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Setting up a website for a law firm? That's easy! Just go to one of those DIY tools -- a site builder -- and put up a page with contact info, the list of attorneys, and a brief rundown of the services you offer, right? It's basically a yellow pages ad for the 21st century!
Not quite, folks. While we're all about DIY, just as a novice watching Bob Villa's "This Old House" (the original version, of course) can screw up his bathroom tile, a shingle-hanging attorney can really mess up his professional website by falling into a number of common traps.
Here are a few that we see all the time:
5. Not Using Responsive Design.
Look, to us working professionals who spend all day in front of a computer, it might seem strange that many folks are spending all of their online time on their phones -- some don't even have a computer. Think of this like typewriters versus PCs, except computers aren't going anywhere as long as lawyers have to type 57-page memos.
With your potential clients increasingly glued to their smartphones and tablets, you need a site that can display properly on all screen sizes -- a "responsive" design. These sites are built to shift elements around to make a single website work on everything from a small smartphone to a giant high-definition monitor.
4. Being a Small Fish in a Big Search Pond.
You practice DUI law in Los Angeles. But so do a million other people. If you are hoping to become a top search result for "Los Angeles DUI lawyer," well, think again.
In such a big pond, you might consider focusing on more attainable search results by writing specific content addressing questions that consumers will be searching for, such as "trucker commercial licenses and DUIs," or "ignition interlock requirements in Los Angeles County for first-time offenders." These "long-tail" searches are a more attainable SEO goal for your site, and more like what clients are searching for anyway.
3. Setting and Forgetting.
Here is a big and common mistake: setting up a webpage and never touching it again.
Today's online marketing isn't like Ron Popeil's rotisserie: You can't "set it and forget it." Google rewards those (via search ranking) who have a consistent stream of original, fresh content. And nothing looks worse than a website that has bios for attorneys that no longer work there, and a "news" section that hasn't been updated since 2008. Both show a lack of attention to detail, something that could repel clients.
Instead, consider having a blog that you update at least bi-weekly with relevant, informative content.
2. Forgetting Your Ethics.
What are your state's requirements for online attorney marketing? Most likely, you'll be required to have one of those standard "results not guaranteed or typical, this is an advertisement, trust me, I'm a lawyer" disclaimers. But there are other traps you can fall into as well, like the lady who posted Photoshopped pictures of herself with celebrities and was suspended for false advertising.
1. Straight-Up Ugliness.
This one makes me cringe, and is the most likely result when a lawyer with no graphic or Web design background decides to take the old "do it yourself" approach: a hideous website.
What makes a site hideous? There are million ways to repel the eyes of potential clients, such as clashing colors or unprofessional fonts (yes, we're thinking Comic Sans). A personal pet peeve is the hilariously dated site -- something that looks like it was set up in 1995 and never updated -- think flashing GIFs, 3-D buttons, or flash animation (which most mobile devices won't play).
If this all sounds a little intimidating to you, we don't blame you -- SEO, web design, and ethical online marketing can get a bit intimidating, not to mention, time-consuming. If you'd rather spend your time practicing law, consider contacting one of our Lawyer Marketing folks to see what they can do for you.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.