According to a study by The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG), about 76% of 58 million adults in the United States have looked online to hire an attorney back in 2012.
What does that staggering number tell you? That if your legal firm doesn’t have a strong online presence, you’re missing out on tons of potential clients, to the tune of about 42.5 million leads.
After people search for lawyers, they dig deeper by reading their website, checking their credentials and getting a feel of whether they’d like working with you or not.
According to the same study by TRiG, people used online resources — search engines, law firm websites, attorney directories and social media — at different stages of their search process.
What does this data tell us? From here we can infer that every part of your legal website is scrutinized by potential clients, from the home page, your attorney bio and all the way to your blog.
That’s why it’s important to make sure your website has all the information they need, so you remain as the top choice all throughout the 4 stages of the selection process.
Does Your Legal Website have any of these Pages?
- Attorney Profiles or Attorney Bio
Lawyer biographies or profiles are among the first AND most read pages in a legal website. Unfortunately, they’re also the most neglected.
Too often, lawyers will string up a few sentences describing themselves then pull out the rest of the information from their resume. A resume isn’t a bio! These two aren’t interchangeable.
Aside from your practice areas, education and work history, your bio should inspire trust and credibility to readers. Pepper it with details of cases won — sensitive and private data removed — as well as other certifications and legal achievements. For inspiration, check out the ‘experience’ section of this profile from Ms. Aguilar at Greenberg Glusker:
The people reading your attorney profile are trying to see if you have the experience and qualification necessary to handle their case. The more information you can give them, the more likely they’ll be interested in working with you.
- News and Press Release Section
Fill up this page with short announcements about your pro bono cases, successful cases, media mentions, community involvement, or new partner announcements. If you or anyone in your team participates in state bar activities, that’s worth mentioning, too.
While many state bar associations have strict rules about advertising, these rules are simpler for announcements like the ones mentioned above. For announcing successful cases, as long as the information is already available to the public and it’s not embargoed, then it’s a good sign that you can put it up in your website.
Aside from showing potential clients a collection of positive and newsworthy articles about you and your firm, your website’s news section also helps your website’s SEO. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, like indexing frequently updated websites. Having a news page gives you a chance to add more content without editing the main pages of your website.
- Strong “About Us” Page
Unless the website is for your solo practice, it should have a strong “About Us” page that talks about the firm’s values, brief history, your approach to law or Unique Selling Point (USP), and recent awards for the firm. It can also include information about the clients you serve, so visitors will immediately know if they’re on the right website.
Your firm’s About page is the foundation of your brand and corporate identity online. So make sure it captures what you stand for but don’t make it too formal and stuffy so it doesn’t alienate potential clients.
The search for legal counsel online doesn’t always begin with finding an attorney. Sometimes, it begins with a legal question that needs answering. For instance, “Is my step son an eligible heir to my estate?” or “Are foreigners allowed to own land in Australia?”
Obviously the questions differ depending on your practice. Think of the top 10 questions new or potential clients ask you, then answer all of them and publish it as an FAQ page. Just don’t forget to add a disclaimer saying the FAQ isn’t actual legal advice, and that the answers provided don’t apply to all situations.
Keep your answers short, no need to go into the nitty-gritty of the answers. Two to three sentences or a short paragraph is enough, as long as it gives people a gist of the answer.
Later, you can create longer resource pages about some of the topics that warrant it. Google likes quick answers as well as in depth content that is over 1,140 words according to a recent Searchmetrics study.
- Clear Contact Page
It’s a huge turn off and inconvenience for website visitors when they can’t find your contact information. It gives potential clients a bad feeling about working with you. They’ll probably wonder if they’ll have a hard time contacting you, once you’ve taken up their case.
Besides, how else can potential clients consult you? Email? Remember, many people seeking legal counsel are distraught and need help immediately. So making them write an email AND wait for your reply can be a deal breaker.
Give your phone number and address. Display it in the header, footer, and dedicate a specific webpage for it. If you can, put your firm’s address there too. And while you’re at it, include directions via Google Maps so it’s easy for clients to drop by if they really want to.
Live chat is also very effective for law firms.
Spruce Up that Site!
Fortunately, most legal sites already have these basic pages. All they need is more and better text. Try improving your website, one page at a time and check out your bounce rate in analytics to see if people are deepening their site visits. You can even start with the contact page if that makes things easier.