Many attorneys understand that the purpose of law firm website content is to attract and convert potential clients to their law firms. Still, that doesn’t mean attorneys necessarily understand how to use the language that best appeals to those potential clients in the content they produce.

One of the most common content marketing mistakes that we see attorneys make involves using the wrong language in their law firm website content.

Write to Your Potential Clients, Not Competing Attorneys

Make sure that your law firm website content is written with your potential clients in mind, and that it is easy for those potential clients to understand the content you provide for them.

Rather than using specific legal terminology throughout your website content, use language that is familiar to your clients — not language that might require having a law degree to comprehend.

Write your content with the lowest educational denominator in mind when it comes to your target audience. Do not assume that your potential clients necessarily understand legal terms beyond what they’ve heard in pop culture media such as television and movies. If you must use a legal term within your law firm website content (and you aren’t targeting other lawyers with that content in the case of a referral source, for example), make sure that the term is defined in language that is easy to understand and digest.

Educated potential clients might be able to parse jargon-heavy content, but they are not likely to hold simpler language against you because it comes across as clear and easy to understand. Less educated potential clients, however, may choose to abandon your site’s content if it is too difficult for them to read or understand.

Even if a term has fallen out of vogue in professional circles, don’t assume that the term is not still in use by your potential clients. In the case of family law, for example, many states have decided to avoid the use of the term “custody” in favor of phrases like “parenting time” and “decision making.” Still, many potential clients will continue to search for information using the term “custody.”

Though it may no longer be used in family law, strategic use of the term “custody” in your law firm website’s content might make it easier for some potential clients to find your content following online searches that include that term. However, it is still appropriate to define and explain new terms in the content you publish online.

Know Your Law Firm’s Target Audience

Choosing the right language for your law firm website content is likely to depend upon your firm’s target audience.

DUI attorneys may attract potential clients by writing directly to individuals who have been accused of driving under the influence. However, if a DUI attorney practices in a popular college town, they might also gear their content toward parents of a college student arrested for a DUI, as a parent is more likely to make a hiring decision when it comes to choosing an attorney to represent their child.

Attorneys who provide estate planning services might benefit from writing to elderly individuals who are looking to compose a will, as well as by writing to young parents who are looking to put their affairs in order to protect their growing families, or even to the adult children of elderly parents who may need their help during the process of writing a will.

A law firm that focuses on employment law could potentially benefit from using terms that are specific to the industries that produce the most employment cases in the geographic region where they practice.

If the bulk of an employment law firm’s business comes from the construction industry, for instance, it is probably a good idea to use the industry-specific phrase “foreman” in that firm’s online content when referring to high-ranking employees, as opposed to relying on non-industry-specific terms like “administrator” or “supervisor,” which might be used more often in other industries.

Understand How Your Community Thinks About Legal Issues

As LawLytics’ Vice President of Content Operations puts it, clients often tend to “think locally, not legally.” Though laws might be governed at the state or federal levels, your potential clients may have a tendency to search for information about their legal situations using their city or county names (depending on where you practice).

Use the search terms that are more likely to attract (and be used by) your potential clients in favor of terms which are technically correct but are less likely to be used by your target audience.

If people in your community have common colloquial names for certain landmarks, roads, or neighborhoods that differ from their official names, use the more popular terms when writing content. Not only will this make it easier for your potential clients to find you online, it will also demonstrate to them that you can understand and relate to them.

If you practice in a small, rural community, don’t be afraid to use colloquial or regional language in your content if that is how everyone in your community speaks. On the other hand, If you practice in a more populated urban area that includes a number of transplanted residents, colloquial language could alienate a portion of your audience.

The specific terms and phrases used on your site should depend on how your target audience communicates and speaks, rather than on technical correctness or writing your content in a way that is meant to impress other legal professionals (so long as other legal professionals are not your target audience).

Choose an Appropriate Point of View for Your Law Firm’s Website

Make sure that you write your website content from a point of view that will increase your content’s effectiveness and relatability. This will likely differ across multiple pages of your site, depending on the purpose of each page and its specific target audience.

The first person perspective (I/me/we) is the most personal point of view that an attorney can use. Places to consider using the first-person perspective include blog posts that recount personal insights and experiences, as well as in the “About” section of your site.

The third-person perspective (he/she/it/they) can also be effective in the “About” section of your site. Third-person perspective creates a more objective and authoritative to than first or second-person perspective. The third-person perspective can also be beneficial when discussing case results or specific laws and procedures. However, in some cases, the third-person perspective carries the risk of sounding detached where a more personal approach might be more effective.

The second-person perspective (you) is effective for making content seem personally directed at your readers. Use of the second-person point of view might prove useful when discussing issues that affect your target audience directly, such as on pages where you are talking directly to your potential clients about the potential penalties they could face for certain charges, or when writing to the adult child of an elderly person who might be in need of legal representation, for example.

We go into much more detail on the topic of strategically using point of view in your law firm website content in another post on our blog. But whatever point of view you choose in different sections of your site, make sure that you always do so deliberately and strategically while keeping your target audience in mind.