5 Ways Your Legal Website is Turning Away Potential Clients

Your legal website is the keystone of your firm’s marketing. It’s where you send people when they see your TV or outdoor advertising, and it’s the first place that they see you online. Unfortunately, we see too many legal sites that do more harm than good. Here are the five most common mistakes we see on legal websites:

Unprofessional Photos

Remember: your website is the first impression that potential clients will have of your firm. You need to have a portrait of yourself on your site that conveys the right image. You need to demonstrate that you’re:

  • Professional
  • Approachable
  • Trustworthy

If you just take an existing photo that a friend snapped or something that wasn’t professionally shot, it’s going to reflect poorly on you and your firm. Professional portraits might cost you a few hundred dollars, but the right image is worth it.

Out-of-Date or Unprofessional Design

“I have a cousin who said he’d build a site for me.” We’ve heard that way too many times. You wouldn’t hire a novice to be your accountant or lawyer, and you shouldn’t hire a novice to build the most important part of your marketing strategy!

A poorly designed site, or a site that hasn’t been updated in six years, is not the impression you need to make with potential clients.

Our value legal websites are very affordable, include a professional design, and provide great customer support to help you with content or marketing. Which is more important? Saving $20 a month or doing it right?

Making the Client Work Too Hard

The web has dramatically shortened attention spans, and your website has about two seconds to do the following:

  • Provide an answer to the client’s problem. Did a client get to your website by searching for “auto injury attorney?” Well, you better make sure that that page on your site shows your clients how you can help them with their auto injury case.
  • Make it easy for the client to contact you. Your phone number needs to be prominently displayed on every page of your site, and you also need to have a contact form on every page. That way, a client can call or email you right away.
  • Show y0ur office location. A client may end up at your site, but if they can’t figure out where you’re located quickly, they’ll leave your site and go to the next search result.

Your website is there to convert visitors into new clients. Web traffic can be expensive to generate; some AdWords keywords cost more than $250 for each click. If your website doesn’t make it easy for people to call you or request more information, you’re throwing money away.

Not Mobile-Ready

As much as 50% of your web traffic may be coming from mobile browsers (such as smart phones) or tablets. If you have an older site, it might not work on those devices, and those potential clients will leave your site and go elsewhere. Here are a few tips:

  • Doesn’t use Flash. Flash was big a few years ago, but Apple refuses to allow it on its iOS devices. Because of the security flaws in Flash, other companies are abandoning it, as well. If your site is using Flash, your users aren’t going to have a good experience on your site.
  • Make sure your site is responsive. Our N8 Site Builder generates a site that adapts automatically to the type of device your client is using, be it a PC browser or smart phone. That way, you have one site that works on every device.

Slow-Loading or Unreliable Site

You can get really cheap web hosting today, but it’s a bad idea to try to save money that way. A slow-loading website creates two problems for you:

  • Clients will abandon it and go elsewhere.
  • Google now uses site speed in determining how to rank sites.

At Waxwing, we manage our web server so that our team of IT experts can constantly monitor it and make sure that everything is fast and smooth.

 

Websites for Small Law Firms

We see a wide range of needs in our legal clients. Some firms are large and need a custom solution that works for multiple lawyers and diverse practice areas, but most attorneys don’t need such complexity. They just need a website that has the basics…and doesn’t break their budget.

