa loquitur, by simply using an internal link. You give interested readers access to the information they need to continue, without wasting time or space in your current article.

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