Is your law firm’s website good? How do you judge if it is good? Is it good if it looks pretty? Are aesthetics the primary criteria?
I would argue that the overwhelming criterion to judge whether or not your law firm’s website is good, is how many high-quality leads and new clients is provides for you. Period.
If you are paying for a third-party legal lead generation service, you might consider repurposing that budget into building your own lead generation on an asset that is yours: your law practice’s website.
There are four keys to building a law firm website that generates an abundance of new legal leads and clients. In this post, you will discover how to make your firm’s site a lead generation machine.
The secret is to make four things easy for your potential clients. They are:
- Make it easy for potential clients to find you.
- Make it easy for potential clients to start the process of hiring you.
- Make it easy for potential clients to trust you.
- Make it easy for potential clients to qualify themselves
Make It Easy for Clients to Find You
Before a potential client can hire you, they need to know you exist. That is where topical search engine optimization and local search optimization comes into play.
There are other ways to connect with potential clients such as online advertising, social media, email marketing, and pay-per-click search marketing such as Google Ads. We will cover those more in-depth in other posts. This piece focuses on SEO because it is the most reliable, efficient, and long-lasting source of quality leads.
Search Engine Optimization for Law Firms
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short) encompasses the practices associated with being found by potential clients when they search for your services.
SEO is the marketing service that has the most potential to positively impact your firm’s bottom line.
Achieving high rankings in Google requires four elements:
- Comprehensive content that answers the questions that your potential client is asking on the way to becoming your client
- A website design and layout that is easy to read, understand, and consume.
- Content that is organized in a logical fashion that allows search engine algorithms to easily understand the topic and quality of the content.
- Evidence that your website, content, and firm are credible experts in your field.
For the purpose of our topic, we will talk about two kinds of SEO: topical and local.
Topical Search Engine Optimization
Topical search engine optimization is closely related to content marketing. Successful topical SEO provides useful information, usually in the form of a blog and/or videos.
When a prospective client searches for topics indicating that they need legal services in your practice area, great topical SEO and content marketing will push your website to the top of the results page.
Successful SEO content is comprehensive. It answers a question and/or addresses an issue in a thorough manner. It is common for high-ranking blog posts to contain 2,000 or more words.
While Google doesn’t publicly reveal much about how they determine rankings, they do say, explicitly, that content should be “factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive.” [source]
The broader the topic, the longer the content.
The importance of on-page structure
The Google ranking algorithm understands structure. This means that you should always employ proper formatting in your written content. Using header tags in a logical way to organize the written piece on the page.
There are six levels of headers. The header tags associated with them are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6.
The H1 is almost always the title of the page or blog post name. The main subsections are subtitled, with detailed and accurate descriptions, within the H2 tags. Subsection within an H2 can take H3 tags, and so on.
The end result of this structuring should look like an outline. For example, here is the outline of header tags for this blog post, as generated by Google Docs’ Outline View:
If your content contains a list of important items that you normally would divide using commas, consider breaking them out into a list.
Using lists on your site’s content:
- Communicates valuable information about the structure of the content on the list.
- Makes it easier for the user to understand the information in the list.
- Adds whitespace to page with provides a better reading experience for the user.
Pay attention to user experience
One of Google’s most important ranking factors is how users behave on your website once they arrive from a search result. If they spend a lot of time on your site (the dwell time is high) and/or if they click on a link to another page, then Google detects that your site was valuable to that user. In this case, that page on your site is more likely to rank higher for a similar search.
On the other hand, if a user clicks to your site from a search result and they immediately go back to the results page and choose another result, then Google judges that your site was not valuable to that user’s search. I probably don’t have to explain that this is a bad thing.
Organizing into Topic Clusters
Not only is structure important on the actual content page, but it is also important to pay attention to how the various pages and blog posts are structured in relation to one another.
The best practice is to use the topic cluster model.
Using this model, there is one central piece of content, known as a pillar page, that covers a broad subject.
Since Google favors comprehensive content, and the topic is broad, this pillar page will be long. The pillar pages that we make for our clients usually run between 2,000 and 6,000 words. Sometimes they are longer.
The additional pieces of content or blog posts cover more narrowly-defined subjects that are related to the main topic. These are called cluster content.
Since these pieces deal with more narrow topics, they don’t have to be as long as the pillar page in order to be comprehensive. These usually run between 1,000 and 2,000 words.
Local Search Engine Optimization
Local SEO is all about ensuring that people can easily find your brick-and-mortar location.
If you haven’t already done it, you should claim your firm’s Google My Business listing and Bing Places listing. Additionally, you will want to make sure that your firm's NAP listings (places where your firm’s contact information, like firm name, address, and phone number are listed on the internet) are accurate and consistent.
The more consistent that your information is across the internet, the more trustworthy your business will appear to Google ranking algorithm and the more likely that your business will appear in relevant searches.
Additionally, it is important that your industry-specific listings, such as those on AVVO, are accurate and consistent.
Make it Easy for Potential Clients to Start the Process of Hiring You
The average person spends 6x more time texting on their smartphone than talking on a phone call.
People prefer to request and receive instant information at their fingertips, rather than making a phone call to solicit the same information.
The internet has made us impatient and fickle.
If a potential client can’t easily start the process of hiring you within the context that they find themselves in at the moment, you are likely to lose out on that prospect.
You should always assume that a person visiting your website wants to hire you. That means that it should be easy for them to get the process started. The user experience should be designed so that the user’s logical next move is to hire your firm.
Every page on your firm’s site should have a prominent call-to-action or CTA, giving the user the opportunity to get started as a client. The CTA should be the most prominent design feature on the page.
Here is an example of a button CTA at the top of a page and a CTA with a lead form:
In addition, be sure that your phone number is readily visible to readers and is clickable-t0-call using a tel: link for those that are using a smartphone to visit your site.
Make it Easy for Potential Clients to Trust You
One thing that will help you attract new clients with your website, is giving them reasons to trust you.
Social proof is a term that was coined in 1984 by Robert Cialdini in the book Influence. For our purposes, social proof is important because it describes how people behave when they are faced with uncertainty in a pending decision.
According to Cialdini, people tend to copy others when faced with a challenging decision. Making a popular choice seems safe to our human nature.
Your firm’s website should communicate to the potential client that you are a safe choice because others have trusted you and you have delivered for them.
The easiest way to do this is to feature testimonials and case studies.
Make it Easy for Potential Clients to Qualify Themselves
There are certain functions that can be largely automated on your website.
Interactive tools such as child support calculators, a tool that evaluates whether a client is eligible for an expungement, and other similar tools can provide visitors to your site with useful information.
And, it provides the information immediately. After all, the internet has made us impatient and fickle.
By providing these useful tools, you help to build a connection with visitors to your site by providing them immediate value
More importantly, you can use these kinds of tools to qualify potential clients. Not everyone in your broad target audience may meet the criteria to be a good client for you. The information that you get from users via your interactive online tool can help you prioritize leads.
If you want to see how these kinds of interactive tools can supercharge your lead generation, then schedule a legal marketing assessment.
We have been doing successful web design and online lead generation for law firms since 2012.