Archive for the ‘Law Firm Blogging’ Category
Friday, November 15th, 2013
By its very nature, blogging is conversational in nature; unlike websites which typically offer unchanging copy, blogs are more like journals detailing a particular topic, continually updated by the author. An interactive blog goes even a step further than a “regular” blog in that it allows visitors to the site the opportunity to add their own feelings and ideas about the topic. If you write in a manner which invites others to add their own comments to your site you will end up with a more dynamic blog. You can’t simply expect others to comment without a little prompting from you. Aside from having a comments link, you can add a comments widget as well as asking readers within the blog itself to comment afterwards. A good place to add your request for comments is in the final paragraph, making it a call to action inviting comments.
Ask Questions to Get Comments
If you want others to comment on your blog, ask questions. Asking a question in the title of the blog is a good way to get additional comments. If your blog is titled “Are Younger Doctors More Compassionate?” then after reading your blog your readers are likely to either dispute your findings or agree with you, adding in their own insights and feelings. You can add a forum to your blog which extends the comments section and allows your readers to communicate with one another as well as with you. When the readers are answering your title question, they have more opportunity to interact with one another.
Leave Some Things Unsaid
If you cover a topic so thoroughly there is no room for your readers to add their opinions you will have severely limited the interactivity of your blog. Cover your subject, but leave at least a few things unwritten. This gives your readers room to respond to your blog by adding their own feelings and opinions. Don’t forget that if you are not willing to use your comment blog others may not be either. Once there are comments left, make sure you reply to those comments or you will leave the impression that your readers’ comments are not important. Interactivity includes you, the blog owner, so interact with your readers to the fullest extent.
Show Your True Self
Readers are most likely to respond to personal tidbits about you which show your human weaknesses or failings. For instance, married people want to read about the marriage problems of others in order to determine whether their own marriage is “normal.” Be humble and allow your readers to gain some insight into your life or your personality. Once they have a personal connection with you, readers are much more likely to continue to follow your blog. This doesn’t mean you can’t be controversial from time to time, simply because your readers now “know” you, however controversy brings risk so be aware. If you decide to use controversy to increase the interactivity of your blog, establish boundaries as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable or you could end up with constant squabbling.
Encourage Others to Comment
When a particularly good blog comment comes along, highlight it in your next blog. This encourages others to continue to comment in hopes their own comments could be highlighted in a future blog. Don’t forget that you are the person who will set the tone for your blog; if you continuously write ranting posts, you can expect to receive rants in your comment section. If your tone is inclusive your readers are more likely to respond in kind when they comment. If you are having trouble getting readers to comment at all, include a survey regarding a particular topic of interest. In the end, exercise patience and your blog will be well on its way to interactivity.
Want to speak with an expert, not a sales rep? Call (800) 877-2776 for real answers to your important law firm blogging and lead generation questions.
Saturday, November 2nd, 2013
It’s a common to feel uncertain or struggle with creating a strategy to implement a new business blog. Blogging should be all about your viewership and what your readers want, not necessarily self-promotion. It is tempting to throw in a few promotional lines or stray from your content, which is perfectly fine. The primary objective is to have a clear plan of action for your blog, balancing educational, informative articles with marketing and promotion. Some questions to ask yourself:
- Who is my customer, and target audience?
- What type of content would my visitor want to read?
- Should I consider allowing guest bloggers to post on my blog?
- How often should I update content on my blog?
Creating a plan will allow for greater time efficiency and give you better direction to execute your strategy. Understandably, there will be a little bit of uncertainty, and trial and error. As with anything else, you’ll slowly begin to create a clear vision of your goals and objectives and implement your plan successfully.
The following are some helpful steps you can take to ensure your new blog is headed in the right direction:
The Right Visitors. Part of starting a great blog means knowing your audience and generating the type of traffic you want. You want to attract an audience for the kind of services and issues your firm sells and deals with. Google is likely the common way to find a large portion of your customer base, so SEO plays a big role in establishing your viewership. Utilize key words and phrases to determine what your visitor may be searching for.
