As we’ve discussed previously on our blog, if you want your law firm website to attract new clients to your law firm, it’s not enough to simply launch the site and leave it to languish.
Google looks at the freshness and frequency of activity on websites when trying to determine where on search engine results pages (SERPs) a particular piece of content should rank for specific search queries. For this reason, in order to maximize the visibility of your content with search engine users, it’s best to stay engaged with your site over the long term.
Your law firm website is the most authoritative place for both users and search engines to find information about your firm online. It’s also your law firm’s most valuable asset in terms of its online presence. All of your online marketing efforts, therefore, should point back to your law firm website, and you will want to make sure that your site is fleshed out enough to keep users there as long as possible if your intention is to convert those users to actual clients.
But how do you get potential clients to visit your site in the first place?
The answer to that question, it turns out, is fairly simple — leverage the content on your site to offer your potential clients the sort of information that they are likely to search for online and you can maximize the chances that those potential clients find your law firm website’s content on SERPs and then choose to engage with it.
Give Potential Clients (and Search Engines) What They Want
If you want your potential clients to find your law firm online, you will need to make sure that you:
- Give those users the information they are looking for in the content they find on your site and,
- Give search engines what they are looking for in your content.
Luckily for you, search engines and search engine users want the same thing. Search engine users simply want the most relevant and informative content they can find when searching online for answers to questions about their legal situations. Search engines want to be able to return the most relevant information to their users in order to keep them coming back for future searches — in fact, their business model depends on it.
It is for this reason that Google explicitly asks that website owners create webpages meant “primarily for users, not for search engines.”
There are a number of ways to add high-quality content to your law firm website that will help your site to attract qualified, potential clients, and you will do well to employ as many of them as possible when adding content to your own law firm website.
Practice Area and Detailed Law Pages
Also known as “evergreen pages” because they provide substantive information that tends to remain unchanged for long periods of time, your practice area and detailed law pages are the backbone of your law firm’s website.
By beginning with more general information about the laws and procedures that govern your practice area and getting increasing specific and granular in your content over time, your approach to adding evergreen pages to your law firm website should be to target specific questions that your potential clients are likely to ask of search engines, and then answer them in as much detail as possible.
For example, a DUI attorney might start by adding general practice area pages that explain how DUI laws work in his or her state, then go into more detail about those laws later on by focusing on common processes related to DUIs and client rights during traffic stops and other situations. Once those pages are complete, a DUI attorney could then write general content about common field sobriety tests, then go into more detail about each specific field sobriety test, eventually including information about when such tests might be faulty or ineffective, for example.
For this reason, it is a good idea to create a thorough content plan for your website early on in the development process for that site. You will also want to establish a clear picture of your target audience (your potential clients) early on and be sure that you are consistently writing your content with that audience in mind.
Generally speaking, you will want to be able to link back to at least one piece of evergreen content each time you add another page (such as a blog or local page — more on these shortly) to your website. A page on a DUI law firm website that discusses arrest procedures in a particular geographic area could link back a pre-existing page — or pages — that discuss traffic stops and/or field sobriety tests.
Adding local information to your law firm website can help your content to appear on SERPs for search queries that include local keywords like city, county, or state names. Local information on your site may also help your firm to appear for searches that are pertinent to your specific practice area(s) when those searches are performed in or near the geographic region where your firm practices.
Though some laws are governed at the state level, for example, your potential clients may not be aware of this fact and may therefore search for information about their cases using local, rather than legal, references and terminology. They might search for information about their city or county, instead. Adding local information to your site may also help potential clients who search in this way to find your content on SERPs.
Local pages are pages on your law firm website that include information specific to the geographic region(s) where you practice. Such information can include details about specific courthouses in your region; you may want to include information such as what to wear to your court date, where to eat nearby, how to find those courthouses, where to park, and public transit details like bus or train schedules and maps, for instance.
