If you’re an attorney looking to generate new clients, you need to get in front of your target audience. That’s of course a pretty obvious statement. That being said, more and more people are looking for solutions to their problems online, via channels such as Google search, Facebook, and Twitter. So having a professional website for your firm is a no brainer. Or is it?
According to an infographic published by Rocket Matter, almost 40% of small law firms don’t have websites-nothing, nada, zilch! That is a shocking number, considering the power of online marketing for lead generation, customer acquisition, and branding. Also of interest is the fact that more than 35% of people looking for an attorney start their search online.
However, just publishing a website online doesn’t ensure that prospects will flock to your law firm. There are some basic web development best practices that must be implemented in order to maximize traffic, lead, and client acquisition. We’re going to discuss three such best practices, and using the stats provided by the Rocket Matter infographic, see how many law firm websites are in compliance.
Best Practice #1: Have calls to action throughout your website
Unfortunately, 70% of law firm websites do not have a call to action (CTA) on their homepage. This is a shame, as your homepage is generally by far your most trafficked page on your website. CTA’s are extremely important, as they convert your prospects into leads. Examples of CTA’s include a “Contact us for a free consultation” submission form, asking visitors to download your whitepaper in exchange for their contact information, or even something as simple as saying “Call Now to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney” (and of course provide your phone number).
Listing your phone number on your website sounds obvious, but 27% of attorney websites don’t have a phone number on their homepage! The best place to have your phone number is prominently displayed in the upper right hand corner of your website-and not just on your homepage, but every page on your domain. This way, prospects can easily contact you if they have any questions. Phone leads generally convert better than form submission or email leads. So make sure your phone number is prominently displayed on all pages of your website!
Along similar lines, 68% of lawyer websites don’t provide an email address on their homepage. To me, this is unbelievable. The legal market is very competitive, as you’re well aware. So it’s crucial to make it as easy as possible for those browsing your site to contact you. Some people prefer email to phone, so by all means, include your email address on not only your homepage and contact page, but on every inner page of your website.
Best Practice #2: Have well written and organized content that is updated on a regular basis
You’ll be surprised how many law firm websites haven’t been updated at all in years. In fact, referring back to those infographic stats:
- Only 35% of law firm websites have been updated within the past three years.
- Only 3% of law firm websites provide personalized content.
- Only 53% of attorney websites have organized site content.
If your website design looks stale and out of date, it most likely provides a poor user experience. It probably is not mobile optimized (we’ll go over this in more detail in a couple of minutes) and comes across as unprofessional. If a prospect comes across a questionable looking website, they’ll likely leave and continue their search elsewhere.
That being said, having a sleek, professionally designed website is important, but it’s only one component of establishing an effective online presence. You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but if it doesn’t generate any traffic, it serves absolutely no purpose.
Page load speed is extremely important. Your site should be coded efficiently so it loads fast (Google takes page load speed into account in their search algorithm). People are impatient and expect sites to load quickly. If yours doesn’t, they’re not going to wait around. They’ll go elsewhere.
Along the same lines, a slow loading website can really kill conversions: a one second delay in page load time can decrease your website’s conversion rate by up to 7%. To see how quickly your site loads along with suggestions on how you can make improvements, visit http://tools.pingdom.com. Ideally, you want your site to load in 2 seconds or less.
Content, which includes text, images, and videos, is the most important part of your website and online presence in general. It describes your firm’s solutions and values. Good content, that is well organized and personalized, will convert visitors into leads. However the majority of websites lack quality content. Your website should empathize with your prospects while providing them with value. A value driven, educational approach is much more effective than a hard sales pitch. After all, people are on the internet to find solutions to their problems.
In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), sites that add fresh content on a consistent basis tend to rank better than static websites. The best way to update your website with new content on a regular basis is to have a blog. This can easily be done with WordPress. Adding content via the WordPress platform, once you get the hang of it, is about as difficult as using Microsoft Word. Make sure that the blog is on your main domain (ex: yourlawfirmsite.com/blog/). This will improve your site’s overall SEO and provide a better user experience, assuming your content provides value.
On-site optimization is an easy win, but often overlooked. This includes having unique and descriptive title tags and meta descriptions on each page of your website, incorporating your main keywords throughout your content (where appropriate), and having proper internal linking that logically directs a visitor through your site in such a way that they can easily consume and understand your content.
Best Practice #3: Make sure your website is mobile optimized
This is so incredibly important, yet only 1 out of 3 law firm websites are optimized for mobile. Sites that aren’t mobile optimized are difficult to read and navigate, providing a poor user experience. Not only that, but as of April 21st, 2015, Google is taking mobile optimization into account in their ranking algorithm (so if your site isn’t mobile optimized, expect it to rank lower on mobile search).
To see how your law firm’s site looks on various mobile devices, visit http://mobiletest.me. If your website uses adaptive design, it probably won’t display correctly with this tool. Another option for a mobile preview of your site is Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, which provides a screenshot of your website as Googlebot sees it (please refer to the below image, which shows how www.legalfunding.com appears on a smartphone).
Hopefully, you are greeted with “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.” However, if you get a red “Not mobile-friendly” message, click on Pagespeed Insights for details on what elements need to be fixed and instructions explaining how to fix them (relay this information to your web developer).
There are a few ways to ensure your site is mobile friendly. You can have a mobile only version of your site (such as m.yourlawfirmsite.com). This works well for some businesses, but you have a separate website that must be updated independently of your main site (which can be very time consuming, depending on the size of your site).
The other options are utilizing responsive or adaptive design. Both of these design types are coded in a way so that your website adjusts according to the screen size of various devices. If done properly, your site will look good on all devices-desktop, tablet, and mobile. Plus all your content is on the same url, so when you update your website, you only have to do it once (for a detailed explanation of the technical differences between responsive and adaptive design, read this article).
I personally prefer responsive design to adaptive. Most newer WordPress themes incorporate responsive design, so it’s relatively easy and cheap to have a web development firm customize a mobile responsive WordPress theme. If you’re doing a complete redesign, I’d recommend building your site with WordPress, using Genesis framework by StudioPress. This provides a clean, light weight framework for your theme, which will improve page load times.
In early 2014, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic. This trend is only increasing, so if your site isn’t mobile optimized, now is the time to get it done. This will not only provide a better user experience, but will preserve or increase your rankings in the search results. Plus mobile generated leads often have a higher conversion rate compared to desktop, as people frequently use their smart phones to search for a fast solution to a problem.
The fact that so many law firms have less than stellar online presences is shocking. However, this provides you with an opportunity to digitally dominate your niche. The above best practices may sound complicated, but for any competent digital marketer, these strategies are easy and relatively inexpensive to implement.