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Digital Marketing Primer

Protecting Your Referrals: Focus on Your Law Firm’s Key Website Pages

By Mark Homer

Your website is the hub for all your directory listings and social media profiles — even your Google My Business listing. Ultimately, people who are referred to you will turn to your website to learn more about your firm and you. In our last “How to Protect Your Referrals” post, we discussed conducting a client-focused website audit to make sure referrals get what they need when they visit your site. This time, we focus in on the actual content of your key website pages.

Key Website Pages: Beyond the Homepage

In addition to the homepage, law firms should have, at a minimum, pages that talk about each attorney, pages that talk about the practice areas they serve, and a page that tells how to contact your firm. Other pages you may want to add are “frequently asked questions” pages, a page for downloadable resources (checklists, articles, white papers), and maybe a blog page. (Note, though, that unless you are extremely passionate about a topic that you want to write about frequently, I personally think blogging is the last thing most law firm websites need.)

1. Attorney Profile Page

Last time we discussed why much of your professional experience doesn’t belong on your homepage, but you still need a place to tell referrals about you as the attorney they may spend months with to solve their issue.

Based on our data, profile pages are usually the second-most visited pages on a law firm’s website. Unfortunately, these pages are something firms often get wrong.

Create individual attorney profile pages

Do not create one long page with a small section for each person in your firm. Instead, create a unique page for each attorney. You may also want to add pages for the other key people clients will interact with at your firm. Creating a unique page for each person will also help when people search Google for your individual names.

Provide more than a simple resume — tell your story

Yes, people care about your years of experience as a lawyer, but that’s not all they are looking for —or what will motivate them to reach out to your firm.

Think about it this way: People hire people, not firms.

The number of years you’ve been in practice doesn’t truly distinguish you from the other lawyers — and it doesn’t provide a good reason to give you business. And, I am sorry to tell you this, but many of your prospects will not care about your degrees, titles or former positions — and likely have no idea the level of prestige of clerking for certain judges. What they really want to know is if they can relate to you as a person and whether you can solve their problem quickly and professionally.

Your attorney biography is the place to carve out your own personal piece of your law firm’s brand. Use this opportunity to tell your story:

  • Why did you become an attorney?
  • Why should a potential client want to work with you specifically?
  • What are your interests as a person and not just an attorney?
  • Can you show the prospective client your connection to the community where they live?

Take the time to craft a thoughtful, professional biography page. It will set your website above and beyond most law firm websites, and your prospects will notice.

Here are a few examples of attorney profile pages that do the job.

  • This small law firm website has a decent attorney profile page: Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya LLC.
  • Here is a website from a firm in Sydney, Australia, that incorporates humor to help make an emotional connection: Marque Lawyers. (I love the humor in the prose, but a word of caution: When going this far with humor, it must match the feel people get when working with the attorneys and staff at your firm.)
  • In its attorney profiles, Edelson uses infographics to give a fun personal connection, while letting the top text focus on specific legal experience: Edelson PC.

2. Practice Area Pages

Practice area pages are fairly straightforward. They describe each of the various areas of law you practice. If you are just getting started, you can get away with one to three pages covering the top level of the practice areas your firm serves. However, over time it is best to get into more detail about specific sub-areas within your area of practice.

For example, if you handle personal injury cases, you should have a top-level page that talks about your firm’s approach to handling personal injury cases and your experience. In addition, you should also have sub-pages that link from this top-level page for sub-areas like car accidents, premises liability, truck accidents, ride-share accidents and so forth.

Sub-area pages not only confirm that you handle the specific issue a prospect is struggling with, these pages help with SEO.

I recommend that practice area pages include:

  • At least two to three paragraphs of information explaining the practice area.
  • The benefits of working with your firm in this area.
  • Proof that your firm has successfully handled these types of cases (testimonials, social proof badges, data and facts such as settlement amounts, etc.).
  • Images that help show the reader what the page represents (optional).
  • Links to deeper sub-area practice pages and any other areas of your website that are applicable.

What’s the Word Count?

While it is not a strict rule, accomplishing all of this usually takes at least 1,000 words for each page.

Remember, your prospective referral likely came to your website and visited your practice area page because someone told them you can help them solve their problem. This is why we recommend creating a separate page for each practice area instead of several sections of small paragraphs on one page. This will ensure that someone searching concerning a potential divorce, for example, is going to find a page that talks about exactly what he or she needs, instead of a short paragraph and a bunch of information on other practice areas that doesn’t address the issue at all.

Here is a good example to refer to while working on your practice area pages, from St. Louis’s Bardol Law, LLC.

3. Contact Pages

It is good practice to have a page on your website that provides more logistical detail about your firm — and that is known as the contact page. The contact page should be very simple and easy to navigate.

  • Location. At a minimum, you should include your address and a Google map with directions to your firm.
  • Contact methods. Of course, all methods of contacting you should be listed here, too: phone, text, live chat, contact form.

That’s about it. However, since you want to make it easy for people to find you and work with you, you might also consider:

  • Parking and access. If there is something unique about visiting your building — maybe a strange parking arrangement with a neighboring business or only validating for parking at certain garages — you should include that information on the page.
  • Office hours.
  • Forms that are helpful for someone to complete before they see you.
  • Multiple offices. If you have multiple offices, you want to create an independent contact page for each office location. You can also think about these as another directory listing. Having the correct address for each location on a different page helps a search engine understand that it can serve up your website for different parts of town.

Choosing a Website Platform: Buyer Beware

I will dive into other aspects of a successful website, including SEO basics such as title tags, cross-linking and schema markup, in a future article. However, I do want to get into one issue I get asked about a lot: The debate between proprietary platforms vs. nonproprietary platforms.

If you use a legal website vendor that has its own proprietary website management system or opt to use some of the other generally available proprietary website tools like SquareSpace or GoDaddy, you may have a very big issue in the future should you want to move to another vendor. Even if a proprietary website platform says “you can take all of the content,” their database of content is tied to their platform. So when you leave, you will have to create a whole new website and essentially copy over the content page by page, image by image.

Also, with some legal website vendors, the contract essentially says you are leasing the website and content and do not own it.  Fortunately, this has become less and less common, but I have come across too many law firms that have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on their website, only to find out that they didn’t officially own it, and they would have to rebuild it if they moved to another vendor.

I recommend you always look to build a website on standard open-source platforms. The biggest one out there with the largest developer support is WordPress. If you build a website on WordPress you will have an easier time porting it between vendors. That’s not to say that all WordPress websites are created equal. There are well-developed WordPress sites and there are poorly developed ones, just as there are people who write beautiful prose using Microsoft Word while others write complete garbage. At the end of the day, it is just a tool.

If you are outsourcing the development of your website (which you likely should because your time is worth more practicing law than fighting website development tools), be sure to find someone who has a track record of building quality sites over time.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

Catch Up on Mark Homer’s “Protect Your Referrals” Series

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Mark Homer Mark Homer

Mark Homer is CEO of GNGF, a leading law firm marketing agency. At GNGF, Mark leads the team to help empower and educate law firms to grow their practice. He is co-author of “Online Law Practice Strategies” and often speaks around the U.S. on marketing and social media ethics for law firms. Sign up for GNGF’s 30-day Protect Your Referral Challenge here. Follow Mark on Twitter: @mark_homer.

 

 

 

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