If your law practice doesn’t have a website or you aren’t sure what to do with the one you’ve got, these tips can help you avoid mistakes that cause more harm than good.
Your website is a key component of your practice, but it’s a missed opportunity if it’s approached the wrong way. Merely having a web presence isn’t enough anymore. According to a recent AVVO study, 31% of legal consumers are finding their lawyers online. It is the virtual doorway to your office and the way that many potential clients will find you. It must reflect your presentation of professionalism and serve as a gateway rather than a billboard.
A poorly crafted site, or one that’s behind the times, won’t do you any favors. The whole point is to attract more clients and to make it easier for them to find and choose your firm. Here are five common mistakes that can shoot your best efforts in the foot.
#1: A Cookie Cutter Website
You’ve probably seen attorney websites that look practically identical. They have the same background colors, stress the same practice areas and use the same courtroom stock photos. They even seem to use the same copy, except that certain details, such as names and locations, are different.
The reason for this phenomenon? Website package deals targeted at lawyers. It’s not that they are a bad idea. It’s that they have no customization. They look the same because they are the same.
Most of us aren’t tech geeks. So, the appeal of an easy and cheap solution is tempting. But just because you have the ability to dump your contact info into an overused template doesn’t mean that you should take this approach. It’s worth the effort to hire someone who can build a custom site that is more appealing and more responsive than your competitor’s websites.
#2: Too Much Generalization
Your practice area might be broad, but that is not what will evoke confidence in your website’s visitors. They are looking for expertise.
Part of the problem is rooted in a misunderstanding of Search Engine Optimization. Keywords written into a website’s content improve the odds of showing up on the first page in an internet search. However, incorporating too many keywords is harmful. It’s called “keyword stuffing”, which is frowned upon by Google. Focus on one or two solid keywords for each page or post, and build content around those keywords, but don’t keep repeating them.
If your practice does, in fact, have a broad scope, compartmentalize each area instead of pooling everything together. Group each individual item on its own page around one menu item. For example, have one menu item for estate planning and another for family law. This approach helps visitors focus on the practice area they need right now.
#3: Lack of Mobile Optimization
Technology is inextricably tied to website performance. The problem is that technology keeps changing. The more technology grows, the better you can utilize your web presence to build your brand and attract more clients.
Today, a mobile-first approach to websites is almost mandatory. Websites and blogs must be designed with mobile device users in mind so the experience is the same on every device. Most web designers are prepared to make this happen seamlessly.
If your website looks odd on a smartphone or tablet, it’s time to rethink mobile. It’s what your potential clients use. It’s what you need to provide.
#4: Misunderstood and Underutilized Sales Funnel Tools
Everything about your website should drive potential clients into your sales funnel and make it easy for them to find a reason to stay there. The sales funnel is a marketing and sales concept. It’s a visual representation of each step that a prospective client takes, from when they first become aware of your firm to when they become a client.
The top of the funnel is wide. It’s where prospective clients enter. The middle part is narrower. It contains only the people whose interest has been piqued. And the narrow bottom of the funnel is where prospects convert into clients.
Prospective clients enter the funnel at the top when they become aware of your practice. To move them along to the middle of the funnel, you need interesting “lead magnet” items that hold some type of value. Lead magnets might be ebooks that you’ve written or webinars that you’ve recorded. In exchange for accessing the lead magnet item, prospective clients give you their email address and perhaps other contact information. You can then continue to market to the lead with emails, calls and offers until they become clients.
#5: Same Stock Images
Artistic trends change, and so must the imagery on your website if it’s to remain fresh and engaging. The point is to trigger emotion and enhance a story with imagery. Gavels, scales of justice or gothic columns do not trigger emotion in anyone (except maybe boredom).
Professional images are worth the investment. That applies to every image that you add to a website or a blog post.
If you’re not sure about what’s trending, look through competitor’s websites. Better yet, look at the websites of software companies or marketing firms, who tend to be on the cutting edge of design. Chances are you’ll find some that will spark your creativity.
As more clients find lawyers online, the basic web presence that may have been satisfactory just a couple of years ago will not pass muster today. Yes, there is a learning curve, but once that is mastered, the results will be worth the effort.