Good website content is not easy to write. Web content has to hold the interest of visitors, who have notoriously limited attention spans, and in that short time it must offer enough value to convince readers they have found the right firm. On top of this challenge, the process of writing web content can seem tedious and repetitive, making it easy to start taking shortcuts or using platitudes.
Firms must overcome these difficulties to develop web content that works — content that boasts a real distinction. In a previous post, we discussed the need to identify your ideal clients and unique selling proposition, both of which are critical to planning a marketing strategy. Once you have developed client personas and defined your competitive advantage, you will want to use your research craft persuasive website content. Here are some basic content dos and don'ts.
1. Proactively answer questions. Your website will stand out if it explains to readers how you can address their concerns rather than functioning as a brochure exclusively about you. Think of the types of questions you are typically asked in client interviews and answer them on your site. Also, ask yourself some questions about your firm and practice, and answer those, too. Such questions include:
Who are you? Provide attorney bios and discuss any interesting and relevant experience. Talk about why you decided to practice in your area of law.
What do you do? Clearly tell visitors what services you provide.
How do you interact with clients? What can people expect from working with you? Do you have a distinct style or way of communicating with clients?
What is the case process? Break typical client experiences into steps and explain those steps in your content.
2. Explain how you can solve visitors' problems. If you have identified who your ideal clients are, you will better understand their concerns. After explaining what you do, go deeper and explain how that helps such clients.
For example, an estate planning attorney might have a page about Medicaid planning. One concern a prospective client looking at this service may have would be: How will I know I will be cared for when I can no longer care for myself? Medicaid planning clients are trying to address fears of lack of care in old age. In this case, website content should tell readers how the technical details of planning can solve the problem of long-term care.
If possible, support your assertions with examples or representative cases. People searching for an attorney are very interested in experience and will be reassured if they see you have handled cases similar to theirs in the past.
3. Forget about search engines. Write for people, and search engines will follow. Google is interested in interpreting the intent of your visitors — as you are. Make sure website content is contextually relevant, targeted and clearly written. This is more important than worrying about keyword volume.
1. Use industry jargon. A website is a marketing tool. As such, copy should be written for clients, not colleagues. Including legal jargon in website copy does not make you sound intelligent, it makes you sound hard to work with. Instead, try to connect with visitors by writing content you know they will be able to understand.
2. Try to be all things to all people. Your firm cannot help everyone. In fact — although you may not admit it publicly — there are probably some people whom you would rather not have contact you. Focus only on what you do best. Describe the aspects of your attorneys, experience and firm culture that make you the best at these areas.
3. State the obvious. Many websites sound the same because they all say undeniably obvious things. Working for the best interests of your clients, for example, should be a given, not a unique selling feature.
The following are examples of phrases every firm should consider eliminating or revising:
1. Full service. The term full service problematic for both its ambiguity and obviousness. Most clients assume you will handle their case in its entirety, and if you cannot they expect to know this up front.
In addition, full service can mean different things to different people. To some, it may mean bringing in services you do not actually offer. And as mentioned earlier, you do not want to be all things to all people. A better strategy is to clearly explain the scope of your services, avoiding ambiguity.
2. Unique (without accompanying explanation). The word unique is ubiquitous and often unsupported in web content. Uniqueness is a good thing; the entire exercise of identifying ideal clients and determining your distinction works because it allows you to speak to visitors' specific needs and provide compelling reasons for them call you. However, simply saying you will address unique needs or telling readers that your services are unique is not enough. You must explain how and why.
3. Dedicated to (insert winning synonym here). What firm is not dedicated to winning? This is your most basic duty to its clients, and it can be said of any firm. Yet so many attorneys market by claiming to be "Dedicated to Winning!" or explaining that "Results Matter!" Imagine if Apple had decided against it's iconic “Think Different” campaign in favor of “Committed to Processing!” or “Your Data Matters!” Copy must be specific in order to be memorable and distinct.
Many prospective clients will visit a firm's website first before deciding whether to call. Your website's content may be your only chance by which to connect with this group. To do so, it must clearly illustrate your unique selling proposition. This will make it clear to visitors why they must call you and no one else.