Does your law firm website contain a wealth of information that no one seems to read? If you do not organize your website in a way that’s easy to navigate, all that helpful information could be going to waste. Search engines rely heavily on site structure, so organized websites have a distinct advantage over their competition.
Read on to learn why topic clusters are an optimal site structure for your law firm website, how to create your own pillars and clusters, and how to interlink pages to keep people reading.
What are topic clusters?
As we work to build your law firm website, we will create a variety of pieces of content for it. Topic clusters are multiple pieces of content that are all related to a single topic. This content has a design for users at each stage of the marketing funnel. Let’s explain.
Each time a person visits your website, they are at a different stage in the sales process. Initially, they may need some information, perhaps an answer to a legal question. Then, they get the information they need, so they continue reading, moving deeper into your website. We move them through this “funnel,” where visitors to your site convert into leads and eventually fill out your contact form.
The marketing funnel represents the larger number of people who visit the site whittled down to the handful that are actually motivated enough to stick around and contact you. The content creation process has a design to first give them answers to legal questions and then to keep them on the site, moving deeper into the funnel until they end up at the contact form.
Pillar pages consist of your service pages (i.e., Dallas car accident lawyer), and then cluster pages help support that main page. This content is designed to take traffic from search engines and turn them into your clients and can include blogs, FAQs, location pages, and more.
How do topic clusters work?
There are three main components to this type of content marketing.
- Pillar pages: A pillar page is the main focus page – this is the big, broader topic.
- Cluster pages: These are subtopic pages that are related directly to the pillar page but often more specific and supportive.
- Internal links: These are hyperlinks in the content of the cluster pages that link to the pillar page, creating that easy-to-follow path.
This type of structure is ideal for law firm websites for many practices. This structure makes it easy for search engines to crawl the page. That means the search engines will easily move through your sitemap, gathering information that it can then use to rank your site in the search engine’s algorithm.
This type of cluster content is also suitable for user experience. With it, your website visitors can follow those internal links and get from the main topic to the subtopics and vice versa. That keeps them on the site longer, guiding them to pages that could further their needs and serve them.
What are pillar pages?
Pillar content is high-quality, specific topic content that provides many aspects of a broad topic. For example, this page will have an overview of the topic, which will flesh out more fully on subtopic pages. The pillar content page is like the trunk of a tree. It supports the branches that will stem outward and offer more information.
Pillar content is crucial to search engine optimization (SEO) because it creates the base page for Google to land on and then move through. Of course, it has to be designed and created with your SEO strategy in mind.
Types of pillar and cluster pages
There are various types of pillar content that can be used to build out your website. This could include examples like the following:
Service pillar page
It is very common for a law firm website to have service pages, often known as practice area pages. For example, if your law firm is a family law firm, you will use a service pillar page to include content on all family law topics you offer. Later, your subpages may break this down, including pages on divorce, child support, child custody, and so on.
Guide cluster pages
Guide cluster pages are just that – they are a guide to a topic. They provide the reader with an in-depth overview of the subject, providing just about everything they need to know on that legal topic. Most of the time, guide pages are evergreen. That means the content on these pages remains virtually the same. In terms of a law practice, a guide page will not likely change unless a significant law changes.
For example, if you are a personal injury attorney, you may have a guide page that outlines what personal injury is and the laws in your state related to it.
Subtopic cluster pages
A subtopic page will be a bit different. These content clusters will focus on specific topics that relate to the pillar topic, but that will branch out further.
Examples of topic clusters for law firms
Take a look at the following chart. You can see how the main page for the site will focus on California car accident attorney. Then, there are supportive pages – cluster pages – that support that main topic. You can see the various ways that each of these pages relates, but they are also distinctively different and all equally important to the website visitor.
How long should pillar pages be?
There are some differences in this area based on your content marketing strategy. However, pillar pages are typically long, spanning 2,000 to 5,000 words. This depends on the topic itself. We also want to look at competitors to see what they are using. Through even a brief competitor analysis, you’ll find common questions you should answer on your website to boost conversions.
In short, we want to ensure that your new content:
- Is comprehensive and has in-depth information (helping to garner backlinks)
- It should include internal links to supporting cluster content
As a part of the process of creating web pages like this, we analyze your competitors using SEO tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz. These can help to provide insight into target keywords. Such tools base this information on existing content on top-performing competitors’ pages.
The benefits of using topic clusters for your law firm’s SEO
As a component of a strong digital marketing strategy, a large part of what you do will be to develop high-quality content on your website that meets SEO requirements so you rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs). At the same time, your content must be highly valuable to benefit potential clients. Topic clusters like this work well to create a balance between SEO and meeting target audience needs.
Here are some of the key benefits you’ll see in this strategy:
When you use topic clusters, it is easier for search engines to crawl your website. That means that it is easier to index in the search engines. That directly leads to increases in organic traffic coming to your site.
It also creates a ranking boost from the internal linking that you will do between your pages. This shows that the pillar page is part of a larger group of resources on your topic. It is all highly valuable, relevant content to your potential client.
Creating relevant topics like this helps to showcase your expertise to your potential clients. It also shows expertise to the search engines. A component of search engine rankings is presenting not just a website full of keywords but valuable content. Search engines rank websites that do this higher.
It also improves E-E-A-T, which stands for expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness. Google uses these big components to determine if a law firm website should rank higher or lower in the search engines. In short, Google wants to present a website that offers truly valuable, on-target, and helpful content to the reader.
