There was once a time that stock photography was all the rage. It was handy, not expensive or sometimes free, did the job and looked pretty good. Or did it? That’s the latest issue, whether or not stock photography is bad for a law firm’s SEO. While still useful, to a certain extent, using stock photography just does not function in the way it should when it comes to providing a personal touch to your law firm’s website. In fact, stock photos detract from the reality of what your firm is trying to achieve, attracting clients.
People needing lawyers to help them with a legal issue are looking for someone they can relate to, talk to in person, get to know and work with. Interacting with a “fake” photo that is supposed to represent the law firm you work at just does not make the same impression as using “real” photos that show you, the staff and other attorneys – showing “real” people, doing real work representing those who need legal counsel.
Think long and hard about what kinds of photos to post on your law firm’s website because they are the first things people see when someone visits your website. It’s not hard to figure out whether or not the pictures are real or “staged” just by looking at them. Most of them are unrealistic, not very engaging and very stiff – like they were instructed to pose in a certain way – and, in fact, they were told to pose a certain way.
The tipping point for the debate on whether or not to use stock photos or real life photos taken of the subjects behind a website came when Google’s John Mueller remarked it was worthwhile to have unique images on each page of a website showing original images is not only good for branding, but it may also be a good search engine optimization (SEO) move.
No one here can take decent photos
Fair enough, not everyone takes good pictures nor even knows what makes a good picture to post on a website or understands the sometimes subtle nuances of photo composition to make a statement. If you cannot take a picture that does not have a thumb or other photo bomb object in it, hire the work out. It’s worth every law firm marketing dollar you invest to get vibrant, subtle, crisp and clear pictures that convey the sense of who you are and what your law firm does. In other words, real life, quality pictures personalize your website and communicate positively to visitors.
If by chance you happen to have the equipment, a bang-up photo editor and already edit your firm’s website, then get to work to figure out what pictures best speak their message to those needing legal counsel from your firm’s attorneys. This does require a certain amount of planning and sometimes that can be done to match content or the content can match the photo later.
Just make certain that if you have outstanding photos, that you also have outstanding content, because, content is still King, and now, so are real pictures that tell a visceral story. If you get great pictures, they may show up in the one-box image results. Now that’s good brand exposure.
What about rankings if we change all our pictures?
Great question. According to Mueller at Google if you do choose to swap out all your images and replace them with authentic photos of the real people in your law firm, it does not help you rank with web search, but is another piece that adds to the cumulative ranking process puzzle.
Making changes to how you market your law firm’s website
Start by auditing your existing website and ask some really pointed questions about what to keep and what to replace and whether or not you want to swap out every picture? Some general questions you could start with are:
• Do the pictures on the website now truly reflect the firm’s brand and people?
• Do the photos all consistently tell a story about the firm?
• Are all the pictures the same size and shape?
• Are the current photos of attorneys up-to-date?
• Are the current staff photos (if any) up-to-date?
• Do all the pictures on the website have a license and/or permission to use them?
• What is the goal in changing the pictures?
• What is the message we want to convey in changing pictures?
• Does the content need to also be changed?
Sound like a whole lot of work? It may be, but the results may be well worth it. Consider starting somewhere and take it one-step-at-time.
Kerrie Spencer is a content developer for law firms at Custom Legal Marketing.