The 5 Elements of a Successful Law Firm Website

by Mar 20, 2020

A lot of attorneys are confused about what makes the most successful law firm websites. The truth of the matter is that there are certain things that every successful law firm website has in common. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what your law firm website needs to do to attract more cases, the role of website content in online marketing for attorneys, and the five major elements that every successful law firm website has in common.

What Your Law Firm Website Needs to Do to Attract More Cases

In short, your site needs to: 

a) Be visible online. That is, if a potential client is doing a Google search, there’s a reasonable expectation that they can find your website. 

b) You need to be able to attract potential clients from search engines when they’re conducting searches related to their case or matter. For example, if a potential client searches for information about what to do after a car accident, is your site going to appear in search results when that potential client conducts a related search? 

c) Assuming both a and b are true, once a potential client is at your law firm website, does your website compel them to reach out to your firm?

It might sound like you have to do a lot to attract more cases to your firm from your law firm’s website. But the truth is that doing all of these things at once is quite simple. The most effective way to achieve these goals at once is through the creation of high-quality content on your law firm’s website. Below, we’ll discuss the role of content in online legal marketing.

The Role of Content in Online Legal Marketing

The easiest way to understand the role of content on your law firm’s website and in online legal marketing is to know how potential clients find attorneys online, and how Google plays into it.

One of the easiest ways to understand what Google wants from law firm websites is to understand the business model that Google uses. 

Google depends on ads for revenue. But Google depends on the organic listings — the content on people’s websites — to keep users returning to Google to answer their queries.

Search users rely on Google to provide the best results for their questions. Google has done an outstanding job with that. But Google needs website content to return in those search results. If good content doesn’t exist, Google has nothing to return to users. 

So, in short, what Google wants from attorneys is to create high-quality website content for Google users — and in this case, your potential clients — who are using search to learn more about their situation.

Google is trying to provide the best possible search results for the searches that people do. What Google has made very clear is that it values websites that provide value to search users through high-quality content. High-quality content is the biggest factor in online visibility for law firm websites because it’s what potential clients are truly looking for when they do searches related to their case or problem.

So imagine for a moment that you’re an attorney with a law firm website that is filled with high-quality content. (In this example, let’s say you’re a DUI attorney.) You have pages explaining all kinds of topics related to DUIs — penalties for first, second, and third DUIs, information about all the DUI laws in your state, blood testing, breath testing, information about the laws on open containers in your state, what to expect in court, and so on.

Let’s say a potential client in your area, who has recently been arrested for a first time DUI, conducts a Google search such as: “I was arrested for a DUI in Atlanta with my child in the backseat. Am I going to go to jail?”

You’ve written about this particular topic on your law firm’s website. It’s an extensive, well-written piece. As a result, Google returns it in search because the search engine believes it’s relevant to the searcher’s needs. 

This potential client clicks on your link and is taken to your website. They read what you have to say about the topic and, realizing that it’s in their best interest to contact an attorney, reach out to your firm.

Now imagine this phenomenon at a larger scale for every potential client in your area who, in the research phase, is conducting searches just like this one. 

This is the power of content marketing.

However, not all content is created alike. Below, we’ll discuss the differences between effective and ineffective content.

The Differences Between Effective and Ineffective Content

Effective content reflects the way that potential clients think and search.

Potential clients in the research phase of their case or problem will want to know more about their situation. They’ll want to know the next steps that they should take, and whether it makes sense for them to hire an attorney.

Effective law firm website content helps web users. Google wants to provide the best results for related search queries, and it has developed specific criteria to ensure that it can provide those results. Google represents part of that criteria with the acronym E-A-T:

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are necessary for law firm websites.

Law firm websites are considered “Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)” pages by Google because of their potential effect on the happiness, health, or well-being of a search user who finds them. 

YMYL pages require a high amount of E-A-T. Google holds these pages — including your law firm’s website — to a higher standard.

To demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, attorneys should publish high-quality informational content that helps your website visitors learn more about their problem.

High-quality content demonstrates authoritativeness and expertise. It develops a bond of trust with your potential clients. Educational law firm website content shows potential clients that you care about their problem and you want to help them make informed decisions.

The more that potential clients trust your law firm’s website as a place where they can find information, the more trust you develop with potential clients. 

However, if your content does any of the following, it may be the cause of your website’s struggles.

Potential clients don’t visit your site to read about your firm unless it’s in relation to how your firm can help them. Potential clients are thinking about their own problems. If your content is focused exclusively on your law firm, it’s likely to turn off potential clients. 

If your website copy reads like an advertisement instead of providing useful information, it is likely to turn off potential clients. Potential clients will use the information they find to make decisions about hiring an attorney — so if your law firm website doesn’t provide them with the information they need, they’ll go elsewhere to find it.

