How Perfect Content Is Getting In The Way Of Your SEO Success
By Jason Bland, co-founder of Custom Legal Marketing, a law firm SEO company that helps law firms thrive in highly competitive markets.
We’ve all heard the mantra, “don’t let perfection be the enemy of good,” or some variation thereof.
In a Harvard Business Review article, author Kerry Goyette said, “We should all strive to do our best, but people who always aim for perfect often miss deadlines and opportunities.”
For Many Lawyers, Perfect Means Never Publishing
The pursuit of perfection is engrained in every professional but lawyers often come with an extra dose of this character trait. And who can blame them?
As a lawyer, your errors could result in an innocent client going to prison, a family being forced to leave the country, a person injured by no fault of their own slipping into poverty, children being placed with an abusive parent or a multi-billion-dollar merger falling apart.
It’s serious work with serious consequences, and precision can make or break a case. When practicing law, perfection matters.
But your law firm’s website isn’t a legal document—it’s a marketing vessel. This vessel is floating around an ocean of people who are looking for information. If you’re not publishing information, other vessels (your competitors) will.
When you have a team of writers helping you create content, it’s easy to be critical. Nobody is going to write exactly the same way that you would, and there may periodically be a typo.
Even The Supreme Court Publishes Typos
Not even the Supreme Court is immune from grammatical mishaps. Just last year, Justice Neil Gorsuch ruled that the government must provide immigrants with “a single complaint document explaining what it intends to do and when.” The court later edited the opinion to say “compliant” as originally intended.
Unsurprisingly, Gorsuch isn’t alone. In 2021, Professor Michael Allan Wolf of the University of Florida Levin College of Law published a paper titled, “A Reign of Error: Property Rights and Stare Decisis,” which talks about how a typo in a 1928 ruling influenced property rights for many decades.
Content Is The Heartbeat Of SEO
Without content, you can’t earn links. Without links, your site isn’t ranking on the first page of Google. Without that first page ranking, you’re essentially invisible.
The web pages, blogs, Q&As and other types of content that your marketing company is preparing are designed to cast a wide net into the web to attract the right clients to your firm. That content that you’re holding back or not approving is the equivalent of sitting on a fishing boat without casting your lines.
How To Prioritize Progress Over Perfection
I’m certainly not advocating for publishing garbage on your website. For content to work, it needs to be of quality. Quality, however, isn’t Steinbeck, Austen or Dickens—quality is meeting your future clients where they are. And more often than not, “where they are” is not fresh out of law school.
To get quality content that can work for your firm, you should require your writing team to:
• Provide sources for declarative statements. Facts matter more than anything and if your content contains a fact, your writer needs to give you the source.
• Insist, at the very least, that they use an AI editing tool to catch basic typos and grammatical errors before delivering the content to you. While not perfect, they are good at catching common typos and phrasing mistakes.
• Build a style guide with your writing team. At my agency, we have a style and preference guide for every law firm we work with. Before drafting each document, the writer will reference the guide and know what to do and what not do to when drafting a client’s content. This has drastically reduced rewrite requests because we’re able to get it right the first time.
Now that you have your team on board with these simple rules, here are some things to keep in mind about the content you’re receiving:
• Web content is promotional content, it is not a legal document.
• The American Marketing Association recommends writing marketing content at an 8th-grade level. Unless you’re writing content for the purpose of getting referrals from other lawyers (in which case, there should be a different level of sophistication), your writer will often follow the guidance set by the AMA.
• Content that isn’t published isn’t working for you.
• Web content is dynamic and can always be updated.
That last point is especially important. Nothing on your website is set in stone. It can be easily changed at any time.
“People who always aim for perfect often miss opportunities,” and that certainly is the case when you hold back web content until it’s “perfect.”