The 2021 Complete Guide to Law Firm Websites
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What You Need to Know to Beat The Competition
You’ve done the work, grown your practice and fought hard for your clients in court, but do you know how to keep those clients coming in?
The foundation of any effective law firm marketing strategy begins with a strong website. Why does a law firm need a website? Well, the first thing most people do when they need legal help or have a law question is search the web.
The web is how people are most likely to find and learn about your law firm, so having a polished and trustworthy website for them to find is a must.
Even word of mouth recommendations usually involve sharing a website link or name to Google rather than a phone number these days.
Your website should function a lot like a visit to your law office space —projecting the right image, inspiring your clients’ trust and informing them about what you can do for them.
A Website Isn’t Just A Website Anymore
And having an attractive website isn’t enough — law firm websites that work to generate leads and convert visitors to customers need technical features like built-in search engine optimization (SEO) that make your practice easier to find on the web.
Another tech must for law sites is mobile-friendly design, so potential clients can easily view your site if they’re looking you up on their phone —say, in an emergency situation or because they’ve suddenly got a pressing legal concern that can’t wait.
So, while you could create a website yourself, you may want to seek out expert help to make sure this most important representation of your firm has all the functionality, good looks and technical specs to work hard for your and draw new clients into the fold. Let’s take a look at some things to consider when building a website for your law firm.
What Makes a Good Law Firm Website?
A Great Look: This means clean, eye-catching graphics with colors, photos and themes that are visually pleasing. All the design elements should work together to project the image you want and convey your strengths/specialties. Do you want to come off as friendly and approachable or more in-charge/effective? Perhaps you specialize in a specific industry or branch of law. The graphics on your site need to announce these things loud and clear.
Here’s an example of how Forward Push used good design principles to create an inviting and impactful site for one family law firm. Note the smiling homepage photo, soothing colors and photos depicting families.
Intuitive Layout and Navigation: Your site should be fast-loading, simple to navigate and have content that’s easy to find. Making your site pleasant and intuitive to use will keep potential clients interested long enough to become actual clients. Having a good User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) also drives search traffic, since search engines select for sites people like.
Clear Verbal Messaging: The text on your page should convey exactly what you do and how you will help your client. Strong, concise headlines and clearly-worded information that speaks directly to the client will pull more weight than lengthy or overly-technical descriptions. Tell them who you are, who you serve and why you are the best choice for the job.
Calls to Action: Your site should have a Call to Action (CTA) and Contact Info listed clearly on every page. Why? Encouraging site visitors to get in touch by phone, email or by filling out a form drives conversions. Making contacting you easy and reminding potential clients that it’s free, or cheap, or necessary to set up an initial consultation can make a huge difference.
Mobile-Friendly Design: Responsive website design means your website looks good and works well on phones and tablets as well as desktops. People often look things up on their phones first, especially when they’re in urgent need and feeling vulnerable. You need to be there for your potential clients when they need you the most.
Accessibility Features: Including accessibility features like alt text for screen readers, captioned videos, descriptive links and skip navigation options ensure everyone has a good user experience on your site. You may also want to include enhanced accessibility features and widgets, especially if your firm works with a lot of disabled or older clients.
Built-In SEO: Including on and off page search engine optimization elements (SEO) like metatags, titles and descriptions helps Google and potential clients know what your page is about. This helps drive the right kind of traffic to your site and helps you rank better for targeted search terms, too.
Testimonials/Case Studies: Including testimonials from satisfied clients builds trust and helps people seeking legal help feel more at ease with hiring you. Case studies tell a story of how you handled a case and can make potential clients in a similar situation want to hire you. People love examples, so talking about actual clients and cases is a great way to highlight your qualifications.
Website Pages You Absolutely Need for Your Law Firm Website
- Home Page: This is your opening argument and your make-or-break chance to make a good impression. Everything about it needs to announce who you are and draw people in.
- About the Firm: Use this to highlight your strengths and define the unique value you bring to the table. Explain what sets you apart from other firms and make the case for why you’re the best at what you do.
- Services/Specialties: Lay out what legal services you offer and what practice areas you specialize in. You can use this page to discuss different types of legal issues and explain what your firm does to help clients facing them.
- About the Attorneys/Bios: This lets you put a human face on your firm and highlight the different styles and strengths of your attorneys. Use this section to build trust and exude competence—don’t just list educational and legal credentials.
- Contact: The contact page should have all the phone and email contact information for your practice as well as addresses for your law offices. It should also have a “Get In Touch” form for clients to fill with their contact information, so you can reach out to them. Explain clearly whether an initial consultation will be free or involve a fee.
- FAQs/Law Guides/Blog: Answer common legal questions on your site to build trust and drive traffic from people searching these questions on the web. An FAQ section or guide can help you clear up specific questions clients might have about working with your firm or demystify the legal process for them. An updated legal blog goes further, letting you address questions in depth and discuss your area of expertise. It also drives targeted web traffic very effectively.
- Accessibility Statement: An accessibility statement demonstrates your commitment to making your website accessible to all users and details what accessibility features your site has.
After the Website is Built, Do I Need Updated My Website’s Content?
A static webpage works fine for a start, but good, regularly updated content on your law firm’s site builds trust, distinguishes you as knowledgeable and also drives search results your way.
Expert guidance can help you steer content toward things that are being searched and show you how to produce quality content that works. Here are some ways you can keep your content fresh and relevant to your current and future clients’ needs:
Blogging: Blogging establishes you as a thought leader in your field, builds trust, informs your clients and really helps with SEO if done right. Blog posts can also be used on social media and in email newsletters, so they’re cost-effective, too. You can hire out blog writing services to a marketing agency partner or seek help producing your own content.