Appealing Titles. Titling in general is all about attracting a reader. The same goes for titling your blog. Take the time to think about a relevant title related to your area of practice, not one that necessarily includes simply your law firm name. Try and get creative to find a way to capture your audience. When it comes tot titling blog articles, keep a similar open mind about your audience and gaining their attention.
Communicating With Your Audience. It’s important to make sure a blog visitor, once they read a post on your site, can continue to go further and explore additional information about the subject matter. A good idea is to add links to other related articles, or make it available for them to contact you for more information.
Guest Bloggers. There are many points of view about guest blogging, and whether or not it’s a good idea to allow them on your site. In general, including guest bloggers occasionally is not a bad idea. However, if you choose to do this in the beginning, be selective about your choices and giving permission. Remember to always review and proof their content before you post it. It’s ok to be questionable about other’s work, in terms of opinions, style, or tone. You want to make sure everything is as right as possible for your blog audience. For the most, its best to produce most of your own blog content, so you can establish a look and feel, content-wise and stylistically for your readers to become familiar with.
Updating Posts. Updating your blog posts is really about how much time you have to dedicate to it and creating a consistent schedule for your readers. Ideally, if you can update it once a day, you’re in good shape. However, three times a week works as well, especially if you are in the early stages of starting your new law firm business blog and your are familiarizing yourself with the entire process. Consistency is the key. Also keep in mind, the more content and variety of content you can produce, the easier it will become to promote yourself and your business online.
To speak with an expert for additional help or information on how to get started with your new law firm blog, call toll free (800) 877-2776. We are here and ready to assist you with all of your blogging needs!
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
The benefits of blogging just may be the best kept secret on the Internet. When added to a lawyer website, blogs naturally attract both prospective clients and search engine traffic. Blogs are set-up to link every page back to other main pages on your lawyer website and are, therefore, exceptionally well-linked!
If you’re writing your own blog, here’s a couple of tips to get started:
- Brainstorm. Identify legal content to use in your blog. The topic should be relevant to your practice areas and prospective client you wish to attract. The object is to hold their attention long enough to read your blog, and to encourage them to further explore your lawyer website. Get to the point of your blog post quickly – like a couple of seconds into the visit – and interesting enough to compel them read further or leave a comment.
- Think short and scannable. Follow the same formatting guidelines used on your lawyer website (e.g., short paragraphs, simple writing style, highlighted keywords, bulleted lists, and subheads). You want to grab the attention of a prospective client, causing them to at-least scan the document, but preferably read it. The typical web-surfer scans a page, then spends mere seconds deciding whether to read-on or leave and click into the next website. Scannability and visual appeal are blogging musts!
Regardless of what your high school English teacher told your, one or two sentence paragraphs are a good thing when it comes to writing legal content for blogs. Keeping paragraphs short makes blog posts easier to scan and read. Long paragraphs become scannable when legal content is broken into bulleted or numbered lists. Bold headlines are excellent attention-getters, but overuse makes your blog post appear cluttered and difficult to read.
Increasing the traffic to your lawyer website
Blog post titles are the first thing noticed by prospective clients upon arrival at your blog post. Intermingling SEO (search engine optimization) with your creative titles increases traffic to your lawyer website. This goes back to the algorithms used by Google to interpret the SEO and evaluate and determine search rankings on your lawyer website. Search engines, such as Google, weigh your blog post title heavier than the actual content; so, make the titling count!
Why Google and other search engines love blogs:
- They are easy to spider
- They offer fast upload times
- They have RSS capabilities
- They allow for commenting
- They have constant fresh content that is relevant and resourceful
We match lawyer website design to blog posts
The skilled team at Lawyer Success, Inc. creates custom designed WordPress blogs from scratch, or we can incorporate the elements of your existing lawyer website design into your blog design. Coordinating the website and blog designs provides continuity that allows prospective clients to navigate between the two with clarity that comes from the same look and feel. Our consultants can save you both time and money with no-obligation strategies and 24/7-client-support for your lawyer website. Give us a call and ask about our No Risk, Free lawyer website design!
