If a blueprint for the perfect website existed, everyone would use it. The reality is that branding, unique tastes and preferences, and the content and web design/development team you work with will impact how your law firm’s website looks, feels, and functions. But while some elements of good law firm website design are a matter of taste, some aren’t. Certain pages should be seen as a non-negotiable if you want your firm to have any chance of ranking on search engines. In this article, we’ll outline the anatomy of the best law firm website.
A Good Law Firm Website can help your potential clients assess whether you’re the right choice for them.
First, What Makes the Best Law Firm Website?
Regardless of industry, there are some features that all good websites have. But law firms do need to pay particular attention to certain features and functionality on their website to overcome some barriers legal customers face when sourcing a lawyer:
Generally speaking, the best websites have a few common elements:
General Technical and Design Elements for All Good Websites
Formatting that supports the high-quality content.
Professional, consistent imagery.
Professional, consistent branding.
Intelligent and easy navigability. (Your navigation should consider your website users/potential clients as well as the impact on your technical SEO since search engines’ ability to crawl your website can impact your rankings.
Law-Specific Pain Points to Address on the Best Law Firm Website
Admittedly the following two points can impact businesses in other areas, but they are essential for law firms to address on their websites.
1. Build Trust with Reviews and Testimonials.
Online reviews and testimonials help your law firm build credibility and establish trust with potential clients. Essentially, they offer social proof that your law firm delivers what it says it will.
They’re especially important for law firms that offer services direct to lay clients or small to medium-sized businesses. Law firms that provide services to this client base will need to pay particular attention to establishing that they are reputable via the firm’s website. Reviews and testimonials go a long way towards achieving this. Case studies are also beneficial for establishing trust and positioning your firm as a trusted source with lay clients.
For law firms whose target clients likely have in-house counsel, credibility should be established initially using the logos of other companies with which your firm has worked. From there, reviews and testimonials are beneficial but not essential.
Potential clients live in a world with same-day delivery, 24/7 availability, and a strong focus on customer service. While law firms were long considered an exception to needing to provide high-level customer service, things are changing – and law firms are beginning to recognise the powerful impact that better communication has on client satisfaction, retention, and referrals. Moreover, they realise that communication can be used as a competitive advantage to attract and retain clients.
Removing friction from the process of connecting with your law firm is a significant step in the right direction of developing a good law firm website. A ‘Request a Consultation’ form ensures your potential clients can reach out whenever they’re ready.
10 Non-Negotiable Pages Your Law Firm Website Must Have:
Earlier, we outlined that 45% of potential clients found it challenging to assess whether a particular firm was right for them. These potential clients indicated that they found it challenging to be sure that the lawyers they reviewed were right for them – primarily due to information gaps. Generally, they wanted to know the following:
About a lawyer’s experience and credentials.
Their practice areas.
The legal process and what to expect.
An estimate of the total cost for their case.
Your law firm website should help address these challenges if you want to transform your potential clients into paying clients. These pages can help you achieve that.
A High-Quality Home Page
As far as Google is concerned, your home page is THE MOST important page on your website. The majority of users whose first impression of your law firm (or at least your law firm’s website) will also judge your firm based on your home page.
Your home page must perform two crucial functions:
Ensure search engines direct any search queries that include your brand name to your website; and
Tell both users and the search engine bots about the type of services your law firm offers.
There are countless ways to achieve this and competing schools of thought about which way to achieve this is ‘the best way’. But, again, if there was one layout or page formula that was overwhelmingly the ‘best way’, everyone would use it.
Instead, you should focus on ensuring that your home page positions your brand, establishes credibility, includes your law firm’s name as its H1 header, and makes navigating to your other pages simple.
A Page Highlighting the Team/Attorney Bios
Your potential clients want to know about your lawyer’s experience and credentials. A page (or pages) outlining who comprises your team and overviewing their experience, expertise and credentials is essential for building that trust.
When you’re designing the page(s) that showcase your team, you should bear in mind the purpose of the bios. You should include a professional headshot of each of your team members, or your partners at a minimum. Their education should be highlighted, alongside when they were admitted to practice law. Significant achievements should be explained in language that’s free from legal jargon.
Individual Practice Area Pages
You should create a different page for each of the practice areas for which you service clients. This means that if your firm offers counsel in the areas of Corporate Governance, Commercial Transactions, Immigration Law, and Privacy Law, you should have one separate page for each of these services (so 4 discrete pages).
