What Smart Lawyers Know:
Law Firm Websites
Establishing Your Law Firm’s Digital Presence
Law firms need a strong marketing plan to remain competitive in the internet age.
But for many partners and sole proprietors, the day-to-day demands of running a busy law firm mean that tasks like outreach and search engine optimization (SEO) can take a back seat to more pressing issues. Read on to learn more about what makes law firm marketing and lawyer marketing unique, as well as a few concrete steps you can take to improve your search engine ranking, enhance the message you’re sending to prospective customers, and truly make a name for yourself in the local legal market.
Why Law Firm Websites Are (and Should Be) Different
If you’re suddenly informed you need a surgical procedure, you may look up your surgeon’s name or read some patient reviews to get a basic idea of what you’re in for, but aren’t likely to be overly swayed by a splashy website. But for those who unexpectedly find themselves in need of legal advice, the content and appearance of a law firm’s website often gains a renewed significance. Legal clients aren’t just looking for expertise or success rates (although see below to see why both are important); they’re looking for someone with whom they can form a relationship to handle a pressing legal matter.
The reasons clients seek out attorneys can vary dramatically—but whether it involves the defense of a criminal allegation, the pursuit of a wrongful death claim, or a step-parent adoption, this reason often weighs heavy on the client’s mind. A well-edited website that features a professional photo of the firm’s attorneys, some positive testimonials, and an easy-to-complete contact form can reassure nervous would-be clients that they’re in good hands; a cheesy or hard-to-navigate website can send a client elsewhere. By focusing on what your clients need (and at what step they are in their firm-selection journey), you’ll be able to target your site contents in the most effective way.
Many law firms may not fully realize the message their website is sending. Some of the most important aspects to consider include:
Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents stated that they’d use a smartphone to look up an attorney or law firm for the first time. This means that, no matter how well-designed your desktop website may be, if it doesn’t render well on mobile devices, you could lose out on more than 50 percent of your prospective client base.
Fortunately, optimizing your desktop site for mobile use doesn’t have to be a complicated process. But if you have multiple site features that just don’t translate well to mobile mode, you may want to create a separate site for mobile users; doing this can help strip down extra content and give mobile viewers a clear way to contact your firm for more information.
An Emphasis on Information that Matters
The internet is replete with survey and study data focusing on what clients are looking for in an attorney. Staying on top of these trends can ensure your website remains targeted toward the factors that matter most.
One recent survey ranked 12 common selection factors to determine which ones prospective clients deemed most important. When asked to choose up to five factors that would impact a decision on whether to hire a law firm,
The number of years of experience a firm had
The law firm’s price, rates, and fee structure
The firm’s history of success with similar cases
Legal information on similar cases
But while many law firm websites tend to tout their awards, memberships, and judicial endorsements, a very slim minority of respondents indicated that these factors had any impact on their decision to hire a firm. And including videos on your website can seem like an easy way to boost traffic, but video content actually captured the attention of fewer than 10 percent of respondents.
Focus on your firm’s successes, provide high-quality information, and be open about your prices and fee structure to maximize your website’s client-getting potential.
An Eye-Catching Logo
When you think of law firm logos, you probably picture Lady Justice or a set of scales—after all, what better way to signify a law firm’s commitment to high-quality work than by invoking two of the most recognizable symbols in the legal world?
But the law market is saturated with cookie-cutter logos like these. To set yourself apart, it may be worthwhile to work with a lawyer marketing firm to develop a unique logo that projects sophistication and competence. Even in the legal context, a logo operates as the “face” of your company, and having an eye-catching logo stretches your marketing dollars by giving you brand recognition across all types of media.
When it comes to marketing your law firm (or yourself as a solo practitioner), there are two primary options.
The DIY Approach
Many lawyers gravitate toward handling their marketing needs in-house, figuring that it’s simpler and cheaper to slap up a WordPress-style site for the time being than to meet with a lawyer marketing firm and decide on a comprehensive plan. After all, it’s best to have a modest website than none at all, right?
But in today’s competitive market, even the country’s most elite law firms have been forced to think outside the box when it comes to legal marketing. Firms that once relied solely on name recognition to gain new clients have begun significant restructuring changes to brand themselves as “the IP firm” or “the mergers and acquisitions firm,” setting themselves apart in a sea of other venerable names.
And for smaller firms without the benefit of Supreme Court justices or executive officeholders in their list of former employees, gaining local prominence may require far more insider marketing knowledge than many attorneys have. Something seemingly as simple as getting your website ranked on Page 1 of Google search results can be a make-or-break moment for your firm.
For this reason, even if you begin with the DIY approach, the highest and best use of your resources generally includes seeking help from an outside marketing firm.
The DIY Approach
Because the best practices in law firm marketing can often differ dramatically from best practices used in retail and service-based businesses, it’s best to seek out a marketing company that specializes in legal work. These companies can help you outline goals for your firm—an X percent increase in revenue over the next year, a Y percent increase in the number of clients served, or a Z percent increase in the number of contact forms submitted on your website.
This firm can then work with you to design a plan that will help you achieve these goals through a multifaceted marketing approach. You may need to beef up the amount of informative content on your website through regular blog posts, revamp your site so it is mobile-friendly, or invest in targeted social media ads to draw in new visitors.
How eProphetMedia Can Deliver Your Digital Presence
Some marketing firms tout high search engine optimization success rates yet utilize “cheap” methods like keyword-stuffing, backlinking to irrelevant (but highly-ranked) websites, or even plagiarizing from other web pages. But websites that take these types of shortcuts run the risk of being suddenly delisted by Google and other top search engines. When this happens, clawing your way back to the first page of search engine rankings can be all but impossible. You may find yourself forced to revamp your entire marketing plan, including finding a new domain name and replacing every word of website content, in order to work your way back up the list.
In the law firm context, corner-cutting websites can be a major turnoff to prospective clients. If your business model relies on pay-per-click revenue, using whatever means necessary to get your site to the top of search engine rankings can mean money in your pocket. But when your marketing model depends on the value of the services you provide and your reputation in the community, it won’t matter whether you’re the #1 Google ranking if your website doesn’t establish your firm as a subject matter expert.
It’s easier to stick with a high-quality marketing plan from the get-go. By doing things the right way, you’ll never find yourself forced to reinvent the wheel after you’ve already paid for marketing services.
With a focus on attorney and law firm clients, eProphetMedia delivers your firm’s digital presence to attract the ideal clients and boost your rankings. Services range from search engine optimization to website traffic analysis, online advertising campaigns, and constant strategy evaluation, ensuring you’ll have high-quality and personalized data from every step of the marketing process. ePM has a finger on the pulse of what makes law firm website visitors “tick,” and its marketing plans always factor in the stages and phases your website visitors will go through during their digital journey.
Ready to start seeing results? Let’s Talk.