Every lawyer I know either has a website or wants one. Many lawyers have a vague belief that a website is a required marketing tool “in this day and age,” but few know why that is or how they expect a website to benefit them.
Most law firm websites are static calling cards that rarely change over time. Without paid-for placement, they rarely show up on search engines unless the search is for the attorney’s or law firm’s name. I call these “calling cards.” They are important to have, especially if you list your firm with an online referral service. As more and more people use the web as their primary method of finding things (directions, phone numbers, address, etc.), a web site is a near-necessity. New clients will call an attorney they know something about before they call one they know nothing about. Unless you come recommended, new clients will often visit your website before they pick up the phone or tap out an e-mail.
Just the same, calling card websites do very little to drive potential clients to your firm’s inbox, phone number, or front door. They are a bare minimum for anyone doing business as a law firm any significant portion of whose clients have a computer in the home. In other words: just about everyone.
Blogs, on the other hand, are terrific marketing tools if used effectively. A blog, by its very nature, is a repository of information and a pretty good way to store information for easy access. They naturally attract search engine hits because they are chock full of content and natural keywords, and should be updated fairly frequently. Add your picture and contact information, and your blog is also your calling card.
However, an unmaintained blog is worse than an out-of-date calling card web site. (Although a blog can easily be used as a static website if a lawyer is looking for a very cheap web site design.) Lawyers unwilling to devote a few hours a week, at a minimum, to finding material and posting should consider a static website, instead.
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And, of course, there are combinations, like my firm’s website, which is fairly static, but uses an embedded blog to keep track of “firm news.” I also update the “legal info” section from time to time with articles and information useful to my client base.
If you are looking to create an online presence, consider carefully the options, and if you are willing to put in the time, especially consider a blog rather than a static web page.