Call For Free Advice & Guidance From Experts, Not Sales People! Call 1 (800) 877-2776 Today.
Friday, June 8th, 2012
Because of the overwhelming level of information on the Internet we have turned into a nation of content skimmers. We are in a hurry and want our information served up fast-food style, so rather than battle this trend, writers of web content might as well make adjustments for this skimming style. For those who have implemented blogs as a part of their website, it is imperative that web readers be able to quickly skim the content and figure out what treasures of information the page holds. First and foremost, an engaging lead—which includes your title, opening sentence and lead paragraph—is absolutely essential to give your reader an overall idea of what will have been gained should they decide to read the content through to the very end. In order to create an engaging lead, ask yourself what value your reader will gain from reading your content then allude to that value in the lead.
One Idea Per Paragraph with Compelling Subheads
Once you are past your lead, you must determine exactly what you want to express within each paragraph. Although we tend to think of outlines as something our high school English teacher forced us to do an outline can be very helpful in streamlining your writing process and ensuring it flows as it should. If your paragraphs seem overly complicated, you could be trying to implement more than one idea, so keep the primary topic to one per paragraph. Sub-headlines give the reader a good idea about the content topic within each paragraph and also offer a convenience for readers who want to skip right to the part of the blog post that pertains to their particular issue or problem. Readers want to spend their precious time reading what is applicable to their lives, or what will answer their specific question.
Multimedia is Also Content
Content is not just your text, rather it encompasses all the various forms of multimedia you insert into a blog posting. You can break up a page of words with photographs which nicely illustrate a point you’ve made as well as bring a bit of color to the page. In some cases an image or a video can be just as descriptive as the written word, so when writing blog posts, mix up the forms of content you include in order to provide the information your readers want as well as giving their eyes a visual break. Bulleted or numbered lists also give the reader a visual break in the text while condensing the information they are looking for into a succinct block. Lists can be visually powerful and are much simpler to skim through than a paragraph, and while you can’t use them in all cases, many times they fit nicely into the content.
Make it Easy on the Eyes
The colors in your blog must never become an obstacle for your readers to overcome simply in order to get to the story. Too many bright colors can overwhelm readers so in general stick with cool, calming colors that don’t distract from your words. Try to stick with fonts such as Arial, Georgia or Sans Serif, simply because they are much easier to read, particularly in chunks of text. Make your headings, subheads and links easily distinguishable from the remainder of your content through the use of highlighting or bold letters. Once you’ve created a pleasing design for your blog and increased the readability, an increase in your visitors will reflect those changes.
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
As a web writer you may feel you are largely anonymous in the sea of content on the Internet at any given time, however whether you are a web content writer or a blogger, every article or blog posting you write is putting your voice out there. The problem for many beginning writers is that figuring out their writing voice is far from easy. Many new writers simply write in the voice they think they should be using, but this can result in writing which sounds stiff or simply generic.
Most all writers have struggled with finding their writing voice and are uncertain about how they want to sound therefore they try on many different voices throughout their writing career—and especially in the beginning—to see which one fits them the best. This can be confusing for readers of a specific blog, since most people who follow blogs expect to “hear” approximately the same voice from post to post. Yet many blog writers read something they wrote only a week or so ago and feel it sounds totally different from the one they wrote today.
Understanding Your Writing Voice
Before you can find your writing voice you have to understand what a writing voice is. We all understand that our “real” voices have a certain pitch and tone, and that different people speak with different accents or in different manners. Writing also has a tone and a style, and indelibly marks your writing with a certain “feel.” When humans read they unconsciously whisper the words in their mind, making it easier to grasp the meaning and commit the message to memory. Most writers are afraid they won’t be funny enough, friendly enough, sound smart enough or professional enough, so we look to the writers we love to read and attempt to mimic their voice. While this might work in the short term, it is unlikely to be a long-term solution.
What is Your Writing Goal?
