Back in 1995 we had to convince people that websites were important. Today there are very few people left who don’t understand that your website is at the heart of all of your marketing, yet websites are often left up to committees and people who don’t study what will simultaneously be truly useful for customers, increase leads, and satisfy Google.
Here are some useful insights we’ve built up over almost 25 years of building and marketing websites.
Your home page should include your unique selling proposition (USP), thought leadership, a few testimonials, logos of media where you have been featured, trust badges (such as your AVVO rating and/or Superlawyers designations), and key practice areas to make it easy to navigate. You should also feature one or two practice areas where you really dig deep into content.
You should have a call-to-action strategy that includes not only your phone number and a free consultation form. Ideally, the top-of-the-funnel call to action (where 95% of visitors are in the funnel) should offer something like an e-book, along with more interactive elements like live chat.
Tools like UserTesting.com, HotJar heat mapping, and Google Optimize can help make sure you have a winning combination of elements on your home page
You will also want some text for search engine optimization. A good website designer can make all of these things work together and give you great search engine results and a streamlined user experience that helps you get more leads.
About us pages
About us pages are one of the most critical parts of your website. Ninety percent of the time, they are the second most-visited page after the home page, although for law firms, bio pages about individual lawyers jump just ahead of them. The about us page should share more “who you are” than just “what you do,” because people buy from other people they know, like, and trust.
It’s fine to include the number of years your firm has been in business and the highlights of your firm’s accomplishments. Just don’t make it all factual information; let people know what your mission is. If you have some quirky pictures of your team at a company outing or charity event, this is a great place to use them, to give the about us page some personality.
It’s time to rethink the bios of team members on your website, especially if those bios are outdated and dry. People really do look at your team before hiring your firm, in most cases. Your bio should tell your story and show your part in the firm’s overall brand and unique selling proposition.
You will make a much better impression upon potential new customers if your bio includes elements like a list of blog posts that you have written, a short video where people can see and hear your style, any books or e-books that you have published, and/or any speaking engagements, media features, or webinars that you are part of.
Be sure to include contact information and make it easy for people to connect with you on LinkedIn and/or highlight other social media platforms where you are active.
Your news and events page
Law firms and attorneys that are featured in the media have much more authority, and therefore garner more trust, than those that are not spotlighted.
If you like, you can add a page for press releases, a page for clips of (or links to) your media features, as well as a page for journalists looking to easily download your logo, short and long descriptions of the firm, and photos of attorneys.
A good designer can add it all on one page or make a nice sub-navigation to allow visitors to access all this information. However it is arranged, be sure it is easily accessible and shows that you and your team are currently considered thought leaders in key practice areas.
What’s the difference between a resource page and a blog post? A resource page is an evergreen piece of content simply put on a regular website page instead of on the blog.
FAQ content and some types of articles are useful to have on resource pages instead of in blog posts. Half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, according to ComScore, so having FAQ pages where you answer common questions is essential. These then need to be easily accessible in a text resources section of your overall resources area.
Testimonials and case study pages
The secret behind marketing is giving clients the type of information that they need to make wise purchasing decisions. Client testimonials and case studies are crucial in encouraging new visitors to your website to believe and trust in your site. People hate being “sold to,” or at least, they don’t want to be sold to in the way they were in recent years.
Rather than expecting customers to “take your word” when they visit your website, client testimonials and customer reviews let prospective new customers hear the other side of the story from real customers. If your firm has any drawbacks, rest assured that some previous clients have talked about perceived flaws, but you can speak to how you overcame those, and glowing testimonials from satisfied clients can help win people over.
I personally think it’s a good idea to have practice area-specific testimonials sprinkled on the pages they relate to. I also think it’s a good idea to have a separate testimonials page that links to case studies / verdicts and settlements as well as client reviews.
Adding reviews to your law firm brand’s strategy is something you need to consider if you are interested in improving your law firm’s SEO and conversions. Customer reviews can help you understand, as an employer, who are the most effective lawyers in your firm. Customers will almost always talk about the experience they had when working with a specific lawyer in your firm.
According to a survey by Zendesk, around 90% of respondents claimed that the sites that had positive testimonials influenced their buying decision, while 86% claimed that the negative reviews influenced their decision.
At the top of any contact pages, include a clickable link that allows prospects and clients to call you from a mobile phone, as well as your law firm’s street address. Make sure it matches your NAP listings (name, address, and phone number).
Optimize this for your main key phrase (like “employment Law Firm in Brooklyn NY”) in the title tag and the heading for the page.
You can also connect to a Google map and provide directions.
Add a contact form but also allow people to call or email you. Include a friendly heading on the form that invites visitors to interact. Try wording like: “Ask us any questions. We’re here to help.” You might also test using headings like “Free consultations” and “Request an appointment” to see what works best.
Thank-you pages that appear after filling out a form
Even though you can do tricks with coding to track form submissions without an actual thank-you page, we prefer to have real thank-you pages for the following reasons:
- Thank-you pages make it super-easy to track conversion goals in Google Analytics.
- These pages are a great place to add links to valuable content and your social media profiles, instead of just sending these highly engaged people off to other people’s websites.
- These pages should be the starting point that triggers your marketing automation drip email “nurturing” campaigns.
