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Finding the Right Voice for a Law Firm Website

When you pursue a digital marketing campaign for a law firm website, you could choose to go in many directions. Many firms end up outsourcing the development of digital content but find it challenging to partner with an appropriate agency. The goal is to craft the right voice for their brand. Finding your voice is not as simple as it sounds, especially for firms targeting multiple regions or types of legal matters.

Past Trends in Digital Legal Content

In the past, law firms focused on developing content in which pieces were tied to timely news articles. For example, personal injury law firms could post about local accidents and how they might help injured victims. Law firms also called for evergreen content on general law topics and content specific to their firm’s current operations. In the present, the voice you want for your law firm’s website may include these types of content, but it must be written in a voice that will be appropriate for delivery over multiple channels. Increasingly, effective content must be styled in a breezy, listicle format that’s easy to digest for mobile readers. Today’s readers won’t delve too deeply into digital content before making brand decisions. They have too many daily decisions to make.

How Voice Represents the Brand

Before you seek to create a brand, it’s best to understand what it means for your law firm. Here’s how Casey Meraz explained it last year in Brand Quarterly:

“Just like the human voice, a brand voice carries a spectrum of emotions, and it behaves differently depending on the context or scenario. The distinctiveness of your voice should come through in its consistency; no matter what the circumstances, it should always embody the agreed upon brand values.”

Considering Your Market

Before you can build the right voice, you must analyze all target markets. People who get arrested for DUI will have different immediate concerns than people who slipped and fell at Target. A person accused of a DUI will want to get released from jail and return to work as soon as possible. An accident victim will be more concerned with recuperating from trauma and how recover money for his or her hospital bills and lost wages. Both types of clients may have some questions that must be addressed immediately and others that can be explained once the case progresses. Your brand voice can address different types of questions in effective ways and subtly encourage potential clients to contact your firm and to rely on your employees to sign them up for legal services.

Understanding the Impact of Voice

When we refer to voice, we mean how the writer speaks to the readers and targets their needs and wants in the text format. For example, a legal content writer must grasp how much background knowledge their targeted readers will possess and how many details they will need to make sense of the selected topic. If a writer includes too little information or too much jargon, the readers can get turned off by the content. You also must be sensitive to the emotions you include in each message.

When your content must address parents who recently lost a child to a drunk driver, your voice must demonstrate great sensitivity to their loss. They also have other strong feelings like anger and resentment, wishing that someone would pay for the harm done to their child. They may not understand that the legal system will take years to work, and there is no guarantee of recovering anything in a wrongful death suit.

Types of Voice

A brand voice is sometimes hard to define, but it can either turn on or turn off the reader. It’s hard to generalize the types of voice that will suit a law firm’s digital audience. In one sense, legal content must consider a reader’s age, sex, location, family unit, educational level, and knowledge of the law. For example, past offenders may possess a deeper understanding of the legal process a DUI case moves through than first-time offenders. Offenders who can afford a private attorney would have different expectations, such as finding the firm’s minimum retainer and fee structure, than people who cannot afford an attorney. The latter group would need to consult the public defender’s website for their information.

Building a Content Strategy

When you decide to revamp your law practice website and develop it into a better source of leads, be sure to allow enough time for strategy development. By this, we mean mapping out the site design and setting expectations for user-friendly applications. The planning process also calls for analyzing the kinds of content you will need. Some kinds of informative content can be written on the front end for the site launch and updated over time = evergreen content. Your content strategy will also include scheduling of regular content feeds for the website, blog, and social media pages. These messages are typically shorter in nature and are more time-sensitive than evergreen content.

Get Started Today

You can partner with a content provider, either an agency or a single writer, to develop new posts for your website. However, please ensure that your intended provider can develop content on your schedule and deliver it to the website manager for timely distribution. If you start to build an online audience and then the content does not meet their regular needs, they will look to other law firms for information. Typically, your provider will guide you to establish voice guidelines. This includes using only the types of references permitted in legal content. According to the rules of the Federal Trade Commission and to your state’s ethical guidelines for law practices, certain types of content cannot be included on your digital and social media pages. Your partner should deliver content that accomplishes your business strategy without violating your voice guidelines and without placing your law firm at risk for lawsuits or ethical violations from regulatory agencies. Some content providers are known to be more reliable at meeting publishing deadlines and consistently providing messages that increase a law firm’s authority on the Internet.

Your Guide to Finding a True Law Firm SEO Expert

 

“Whatever the facts and circumstances of your new law office, you need clients walking through your door, calling your office, emailing your inbox or otherwise soliciting your services and assistance. In order to do so, former, current and prospective clients alike need to be able to find you…And the first place they are likely going to look is Google, Bing or Yahoo.” 