If your law firm’s website doesn’t educate potential clients, potential clients in the research phase of their search for legal information or help are unlikely to engage with your website and your firm. 

Potential clients need to know that you care, that you’re enthusiastic about helping them, and that your personalities are compatible.

If your law firm’s website doesn’t connect with potential clients on an emotional level, it’s going to repel potential clients who already know they’re going to hire an attorney (and are trying to decide who to hire).

The Five Elements of a Successful Law Firm Website

Now that we’ve discussed the basics, let’s take a look at each of the individual elements that successful law firm websites have in common.

Law Firm Website Element #1: The Homepage

Whether or not your potential clients enter your law firm’s website through your homepage, it’s still a very important page on your law firm’s website. 

Potential clients may not spend a lot of time on your homepage, it acts as an “elevator pitch” for your law firm. Your homepage should quickly show potential clients who you are, where you are, and what you do. Remember — your potential clients are quickly trying to figure out “Can this firm help me”? Don’t make them work to figure it out.

Law firm website homepages should clearly display the name of the law firm, contact information, hours of operation, where you practice, your practice areas, an easy-to-use contact form, and user-friendly navigation.

You also want to be able to show potential clients your brand. How do you stand out from the competition? What makes you different? How do you approach your practice? Are you compassionate? Bold? Persistent? Tenacious? Client-centered? What makes your firm unique?

You also want to be sure that you’re providing easy-to-use navigational tools — if your potential clients get frustrated because they can’t find something on your website, they’ll go elsewhere. 

Make sure that your website really spoon-feeds them and that the navigation items are ordered in a way that makes sense — this is something that we make very easy to do with LawLytics. With LawLytics, you’re able to create new pages and navigation items and move them around just by dragging and dropping so that, at any time, you’re able to change things to fit in the order that you’d like them and that makes the most sense for your potential clients.

Law Firm Website Element #2: Case Results

When you know the purpose of case results, you can write stories that inspire potential clients to reach out to you. 

Your case results should inspire confidence and trust. They should show potential clients that you care about each case or matter that you take on. 

Your potential clients read case results and put themselves into the shoes of the person who is the subject of your result. So, instead of listing the outcome alone, you’ll want to build a compelling story around the result.

Telling a compelling story with your case results can be broken up into four steps: the facts, the challenges, the quest, and finally, the results. Attorneys often start with the results, but by adding some contextual information before you get to the results, you create a better, more inspiring story. 

To learn about each of the steps of creating better case results, see “Which Case Results Should I Post on My Law Firm’s Website?”

Law Firm Website Element #3: Law Firm Website Attorney Bio

Why are attorney bios important? For starters, they’re one of the most visited pages on law firm websites. Because of this fact, that means you’ve got an important opportunity to connect with a potential client on this page. 

Potential clients want to know that you’re a human and they want to know what your personality is like. Those things factor into whether or not a potential client believes you’re a good fit for their particular need. Potential clients want to like you and they want to trust you. How you tell the story about yourself can go a long way toward that particular goal.

Of course, your attorney bio doesn’t exist in a bubble, but for the purposes of this exercise: Imagine for a moment that your attorney bio is the only page that a potential client gets to see before they make a decision about whether to hire you or not. 

What do you tell them about you? 

Imagine, from your potential clients’ perspective, how different a list of bullet points is versus a story with a cohesive narrative. 

If your attorney bio only notes:

  • Where you went to school
  • Which bars you’re admitted to
  • A bulleted list of publications and awards

 …It’s unlikely to inspire a potential client to hire you. 

To show why you’re the right attorney to represent a potential client, include more than basic facts about your legal experience and skills in your attorney bio.

To turn your attorney bio into a compelling narrative that drives new business to your law firm, consider adding things like:

  • Your journey to the law. What inspired you to choose this profession? Was there something in your formative years that made you passionate about a particular practice area? Explaining this in your bio helps a potential client feel a personal connection with you.
  • What motivates you as an attorney and as a person? Is it getting a client through a difficult situation with peace of mind? Is it fighting for justice? Ask yourself what drives you to do the work that you do.
  • Who do you help? Explain the kinds of people you help and why you assist them. When you do this, potential clients can see that you’ve helped people like them in the past and therefore, you may be able to help them now.
  • What have you accomplished? Avoid listing awards and accolades. Instead, provide context for accomplishments. For example, talk about what went into being selected for an award, why it matters, and what it meant to you to receive it. What have you accomplished in your law career and education? What qualifies you? 

Keep in mind that this may be the first time that your potential client has ever had a legal issue or that they’ve interacted with an attorney. A good attorney bio page can help web visitors feel more at ease when they reach out to your firm. 

Your attorney bio can also help potential clients learn more about what it’s like to work with your law firm. You might include information about your preferred communication policies. Do you communicate with the client directly? Do you have staff that interacts with clients? If you love working with your clients and they’ll have direct access to you throughout their case, let them know that. This information can make you seem more approachable. 

