Law firms may not want to think of themselves as small businesses, but competing for new clients increasingly requires the implementation of business strategies, from law firm practice management to holistic marketing plans. As traditional methods of attorney marketing continue to move toward obsolescence, online marketing efforts are taking a larger and larger share of marketing dollars. Because of this, your website must be effective.
MarketingProfs published a provocatively titled article this week, claiming that most small and medium business websites will fail. Small and medium businesses (SMBs), the article claims, are not as prepared to face the reality of competing online as they should be by this point in the life of the Internet. Their analysis is based largely on data drawn from vSplash's SMB DigitalScape, which reveals some surprising facts about small and medium business websites, including:
- 93.3% are not mobile-compatible
- 80.5% contain no links to social media
- 60% have no phone number on the homepage
- 56.3% have no keyword information
Do not let your website fall into one of more of these categories. Remember these five things that the most effective websites have in common:
Conversion: Above all, you want your website to convert. It can be well-designed, contain great information and represent your firm in a professional manner, but if it does not prompt people to contact you, you have wasted your money. A phone number must be present on all pages, top and bottom. Make sure that the phone number is actual text – people using smartphones will want to tap and dial. It is also a good idea to have a form on all pages and at a minimum on the home page. If forms are not on all pages, a clear, obvious contact button must be present.
Compatibility: It is no secret that people are addicted to their mobile devices. The number of different types of devices continues to proliferate, and law firm websites must keep up. According to data from Knotice, at the end of 2012, 41% of commercial emails were opened on mobile devices. Since your emails should link to your website, users must be able to have a seamless experience. In addition, more searches are being performed on mobile devices. If people cannot view your website on their device, you are missing out on potential business.
Content: Website content can be viewed in a number of categories. There is static content that remains largely unchanged, like practice area information, attorney bios and contact information, archived content like articles or glossaries, and fluid content like blog entries and press items. Content is key to onsite optimization and link building, and the way in which content is written is important. Keyword placement cannot seem forced, nor can the same keywords be consistently linked to the same page. Robotic keyword laden text and headlines will no longer do the trick.
Connection: Websites must be frequently updated in order to appear relevant. Part of this process involves connecting your website with appropriate social media profiles. The goal should be achieving a balance in which all outlets are updated regularly with information that is appropriate for each venue. Do not simply broadcast item after item about your firm to all profiles simultaneously. Schedule different updates for different profiles. You may also want to incorporate items like recent tweets into your own website to help keep content fresh.
Communication: Comprehensive search marketing involves more than tossing in a few keywords and some external links. Google has systematically cracked down on questionable SEO practices over the past several years, targeting link exchanges and keyword spam among many other things. As a result, website content must be more naturally written, links must be more diverse and your website cannot be your only method of communicating online. Integrated marketing requires building relationships, much like traditional offline networking. Posting regular updates to both your blog and social media profiles, answering questions, providing informative analysis of current events and recognizing the work of peers are all methods that can (and should) be employed as part of a communication and relationship building strategy.