Do you know what the goal of each page of content you write really is? What do you want people to know when they finish reading your content? How do you want them to feel about what they just read? Do you care about what you are writing? If you don’t, it is unlikely anyone else will either. Are you passionate about your subject even if it is one you either don’t know that much about or have never been particularly interested in? Any subject can be interesting, you just have to delve into it enough to understand what makes it interesting then convey that to your readers.
And through all this, you must still write in a way that sounds completely natural and genuine. The best way to achieve this is by being true to who you are in your real life which in turn makes your voice comfortable, natural and familiar. This is not to say you have only one voice—after all you as a person are actually made up of many people. You are an employee, a boss, a parent, a child, a friend, a lover, a jogger, a gardener, a solar installer, or…a writer. Every facet of your personality is a part of you, and each one possesses a specific writing voice.
Work at Finding Your Voice
Define who you are, with all your multiple facets, to yourself. What adjectives would you use to describe yourself? Once you have a list, write a few hundred words, attempting to infuse those qualities into the words. If your writing voice was a drink, a food, color, which ones would it be? Try writing like you talk—you might want to read your content aloud and ask yourself if it really sounds like you when you are talking to your friends, family or co-workers. In the end write for yourself even if you write for others and your voice will find its way onto the page.
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
While you may be aware of the page fold theory of a print newspaper, there is also a “virtual” page fold which exists on all websites which consists of the initially viewable area, or the part of your site which is viewable without the necessity of further action. Studies show that web users spend over ¾ of their time perusing information above the page fold, meaning that while they may scroll down, only twenty-something percent of the average reader’s attention travels below the fold. In the Web’s infancy, users often neglected to scroll down at all, looking only at the information which was immediately visible.
Critical Information Must Be Readily Apparent
For this reason, websites soon learned that if their most critical information was not visible immediately, users likely would not see it at all. By the late 1990’s, however, users were becoming more comfortable with the scrolling. Unfortunately, today’s web users have not progressed much beyond that initial comfort zone, and usability findings of the information below the fold remains fairly steady at 20-22%. So, while some users will scroll down your legal pages, remember that the average web user has a very limited attention span due to the busy-ness of day-to-day life.
Web users want to find the information they need quickly and efficiently, and don’t want to read any more words than they actually have to. This means that the space above the fold is the most valuable real estate on your website. That being said, if you have an extremely well-written, high-quality article full of information your readers will find incredibly helpful, it will likely still be better to present it as one scrolling article than to spread it across multiple pages. Even assuming your users will scroll due to the fact they find your article particularly compelling, you will still want to prioritize and ensure the truly important items appear above the fold.
Google’s Take on Information Located Above the Fold
January of this year saw a new Google algorithm which actually addressed above-the-fold user experiences. The basic theory of this algorithm states that if the information above the fold is so “busy” or crammed with information that visitors would have a hard time getting to the actual content the search results referred heads will roll. When users are unhappy about their web experience on a particular website, Google also becomes unhappy in an algorithmic kind of way and will certainly make their wrath known.
Further, if you have top-loaded your website with ads, you risk Google penalties. Any site which offers content buried under a pile of ads will be affected by the algorithm. Users want to see highly targeted content which effectively answers their most pressing question of the day immediately when they click onto a website and will resist scrolling down to find what they need. Google wants to see your most important text and links early on so it can quickly confirm what your page is all about. To accomplish this, a great paragraph early in the page design can serve as an effective introduction to your site and your firm.
Above-the-Fold Elements Which are Crucial to Your Success
To ensure your potential clients remain firmly on your legal website, the information above the fold must be intriguing, interesting and visually appealing. A key technique for good user interface in above-the-fold material includes an accurate visual representation off your brand and your specific services—in a nutshell. Don’t forget to include a clear call to action which directs your user to the next stop; this will keep your user focused on the initial task at hand.
Friday, March 9th, 2012
If you’ve recently decided to take the plunge into the world of blogs, you may be wondering how on earth you will promote that blog and make it as successful as possible. Blogs are often an extension of your business website, allowing you to increase your overall sales and profits. The goal of your online business website is obviously to get more and more traffic, thus more conversions. Blogs are a great tool for generating traffic, but even better, blogs help you keep that traffic as your readers will come back time and time again.
