Law firm websites are better and better. Firms have stopped talking about themselves. Instead, they now focus on the 64 million dollar question: what do the users want from our website?
The answer is straightforward. People firstly use the web to research something. Then they use it to purchase that thing. Most law firms need to focus on the second question, while not ignoring the first one.
So put yourself in the shoes of a typical user, who needs to find out about divorce. Follow their imaginary journey and think about how they make decisions at each point about what to do and where to go next.
Type ‘divorce financial issues advice’ into Google and see what’s on the first page of listings. As a user, you would dig around in this information and feast on any extensive free advice, such as the Law Donut or Fisher Meredith websites.
If you are looking for a law firm to advise you, you would typically look for a local one. You’d ask your friends for recommendations, you’d note down any likely-looking firms on the local high street, and you would also see which firms are listed when you search on the web by adding a location to your search term, eg ‘divorce financial issues advice + Bristol’.
How would you decide which firm to call first? Typically, in the absence of a strong personal recommendation (“You MUST use Maria Smith, she is really nice to deal with…”) you would decide this on the basis of each firm’s website. Can you immediately see that the firm does divorce? And do its solicitors appear approachable, knowledgeable, and affordable?
A quick look at the websites of other firms will show you what not to do and what not to say. Feel your own reaction: “CRIKEY that is dull. Long-winded. Patronising. Unhelpful. Vague. Confusing. The same as every other firm.”
The most-read pages with be the personal bios. The aim of your law firm is to make each person approachable. I have specialised in divorce for 10 years sounds so much better in a solicitor’s bio than Maria Smith qualified in 2005 and undertakes divorce matters. Again, once you have read 10 sets of bios you can work out which ones are attractive to non-legal people (aka users, your target audience) and which ones seem to be written by lawyers who want to “look professional” to their peers.
The same is true when it comes to explaining your services. Some firms manage to write a whole page about divorce, without saying a single thing that is helpful. By all means sound sympathetic and human, but make sure you have useful information, even if it is just 10 good bullet points.
When writing content, focus on quality rather than quantity. A good set of bullet points could be kept up to date for the next 10 or even 20 years; this ‘evergreen’ content provides excellent value for money. In contrast, a blog about the seminal Dale Vince divorce case may feel dated a couple of months later.
Think about evidence, and how to collect or create it. We write 500 wills [a year]; we advised on 250 divorces last year, probably more than any other firm in [town]; we won £X on behalf of our clients; 96% of our clients are “very satisfied” with our service. Good evidence is extremely persuasive.
Once you have worked out what all your key information and messages are, putting them all into a website is actually the easy part.
Web design needs to take into account how the site displays across different screen sizes. Your website should provide a good user experience whether it is being viewed on a desktop, laptop or smart phone. A good designer is worth their weight in gold and will make your website come alive. The best designers will also be UX (user experience) experts.
Search engine optimisation has become remarkably straightforward. Provided that you follow Google’s simple rules for page mark-up, the search engines will be able to find and index your pages. So it’s mainly just a matter of choosing some keywords and phrases to focus on and the search engines will do the rest. Google knows that divorce, separation, and split-up are related words, so you can write naturally — there is no need to keep repeating a single keyword.
Lastly, treat every page as a home page. By that I mean make sure that users can easily get in touch with you (a ‘Call To Action’ or ‘CTA’ in marketing jargon), and can reach any key section of your website in one click (People, Services for You, Services for your Business, About, News/Blog).
Of course, there are still other factors: choosing a website builder; specifying the website; being able to update and upgrade the website easily and cheaply; website security; social media integration; newsletter integration and data collection; use of video; making the site attractive to current and future employees; and where websites are heading in the future (ask @newfangled). But the right content is the foundation — get that right and you’re more than half-way there before you’ve even started building.
If, like most firms, you are too busy to write much content, Atom can help cost-effectively. We can get you up and running with a set of licensed content, written and updated by experts, then gradually replace it with your own content as and when you have the time (or money) to create it. But whatever happens, don’t wait to get started: the local race to win new clients has already begun.
- To talk to us about your website needs, speak to Emma or Jack on 0117 373 6160 or email Jack.Somervell@atomcontentmarketing.co.uk
- Visit our Donut sites to see examples of the practical, high quality content we produce.