As search engines get smarter, things like design and UX become even more important. Here are some law firm website design tips to improve SEO.
Even today, when many lawyers and legal marketers start a new law firm web design project, they tend to ignore the impact that their design choices can have on a site’s search visibility. They tend to focus on designing websites that make the lawyers happy. After all, the lawyers are the ones who are paying the fee.
Undoubtedly, firm’s website can serve to meet a variety of different goals. It can:
- Showcase the lawyers’ knowledge, skill and experience.
- Educate potential clients about what hiring the firm will feel like.
- Build awareness for the firm’s community and charitable contributions.
- Distinguish the firm from its competitors.
In fact, if you want some basic design tips for client development, flip through this:
These are all useful in terms of client development. That is, assuming that people actually find the site.
And of course, many people will type a firm’s URL directly into their browsers. Others might click from a link on a different website.
But many others will search for the firm’s website in a search engine. So, how and where the firm’s site appears in results matters.
I’m sure most of you have already considered much of this. At this point, everyone knows that people use search engines and the internet to find information about businesses, including law firms.
Further, many of your know some of the basics about how search engines access, index and deliver web pages. Some of you probably also know that links to your pages are like votes for your pages in the search rankings election.
So where does your law firm’s website design come into play?
Your design will play a role in how a person feels about your site which, in turn, will impact their decision to link to it.
If your law firm website’s design looks like most crappy legal advertisements, many people will be reluctant to link to it.
Do crappy legal advertisements make the phone ring? Depending on our target audience and practice, sure, some do. But how much opportunity in terms of search visibility is lost because of visitors who would otherwise link to your site, but for its horrendous design?
Bad web design hurts SEO.
Part of what we do as a digital marketing agency is assist clients with content development and marketing that content to people who are ready, willing and able to link to, share and otherwise publicize it. Some of this includes pitching content ideas to other webmasters.
We have run into situations where the webmaster was thrilled about the content piece, but was reluctant to link to the lawyer’s site because of the design. In other words, their reaction to the site design made them hesitant to link.
And who can really blame them? So much legal internet marketing is just crappy.
The 30,000 ft. solution is to stop designing your law firm websites like an advertisement.
This means switching the focus of your site from you and your firm, to your target audience.
What do people need to know about hiring you?
What can they expect from your representation? (hint: the answer is not how hard you can fight or how much money you can get them)
What questions are they likely to have that you can answer on your site?
But this is just the start. Here’s the harder pill for most lawyers to swallow:
Not only is your website not for you, it’s not solely for potential clients!
The local journalist who is covering a story about which you have expertise is not a direct response potential client!
However, they might just be someone who is ready, willing and able to link to you, mention you, interview you, share something you’ve published, etc.
But they’re going to be reluctant to link to your exploding car videos, stock images of gavels and hands poking through cell bars and menacing pictures of you with a look of deep
Okay, I’ve spent a bunch of words talking about messaging and content. But design isn’t just about words. It’s about colors, layout, menus, imagery, etc.
I know, I know. You’re the Abraham Lincoln of web content. It doesn’t matter if you have a crappy design, your content is so good that people will ignore how it looks because they just, simply, have, to read, what you’re writing!
If your site:
- Looks like it was built in 1997.
- Is slow to load.
- Can’t be read on a smartphone.
- Only works in Internet Explorer.
- Is a patchwork of various design iterations.
- Looks like your nephew built it.
Guess what, some people will exit without giving you or your site a second thought. And they’re certainly not going to link to it.
On the other hand, I’ve seen sites that are pretty light on actual content, but have beautiful designs that earn links ALL DAY LONG.
Sad, but true.
Some sites get links because people simply go, “Whoa check out this website’s design, it’s awesome.”
Yes, this is how the web and search engines work.
Okay, now get out of here and go fix your law firm website’s design!