More so, we also want to ensure that this content is answering search queries. More specifically, your website’s structure must answer every possible question a user might have when researching a legal topic. Otherwise, they will move on to another website that does offer this information.
Give context to search engine crawlers
The content pieces in this process should also give context to the crawlers. Related pages are interlinked. This helps website crawlers to interpret the site structure. It then can put those pages in the context of a larger topic.
Increase user time on your site
When creating website content, one goal is to develop pages that keep and hold people on your site for as long as possible. We know that the longer they are on your site, the more likely they will recognize your brand or fill out a contact form. The topic cluster model keeps them moving through your site to do this.
It is like falling down a Wikipedia rabbit hole of information. The visitor clicks from one page to another article and onward. This keeps them moving through your site until they reach the goal.
How to create topic clusters for your law firm website
The value of this model is clear, but how do we create it? The process involves several steps.
To develop your cluster page model, it is critical to consider not just what you think should be created but what search queries tell you should be. That is, we have to look at keywords – the words people specifically use to seek out the information they need. Keyword research is always the first step.
This process aims to identify relevant keywords to the services you offer and then build pages around them. From this information, we can also target long-tail keywords – those that incorporate more specific questions – and build out your pages. This allows for the organization of content into topic clusters.
Then, we need to define the organization of the site. To do that, we will ask some key questions.
- What are the ideal pillar pages?
- Are there any pillar pages missing from existing content on your site? For example, if you are a family lawyer, you should have pillar pages for family law, divorce, and custody at a minimum. If you do not include specific pillar pages, you are missing out on website traffic for very competitive legal keywords.
- What are the gaps? You might be targeting high-volume keywords, but are they specific enough to your firm? Be careful basing your entire strategy off search volume alone.
- Where is your content redundant? There’s no value in having content that duplicates or otherwise overlaps. In fact, that could lead to keyword cannibalization, the process of two of your website pages competing against each other in the search engines.
Writing new content
With the right keywords in mind, we can now start to create long-form content for your website. This includes filling in the content gaps and targeting keywords based on what we learn on the research page. This may include focusing on a specific keyword that helps your law firm stand out, geographical content, as well as related keywords.
Monitoring results and re-optimizing
The search engines are constantly changing, and the “right keywords” will change over time. That is why we will always focus on metrics and analyze poorly performing pages to boost results.
How to use internal linking to keep users engaged
Link building is a big part of this type of cluster topic model. Links move people through the site from one page to another. This is important for inbound marketing efforts because it captures the search engine’s attention, gets people to your landing page, and then keeps them moving through the site. Here is how we do this.
Link to related content on your site
Each of your pillar pages will have numerous links. Each link will cover another related topic that the reader might also be interested in once they read the current content.
User descriptive anchor text
Anchor text is a term used to describe the string of words that contain a hyperlink. For example, “this is anchor text” because it allows the reader to click on that portion of the content to move to a new page. However, this is a terrible example of what descriptive anchor text is – it needs to be easy to understand where the link will lead the user.
For instance, if a person is reading your family law pillar page and then needs more information about “child custody laws,” they can click on that link once you develop the page to get to that additional information.
Avoid generic terms when creating anchor text. If you look at the above bad example, you may have no idea why you should click on it. The words themselves tell you nothing about what you will learn if you click that link.
Incorporate keywords into your anchor text
Related keywords are a good component of any pillar content strategy. Adding keywords into the anchor text can help to show search engines what comes next. It also helps to highlight a particular topic that the reader is likely interested in, drawing them to the next page.
Focus on quality over quantity
A big mistake that can occur and often found on a content audit is a pillar page with dozens of links on it. The more, the better, right? No, not at all.
Don’t overthink this process. The ultimate goal – and the most important goal is that the person reading the content is actually having their needs met. We want to then encourage them, often at strategic locations like at the end of a topic, to move on to more pages. A few relevant links are better than several unrelated links.
Use breadcrumbs for easy navigation
A breadcrumb is like a trail back. It is a series of internal links located at the top or the bottom of a website page. This list will lead the website visitor to return to the previous section or the pillar page when they want to do so. It works well to keep them moving.
Consider using a linking tool
There are a number of tools that promise to provide you with insight into how well your site is performing.
- Broken links: We prefer using Google Search Console to help. It can generate a link report that identifies any broken links on your site. This is a very valuable tool for pinpointing problem areas.
- Link performance: Ahrefs and Semrush analyze link performance and identify broken links.
- Reports: Screaming Frog analyzes link performances, identifies broken links, and generates reports about your site’s internal links.
Does this sound overwhelming?
Legal digital marketing is complex in itself. It is critical to reach your target clients. You need to do it, but balancing your law firm website’s pillar content strategy along with link building, social media, and paid advertising is a significant time commitment.
Array Digital specializes in legal content. We are highly aware of what the American Bar Association allows in legal marketing. We will not violate these rules.
Our dedicated content strategy team executes all the content production for you. This means you do not have to do the work yourself, and you can be sure it is a proper representation of your law firm, your brand, and the quality of resources you want to provide to your clients.
Additionally, our team is proactive. We are constantly offering insights and areas of improvement, providing you with a step-by-step process for achieving your goals.
Create content that matters
Array Digital offers the solution you need. Let’s talk about your current content and path forward. We offer free initial assessments and content audits to get you started.
Ready to learn more? Call us now at 757-333-3021 or fill out our contact page for fast support.