Common Mistakes On Law Firm Website Practice Area Pages

by Mar 28, 2017

Are you making these mistakes with your practice area pages?

If you are, these mistakes may be keeping your firm from reaching more clients and generating more revenue. Here are several of the most common mistakes that we see attorneys make on their law firm websites.

Do your pages contain useful information?

The amount of content needed to launch is sometimes an unnecessary stumbling block for attorneys.

If you’re ready to launch a new site and you don’t have time to create a number of pages with useful information for each type of case or matter that you handle, we recommend the cluster technique that we discuss in our practice-area specific webinar series, rather than creating a great deal of pages that don’t contain relevant information or much information at all.

For example, a personal injury attorney might have a page for “Motorcycle Accidents.” Maybe the page says:

Motorcycle accidents can result in very serious injuries.
We have years of experience getting compensation for motorcycle accident victims. Contact us today.

This probably doesn’t provide information that a potential client was looking for when they conducted a search. It doesn’t meet the potential client’s hierarchy of need. A page with that little information and no added value for the user might be considered to be “thin content” by Google’s standards and could harm your web presence in rankings and results, too. Here’s Google’s Matt Cutts on the topic of thin content:

Do your law firm web pages adequately address necessary subjects?

Sometimes, there are attorneys who feel they need a great deal of content to “go live” or launch their site.

It’s not true, but this idea holds some attorneys back.

Adding quality content on a consistent basis is crucial to the long-term success of your law firm’s website. But, you shouldn’t hinder your progress by some arbitrary notion about how large your site needs to be before you can go live.

“The necessary structural content and practice area pages should provide sufficient information for time of launch,” says LawLytics VP of Content Strategy Rachel Chalot. “And this is just the beginning. You’ll be continuing to grow and refine your website content as time goes on.”

Have you incorporated unique audience guidelines?

There are attorneys who really do know their audience and the area where they practice. They’ve established some audience guidelines. And, maybe the prevailing attitude toward attorneys in their town is less than warm.

Rachel brings up an important point for attorneys about consistency in their written voice.

“They might work in a small town, and they know they want to come across as a guy you’d grab a beer with after work,” she notes. “And sometimes that can get lost as the attorney creates content for their website. The focus shifts back to legalese — more stiff, formal language.”

She cites an example of what this might look like:

“An ‘About Our Firm’ page might read like, ‘Mr. Smith has years of experiencing litigating civil claims in Pendleton County, West Virginia,'”

Rather than:

“Matt was born and raised right here in Seneca Rocks. After graduating from WVU, he came back to fight for his friends and neighbors…”

Potential clients look for sameness and personality when they think about hiring an attorney. They also search using terms that are likely outside the terms of art you’d use as an attorney. Legalese is off-putting. Your potential clients need information that’s presented clearly in a way that they understand.

You know your client base. You know your local area. Write as you’d speak to your clients.

Should attorneys create webpages for cases they don’t handle?

Sometimes, we work with attorneys who want to add practice pages that focus on cases they don’t actually handle.

A personal injury attorney, for example, may think that their site should include a page on a topic such as medical malpractice, even when the firm doesn’t handle these cases. They might want to handle it in the future, or they feel having these pages give the site (and their firm) an aura of expertise.

There may be an area in which you plan to focus on in the future — and that’s great. But don’t allow yourself to get tripped up with anything that you think you need to have in order to give the right appearance or provide credibility. (In fact, some of the best ways to provide credibility are by showing potential clients what you’ve done for past clients and by providing useful information all around.)

When you’re in the beginning phases of building your web presence, you should be writing content around the causes of action that you’ll take cases for. And then think about everything else that can happen when you’re growing your site later. Your time is valuable. Focus on what will bring you the best return on investment.

Are you making inadvertent mistakes on your law firm website?

There are some inadvertent mistakes that attorneys make which keep them from succeeding online.

We see lawyers with new websites who aren’t focused on creating content that provides value for their potential clients. Instead, they’re busy thinking about every SEO tip or trick that they can learn about. When you’re in this phase, or any other phase of your law firm’s growth, you’ll be wasting your time if you’re focused on outdated or ineffective SEO techniques. You’ll do more harm than good by focusing on these tactics rather than taking the time to build up your content.

There are other inadvertent mistakes we’ve seen. For example, a page about a particular cause of action might link to a page that promotes another firm.

“There are many sites out there that consist of nothing but civil procedure for a particular state, but many are sponsored by a large firm, or they’re part of a site that contains a directory of lawyers, or might even have a little ‘Ask a Lawyer feature embedded in the page,” Rachel says. “It’s why we recommend sticking to government resources such as state legislature pages when you need to cite to a statute.”

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