Local details that are relevant to your practice area(s) and potential clients can also include laws that might affect how certain cases are handled in your jurisdiction (for example, if your local D.A. has vowed to be “tough on drugs,” this could affect how certain drug-related cases are handled in your region). Local pages on your site may also address the differences in policy between certain townships, counties, etc.
Such information can be added to almost any page of your website. But, when local information is included on your site, it should provide value to your users and it should be employed strategically.
In order to effectively add local information to your site, it is equally important to understand what is not a local page on your site. Local pages on your site are not duplicate pages that have been copied and pasted across multiple locations on your site with only the local information (city or county name, etc.) changed between them, nor are they pages that exist outside of your site, such as those that are parked on legal directories or reviews sites like Avvo or Yelp.
It is generally best to transition to an aggressive blogging strategy only when evergreen (and local) pages on your site are fairly well developed. This is because it is your evergreen pages that are most likely to provide information to your potential clients that is most relevant to their cases, and because your blog’s internal linking structure should point to your site’s evergreen content whenever possible.
Where your evergreen pages are likely to have a permanent place in your site’s overall navigation structure, your blog posts will constantly be pushed down a feed as you continue to add more content.
For this reason, it’s best to use blogs to cover timely news and events that would not prove relevant enough in the long term to remain in your site’s primary navigation. News about changes in laws and policies, and content that is specific to a certain time frame should be covered on your law firm website’s blog rather than on a static page on your site.
DUI attorneys might find it beneficial to blog about possible checkpoint locations before a major holiday like the Fourth of July, for example. Though topics like these are likely relevant to a DUI law firm’s potential clients and are likely to be relevant to search engine users in the law firm’s geographic region of practice, such timely changes are not likely to impact the laws themselves in the long term, and would therefore not likely improve a detailed law page if added to one. However, a blog post on this topic might point back to an evergreen page about a potential client’s rights at a traffic stop and/or what a potential client should do if they’ve been pulled over for a DUI.
Blogs also provide the opportunity for attorneys to write content about high-profile topics in the news that might be relevant to their particular practice area(s), but that do not necessarily pertain to their specific geographic region.
A family law attorney might benefit from writing a blog analysis about a trending celebrity divorce or custody battle, for example, even if that story is taking place outside of the geographic region where they practice. Still, that content would perform best on a local level if the attorney could manage to write about the subject through a local lens, for example, by comparing the laws and processes relevant to that story to the way that such circumstances would likely play out in their hometown.
Other Forms of Content
The number of topics available to an attorney of any given practice area in any geographic region are almost endless. Still, if there ever comes a day when it seems like you cannot add any more substance to your practice area and detailed law pages, you might want to consider adding content to your law firm website that uses other forms of media.
Studies show that the vast majority of readers tend to skim written content online rather than reading a piece in full. And a growing number of search engine users prefer to consume information as videos, audio files, or as easy-to-digest infographics, rather than reading long-form written content on a given subject. Providing content in multiple formats can help you to appeal to a wider array of potential clients with any number of preferred learning styles.
Search engines still process text better than they process other forms of content, however. So, should you decide to begin incorporating content in other formats on your site, be sure to supplement that content with HTML text so that it can be properly indexed by Google and other engines.
Keep in mind that, before you add any kind of multimedia to your law firm’s website, it’s important to have a solid foundation of written content, first.
Leverage the Sharing Power of Social Media
Though it should by no means by a primary marketing focus of your law firm, your law firm can use social media to amplify the reach of the content included on your law firm website.
Like all other elements of online law firm marketing, it is important to make sure that you are using social media strategically, and that you are pointing potential clients from your social media channels to your website, and not the other way around.
Social media is also a great way to interact with potential clients directly, and to offer your perspective on relevant trending topics that may not be worthy of a dedicated blog post or evergreen practice area page on your site. Just make sure that you are only utilizing the social media platforms most likely to move the needle for your law firm (we find that the best platforms for attorneys are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), and that you are maintaining a professional image on your law firm’s social media profiles rather than using them as your own personal sounding board for topics that could alienate a portion of your target audience.