Managing a legal website is not a “if you build it, they will come” kind of situation. Think of a website as a digital business card – it must have the most updated information and be present at some of the most popular social networking events in order to stay relevant. Once you’ve invested in a professional legal website you need to begin marketing your site in order to attract more clients and build a thriving firm. Here are 5 key ways you can strategically market your law firm’s website online.
Choosing a domain name for your law firm is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to marketing your firm online. Your domain name not only helps identify you as a law firm, but it also plays a significant role in your firm’s search visibility, online branding, and even your offline advertising activities.
Unlike the physical world where a building or neighborhood can provide an impression of your law firm or clues to what you practice, the digital world is left entirely up to imagination. This is why it’s important to choose a domain name that helps potential clients understand what your firm is all about. Before purchasing a domain name think about what it says about your law firm. What message does it convey? Is it easy to remember? And even more importantly, is it easy for people to spell without typos?
As a law firm you have a lot of competition and the value of getting your website on the first page of Google cannot be underestimated. But in Google’s never ending battle to be “more human” the search engine giant is now placing more value on social signals and quality content than the number of backlinks, or other technical SEO elements, a website has.
As Google continues to adjust their algorithm to deliver more relevant results, the rise of “Digital PR” is beginning to transform the way we look at online marketing. Here’s what it means for your law firm.
An issue I often come across with law firms is how to attract more of the types of cases they really want. While I understand that it’s anecdotal, I’d like to share a personal experience of how an attorney gained my family as a client, while some other firms did not.
Recently my family dealt with a life changing situation that required legal help. Without going into details, I can tell you it was (and continues to be) as stressful and painful of a situation I’ve ever encountered in my life.
In that small window between the time that we knew we needed an attorney and the time we actually hired an attorney, I learned a valuable lesson first hand: when you’re experiencing excruciating, life changing pain, you want relief from that pain and if there’s a lawyer that can relieve you of that pain (in the form of hope), you want the best possible lawyer.I thought I already knew that but I learned that I really had no clue.
Who We Hired
In the end my family hired the attorney who had #1: the compassion necessary to understand our situation, #2: the expertise to navigate the waters we were in and (most importantly) #3: the experience of handling the damn near exact circumstances that my family was facing.
All three of those items were mission critical for us as a family in making our decision. When we made our decision, we collectively felt a little bit better because we knew we had an advocate, someone one was both capable and highly competent, who would now (almost literally) fight on behalf of our family.
So while you maybe thinking to yourself “so you hired the most qualified attorney … sounds pretty obvious”, let me share some of reasons we didn’t hire some very capable attorneys as well.
Who We Didn’t Hire
The Jacks Of All Trades Law Firm
There were some really impressive lawyers we spoke with who could handle not only our type of case but also 3-4 other areas of practice. While that would be great if we were in the rare need of someone who was a good criminal, personal injury or intellectual property, we weren’t.
We needed someone who was THE EXPERT (I wish I could triple underline THE) in our issue. Every minute that the attorney spent, prior to meeting us, working in a different area of practice other than the one we needed help with, was a wasted minute as it pertained to us.
This is an important point, that in my experience is lost on many attorneys who think that by adding more case types to their website and their marketing strategy, they are simply casting a wider net to get more cases. While that may be true, I believe it’s also a surefire way to lose a client to another lawyer who has decided to make helping people with legal problem X their life’s work.
So my takeaway for my lawyer clients is this, hone in on the types of cases where you truly are THE EXPERT in and beat that drum as hard as you can. Put yourself in the position where you can sit with a potential client and tell them “I am the expert you need and here’s why …”.
If you happen to be THE EXPERT in multiple areas, keep the marketing/website from those areas as separate as possible because being very few of your clients will need you to be THE EXPERT in more than one area and you can undermine your expertise be having 8 areas of practice on your website.
The All Business Law Firm
I’d like to think of myself as a rational, thinking type who makes decisions in a pragmatic, almost scientific way. The reality of this situation taught me the real truth though: I’m an emotional human being like everyone else who is at the mercy of their reality.
We have the luxury of seeing bad things happen to people on the news everyday in the comfort of our homes with a hot cup of coffee in one hand in the TV remote in the other. But when something like that is happening to you, you’re perspective is radically different.
The first stage is disbelief. While I’m not going to pretend to understand all the steps in between, I can tell you that you eventually get to the point where you need someone to lift you up and give you a hope for justice. A good lawyer can must do that for their client. Not in a manipulative or ‘false hope’ sort of way. But in a manner that let’s me know that you feel my pain and this isn’t just ‘a case’ for you.