When building a site for your firm, it’s important to know what features you need before you start the process. Here are the basic features you should consider when putting together your site:

  • You need a content management system (CMS). Your site must give you the ability to edit, add, or remove content. A static site that only enables your webmaster to make changes to your site is unacceptable, because you can’t wait a week for your site to be updated (if you can even get in touch with your webmaster).
  • You need great support. Your website should be a living, breathing part of your practice and that’s going to require constant tweaks and changes. You’re going to want to update photos and videos, and you’re going to want help doing that! You’re an attorney, not a web guru. We’ve seen way too many instances where a lawyer can’t reach their webmaster, and their site can’t get updated. That’s not acceptable. At Waxwing, we try to get every client support ticket resolved the same day.
  • You need search optimization tools. Your site needs to have the basic tools available to make it easy to find online. You should be able to edit your meta title tags and description tags so that Google can best index your site.
  • You should have a blog feature. A blog is a great way to add short content to your site quickly and boost your search ranking. Make sure your legal blog has an RSS feed and a ping feature to notify Google when you publish a new blog post.
  • You should have an image gallery. Very few legal website design firms provide this, but at Waxwing, we give you access to an image library of legally licensed photos to use in your pages or posts. This saves you hunting down images or paying for stock photos.

Your firm’s website is an how many clients will first learn about your practice, so you need to do it right. Our Basic Legal Website Plan is perfect for small firms. It has all of the features and tools you need to get your firm online.

We also offer legal marketing services for those clients who need help with content and we provide Legal AdWords marketing and management services, too.

Solving Your Clients’ Problems

Let’s face it: people don’t surf around the web looking at law firm websites for entertainment. If someone ends up on your website, they have a problem and they’re looking for a solution. Your legal website, to be successful, has to do two things:

  1. Show the client you have a solution for their problem.
  2. Make it easy for the client to contact you for help.

Provide Specific Answers

It isn’t enough to provide some generic information about a particular area of practice; you need to create specific pages on your site with specific answers. For instance, let’s say you practice “family law.” You’ll obviously want to have content on that, but you also need to have content on all of the other searches that clients perform on Google to build your ranking and provide answers. Here’s a list of some of the most common search phrases:

Child Custody Law
Divorce Law
Child Support Lawyer
Family Attorney
Family Law Advice
Parenting Plans
Co-Habitation Agreements
Pre-Nuptial Agreements

In short, if you can think of a unique type of situation that you come across in your practice, create content about that, because someone out there is searching for that information.

Legal AdWords Marketing

Creating content on every aspect of your practice is great for your organic search ranking, but it’s especially useful when using Google AdWords for your marketing. When you pay money for a click on AdWords, you can’t afford to send potential clients to your home page and hope they figure out where to go. You need to send specific keyword clicks to specific pages on your site.

Let’s say you’re running a PPC campaign for “Child Custody in Portland.” The most effective way to convert your site visitors into clients is to send that click directly to a specific page on your site talking about how you work with child custody cases for your Portland clients. This is one of the most important formulas in online marketing:

The Client Has a Problem -> You Have the Solution

If you keep that formula in mind when building your marketing program, you’re going to have more traffic and a higher conversion rate from that traffic.

We’re Here to Help

We’ve been providing online marketing solutions for professionals since 2000, and we know what works. We provide legal website design for our clients, we can create online content for organic search results, and can also manage your PPC campaigns.

For information about our services, please give us a call or contact us here.

SEO Extortion Emails

A new extortion scheme is spreading around the internet, and it’s important to keep an eye out for it to make sure you’re not a victim.

In this scheme, people are receiving the following emails:

Legal SEO extortion

 

Negative SEO is a technique where someone (in this case, the extortionist) will point thousands of poor quality links to your website. Google uses backlink quality when ranking websites, and if they see a ton of spammy links, it can damage your search engine placement.

So far, none of our clients have received these emails, but if you get one of these, you need to take immediate action to protect yourself.

First, don’t pay these people any money! They’re depending on people panicking and ponying up $1,500. There are other ways to prevent any damage, such as:

Second, you or your marketing firm will need to do a thorough backlink analysis to get an accurate picture of your current backlink situation. This is something your marketing team should be doing anyway, but it’s important to have this information on hand to determine if there are any questionable links showing up for your site.

Third, if you do detect poor quality links starting to appear in your profile, you’ll want to file a link disavowal in Google Webmaster Tools as soon as you see the link.

By acting quickly, you should be able to avoid any damage to your site.

