Many potential clients turn to the internet to find their attorney. There are a number of places that a potential client might find you online — but in many cases, they’re more likely to be drawn to your firm through high-quality content on your law firm’s website.
Getting more business online means understanding how your potential clients are thinking about their legal problem and how they’re using the internet to understand more about it.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you understand the factors that can influence a potential client’s ability to find you and reach out to your firm.
What are your potential clients are thinking about, and how are they thinking about their problem?
At the onset, potential clients may have a lot of different feelings about the problem they’re facing. They may be frightened or embarrassed about their situation; they may be unsure what to do next. They are likely wondering if their problem is one that can be fixed, and, if it can, how do they fix it? They may realize that they need an attorney and they’re unsure how to make such a big decision. Alternatively, they may be wondering if theirs is a problem that could be solved without an attorney.
What do potential clients do with those thoughts?
Many times, potential clients go to the internet to conduct research about topics directly related to their case or matter. If they know that they need an attorney, they might search for something like “divorce lawyer Phoenix.” But even if they know they need an attorney, they’ll also conduct searches like:
“What do I need to know about custody and parenting time in Pittsburgh if I want a divorce?”
“Can I get divorced in Pima County without an attorney?”
“How are assets separated in a North Carolina divorce?”
When you’re able to write meaningful, educational content which closely matches those searches, you become more likely to be found in search results when a potential client has a similar query.
Keep in mind that your potential clients may search with a local focus that doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of the law. For more on that topic, see our blog post: “Thinking Locally, Not Legally: How Potential Clients Find Law Firm Websites.“
What are your potential clients are looking for in the information that they find on a law firm website?
Once a potential client starts conducting searches, what are they looking for on the pages that they find?
Let’s say a potential client for a DUI defense attorney searches for “What should I do after being arrested for DUI in Pima County?” and one of the top results is yours — maybe you have a page titled “Everything You Need to Know After Getting a DUI in Pima County”.
The potential client may decide that this is a good fit for the questions that they have. They click on the hyperlink, and they’re taken to your page.
What will they find there?
If all that they find is something that says:
“A DUI conviction can be very serious. Contact our firm today.”
They’re likely going to feel misled. And, as a result, they’ll quickly return to search results to find a page that actually answers the questions that they have. (More to the point, this scenario is becoming less and less likely as Google has an interest in returning the best results to their potential clients; a page with a few sentences on it isn’t likely going to be considered high-quality content in the eyes of the search engine.)
However, if what they find is a page with detailed, educational information, that’s the first step in developing a bond of trust with that potential client. A highly detailed page might include everything from what to expect immediately after an arrest to the potential penalties that someone might face to the potential defenses for a DUI and more. Write that information in the language that your potential clients understand. And, for the vast majority of attorneys, that means avoiding legalese, because the vast majority of your potential clients aren’t going to have legal backgrounds.
Aside from providing lots of detailed information, break up your content in a way that lets the reader decide what they want to read and when. Use shorter paragraphs and break up topics with headers. Long blocks of text can feel scary to readers, and, regardless of how good that information is, if something is difficult to use, your potential clients will return to search results before they try to scan through a lot of hard-to-read content.
Short paragraphs and headers can be useful to a reader in that they allow the potential client to scan the page for the information they want to read first without having to do any extra work.
Make sure that your pages are set up in a logical way. For example, does a practice area page or blog post point your potential clients to other valuable resources on your website?
An example: A potential client might be facing bankruptcy and conducts a search about “Can I file for bankruptcy if I can’t pay my medical bills?” They find a page you’ve written about how bankruptcy affects medical debt on your website. What other resources can you link to within your body content, and in the navigation, that’s going to enhance their educational experience further? Do you have pages on about the relationship between Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and medical debts that they might want to read? Can you point them to information you’ve written about what debts can and cannot be considered in bankruptcy? What else do you think they’d want to know about?
Your content should also make them confident that you care, that you’ve helped people like them before, and that you’re capable of helping them now.
How do your potential clients experience a law firm website?
Your potential clients will make some snap judgments about your law firm’s website when they arrive there. What does your website say to your potential clients about who you are? Does it quickly tell them whether you’ll be able to help them?
If your law firm’s website doesn’t hit the right notes, both emotionally and intellectually, there’s a good chance you won’t get to engage potential clients that make their way to your website. For example — there are certain conventions that we’ve come to recognize as it relates to a website’s navigation. If you decide that having a unique and novel navigation is the right fit for your website, there’s a high likelihood that you’re going to confuse some of the potential clients who find you. And, when it comes to websites, if it’s not clear or easy for web visitors, they leave the site.
Your content also needs to be manageable and laid out in a format that resonates with potential clients. Be sure that you’re providing a user-friendly experience by breaking the content into manageable sections and using headers that let your potential clients scan for the information they want to engage with, first.
Be sure that your site’s design is created with your potential clients in mind, and avoid bells and whistles that detract from their experience.
Whatever your intent may be when using a certain element in your designs, the actual interpretation of that element may be drastically different. This means that when you’re creating your design for your potential clients, you’ll need to consider not how you feel about it, but how it’s going to come across to your potential clients.
For example, you might decide to add a background video or animations to your website in the hopes that it will entertain or dazzle a potential client. However, very few if any people go to a law firm website to be entertained or dazzled. Your potential clients are generally thinking about one thing while they’re on your website: themselves. If you can put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients, you can provide them with an experience that is in alignment with the way that they feel — and how they want to feel about you.
Learn more about how to connect with potential clients through your law firm’s website
Driving more potential clients to your law firm’s website — and causing them to connect with you once they’re there — is part art and part science. To learn more about building a winning law firm website, see the following free, on-demand webinars:
- How to Improve Your Law Firm’s Website
- What Every Attorney Needs to Know About Law Firm Website Design
- Taking Control of Your Online Marketing with LawLytics