A core tenet of inbound marketing1 is creating content that is useful to your market in order to draw them in. Content should build trust and establish you as an authority in your practice area. One way to do it well is by creating a comprehensive legal dictionary for your audience.
Knowledge-Based Services Work Well with Organic Search
Law firms lend themselves well to marketing through organic search because of the knowledge-based orientation of the service. People pay attorneys for their knowledge of the legal system and the time spent conveying it. That knowledge isn’t cheap, so people often go online first to see what they can learn on their own before making contact with a professional.
It can be difficult for consumers to find reputable legal information online. When they do find it, they latch onto it, which can make a firm quite memorable in the searcher’s mind. You can provide small samples of easy-to-digest information in the form of glossary entries intended for people interested in learning more about their legal situations.
The Benefits of a Legal Glossary
Current and prospective clients will love you for providing snippets of free and informative legal information. There are additional benefits to making content like this.
• It works as link-bait2: Like building lists of useful resources or creating humorous posts, a useful resource can help generate organic link building activity for your website.
• It can increase social shares: Whenever people find things that are useful, they tend to share them with others. If you have a plugin on the glossary that makes sharing easy, that’s even better.
• It establishes you as an authority: Assuming your glossary is useful and well-maintained, it establishes your practice as an authority in the area(s) that the glossary covers. In other words, visitors understand that you know your stuff and are more likely to contact you when they need legal help.
The Ehline Online Legal Dictionary
If you are looking for an example of how to do this, Michael Ehline3 of Ehline Law 4has a really nice online dictionary of legal terms5. I’m not an attorney, so I can’t really speak to the content, but as far as the navigation and design goes, it’s very user friendly and well made.
If you make your own glossary, you should include at least two elements similar to those found in Michael’s glossary:
2. A disclaimer at the beginning
In Michael’s example, you can jump around the expansive glossary by clicking on the alphabetized list at the top. You can quickly get back to the beginning using the “back to top” links throughout the page. Users will typically have an idea of what word they are looking for when they come to the page, so having this type of navigation is great.
You know best how words change in regards to the legal system, but make sure you tell your visitors about that. The example on tutorials.ehlinelaw.com6 has the disclaimer located front and center (and you can read it above) so people understand how the information can and cannot be used.
When you’re thinking of high-quality content7 to attract people to your site, a glossary is a textbook example of how attorneys can leverage their knowledge for promotion. When you can delight your visitors with useful information, there is a better chance that they will eventually become your clients.
When making link bait, it helps to see what else is out there that is link-worthy and then try to make your version even better. There are a lot of glossaries out there to model yours after. Some are more sophisticated than others but all the glossaries in this post do a good job of being helpful for their target audiences.
Foster LLP based in Calgary has a really great example of a family law term legal directory8. It is easy to read, comprehensive and has built in navigation so users do not have to scroll through lots of definitions to find what they are looking for. The definitions themselves are also very clear and helpful.
Vancouver Community College
The VC Community College took a pretty cool approach to their glossary9 by making it interactive and searchable. It also returns definitions in 9 different languages.
Just type in a legal term that you want to learn more about and the tool returns all applicable definitions. Click on one of the results to see the definition.
Making something with this level of functionality is probably not necessary but if you can do it, more power to you. It can only attract more link activity. One thing you can do is make your glossary bi-lingual or multi-lingual. That would go a long way toward making it more link worthy.
Ontario Attorney General
A simple glossary with a twist is the one put together by The Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, CA10. They have a simple search feature on their extensive glossary but the cool thing (whether they intended to do it or not) is that the glossary spans several pages. This type of set up (if done in a particular way) can help increase the number of pages viewed during a single session which sends good signals to Google.