If you have any questions about these procedures, or if you need help with your legal marketing, contact us here or give us a call today.

5 Keys to Making Your First Legal Website Best-in-Class

If you’re just getting your law firm online, you probably have a lot of questions about what you need in a website. Odds are that your goal, like most legal websites, is to attract new clients for your firm. Answer the following five questions to provide yourself with insight into how you should approach the key features necessary for your website to be worthy of an A+.

1. What’s Your Objective?

For almost all attorneys, the goal is to get site visitors to become new clients. For certain types of practices, your clients have an immediate need. If this is the case, your goal is to make it easy for clients to request consultations online and call your office. Be sure to give clear and concise directions for how clients can contact you.

For others, you might need to do more educating, showing clients why you’re the best option for their legal needs. It’s critical to carefully spell out what you want clients to do once they find your site. With that insight, you can make sure that your website designer creates a site that serves your goal.

2. What Are Your Areas of Practice?

Consider your ideal clients. Are you focusing on one particular area of practice, or are you looking for a wide-range of clients? Picking a unique focus can make it easier to target your clients in the search engines.

DO NOT only make a single page with a list! Write at least one page of content for each area of practice.

3. What Are You Going to Name It?

The next step is to pick a domain name, or URL, for your website. This is the address that people will type in to get to your site, and there are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing one: If you expect people to type in your domain name to find your site, because you’re going to  run television or outdoor ads, make it easy for clients to type in your website address.

  • Keep It Short
  • Easy to Remember
  • Relevant to Your Firm

If you’re mostly concerned with search optimization, then try to choose a domain with keywords that are relevant to your firm. For instance, if you’re focused on divorce law in Peoria, a good domain name would be, www.PeoriaDivorceLaw.com. This isn’t as useful as it used to be, but if you also have good content about divorce law in Peoria, it’ll help your Google ranking a bit.

4. How Much Content Do You Need?

You won’t be able to answer this question until you’ve done some homework. The amount of content that you need strongly depends on the competition in your city, the type of practice you have, and your goals. For a small firm in a small town, a few pages will do the job just fine. But, if you’re in a large city and you want to rank for very competitive keywords, you’re going to need much more content.

Start by scoping out your competition. Search Google like you were a potential client and review the sites at the top of the results, taking note of how much content they have. Remember to keep quality in mind while building your quantity. A website with weak content, that isn’t helpful, is going to fail at converting site visitors into clients regardless of where it falls in search results.

5. How Will Clients Find Your Site?

You might have the perfect legal website, but if potential clients can’t find you, you’re basically invisible. Search engine optimization (SEO), the process of getting your website to appear higher in the search results, is something that you must keep in mind while building your site. If you follow the advice given in the previous four sections, you’ll be off to a good start. Here are a few more basic tips:

  • Write Original Content
  • Include Popular Keywords
  • Use a Content Management System (CMS) that makes it easy to build your site & SEO

As you can see, there are quite a few things to consider when building your firm’s first website. To make the process easier for you, we’ve created a handy cheat sheet to help you while you build your first legal website.

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If you have any questions about getting your firm online, please contact us here or give us a call today.

How Much Should I Spend on My Legal Marketing Campaign?

A realistic marketing budget for a law firm will depend on the following variables:

  • The size of your demographic market
  • The number of competing law firms for the same market
  • The number of practice areas you’re trying to target

Let’s go over each of these to see how they affect your marketing campaign.

Size of Market

This one is pretty straightforward: if you’re in a large city, you’re going to have to spend more than if you’re in a small town. For instance, if we do a keyword analysis of “Divorce lawyer in Seattle,” we find that AdWords clicks (PPC) are going to cost roughly $62.53 each; if you search “Divorce lawyer Spokane,” however, you’ll pay about $13.00. A larger city will have more people searching for specific key phrases, there’ll be more attorneys in the area, and it’s going to cost you more to rank well for those search terms.