Law Firm Website Element #4: Practice Area Pages

Generally speaking, most successful law firm websites begin by building out practice area pages. 

Good practice area pages help web visitors learn more about their situation, whether your law firm can help them, and what actions they can take.

At first, your practice area pages can be a broad overview of a particular topic. We recommend creating pages for each type of legal service that you provide. 

When you first start your law firm website, we recommend that practice area pages give enough information so that a web visitor can leave the page with a sufficient understanding of the topic and how you can assist them.

A cluster technique that begins with broad overviews and ultimately ends with subpages that go into greater detail often makes sense because this structure allows for growth over time.

Over time, these general practice area pages can expand to include specific subpages on increasingly specific topics.

Each of these subpages should include educational detail that teaches potential clients about the topic. If you arrange your pages in this manner, you can build the pages on your site over time in a way that makes sense to potential clients and works nicely in a law firm content plan, as well.

One thing you’ll want to keep in mind with your content is that potential clients think locally, not legally:

Potential clients have a tendency to think about the law in a local way that may not reflect how law is actually handled. But even if it’s not realistic, it still affects how potential clients search, so attorneys should be mindful of trying to capture the thought process of their potential clients. 

For example, DUI laws might be governed at the state level, but we often see people who search for “Pittsburgh DUI law” or “Felony vs. Misdemeanor DUI in Pima County.”

Be mindful of the realities of how your potential clients conduct searches, even when that’s not an accurate depiction of how the law works, and make use of those kinds of terms in your headers and explain it in your text. 

If your potential clients are searching like that — and they often do — Google will want to return information that’s highly related to that search. If you’re informing search engines with headers and body text related to that topic and very detailed and educational, there’s a good chance that’s going to get returned in relevant search results.

Law Firm Website Element #5: Law Firm Blog

Using your law firm’s website to create valuable content is an excellent way to drive more business to your law firm. Using your law firm’s blog correctly can drive business to your law firm, as well.

News stories as a catalyst for blog topics are usually a good choice for attorneys. 

The stories you choose don’t necessarily have to come from your jurisdiction, so long as you can bring a connection to the geographic area(s) where you practice.

One of the more common mistakes we see on law firm blogs as it relates to stories in the news is a simple regurgitation of a news story, or even copying and pasting the news story into a blog.

Neither of these methods are likely to drive more traffic to your law firm’s website.

The best law firm blog posts are those that allow you to develop your firm’s online voice. The best way to do that online is by using your blog for analysis. 

Summarizing a news story in the first part of a blog post is fine, but what comes after that? Your potential clients can find a news story nearly anywhere — if they visit your blog, it’s because they want to understand your view of the event. Be sure to provide an in-depth analysis of the story.

Changes in the law and proposed legislation are also two useful blog post categories. To get the most impact out of these topics, attorneys should be sure to provide in-depth analysis, much like with news stories. 

Blogs can also be a place to answer common questions that you receive from both prospective and current clients.

For example, a DUI attorney might write a blog post about “How many points can I get on my license before it gets suspended?” The attorney can then go on to explain the answer to the question in detail, including other information that a potential client may want to know or might be unaware of.

A personal injury attorney might answer a question like, “Who is at fault in a rear-end collision?” and then go on to describe the nuances surrounding that question.

Consider adding links to relevant web pages in your blog posts. Blog posts often work well when they cover timely events that capture readers’ attention. Links can help you keep those readers on your site longer as they explore linked pages that you provide them.

In the earlier DUI-related example above, this attorney might link back to their relevant pages on topics such as aggressive driving, license suspension, etc.

How LawLytics Makes Successful Law Firm Websites Easy

LawLytics makes it easy for attorneys to build highly profitable and sustainable law firm websites using free search engine traffic regardless of budget — and without having any prior technology, marketing or search engine experience.

As a LawLytics customer, you’ll simply use our platform to write about practice-related topics that you already talk about on a daily basis. The result is that your marketing becomes efficient and predictable, and your practice becomes more rewarding and enjoyable. 

When you join LawLytics, you get access to our software, support, and strategy. We’ll show you how to use our software, what you need to write, and how to write it.

If you can use a word processor, you can already use LawLytics. It’s built specifically for attorneys, and all of the technical stuff is baked into the platform.

The majority of our attorneys choose to write their own content, as that provides the best possible return on investment. And, once they understand how it works, attorneys tend to enjoy doing it. 

For attorneys who either don’t want to write or don’t have time, we offer a professional content creation service, where we can ethically execute the LawLytics formula for you. You can also bring in any outside content writer or company, and the LawLytics ghostwriting features allow you to delegate to them safely.

To learn more about creating successful law firm websites, see the following resources:

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