Your law firm’s website is your law firm’s 24/7 storefront, information portal, and marketing machine….it is your online business card and is visible to everyone in San Diego. The days of plain postcard sites are gone. If your website does not have a call to action (ie, have your phone number visible on EVERY page), make a powerful first impression, engage visitors, build rapport, and convert traffic into qualified leads and referrals, it is time for change.cheap viagra Alone, a great website will not guarantee your success; a San Diego law firm with a poor website will not acquire new clients at the same rate as a similar law firm who invests in Internet marketing properly.
It is said that 65% of those looking for legal advice begin their search for it online (cited by NYSBA Journal ’09) and 89% of people who use the internet go online to find an attorney (cited by Trial Magazine ’07).
Do you have a website? Is your website turning potential paying clietns away or turning them into paying clientelle? Are flaws in your website hurting your reputation, costing you clients, and undermining your competiveness? I have seen too many legal websites with typos, or “insert area of law here”. If you don’t review your website for these errors then what is a prospective client going to think of how you will put together their legal documentation?
Review the following 7 Critical Flaws to learn what you may be doing wrong.
Critical Flaw 1: Bad Design
Design is the first thing people see when they open your site – they react emotionally to colors, layout, graphics and images. A negative first impression is usually all it takes for visitors to dismiss your firm and leave your site to go to your competitor’s website. As a virtual extension of your office, your website should look every bit as clean and professional as you would in person. Online, however, you have less than a few seconds to prove yourself and establish your authority. As the first thing visitors see, design is critical to surviving these first few seconds. On your website you will rarely have a second chance if you fail to make a great first impression.
Use the following checklist to ensure your website design isn’t scaring away potential clients:
- Does your site have a clean and calming design that eliminates unnecessary visual clutter?
- Does your site use professional, clean and welcoming color combinations that reduce anxiety?
- Does your site use fonts and typeface that are professional and easy to read?
- Does your site design and images enhance your proposal and not distract attention away from it?
Critical Flaw 2: No Value Proposition
As soon as they arrive at your site, potential clients want to know “What will you do for me?” and “What is so special about your firm?” In short, your website must have a well-positioned value proposition that succinctly describes what your firm does, who it services, and what makes it better than your competitors. Your value proposition should be concise and catchy and placed strategically to drive your visitors to act. In terms of converting traffic, a well-crafted value proposition is extremely powerful.
Use the following checklist to ensure your value proposition is getting the job done:
- Does your site have a prominent value proposition?
- Does your value proposition clearly address potential client’s needs?
- Does your value proposition identify unique qualities or advantages of your firm over your competition?
- Is your value proposition clear, concise and catchy?
- Does your value proposition clearly make the case for why they should choose your firm?
- Does your value proposition compel prospective clients to take action?
Critical Flaw 3: Disorganized Structure
A new visitor’s commitment to your website is very low. If they can’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, they are likely to leave (again, make your phone number easily visible on all pages – don’t make a potential client search for it). Instead of organizing your site around what you want to say, organize it around your visitor’s needs and goals. Structure and navigation should be easy to understand, easy to see, and speak to the questions and anxieties your potential clients will have when they come to your site.
Use the following checklist to make sure your site is well structured:
- Is your site designed to answer the top questions and needs of potential clients?
- Is the navigation on your site easy to find and use?
- Is the organization of content, links and graphics logical and intuitive?
- Does your website use breadcrumbs to assist with navigation?
- Is it always easy to return to your homepage from any interior page?
- Do you have at least three easy ways to contact your firm that are clearly visible? Email, phone call or intake form?
Critical Flaw 4: No Call to Action
So, your potential client has spent a couple minutes on your site and is getting a warm fuzzy feeling about your ability to help him. What’s next? Many legal websites don’t provide a clear next step. What do you want them to do? Call you? Email you? What is your best closing tool? A phone conversation? A free consultation? Without a clear call to action visitors, will be confused – and confused people don’t act. Tell the visitor exactly what you want them to do, such as “Call Us Now!” or “Sign up here for a Free Consultation.”
Use the following checklist to make sure your site isn’t missing a great call to action:
- Does every page on your website have a clearly visible call to action?
- Are your calls to action succinct and direct?
- Do your calls to action actually motivate visitors to do something, such as contact your firm?
- Does your site repeat calls to action on your contact forms?
- Does your site naturally blend in calls to action into page content?
Critical Flaw 5: No Credibility Builders
Visitors to your website are usually apprehensive. The anxiety of their legal issues is combined with the fear of not being able to find the right law firm to solve their problems. If you don’t alleviate this apprehension, there is little likelihood they will contact you. The job of your website is to reduce fear and elicit trust. Build enough trust and it will be easy for them to contact you and become your client.
Credibility builders are the key to establishing trust and can include such things as success stories, professional affiliations, attorney profiles, years practicing law, professional awards, and testimonials. Use credibility builders throughout your site to support your value proposition, content and call to action.
Use the following checklist to make sure your site is taking advantage of credibility builders:
- Does your website use credibility builders to encourage trust and reduce apprehension?
- Do your credibility builders compliment your value proposition and calls to action?
- Does your site use testimonials and success stories to support your track records as well as the strengths or your practice?
- Does your site include a list (preferably images) of professional association, awards, honors, or distinguishing rewards?
- Do the attorney profile pages include their education, successful cases, awards, and membership to professional associations?
- Do your competitors have better credibility builders on their websites?
Critical Flaw 6: Poor Search Engine Optimization
While your website’s primary mission is to provide a quality experience to your visitors and convert traffic into qualified leads, don’t forget your website needs to be found by the right people. Setting up your site so it is search engine friendly is critical to having success with the major search engines. These search engines send out spiders (automated programs that analyze website code) to crawl your website and add it to their search index. These spiders analyze your page titles, keywords, meta tags, , content, site map, links, navigation, page names and HTML code to determine how you will appear and rank in search results.cialis Don’t underestimate the importance of setting up your site correctly from a search engine optimization standpoint.
Use the following checklist to make sure your site is search engine friendly:
- Is your website structured so it is easily crawlable by search engine spiders?
- Does the link structure on your site allow search engines to properly index each page?
- Does your site have a set of search engine friendly links in the footer of each page?
- Does your firm have a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy that you are implementing on an ongoing basis?
- Does your site use search engine friendly titles, tags, and meta descriptions that reflect the content on each page?
- Do your URLs (page addresses) include keywords?
- Have you completed your Google Places page?
Critical Flaw 7: No Engaging Content
It is often said that content is king. On your website, content fulfils the following 3 critical roles:
- Content must engage and keep visitors on your site by educating them and expressing complicated legal matters in an easy to understand and entertaining fashion.
- Content must build trust and rapport, reduce anxiety, and compel potential clients to contact your firm.
- Content must help your site rank higher in search engines by including critical keywords placed strategically in the content of each page.
Writing great content for your website is an art that combines style, legal expertise, SEO skill and readability.
Use the following checklist to make sure your website includes great content:
- Is the content of your site written clearly and naturally?
- Is the content on your site entertaining and valuable to your visitors?
- Is the content on your site written to educate, nurture and build trust?
- Is the content on your site current and up to date with changes in the law?
- Does the content on your site include keywords that people are likely to use to find your services?
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