Number of Competing Law Firms

This is also pretty straightforward: the more law firms you are competing with, the harder it’s going to be to rank well in Google.

Here are two searches that demonstrate this:


Search Term,Monthly Searches,# of Competitors,CPC Cost
Toledo Personal Injury Attorney,40,92,$30.46
Cleveland Personal Injury Attorney,90,124,$93.76

As we can see, a 25% increase in the number of competitors in these two markets results in a threefold increase in PPC costs. If you’re not prepared to move to a small town with no competition, you’re going to have to plan to invest in your web presence to compete. PPC costs are a fairly good indicator of the challenges associated with building organic ranking: if there are a lot of PPC competitors, you can assume that each of those firms in investing in content marketing, as well.

Number of Niches

First of all, it’s easier to target a narrow, specific niche than a general keyphrase. For instance, it’s much easier to rank well for “Peoria maritime lawyer” than it is for “Peoria lawyer.” This is the concept of long-tail search optimization, and it gives you an opportunity to start ranking your site in the search engines for very specific (but less competitive) keywords.

Secondly, if your firm has many different practice areas, you’ll need to focus content on each of those. If you work with divorce, personal injury, estate planning, and family law clients, you’ll need to build a section for each of those on your site with their own unique, keyword targeted content. This obviously becomes more difficult if you’re targeting multiple practice areas in a large city.

Starting Your Marketing Plan

Because of all the variables that go into developing a marketing plan for your firm, you’ll first need a careful analysis of areas of opportunity and an idea of how much work is involved.

The experts at Waxwing Legal are here to help you with that with our Complimentary Legal Marketing Analysis. This analysis provides you with a solid overview of what you’ll need to succeed.

If you have any questions about your legal marketing, give us a call or contact us here for more information.

 

Free Legal Marketing Analysis

Legal marketing strategyAre you frustrated by your current placement in the major search engines? Are you confused about how to improve your ranking and get new clients from your online presence?

Get answers to your questions with our Free Legal Marketing Analysis.

Effective online marketing takes time and energy, but you need to know where to focus your efforts to get a good ROI. There are many factors to look at when developing your marketing strategy, and we cover those in our complimentary analysis.

We will evaluate:

  • Your market size and demographics
  • How many competitors you have in your geographical region
  • High-value keywords that you should be targeting to find new clients
  • Content strategies that will help you increase your organic search ranking
  • Your citation profile and how you’re ranking with Google Local Business
  • PPC and AdWords competition in your area
  • Your social media exposure

We have over 14 years of experience with online marketing, and we know what works and we keep up with changes in the industry that help us keep our clients ranking well in Google.

Our philosophy of work is based on transparency, authenticity, documentation, and reporting:

  • Transparency. We tell you exactly what we’re going to do on your site and blog, why we’re doing it, and how it will help your ranking and conversions.
  • Authenticity. We don’t do work that you don’t need. We find that if we do quality, ethical work, our clients retain us for the long-term. That relationship of trust is the basis of our business model.
  • Documentation. Every step of the way, we let you know when we’ve added new content or blog posts, when we’ve posted citations, and backlinks that we’ve built for you. You’re kept up-to-date with the work we’ve completed for you.
  • Reporting. Real online marketing work can be proven by objective data: reporting of site traffic, social media activity, PPC conversions, and client contacts. We provide you with regular reporting of all of the relevant statistics that demonstrate the validity of our work.

Get your Free Legal Marketing Analysis today or give us a call at (800) 295-3346 for more information.

Custom Legal Websites: Don’t Make This Mistake

Legal marketing mistakesWe had an interesting conversation today with a lawyer who was unhappy with his current legal website and was looking for some help. This individual had blown his marketing budget on a “custom” website that a local firm had built for him, at a cost of about $3,000.

We did a thorough analysis of the website, and we found that the “webmaster” had used a simple $30 WordPress theme with hardly any customization. The site didn’t look professional, and it certainly wasn’t worth $3,000!

