It’s unlikely that your law firm is hired without the person who makes the hiring decision checking out your website. What they find there will shape their opinion of you before you get a chance to talk to them. Often your website is the first impression created between your firm and your prospect. If done right, your website can create the kind of impression that results in hiring you as opposed to your many competitors.
Even though your website should be an essential tool for marketing your firm, unfortunately most law firm websites are boring, predictable, and full of attorney speak, doing little or nothing to market and differentiate the firm. Being safe is boring and ineffective. The general consensus when it comes to law firm websites is “We wouldn’t want to show or write anything that could get us in trouble”. You don’t have to get in trouble to have an interesting website. The other lame excuse for law firms is “We don’t expect any business from our website.” Why would anyone ignore the millions of people searching for attorneys online? If done correctly, your website gives you a chance to differentiate yourself from the ever increasing competition and establish yourself as the firm to be hired.
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There are many ways you can substantially improve your law firm’s website. Here are a few ideas you could implement now:
- Do not settle for a brochure website. Your website is not a brochure. Brochures could never be as exciting as websites because they are final. Once it has been printed, it’s dead. Unlike a brochure, your website can constantly improve. It needs to change with your law firm. There are so many things that you can do such as adding video, audio, infographics, blogs, polls, reports, books, and much more.
- Treating your website as a one-time contract work is the wrong attitude. Websites are not like brochures that you print and forget until it is time to print another 50,000. They must be treated as living and breathing dynamic entities. The project doesn’t end after your website is redesigned. You have to constantly add new and valuable content. If you think the job is done when the site is complete, you are missing the point about what the web can do for your law firm.
- Say less about your firm and more about how you can help ME. I am on your website, now tell me why I should hire you. You can do this ethically and without getting into trouble. Tell stories about your related practice areas. People respond to stories and care less about facts and figures. Your website gives you an opportunity to connect with your audience 24/7/365. It is often the first place people will see before deciding to contact you, and many people will make a decision based on your website. Make your website about me and what’s important to me.
- Many law firms think that the safest thing is to have no real content on their website. “Having no content will not get us into trouble”. Unfortunately, a website without content is useless. Your website gives you an opportunity to tell the story about your firm. Humanize your firm by letting your attorneys introduce themselves beyond where they went to school and their field of specialization. Attorney blogs give your firm an excellent opportunity to develop valuable content. Well-written blogs are also wonderful reputation-enhancing instruments.
- Resist the desire for wanting the same kind of website as other law firms. Just because most other firms have boring websites, it doesn’t mean you have to have one too. Resist the urge to fill your site with stiff, buttoned-up photos. It is OK for attorneys to have a business casual image. Remember that human beings that are visiting your website. Communicate why others have hired your firm. Share stories about your firm, your clients whenever possible, and your areas of specialization.
- 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. People prefer images to text. Text is difficult to read and less interesting than images or video. Visuals are processed faster than text. Use images to tell your story. Utilize video to explain concepts. According to MarketingSherpa viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them. In addition to video, presentations, images, photos, infographics are all great visuals to improve your site.
- Face it, mobile usage is skyrocketing and many people will only see your website through their mobile device. What that means to you is you have to make sure that your website displays properly on any screen size. When you have a mobile enabled website, people can browse through and interact with it on a screen as small as four inches. It is realistic to expect 50% of your site visitors to use a mobile device to view your website. Mobile compatibility is no longer a nice to have feature – it is an absolute must.
- Do not ignore the power of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Advertising is expensive. You can save money by properly optimizing your website for the appropriate search terms. Great content that informs and educates is the beginning of SEO. Search engines reward websites that are frequently updated with new content. For example, an estate attorney could have a collection of relevant articles. If you are a business attorney in Los Angeles, relevant keyword phrases such as “Los Angeles business attorney” and “Los Angeles business lawyer” have to be part of your website. Your website can be and should be optimized for several relevant keywords.
- Updating your website should be easy. CMS (Content Management System) is what makes it easy for you to make content updates. Some of the most common CMS platforms are WordPress and Drupal. You need a CMS so you can make changes without having to wait for your web designer to do it. The CMS gives you control and helps you make your site dynamic. A website that’s frequently updated is rewarded by visitors and search engines. A CMS website is the only website you should have.
- Embrace social media. Does that mean we want to see a video about your cat? You guessed right – no. But there are many opportunities to incorporate social into your web presence. For example, if you are a business attorney, it would make sense for your firm to have your own LinkedIn group. You can link to your group from your website. Your LinkedIn group enables you to facilitate relevant discussions and invite prospects.
- Show client testimonials in creative ways. Have testimonials on your homepage and inner pages. Don’t just have text testimonials either. Include clients talking about your firm on video and audio. You can also include photos of the people you have helped with accompanying text. Testimonials are important for others to see, as people are more likely to trust your past clients than you before they hire your firm.
- Don’t settle for a “flea market” website. You get what you pay for. The same way some people can hire an attorney that runs his practice out of his car, you can hire a web designer of the same caliber. You get what you pay for, a cheap website that creates a small-time image about your firm. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a great website, but it is smart to hire a professional.
The most successful law firms are great at building relationships. Your website should help you build relationships with prospects and nurture relationships with current and past clients. After all, it is relationships that are the most important thing when it comes to building your business.
Yes, your law firm can have a new and exciting website that tells stories about your practice areas and shows ways you can help your clients. You no longer have to be bland. You can have a new and captivating web presence. Don’t settle for the defeatist attitude of “We do not expect our website to generate any business for us.” Why not? People are already searching online for attorneys 24/7/365.
Your website may be your only chance to convince someone that you are the right law firm for them. Don’t waste this opportunity.