There are now more ways than ever to identify your business online. Law firms and lawyers can create profiles via social media channels, through thousands of legal-specific and business-specific directories and by membership in specific groups. It’s been said over time and across many cultures that there’s no such thing as bad publicity; but, that’s not entirely true. Many lawyers generate negative reviews online, and don’t even know they’re there. The advantage that personal or business websites retain, over filling in profile pages created by others, is that you maintain complete control over what appears on your own website. It presents your story, derived from your experience, and spins the exact narrative you want your clients to see. Along with the absolute power you retain over it, creating and promoting a law firm website carries with it other significant advantages, as well; and, the three tips below for building a modern website for effective business development will flesh out what some of those advantages are, including the simple steps to take to achieve them.
(1) Your Website is Your Content Hub. Since your website is the only place you can pitch your business exactly the way you want to, you should work to direct traffic back to it. The easiest way to do this is to start blogging — and, house the blog as a link off of your site (www.yourwebsite.com/blog): don’t make it a separate site. Write once a week, if you can, and then repost your blogs to your social media channels. That will get you clicks back to your websites, and potentially clients and referrals. This is also an organic way (= you don’t have to pay for it) to help you improve your website’s authority, and its search engine ranking for relevant queries. You can also link your social channels from your website, if your website viewers are looking for more of what you have to say — and, that’s one way to create a virtuous cycle.
(2) Your Website is Your Clearinghouse. Client intake via the internet is still a relatively new thing for law firms. And, how lawyers best manage it is still an open question. One thing’s for sure, though: even those web-savvy lawyers who are active on social media won’t generate attorney-client relationships through those portals. Therefore, the modern law firm website can serve as a gateway to new clients. So that you don’t have to have awkward (and potentially ethically questionable) conversations with potential clients via public social media sites, you should direct interested parties to your website, and its intake form, where you can add disclaimers, including a ‘click-through disclaimer’, the terms of which a potential client will have to agree to before submitting any information.
(3) Your Website is Your Autobiography. One way that lawyers have traditionally sold clients is via a list of their accomplishments. But, it’s more difficult to squeeze in what you want to say about yourself when you’re primarily using profiles sites with built-in character limits. Your website is still the best place to tell people who you are, and what you do. Even if modern consumers, without a referral in hand, primarily find lawyers by making long-tail search queries online, to discover answers to their posited problems, that doesn’t mean that they won’t want to know more about the person in position to solve those problems. Do keep in mind, however, that a lawyer bio derived exclusively from a series of awards is not going to be engaging, or memorable, for potential clients. So, in addition to your (no doubt long) list of awards, flavor your lawyer bio with a little bit of your personality. Don’t be afraid to mention that you like to wind surf . . . that is, if you actually do.
The law firm website retains its place in the pantheon of legal marketing; but, lawyers wishing to get the most out of their websites must make sure that their website-related efforts reflect the needs of modern consumers.