Law firm optimized practice page areas
When putting your website together, how much thought went into your practice area pages? Did you rush them at the end? Or did you take time to make sure they outlined the key issues in your industry and positioned your firm in the best way?
Too often, these pages are haphazardly put together, not optimized for SEO, and thus don’t provide any serious benefit for the firm.
Let’s look at what makes a good practice area page and how you can optimize it for success.
Should your practices and industries be separate?
If your firm has a smaller focus, such as personal injury law for businesses, you’re lucky in the sense that your practice areas and your industries are quite narrow. People coming to your website can quickly establish what you do and whether or not you’re right for them.
But what if you operate within multiple industries and have a range of different practice areas? It can quickly become confusing for your audience to know what you do and whether or not you’d be able to help in their specific situation. That’s why an optimized overview page and then specific pages for each practice area are so important. When people see powerful pages on subtopics they know you can meet their needs better than a firm with a weak 300-word page.
Here’s an example for a firm that has several specialized practice areas. Here is how you would arrange to have a page for each practice area as well as sub-pages for the most important ones.
You then link the sub-pages of employment law with the main employment law master page. You also interlink blog and resource content with these pages.
We used to always recommend you add the sub-folder into the URLs for SEO “silo” best practices: yourIawfirm.com/employment-law/discrimination. But with the advent of topic cluster strategy and given that short URLs rank better and get clicked more, we feel it is okay to just use yourIawfirm.com/discrimination.html or something similar.
As long as you do a good job of interlinking related content, Google will understand you have a lot of good content on that one topic and rank you properly.
By having a number of pages and resources on your website, you build topical authority and will more likely be able to compete with sites that are 100% about that one practice area.
Forget technical language
Instead of writing about a long list of practice areas in a way that your potential clients might not understand, try to writing using less technical language so they can decide for themselves whether or not you’re right for them.
Make it easy to navigate
In the example below, this law firm uses icons to help users understand which industries they serve.
As a user of this site, all you need to do is click through to the industry you’re in and you’re presented with further information that’s directly relevant to you.
If people don’t know what industries you work with, how do they know if you’ll be able to help them?
Be careful about duplicate content
One of the crucial mistakes law firms make when putting together their separate industry and practice-area pages is using duplicate content. What usually happens is that someone will produce some great copy for an industry page and want to also use it on a practice area page, just in case the user doesn’t read the first piece of content.
However, duplicate content can affect your SEO negatively and should be avoided. To combat this, use internal linking to link back to any relevant information your clients might need. This will improve your site architecture as well as increase the amount of time someone spends on your website.
Optimizing your practice areas
There is a wide range of steps you should take to optimize your practice area pages. One of the crucial things you need to think about is search engines.
If you are an estate planning lawyer in Delaware, then when someone searches for “estate planning lawyer Delaware” you want your website to show up. But more than just having the website show up in the search results, you want the page the user clicks on to contain enough relevant information that your visitor knows they made the right choice.
If they’re in any way confused by the content on your website, they won’t get in touch to find out more. Instead, they’ll simply hit the “back” button and find a different firm to look at.
To come up in the top five search results, you have to look at the word count of the top pages and how many links the page and site have. If your site is not comparable, it won’t likely rank well enough to bring leads to your firm.
If all of the top three to five ranking sites contain over 1,000 words of helpful content — including interlinking with supporting sub-pages and blog content — and you only have 300 to 500 words about how great you are, don’t be the least bit shocked if you don’t do well in Google.
Make a good first impression
When you’ve caught a prospective client’s attention on search engines, you need to make your page attractive. Your practice area pages are there solely to attract attention of new clients. Use this as an opportunity to speak directly to your clients throughout your copy. Make sure you communicate what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and why someone should choose your firm over your competitors.
When deciding on the written copy you’ll use, picture your ideal client in your mind. What might they be feeling when searching for a lawyer? If they’re going through a messy divorce, they might be feeling frustrated or hurt. You need to use your practice area pages to let them know you empathize with them and understand the struggles they’re going through.
At the end of all that, encourage them to reach out. Tell your prospective clients what to do next. Should they call you for a free consultation? Should they use the form on your website to enquire further? Whatever action you want them to take, let them know.
Answer all the burning questions
It’s very likely that prospective clients will have a range of questions they need answered. They also might be looking at a number of different law firms and the practice area page is usually one of the first thing they use as a comparison point.
By the time the prospective client has viewed your practice or industry page they should know:
- What issues you deal with
- What the process of becoming your client involves
- What would happen to them if they didn’t take action
- What benefit they’d have from choosing you over your competitor
A practice area done right is often what will compel a prospective client to reach out to you further. You understand the significance of these pages. But if your website doesn’t include well-executed practice area pages, any potential client will be turned off and seek out your competitors.
Follow the tips above to make sure your practice and industry area pages are optimized and bringing you new leads.
It’s the role of your law firm’s website to explain to anyone who lands on it exactly what kind of law you practice and why someone should hire you.
Your firm’s website also will make or break your SEO if it does not have enough quality pages or if it is hard to navigate.
By using your site’s main pages to dive deeply into the content that’s important to your prospects and clients and by using usertesting.com to get feedback, you can build a website that people love.
While your main website pages are critical, they will also rank much better when you add a blog to really amp up your authority for customers and Google. In the next section we explain how to write blog posts that aren’t just for show.