While the design was lackluster, the bigger problem was that absolutely zero work had been done on optimization or content. We found that:

  1. The site home page had the domain name as the Title tag. This is a basic SEO 101 blunder. Title tags are how you tell Google and your site visitors what your business is and where you’re located. Without that information, you’re making it tough for Google to index your site…which makes it difficult for clients to find you.
  2. The secondary Title tags were a simple word or two about the page: “Testimonials.” “Divorce.” “Custody & Child Support.” Again, there was no city name included or the word “lawyer” or “attorney.” Google isn’t psychic; you have to specifically tell it what your site is about.
  3. There was virtually no content on the site. Each page had maybe a paragraph or two, but there was no mention of the city name, the lawyer’s name, or anything that would help a client make the decision to call for an appointment. Content is one of the most important, basic things you need on your legal site.
  4. The firm’s name, address, and phone (the critical NAP data), was found only on the “Contact Us” page, and it wasn’t properly configured. NAP data is a signal that Google uses for local search to determine where your firm is and how to index you. You need to make sure that data is on every single page.
  5. There was no Google+ page for the practice. Google+ pages are free. There is no reason not to have one for your practice (unless you don’t want to be found by potential clients). They take about 15 minutes to setup and it’s a critical first step in getting good search placement.

It was clear from this case that the attorney knew he needed a website and he found a company that promised to build him one. They did build a site, but they completely neglected all of the important, basic things that make a site useful or successful.

Unfortunately, in this case the attorney had spent his entire marketing budget and fell into the sunk cost fallacy — “I’ve paid so much money for my site, I can’t abandon it and get one that works.” Basically, he just threw away $3,000 and untold future business with this one mistake.

Is There a Good Reason for a Custom Website?

Of course. If you have a large, unique firm that requires an intricate design for your different practice areas, a custom design might be the best approach. But for 95% of law firms, you’re wasting your money with a custom design, especially if you end up with one like this lawyer did that actually hurts your business.

Our Waxwing Legal sites offer our clients a nice, middle ground: you get an attractive, customizable site that looks good to your clients, but also has all the basic SEO tools and optimizations built-in so that your site can be found in Google…plus it costs a fraction of what a custom site would cost.

That frees up your marketing budget to work on what will actually help you be successful online: content marketing, link building, and social media exposure.

If you’re ready to improve your legal website, let us see if we can help. Give us a call or contact us here for a free analysis of your current site. You can also sign up for our complimentary, no-obligation marketing analysis for a more in-depth review of your current marketing.

 

Poor Attention Spans and Your Legal Website

In a funny and factual online article for the news site Slate, writer Farhad Manjoo recently laid out the numbers to show that only a small portion of people online read articles through to the end. What does this mean for your the content on your legal website?

It means you might need to rethink pages and pages of text. It means you might want to view your site with the idea that many people will not scroll, so the important stuff needs to be “above the fold,” which in online lingo means the upper portion of the page before scrolling. It even means that you should consider utilizing the power of video to engage clients and potential clients and keep them around to learn more about what your law practice.

In his article cleverly titled, “You Won’t Finish This Article,” Manjoo pointed out, using statistical data and graphs, that Web readers just can’t stay focused. Through real-time software, they were able to track the portion of the page each browser was viewing on a second-by-second basis, and find where readers left the page. It was discovered that nearly half of Web users drop off around halfway through an online article. A good portion of readers aren’t giving your content any chance at all.

Strangely, the research also found that a great deal of people tweet out or share links to articles they haven’t fully read. And some people even comment without reading an entire piece.

So, Web users are skimming over words. They enjoy action, movement, auditory and visual engagement. This is why we often recommend that lawyers use video on their legal sites. Try our Legal Marketing Videos to show the high-quality content that your clients and prospects need, without losing them in a sea of words they won’t read.