Top 5 myths of lawyer websites and the redesign process debunked – FAQs
- Search engine optimization architecture and technical consulting can easily be added after we launch
We have witnessed countless websites launch, with a fresh new look and feel, only to drop like a stone in the search engine results pages, as well as lose traction regarding the number of leads coming in.
If you don’t have any search engine optimization stature to speak of, then this isn’t a big problem. On the other hand, if you have built up years of trust and Google is ranking you nicely, you may not even realize how much that is worth and how dangerous it is to mess with it.
We have seen some of the best web design companies around, charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for fancy websites and also low-end web design companies repeat some common foolish decisions. Typically, these issues are in regard to things like 301 redirects, completely blocking search engines from indexing your content, and misunderstanding how a search engine will appreciate or be turned off by the structure of the content on your site.
After 26 years of managing web design projects, through the lens of always wanting more leads from search engine results, I can see these patterns very clearly. I can help you avoid costly mistakes that flashy web design companies make, even when they have the best intentions.
- The design and look and feel are mostly what will excite visitors
While it’s true that using great design principles and engaging photos is important, we have seen many poorly designed websites convert better, if there is a stronger value proposition.
I’m certainly not advocating for poor design, but historically the average lawyer, marketing director or committee who will decide on what a new website will look like, has not studied conversion rate optimization.
CRO is the art and science of making a website persuasive through user testing and A/B testing.
The highest paid persons opinion isn’t what matters, it’s the visitors to your website that will ultimately decide if you have a good website. So, before you hire an agency that makes good looking websites, make sure you also check that they understand how to make persuasive websites.
- Visitors don’t want a lot of text
In addition to failing to properly set up 301 redirects for a new website, not allowing search engines to crawl a new site by forgetting to turn off no indexing or allowing both the development site and your new website to be indexed, one of the most common mistakes legal marketers make, is to assume that shorter content is better.
The length of a law firm website page should be determined by a couple factors.
If search engine optimization is very important to you or it will be in the future, it would be advisable to search for the main keyword you want a page to rank for, such as “intellectual property lawyer Boston” and then review the word count and types of content that exist on the top three to five pages.
Sometimes the very first result can get away with less content if they are known by Google to be an industry mega brand.
But usually, you will find some of the top ranked websites will have more in-depth content, sometimes resulting in well over 1,000 words of text.
If the top three web pages all have over 1,000 words and you redesign that particular page using 600 words, unless you have an absolutely stunning amount of domain authority from other powerful websites linking to you, the page is not likely to rank in the top five.
So, the amount of text that a page should have, technically needs to be determined on a page by page basis. You also need to factor in how many other pages exist on your law firm’s website and top ranked sites around the same topic.
Advanced search engine optimization experts use artificial intelligence tools costing thousands of dollars a month to determine the topic clusters and power of the content on the pages competing for each given keyword.
Many conversion rate experts also suggest that long content can often be more persuasive when structured properly.
If your committee is just saying that they want short and sweet content, add a search engine strategist like me into the mix before proceeding. I can at least make you aware of what technical search engine techniques you are going to need, so your web design will be successful and not invisible, weak or hard to use.
There is a way to accomplish both SEO nirvana and a clean look and feel, while streamlining the flow of the content on your pages. This high-level of digital is better done with a TEAM.
We work with many firms who also have a separate web design company but hire us to work with them.
We also design and build sites and do all of the marketing. We have done so in the most competitive legal niches, like when we wrote 500 pages for a mesothelioma site we were designing, which generated millions of dollars in leads, but we’re just as happy being partners with your other agencies.
- Branding Is something my marketing company can do later or mostly has to do with visual elements
Industry focus, niche and topical authority selection can help your search engine optimization agency to get you ranking faster, because Google will appreciate lots of content around one concept.
Customers will appreciate you showing off your brands focus areas as well.
Having a clear value proposition and brand focus comes from methodical studies of your customers and where you want your firm to go in the future.
If you re-design your website without having your ducks in a row, in terms of what your brand stands for, not only will your website seem just like one of many, Google won’t have much respect for it either.
- Load time is important but we can always just speed up the website later
A fast loading website is critical.
Most web design companies would be remiss if they told you they are going to build a slow website. So, if you ask, your truly gonna get the answer you want to hear.
I would suggest making an agreement in advance that the new website will have a certain site speed range. Ideally under 3 seconds.
A common tactic for smaller law firms and small businesses in general, is to use a WordPress theme and simply modify it to include your logo and rough branding elements.
The selection of these themes, is usually done more based on the general happiness that the theme gives the committee members but most advanced SEO experts take a different approach.
Selecting a lightweight theme to begin with or using custom coding methodologies that go to the extreme at the beginning of the project, are what save the most time regarding site speed optimization.
Worst case scenario is when a tool like HubSpot won’t even allow you to get in at the server level to adjust certain elements that are required to make quicker load time.
Coupled with hosting that has similar restrictive elements, tech issues can make it nearly impossible to get into the sweet spot. Less than 3 seconds is where search engines will significantly appreciate the speed at which people can navigate your site in a usable way.
Like many of the other items above, it pays to do your due diligence in advance of hiring a law firm web design company.