Blogging allows a two way flow of information; you get insights into your customer’s wants and needs, then you turn around and offer them the exact information they are looking for. If you keep your blog content high quality, informative and intriguing, you will grow an incredibly loyal audience who will then visit your website, turning into loyal customers. Take a look at the following tips, then try to incorporate at least one of them each week—you will soon see the fruit of your labors in incredibly increased traffic.
1. If you want to let specific search engines or other websites know each time you update your blog, you can ping your blog post. There are several popular pinging services such as Ping-o-Matic and Pingoat, which are both free and easy to use. It takes less than a minute to ping your latest blog posting, and this effort will attract the search engine spiders to your site, getting it indexed all the more quickly.
2. Use social media to your advantage. Make sure you set up profiles at the most popular social networking sites, including Facebook and LinkedIn, including the URL of your blog. Any time you update your blog, announce that update on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Even better, do this several times a day in order to reach every single person possible.
3. Do a Google search to find popular communities which are specific to your particular niche. Many of these websites will allow you to submit a link which will increase your traffic, plus you have the added bonus of building professional business relationships through these communities.
4. Comment on other people’s blogs, primarily those within your niche. Blog commenting can drive traffic from your comment to your blog, resulting in new readers and subscribers. Remember to avoid any type of “great post” blog comments. Take the time to actually read the blog posting and make sure your comment is thoughtful and even controversial, but reflects the fact that you spent time on another blog.
5. Use your chosen keywords often, although not in a contrived manner. Your keywords should appear in your blog post titles, your links and throughout your content in a natural way. Make sure your blog content is always high quality, and gives your readers something of value. Remember that blogging is not specifically about selling—although your hope is that your blog sends readers to your website—rather it is about educating and engaging your readers. Create an outline of sorts which encompasses your audience, your proposed topic and the keywords you want to incorporate into the posting, then use this outline to stay focused and on topic.
A few more tips: Brainstorm, making a list of ideas for your blog. Post a “definitive guide to….” whatever your blog niche is. Interview an interesting person in your area of expertise. Although you don’t have to blog every single day, at least try to stick to some sort of regular schedule so your readers know what to expect and when to check back. Write a guest posting for another blog—if you’re published you should see a spike in your own traffic. In short, don’t wait for others to stumble across your blog. Promote each and every one of your blog postings and you will soon see better search engine rankings, higher quality traffic and, eventually, an increase in traffic and conversions on your business website.
Saturday, August 13th, 2011
Once you’ve grabbed your intended reader’s full attention with the title of your legal blog, you are left staring at the second most important part of the page—your opening paragraph. Think how disappointing it would be if you’d spent considerable time and effort crafting a killer headline for your blog posting then your potential client slipped quietly away with a click of their mouse due to an opening paragraph which simply faltered and died. If you want to ensure your legal blog posting really delivers on your headline’s promise, then consider the following:
Jump Right In With a Question
Open up your blog with a question, even if it happens to be a rhetorical one. The idea is to get your potential client thinking because thinking equals engagement with your writing, and engagement means they will continue to read. Remember, though, not to ask a question which could be answered with a “no” or “who cares?” answer. After you’ve asked your burning question, thrown in a quick anecdote which will either bring a smile to your reader’s face, or establish the main point of your posting.
Especially in the legal world which can be known for its, um…dryness, a little personality can go a long way. Don’t be afraid to figuratively let down your hair from time to time, but keep it relatively tasteful. You could also use an amazing quote that fits into the theme of your legal blog post—anything that will continue to hold the reader’s attention and prevent them from a shrug and a click onto greener—and more interesting—pastures.
Give Them a Powerful Mental Image
Although the legal profession can seem narrow and technical to the layperson, your legal blog doesn’t have to have the same tone. You can relax the legalese in your blog, and use your most descriptive words to activate your reader’s imagination. In the same vein, using metaphors, similes and analogies (correctly, of course) can be a powerful tool for capturing your visitor’s attention and telling a story in a single sentence. Citing a statistic or fact that is particularly unique or startling is also a good tool to use in your first paragraph.