We talked to some lawyers that were plenty qualified and had all the skins on the wall. But at the end of the day, we didn’t feel like our pain was THEIR PAIN. Those meetings felt like business meetings more than a meeting with a close family friend.
Now don’t get me wrong, we aren’t naive enough to think the attorney we did hire is going to feel the same level of pain we did as a family. But that’s where I tell YOU as an attorney, don’t discount how important it is to give your client the compassion and hope they need when they come to you looking for help. I think sometime attorneys are so afraid of being manipulative or cheesy that they omit that emotion from their dealings with their client.
My advice is, don’t omit that emotion. If something makes you upset, let your potential client know that. If you’re outraged, even better. If you’re not feeling that empathy or emotion for your client maybe it’s time to re-evaluate if you’re in the right area of practice. But if you are, my advice based on my experience, is to let me feel that as your client. The more I, as your client, know that my pain is also your pain, the more likely I am to want you as my attorney.
A well designed website is like an online business card – it lets potential clients know who you are, how to contact you, and that you’re open for business. Nowadays, every law firm needs to have website that clicks. Here are a few basic features every legal website should have in order to have a credible and professional online presence.
Every business that wishes to have a solid web presence should add blogging to their list of weekly marketing tasks. However, for lawyers blogging goes beyond generating content for the sake of keywords and search engine rankings. Lawyers should look at blogging as an opportunity to establish credibility, build a reputation, and brand their business.
As we all know by now, blogging is a great way to improve search rankings. But it can also help lawyers convert the casual site visitor into a client. How? By wowing them with legal expertise. When lawyers take the time to create thoughtful content they’ll not only attract search engines to their site, but people looking for legal assistance as well. Insightful blog posts and those that contain meaningful information will help you promote thought leadership and establish expertise in a particular area of law.
Lawyers can boost their credibility by providing readers with advice, guidance, and helpful resources on a particular topic or area of law. If offering legal opinions via blog scares you as a lawyer, try penning a unique perspective on a current event or breaking down the latest legal happenings in layman’s terms. This is a great way to show visitors that you stay up on current events and are passionate about the law.
Once a lawyer finds their “voice” blogging can be a great way to stand out from those other buttoned up and outdated lawyers out there. Many law firms resort to cold websites with confusing legal lingo that can intimidate just about anybody. By creating content that speaks to an audience lawyers can give their law firm a personal touch. Nobody wants to deal with a robot when going through a legal matter, so use your blog to readers the human side of your practice.
Contact Rank Legal for more information on how you can promote your law firm online.
If your website’s search rankings recently took a tumble, then you may be being affected by Google’s latest search algorithm update. Google recently announced an update to their algorithm that will eventually start giving preference to websites that are considered to be ‘mobile friendly’ (those with large text, easy-to-click buttons or links, and that will resize according to the screen it’s being viewed on) on searches performed from a mobile device, while demoting those that are not. There’s various reports about the actual impact since April 21st but regardless of whether you’re seeing the impact yet, the change is coming.
Even though the importance of having a responsive web design has been touted for awhile now, this latest update widely known as “Mobilegeddon” took many law firms off guard. According to Vizibility, law firms generate approximately one-third of their online traffic from mobile devices. With mobile traffic at an all time high, it’s even more surprising that 53% of the top law firms do not have a mobile-friendly website. This means that a majority of law firms have been (or will be!) affected by “mobilegeddon.”
It was only a matter a time before Google pulled the rug out from under dated websites. Google reports that about 60% of all search traffic comes from mobile devices, which will only continue to grow as more and more people ditch their desktop computers for the convenience of tablets and smartphones. The Penguin and Panda algorithm updates were designed to weed out irrelevant websites and now Google is turning its focus on the user experience with “Mobilegeddon.” Because even the best content is considered useless if the website it’s on is hard to read or navigate.
First impressions are everything when you are running a law firm. A mobile responsive website will help you deliver the right message to the right people at the right time – regardless of what device they are browsing on. With a seamless user experience you will not only deliver your firm’s message consistently across devices, you will also connect with a whole new generation of clients.
Worried about your law firm? Head over to Google’s “Mobile-Friendly” test page to test whether your website makes the cut – simply type in your URL and see if it passes. If your website has been affected by mobilegeddon and you are looking to upgrade to a responsive web design, email us at Info@CondorWeb.com for more information.
Most lawyers we work with are very good at what they do and most (not all, but most) have little time or interest in really delving into the minutiae that is search engine optimization or online marketing.
So while we are 100% transparent about the work we do for our clients, we really have to make efficient use of our face time with our clients and the time they spend evaluating our work.
For the most time crunched attorneys, my advice is very simple: If you use a single metric to evaluate your web site’s ‘progress’, focus on domain authority.