By Terrie S. Wheeler In today’s digitally savvy marketplace, your website plays a more important role than ever in conveying the right first impression for your practice. According to a recent survey results, over 80 percent of people who are considering purchasing legal services go to a firm’s website first to check them out. So your site can either tell someone that your practice serves sophisticated, high-level individuals and businesses – or it can do just the opposite and convey a message that says you are inexperienced and outdated. To help clarify the key areas you need to focus on when considering where your website falls in the first impression race, here are four key points to consider.
We are often too close to a situation to see the facts objectively. This is often true with our own websites. Either we never have a reason to visit our own website – and therefore never look at it – or we have no idea what to look for when assessing the effectiveness of our site. Take a moment to review your current website to see if it is working for you – or against you. Consider the following as you look at your website’s effectiveness:
- Does your website clearly communicate what you do and who you serve?
- Is your site easy to navigate?
- Do you consistently update your content to keep the site current and relevant?
- Is your website fully integrated with links to your social media sites?
- It is easy to find your bio – and your team’s bios?
- Is your graphic design visually appealing, or outdated and dull?
- Is your site mobile compatible and can be viewed easily on a smartphone or tablet (if you’re not sure, try accessing your website on your phone)?
- Does your website communicate the value you bring to your clients in a friendly and engaging way?
- Does your website include a blog?
- Do you make it easy for visitors to reach out and contact you?
- Do you use a program like Google Analytics to keep track of who visits your site, where they go, how long they stay, and what pages they access?
Maybe you don’t need a whole new site. But now more than ever, it’s important that your site is constantly being updated. So if you have not updated or refreshed your site within the last six months, it’s likely that your site needs a little TLC. Rather than just diving in, we encourage you to begin with a strategy. Your website needs a high-level plan designed to help you achieve your goals and move from having an online brochure, to becoming a place clients and prospects can find valuable and substantive information on you and your practice. Consider the following questions as you plan the next iteration of your website:
- Who are your A-Level clients?
- What makes you unique as a lawyer? What expertise do you have that is different from other lawyers practicing in similar areas?
- Who are your best referral sources?
- What areas of law do you want to be known for? The more focused the better! What websites of other lawyers and law firms do you like or dislike? Why?
- How do you want visitors to engage with your website?
- How are you going to share your content on social media?
- How successfully have you optimized the keywords and content on your website so key search engines will find your site?
- Does your website platform allow you to have complete control over making changes and additions?
- Does your website have a sitemap. A site map is a three-dimensional organization chart type document that starts on top with the home page and works down through the relevant content areas of your site.
There are some important things that your site must feature to be considered credible and relevant. These are non-negotiable elements to consider when it comes to having a successful and effective website designed to engage visitors in its content. We recommend you have:
- A mobile compatible design;
- Fresh and original graphics. No scales of justice, pillars, law books, gavels, handshakes, eagles or other overused graphics;
- Links to your firm’s social media sites;
- Social sharing widgets so people can share your content and articles on their own social media pages (see www.SchaeferHalleen.com);
- Excellent bios and professional, current photographs (biographies are the most highly visited pages on law firm websites);
- A blog – along with a tool to capture those who want to receive your blog each time you post;
- A website platform like WordPress that is easy to update so you are not dependent on a third party to keep your content current;
- Google Analytics to track visitor traffic and activities defined above; and,
- Search engine optimized content using keywords people use to search for services like yours.
Step Four – Website Extras That Will Enhance Your Online Presence
There are a lot of choices and decisions that need to be made around creating or refreshing your website and it’s just not possible to do it all at once. But when your time and budget allow, the following ideas are excellent ways to help enhance your website and turn visitors into clients:
- Add substantive, content-rich videos to your website like a video blog (see www.miltonfamilylaw.com);
- Feature representative experience organized by: type of client, client’s issue, your approach and the result. Show clients you have done what they need versus just listing services;
- Develop an e-book on a substantive topic and offer it free on your website (see www.MicklinLawGroup.com);
- Market through the eyes of your satisfied clients and add client testimonials to your website; and,
- Allow visitors to sign up to receive future blog posts.
Because the firm brochure is now passé, your website is your single most important marketing tool. If your website needs refreshing, take the time to assess your current site, create a website plan, and implement a unique and content-rich site that will engage your clients and referral sources. Watch for next month’s article on how to use LinkedIn to develop your business! We will also discuss how to integrate your LinkedIn profile with your website and other online marketing strategies.
Terrie Wheeler, MBC is the founder and president of Professional Services Marketing, LLC (PSM). Terrie has spent the last 25 years as an in-house marketing director, marketing consultant and marketing coach to lawyers and law firms. She currently teaches marketing at three law schools and serves on the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility. You can attend PSM’s free Marketing Motivation Webinars by registering at www.PSM-Marketing.com . If you have a marketing question, contact Terrie at email@example.com, or via telephone at (320) 358-1000(320) 358-1000.