Share Something Personal with Your Readers
We all love to feel as though we have established a deeper connection than a standard business one with our business connections. While you should never make up something “personal” (it will come back to bite you) simply for the sake of grabbing your reader, it can be used very effectively in expressing your own unique personality. When you share something personal about yourself, you can literally guarantee that there will be readers shaking their heads in agreement, saying “me too!”
Withhold One Piece of Critical Information and Break it Up
Though it seems a bit sneaky, holding back a key piece to the puzzle of your legal blog’s overall theme until later in the posting is a great way to ensure your visitors keep reading to the very end. Yes, past the fold and all the way to the bottom. Remember that we read the web very differently than we read the printed page. It’s okay if you have lots to say, but make sure you break it up and have plenty of informative headlines which enable readers to quickly scan before they make the commitment to actually read. Use an assortment of lists, images, bold text, subtitles, and paragraphs in easily readable chunks. Get your reader totally intrigued with your headline and first paragraph, and before you know it you will have a dedicated reader, not to mention a potential client.
Sunday, December 12th, 2010
If you are interested in keeping abreast of the ever-changing laws without emptying your pocketbook, Google Alerts can give you the peace of mind which comes with knowing you are up-to-speed and able to monitor the changing laws, while ensuring your practice is fully covered. Do you ever wonder what others are saying about your firm, or you personally? Using Google Alerts in a savvy and intelligent way can keep you on the professional cutting edge.
Google Alerts are basically set up to monitor content, automatically notifying you when any new content from the Internet matches the pre-set terms you have selected. Google Alerts can be used to find out what others are saying (on the Internet) about you and your firm, to monitor the latest legal news, to monitor the status of a bill, and even to stay informed as to what your competition is up to.
How Are Notifications Received?
There are several ways you can receive Google Alerts, the most common one being through your e-mail. You can also receive Google Alerts as a web feed, or even have them prominently displayed on your iGoogle page. There are essentially six types of alerts to receive when content on the Internet matches your particular search terms and the alerts you have created. You can set your Google Alerts to the default, which is everything, or the entire web, through the Google search engine. Secondly, you can set your settings to News, meaning you will only receive updates when matching content makes it into the top ten results of a Google News Search. Third down the line is the “web” setting, which allows you to receive updates only when new web pages appear in the top twenty results for a Google Web search, and fourth is the blog setting-you will only get updates when content which matches your search terms appears in a blog which resides in the top ten results of a Google Blog Search. The video setting will allow you to receive updates only when matching content appears in the top ten results of a Google video search, and finally, you can set your alters to “groups” which will only send updates whenever matching content appears in the top fifty results of a Google Groups search.
Next, you can choose the frequency of your Google Alerts, meaning you can have Alerts sent to you once a day, once a week, or in real time (or close to it), as things happen. For many subjects or issues, onece a day or once a week will be plenty, most especially if you have chosen a top which receives tons of hits. If you are setting an Alert for something which happens rarely, but you want to know as soon as it does happen, set your Google Alert to “as it happens.” Don’t get too overwhelmed with the different settings; after you play with them a bit you will easily find the one which works best for you and your specific needs.
How Complicated is Setting Up Google Alerts?
Don’t panic, setting up Google Alerts is fairly simple. You must first go to http://google.com/alerts. From here you will pick your search terms; for instance, you might choose Texas DWI Law, then you will use the drop down boxes to select the type of alert, frequency, length, and where to have them sent. Although it may take a little trial and error to get Google Alerts set up exactly like you want them to be, it will definitely be worth it once you have everything just like you want it.
Why Should I Bother?
Google Alerts can be an incredibly powerful tool for lawyers–Google travels around the web literally sucking up insanely huge amounts of data from across the globe, while you work and sleep, then analyzes those sites for relevant information according to you search terms, and sends you an e-mail with the results.