– Jared K. Nelson, Oklahoma Bar Association

Your law firm’s success hinges in great part upon your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. With thousands of people in the United States advertising SEO services, it can be challenging to find an SEO specialist with expertise in your field of law. Fortunately, there are some measures you can take to ensure that you choose a provider who will deliver outstanding SEO results. With Below is your eight-step guide to finding a law firm SEO expert.

1) Seek an expert who specializes in law firm SEO

As you dive into a deep pool of SEO providers, the first step to take is to whittle the number of prospective SEO specialists. The best way to accomplish this is to restrict your search to SEO providers with a proven history of success working with law firms. This will ensure that you hire a provider who is truly an expert in law firm SEO.

2) Ask your friends and colleagues who they use for SEO services

“Ask your friends who they use and if they’re happy with the company. If they’re pleased with it, odds are good you will be, too. Referrals from trusted sources are the best way to find a good company.”

– Sharon Nelson and John Simek, Law Practice Magazine

Referrals can be instrumental in helping you further narrow the field of eligible SEO experts. Friends, family members, and colleagues can often lend valuable guidance regarding their personal experiences with SEO firms. Remember to target friends and family members who are lawyers or who work in the legal field to ensure that you receive a list of providers who can hit the ground running.

3) Avoid providers who are unresponsive to your inquiries

As you contact prospective SEO specialists, you will likely find that they vary greatly in terms of their degree of responsiveness to your inquiries. Some will respond promptly and enthusiastically while others may fail to return your phone calls or e-mails. In general, it is a good idea to steer clear of prospects who are uncommunicative or who fail to provide you with a quote.

4) Find out which specific SEO tasks will be provided

“SEO encompasses a lot of different tasks. You need to have a clear understanding of what the firm will be responsible for and what tasks are left for you. Which technical, off-page and on-page tasks are they prepared to handle? And since SEO, content marketing and PPC (Pay-Per-Click) are so interconnected, you might want to find a firm that’s set up to help you out with all three.”

– Andrew Raso, Co-Founder and Director of the Online Marketing Gurus

The SEO process is complex and involves many tasks and techniques. As you evaluate prospective specialists, make sure you ask what services they offer and whether there are any limitations or restrictions on the services they provide.

5) Request a written quotation

Affordability is a top consideration for many law firms, especially those that are in their formative years. After your initial discussion with each prospective SEO expert, be sure to request a written quote that outlines the services provided along with the cost of each. Make sure the quote contains the following details:

  • The date the quote was prepared and an expiration date
  • Acceptable modes of payment and an explanation of payment terms
  • The signature of the individual who provided the pricing
  • Details regarding any guarantees that are offered

6) Choose an SEO specialist who is a good fit with your law firm

“The personality, integrity and communication style of the SEO needs to match the organization or progress will be hard.”

– Rand Fishkin, Entrepreneur and Founder of SparkToro

Finding an SEO specialist who is a good fit with the work culture at your law firm is vital to producing top results. The expert you hire will be interfacing with your marketing, IT staff, and lawyers to develop content, highlighting the need to hire an SEO specialist who is similar to your law firm employees in terms of values and work ethic.

7) Request a list of current and past clients in the legal field

References can prove to be invaluable assets as you evaluate SEO specialists. While current and past clients may not be able to offer specific details related to Google analytics or specific techniques employed by an SEO specialist, they can offer useful insight regarding the following:

  • The SEO expert’s impact on their search engine rankings
  • Any notable increases in their conversion rates
  • Feedback about their overall experience with the SEO provider

8) Consider your ongoing SEO needs

“Remember, SEO is an ongoing process, so ask the firm or consultant how much it will cost to maintain the site once the major changes have been made.”

– Issie Lapowsky, Wired

SEO does not occur in a vacuum. While the majority of the effort will likely occur on the front end, you should look for an SEO expert who recognizes that SEO is an ongoing process. In addition to asking prospective providers to outline a current SEO strategy for your law firm, you should also ask them to outline their proposed long-term strategies for success along with estimated costs.

The Bottom Line

Hiring a true law firm SEO expert is the surest way to drive traffic to your law firm’s website. As you evaluate potential SEO providers, you can follow the steps above to help ensure that you choose the best provider for your law firm. By seeking a responsive law firm SEO expert who is a good fit with your law firm’s culture, you will be on your way to higher search engine rankings and increased conversions.

Common Design Mistakes to Avoid in a Law Firm Website

A website representing a quality law firm should come across a professional effort. There are many ways to build a website, and consequently, there are many ways to do it wrong. The last thing a business wants is a website that makes a bad first impression. With that said, here are some common design mistakes that should be avoided when building a quality law firm website.

