Free: 10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common
For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.
Without fail, the most difficult part of creating and maintaining a website is the content development. Your website content should be constantly updated with the help of the blog that your website is built on. However, creating the initial information and getting it published can be a painful process and will invariably drag on without a few guidelines. Use these five steps to help outline your process and create the momentum to get it done. Another helpful tip is to give yourself a deadline – this should not take more than a week.
Step 1: Find and Analyze Your Competition
Start by finding and analyzing at least 4-6 competitor sites. This is not to encourage plagiarism, but rather to become familiar with who your competitors are and what your potential clients will be comparing against. Since your website should be useful and usable for your current and potential clients, make notes about what you find useful on their site and what your prospects will need to see on your site.
Step 2: Outline your site and find your keywords
Plan out the site. What pages will your site need, and what keywords should you use for search-engine-friendly copy? Do not reinvent the wheel here — the typical pages to include on a law firm website include: About (about the firm, about me/us, attorney profile/s, etc.), Practice Areas (aka Services), Resources, FAQs, and Contact.
Keyword research is easy — and affordable! You no longer need an M.I.T. degree to research keywords effectively. There are many keyword tools available, but I choose the following best-known and free options:
• Google Keyword Tool – You do not have to have a Google Adwords account to do basic research.
• Keyword Discovery – This site has an amazing feature for research on misspelled words.
• Microsoft Keyword Forecast – Type in a keyword and it gives you the word’s past performance — as well as a “forecast” of how popular it could be in the future.
• Google Analytics – Helps not only with keywords, but with web page effectiveness.
Step 3: Draft the content
Polish the content and choose the appropriate images. Be clear, concise, and speak directly to your readers. Write for your audience like the educated individuals they are, while realizing they are curious and looking for clear explanations about who you are and what you can offer them.
Step 4: Edit and revise your content
If possible, ask for honest feedback from a previous client. Revise and edit your content so that your page is not overpowered by text. If something requires a long explanation, split it up into sections with headings and/or images.
Step 5: Including linking and social networking
Be sure to include all the possible ways to connect — email, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed, etc. Each potential client will probably have a different preference. Linking to other sites is a great way to improve your site’s SEO. Offer links to other sites, frequently used forms, similar subject matter, and great resources that support your expertise.
Then publish! The final (obvious) step is to execute. None of this matters if you continue to hem and haw and worry about your sentence structure. You want your site to be perfect, but if someone points out a typo, be happy that you have a reader (then fix it)!