Where Do I Start?
If you are unsure which search terms to use to begin with, first of all put in your own name/firm’s name as a keyword so you will always be up to speed on what the rest of the world is saying about you. If you want to know what your competition is up to, put in their names next. You can easily monitor news about legislation or regulation in specific practice and business areas by setting keywords for those subjects. You can set your Google Alerts to look for proprietary data of your most significant clients—you might be surprised at how often such data shows up in blogs across the Internet. So, if one of your clients sells a highly-recognized product, you can keep up with what’s being said about it, or even watch for knockoffs. You could enter a search term such as “electronic evidence,” which would allow you and your firm to keep up with developments which are highly relevant to your practice. Think of terms which might render some surprising information regarding a pending litigation your law firm is handling, think of a place you want to monitor, such as an office you might have in another state or country.
While it’s true that your Google Alerts can be somewhat erratic at times, meaning you may not get everything you should—or thing you should—and sometimes there may seem to be absolutely no rhyme or reason to why you receive what you receive. Even so, Google Alerts is the best thing going for tracking news specific to your firm and your practice areas.
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Thursday, December 9th, 2010
Assuming you are already using Google Alerts—and presumably already loving it, there are some easy searches you can run that you may not have thought of which can give you some amazing results in your inbox each day. Additionally, if you want more accurate results from your Google Alerts, you will need to utilize some of the advanced search options or search operators in order to narrow your searches.
Advanced Search Options
In other words, if you are interested in receiving the latest legislation regarding DWI in your state, you might type in DWI+Texas+legislation. Enclosing your search results in quotes, and using the minus sign (-) to filter out unwanted results can also give you much more precise Google Alerts results. On each search term you will set how often you want the alert to be sent, so for topics you want to keep an eye on, but are not critical, selecting “once a week,” may be appropriate. For topics which you need to be apprised up the second after they happen, then you will, of course, set “as it happens,” for frequency. Many people simply have a blanket setting of once per day for everything, however this can potentially give you many legal alerts you don’t need or want.
When setting how you would like to receive your alerts, you can check e-mail or RSS feed; if you choose e-mail, you will receive a separate e-mail for each alert you create, or you can subscribe to the RSS feed in Google Reader rather than e-mail. You will next need to tell Google exactly which information to include in the search, whether news, blogs, web, comprehensive, video or groups. Depending on your search terms you may want to only search in blogs, or news, or you may simply use “comprehensive” for most of your search terms.
What Search Terms Should I Use?
First and foremost, do a “vanity search” for your own name, your firm’s name, or your blog’s name in order to find out when your name or your blog is mentioned by someone else. You can set it up as “Richardson Law Firm,” Robert+Richardson+Lawyer, or even Richardson’s Legal Blog. If your name or your firm’s name is fairly common, put it in quotes. You can track incoming links to your legal website or legal blog by inserting your blog’s URL which can track links from other sites to your own site. Use the highest URL level where you have content for your site links, and if you want to track incoming links to a specific post, enter the post’s exact URL.
Check Your Own Content for Plagiarism by Others
Sometimes content can be “stolen” unintentionally, or sometimes content can be stolen using robots which strip out links so the post remains primarily text. You can set your search terms for “specific phrase from your content” which will immediately tell you if someone else is using that amazing phrase you thought came straight from your own creative mind. Unless your content is, in fact highly creative and original, it is likely you will receive lots of alerts regarding the portions you are having checked.
Check for Your Favorite Topics
If you are currently working on a specific brief, or a particular case, you can set search terms for the topic—you will soon realize what a great way this can be to research a topic and see articles and posts where others are talking about the subject as well. Narrow and refine your search topic through the use of (+,-,””, or, not) or through search operators (link:, site:)
As long as you don’t forget that Google Alerts is neither 100% foolproof or reliable, and that it only sends alerts when new pages enter into the top searches, you should greatly enjoy the results your receive from Google Alerts. You may also want to try out Yahoo’s similar service, called, appropriately enough, Yahoo! Alerts.
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