Incorporating a Non-Responsive Theme Design

Website browsers come in all different sizes, and at various screen resolutions. Having a theme design that doesn’t adapt to the screen can mean that what looks terrific on one device just doesn’t work as well on another.

Today it is common to have a desktop, tablet, and a smartphone visit your site, so you need to have a website design for your law firm that supports all three natively.

No Call to Action

Having someone visit your site is an excellent start to building a new client relationship. But your website should incorporate some form of Call to Action (CTA) to help convert that visitor into a client.

It can be something simple, like a newsletter email to stay informed about new content. Or even better it could be a contact page to further discuss a legal issue. But not having a CTA for a website visitor is an excellent example of a missed opportunity.

Having a Non-Secure Website

You’ve probably visited a secure website before, maybe even without realizing it. A secure website encrypts information between the client’s browser and the website server, making all communication private. Otherwise, data can be spied upon over the network in places such as a crowded coffee shop or a library.

If you think this sounds like a good idea, rest assured that Google agrees with you. This is why sites that are not secure are not promoted in search engine results as well as those that are. By establishing a site in a secure manner (using an SSL certificate) from the start allows it to grow without changes later.

Making the site secure also helps when establishing that vital Call to Action. For their protection, you will want to have a secure connection with a visitor before getting any information. This helps to build a layer of trust with a client from the start.

Using a Free Website Builder

A free website builder can be handy for a simple site with limited use. But a cookie-cutter approach will invariably produce a website that doesn’t stand out from the competition. In today’s world, many people get their first impression from your website.

Having a well-designed website that accurately represents your law firm allows you to make the right first impression.

Using a Pre-Built WordPress Theme

Much like a free website builder, a designed-to-fit-all WordPress theme is only going to offer a generic solution. You need a website that accurately represents your law firm, not everyone’s online business.

Another reason to avoid generic themes is that they tend to be large and bulky, which can lead to a slow website. You want that first impression to be a professional one.

Having a Slow Site

The web is a vast place, and finding the right law firm from a search may require visiting several competing websites. If the site is too slow, a visitor may merely go on to the next one on the list.

I’ve mentioned before about making the right first impression. You will want your law firm to appear as professional as possible. If the site is very slow to respond or only loads half the page before it shows in their browser, this could send the wrong message to a potential client.

In order to make sure that a site is as fast as it needs to be, use a third party to test it. Many browsers will cache large images and other resources as an optimization. This means that a site you frequent may load much faster for you than it does for that new client. Google even has a page speed insight tool just for this purpose.

Skimping on the Content

One of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority on the web is to have great and informative content. This gives that potential client a reason to trust that you know your subject matter, as well as providing them a reason to stay longer on your site. With luck, they may follow through on your Call to Action.

Not only does this help your visitor, but having quality content is a great way to get the attention of search engines. Best SEO practices always help but don’t forget the importance of the content.

Not Using Schema

Have you ever been to a new mega mall? One of the best ways to find your way around one is to look at a map or directory conveniently located at most entrances. This saves you time and effort as you shop.

Now imagine a search engine visiting your site. Without a map, it has to wander your virtual hallways trying to figure out what is there. A schema is like a store directory or roadmap for your site. Search engines know how to read a schema, and it speeds up their crawl and helps to define your content.

Making it as convenient as possible for a search engine to find out about your website is one way to help your site appear correctly in search engine results. This will translate to more visitors to your site.

Not Owning Your Website

This is probably one of the biggest mistakes a business can make when creating a website. A website today is one of the best tools you can have for reaching out to new clients. It represents your law firm, and naturally, you will spend a lot of time and effort in getting it just right.

Having a website that is hosted on your purchased account puts you in an ownership position. The site is yours, and you have greater flexibility on what you can do on it. Many free hosts are worth precisely what you pay for them.

Another important aspect of website ownership is the domain name itself. Make sure that either you or your trusted agent are listed as the owner, and that the yearly fees are clearly paid. It should come as no surprise that some domains are worth millions of dollars. You’ll want to protect this critical business asset.

Hiring the Wrong Experts

In most cases, law firms will outsource their website needs to an expert so that can focus on their practice. But it is essential that the right expert is hired for the job. You will want someone that understands the nature of your business and how to properly promote it.

A website company well versed in your business will be better suited to optimize your website and content for the best SEO. This will bring potential clients to your site. Having a great looking website means little if no one sees it.

We pride ourselves on delivering quality websites for exceptional law firms like yours. Our experience in the industry makes sure that you avoid the mistakes up front. Contact us today to see how we can help you have that perfect website for your law firm.