Videos: People love visuals, and video content helps you seem relatable and knowledgeable about your law specialty. Videos that answer questions potential clients may have can win trust — and they drive targeted search results your way. Use videos to tell the story of your firm and educate your clients, and be sure to include a CTA and post to all your platforms. Expert guidance and production assistance can help you produce polished and relevant content, or you can try your hand at producing your own.
Podcasts: Podcasts target a broad but younger demographic and can help establish you as an expert in the ever-evolving legal field. Focus on topics other lawyers might be interested in or cover topics your potential clients need to know about. Again, seeking expert assistance will save time and improve the quality of your podcasts.
Downloadable Guides: Guides can help take the fear and uncertainty out of the legal process and save you valuable time explaining things to clients. Offering a free legal guide in exchange for an email address or newsletter signup makes a great marketing strategy, too. Write your own or work with an agency to create a useful, great-looking products.
Analytics: Figuring out what kind of content you need on an ongoing basis takes expertise and some technical tools you may not have. Basing blog posts, video, podcasts etc. on keyword-researched topics and trending searches ensures you’re making content people want and need. Digital marketing agencies have powerful analytics tools at their disposal and can help you figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Questions to Ask a Digital Marketing Firm Before Hiring Them
How Long Does the Website Design Process Take?
It depends on the type and size of the website and how much extra content you want. A smaller website without a lot of features won’t take as long as one that incorporates video, podcasts and other content that takes time and effort to write, shoot, record and produce. The average law firm website process at our agency usually takes about 3 to 4 months from start to finish.
Can We Manage the Site Ourselves?
A good marketing agency will show you how to keep your site current yourself or work to assist you in upkeep and with things like blogging, video etc. Your needs may change over time, too, so having an agency partner to take on some of this work when you need it most will take the pressure off and let you do what you do best. Forward Push can show you how to maintain your website when we’re done building it or stay on to help you keep it updated with fresh, professionally-produced and sought-after content.
What Kind of Input Will I Have?
You need to know how much input you’ll have during the website design process so you don’t wind up with a site that just isn’t you. At Forward Push, we start with a creative brief and buyer persona workbook to better understand our law firm clients and get a sense of who they’re trying to reach from the outset. We consult with our client-partners throughout the process to create a personalized final product that truly reflects the law firm it represents. Don’t hire an agency that doesn’t take the time to find out who you are and let you have a say.
How Much Will Everything Cost?
Ask how much the website design and build will cost and if there will be any ongoing maintenance costs for the project you’re considering. Websites are like living, breathing things, and they can work harder for you if you work hard to keep them fresh and relevant. Forward Push makes pricing clear from the start and provides full service after the build to keep everything running smoothly. We also offer a suite of ongoing services including blog, video and paid search strategies
Will I Own the Website You Build For Me?
We believe that if you’re paying for an important product like a website, which is a cornerstone of your law firm business, you deserve to own the finished website and all the content in it. You can do whatever you want with your site when we’re done designing it and even have your own staff maintain it, post updates, blog for you, etc. Be sure to ask if this is the case with any agency you’re considering hiring.
How Do You Make Your Sites Mobile-Friendly?
It’s imperative that sites look good and work well on mobile devices, so make sure your firm’s website will be designed with mobile functionality foremost in mind. Forward Push uses Mobile First Design, which means what it sounds like — we build our websites for mobile first and then expand on that foundation to create the desktop version. What this means in practice is that every site we design has excellent mobile features built-in from the start along with an appearance optimized for smaller screens.
Do Your Websites Include SEO?
You can have the best law firm website in the world, but without good SEO features, no one will ever know it’s there. Make sure whoever is designing your website uses best practice SEO protocols. Our agency builds SEO right into the DNA of your site, so search engines can find you with ease. We use title tags and meta descriptions in the code to properly represent your site in search and help people scan to see if your site has what they’re looking for. Then, we incorporate important keyword search terms into the content so website crawlers will “see” your site the right way. The result is an easily findable, valuable website about the law and your firm, written for humans but optimized for search.
What About Advanced SEO?
Driving search traffic to your website and turning that traffic into conversions requires ongoing effort and knowhow. High-ROI strategies include regular blog posts, video and podcast content, plus quality backlink building with other respected law sites and directories. Content must also be based on solid keyword research, with regular analytics and reporting to optimize and gauge performance. Forward Push offers upgraded SEO packages with content creation, weekly and monthly reporting, reviews and recommendations for our clients.
Do You Design with Accessibility In Mind?
You need to make accessibility for all users a priority, so everyone who needs your services can use your site with ease. Features like alt text for images, descriptive links and headers, video captioning and keyboard navigation should all be part of your site’s design.
What Security Features Do Your Websites Include?
Customers need to feel safe visiting your website — especially if they’re sharing their information — and you need to keep your site from being vulnerable to attacks from bots, hackers and malware. Be sure your site will be protected with HTTPS communication protocols and either SSL or TLS to encrypt and authenticate information transfer. Many browsers will flag sites that don’t have these safeguards, too, so failing to include them can deter people from visiting your site. We include the latest trusted security features in every website we create, including HTTPS, SSL and secure web hosting services.
Speak to a Legal Marketing Professional Right Now
Want to learn more about creating a great website for your law firm? Let’s talk. Schedule your free website and marketing consultation with one of our legal marketing specialists by calling 800-692-4037 or filling out the form on our Contact Us page.
By Marc Apple
Marc Apple is recognized as a leader in the marketing industry and has 20+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their digital marketing. He specializes in website design, SEO, social media, and paid search programs. He is a frequent contributor to other marketing websites and speaks regularly about marketing to small business owners and startups. To learn about Marc and to contact him, visit his author bio page.
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