Essential Marketing Toolkit, Part 2: Be Online

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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.

lawyer-marketing-toolkitOnce you have your firm’s identity determined (logo, colors, business card, etc.) the next step is to consider how to present yourself on the world wide interweb. Whether you choose to be blog-based or more traditional, your firm will need a website.

The two most important things to focus on are looking good and sounding good. In other words: your design and your content.

Website design

First, look through websites you frequent to find inspiration for your own website layout. Even if you only have one or two examples, this will provide considerable help to your designer and help them to understand your style. For more help, try browsing through this list of award-winning legal websites.

Website content

Once you have your website running your goal should be to have repeat traffic. If you only look nice but never change your content, there is a slim chance that will happen.

Consider the type of information you search for on other websites and aim to provide that to your clients. While your site should advertise your services, it should also meet the needs of the users through its content.

Think about creating a content strategy where you organize your schedule and topics to ensure consistency. Engage your visitors with compelling content, and make it easy for your content to be shared through Share This or Add This. The recognizable Facebook, Twitter and other social bookmark buttons at the end of your content areas visually remind readers to spread your messages.

Be social

Integrate your social networking profiles onto your website. This will help potential clients get to know you, and also is great for SEO. Use online social networks to promote and pull people to your website and also engage with current and potential clients. Have your Twitter feed featured on your site, and links to your LinkedIn profile and Facebook business page.

When setting up these items, be sure to integrate your firm’s design for brand consistency. Your Twitter and Facebook pages should be designed to include your logo, imagery, and color scheme.

A few final tips

Plan out your site implementation together with your content strategy. Also, do not put up an “under construction” or “coming soon” notice, or a line that says “I haven’t had time to finish this part.” If you are not done, just post your contact information and make it look good.

You never want people to think they have caught you off guard, and that you are not ready for their business.

See Karin’s previous “toolkit” post, Essential Marketing Toolkit, Part 1: Be Distinctive.

(photo Mitchell Joyce)

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  • Thanks, Karin! Some great ideas here I hadn’t put together yet. My website is still en route to completion, but I’ve been trying to integrate some of these things while I am working on the rest of the content and structure behind the scenes. This gives me a nice feel for some other good items to add in the meantime.

    I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

  • You’re welcome! Glad it was helpful.

  • Hi Karin,
    Good points all, but you’ve missed the most important point and that is search engine performance. You can have a great looking site, but it’s like a billboard in the middle of the Mojave Desert if people can’t find it easily. Too many small law firms rely on local web developers with great graphics skills but no clue about search engine optimization. Here are two tests for choosing a developer:
    1) Search for “web developer” and the developer’s city and state in Google. If the developer’s website doesn’t show up on the first page of results, you can bet that your site won’t end up there either. If the developer shows up only in paid results or in the Google 3/10 pack of local listings, you’ll have to do the same thing to make it to the first results page with your planned website.
    2) Walk away from a developer who asks you to furnish the copy for your site. An SEO-savvy developer will do, or help you do, the keyword research that must be done to create the search engine friendly copy and layout for a top-performing website.
    Usability is also incredibly important. Confusing navigation and poor layout will turn away visitors.

  • Paul: I agree – SEO is definitely important and critical in ensuring that your clients can find you. But whether to hire a designer or a developer is an ongoing argument. I personally think that excellent design skills are harder to find while SEO and back end developing is a dime a dozen – like finding an employee with a great attitude that you can train versus finding a competent employee who can’t learn to have the right mindset. Either way, content is once again key to great search rankings. As search engines are becoming more sophisticated, high rankings on search engines require to have multiple internal and external links and regular, fresh content.
    Also (point 2), for content creation I think it is critical to write your website from your own voice with input from someone who can optimize it for SEO. In other words, it should be a team effort.

  • Karin – I completely agree with your points about content — content is king !!! And it is always best that it be “in your words” — this is your business, your livelihood. it should represent you fully. AND it should work FOR you so having it optimized with keyword-rich headings and phrases helps a ton (thus, the teamwork part). And if we can get organic rankings, then we’ve won the game.

    Other considerations are to create backlinks to your website from other sources (such as a high page-ranking directory) to help drive good, quality traffic to the firm’s website. There are many affordable options out there.