There are three things you have to think about when choosing your domain name; longevity, practice area, and local search. You don’t want to purchase a domain name that you’ll end up changing. You want to choose a domain name that you can use for the long haul. Let’s say for example that your firm is the Shaw Law Firm, and you purchase the domain shawlaw.com. Your domain will work unless you decide to take on a partner and change the name to Shaw and Smith Law.
On the other hand, if your firm has a main practice area, such as criminal law and you choose a domain like PhiladelphiaCriminalDefense.com then it doesn’t matter if the name of your firm changes, your website domain will remain relevant in local search results.
Responsive and Mobile-friendly
Today, your website needs to respond to its environment and display properly no matter what type of device your potential clients are using to view it. Responsive design is the technique of building pages in a fluid grid that allows each page to determine how it’s displayed based on the size of the screen. Without responsive design, websites would have to be built with different layouts for different screen sizes. Responsive design sites are far easier to use also. They eliminate the need for continuous zooming, scrolling, and other frivolous interaction from the user.
Your marketing efforts won’t get your very far if your website is not mobile-friendly, and as an attorney, you will lose out to your competition if your website doesn’t display correctly on mobile devices. Mobile-friendliness is so important that Google ranks mobile-friendly sites higher than traditional sites, and offers a free tool that will tell you if your site qualifies for a mobile-friendly tag. Any necessary changes to your site should be completed right away. If you’re building a new site, make sure your designer builds it with mobile in mind.
SEO and local search
Search engine optimization does exactly what it says – it optimizes your website for the best organic search result rankings. The person doing your SEO will have specific advice for how your website should be built and how to optimize a site that is currently in use. From content, to design, to navigation, images, and branding, the folks you choose to optimize your site should have a say in how you do it all.
Some key design elements that you must consider for best user experience include:
- Putting your phone number on every page, not just the content page
- Helping users get home by linking your logo to your homepage or incorporating a “Home” button
- Having a working site search bar on the homepage
- Creating easy and intuitive forms that don’t request any more information than exactly what you need
For a more light-hearted look into law firm web design, check out our earlier piece on the subject how not to do it.
Your content can literally make or break your marketing campaigns. How you present your content can be as important as where you present your content. In terms of website design, your homepage is where you capture your readers’ interests by clearly defining who you are and what you offer. Your homepage should be clean, load fast, and have your phone number and location in easy eyesight. View your website on your mobile phone and make sure that the content and layout emphasizes your practice area(s), your phone number, your hours and your location. Make sure your compelling images and tag lines display correctly on your phone and don’t lose effectiveness in the translation from desktop site to mobile.
Each of your practice areas should have a dedicated page on your site that details your offerings and explains what your readers need to know about their situation. Give them actionable steps to take, like what to gather before they call you, how to determine if they have a case, whether they have to pay for the initial visit, etc., and educate them on the law so they can make informed decisions.
You need to keep your content fresh and relevant. The pictures you use on your site, as well as the content should be updated regularly. If you or your attorneys have views on new laws or court opinions, as well as any wins to brag about, you can put these on the relevant practice pages.
About Us/Attorney profiles
Statistically, “About Us” pages are the second most viewed page on a website after the homepage. Make your “About Us” page count by including full profiles for your attorneys as well as some uniquely engaging content that accurately represents your brand. In other words, use your “About Us” to tell your visitors and potential clients what it is that sets you apart from your competition.
“Contact Us” Page
You could simply put your phone number and directions to your office on your contact page, or you can include images of your office, a street view map with directions to the office, or a simple form that allows your visitors to contact you immediately online. Use your contact page to showcase the personality of your firm.
Teresa Shaw is an SEO consultant with 10 years of experience helping attorneys and law firms across the country increase public awareness of their services.