This is because search engines consider the content on the page as a whole when determining where to rank your law firm’s pages. If you have one page that has descriptions relating to four separate services on it, the signal it sends to the search engines isn’t as clear as if you have just one service being described on the page. With just one service described on the page, it is more likely to be clear to search engines what the page is about. Therefore, the page is more likely to rank higher on search engines (depending on the competition, of course).
Sub-Practice Area Pages.
You should also strive to create pages for sub-practice areas. For instance, within your family law practice, you might offer pre-nuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements, divorce services, child custody agreements, and property settlements. You should consider developing discrete sub-pages for each of those service areas.
We understand this will be time-consuming if you’re writing the pages in-house and it will increase the costs associated with outsourcing the content. There are ways of mitigating the time or financial resources you need to allocate to the pages:
1. Prioritise creating content for sub-practice areas with a high number of search queries each month.
What this means is that law firms should prioritise developing sub-practice area pages for the services that potential clients are actually regularly searching for using Google or other search engines. You can do your own research about this using any of the free keyword research tools available. Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Planner are commonly used to do this.
2. Create the content over a longer period.
Your sub-practice area pages help to build your website’s chances of ranking for specific services, but you don’t need to have these pages available immediately. Instead, you can make a plan to flesh out your existing content over the next six to twelve months, generating and publishing one page at a time.
Publishing your contact details makes your website appear more credible and removes some friction associated with seeking legal services. You should ensure that your contact details are consistent across your Google My Business profile, as well as any other professional directories you subscribe to and your social media profiles. It’s best to include your preferred layout for your contact details in your law firm’s Style Guide to ensure consistency.
Why Us/About Us.
Consumers crave connections, including with businesses. Historically, legal services may have been an exception, but legal customer needs (and demands) are changing. Your law firm’s ‘why’ matters, and explaining it (well) on a separate page can build trust and create connections.
We hear law firms brush off the ‘why’ behind their firm as insignificant. However, more and more law firms are turning their ‘why’ into their competitive advantage. For example, one client of ours has made their ‘why’ a large part of their unique selling proposition (USP). Their ‘Why Us’ page receives thousands of visits each year. In fact, it’s the fifth most visited page on their website, behind their home page, careers page, broad practice areas page and executive team page.
A Blog or Resource Centre.
For law firms, each blog post offers an opportunity to inform, engage, and delight existing and prospective clients. This can be a significant competitive advantage, resulting in more leads and more referrals.
Some of the other business benefits of including a blog on your law firm’s website include:
Stronger brand image.
Increased perception of the value of legal services.
Improved customer retention and loyalty.
Increased visibility on search engines.
Yes, law firms with blogs are more likely to be found on Google. Blog posts can address the keywords your potential clients are looking for in more detail. In addition, longer content on a particular topic is more likely to rank highly online.
As we outlined above, clients find the uncertainty of not being able to access information about the process and/or timeline for resolving their legal matter a significant barrier to selecting the right law firm. Your law firm can overcome these issues by including typical timelines for services or matter resolution. If timelines aren’t an option, you can provide a detailed overview of the process – preferably in terms of ‘steps’ or ‘milestones’.
You might address these in blog posts or through a visual on the sub-page for that legal service. Alternatively, you can create separate pages containing high-level overviews of the process and/or timeline.
A Client Portal.
60% of clients would prefer to receive and/or share documents via a secure client portal, according to the 2021 Legal Trends Report. Given the changing demands of legal clients regarding their communication preferences, implementing a client portal allows your law firm to appeal to the broadest possible audience.
A Secure Online Payment Portal.
According to the 2021 Legal Trends Report, 73% of law firms accepted online payments in 2020. The reality is that your clients want to manage their billing online.
Implementing a secure online payment system is beneficial for law firms, too. Firms with online payments, client portals, and client intake services collected next to 40% more revenue per lawyer than those that haven’t adopted these systems. So, in essence, an online payment portal makes billing management easier for clients and improves financial outcomes for lawyers. It’s a win-win.
Additionally, the fact that your clients are also navigating through your website to achieve this also positively impacts your SEO. Search engines consider how much time users spend on your website and on certain pages when determining rankings, so arranging payments this way may have a small but beneficial impact on your website visibility to boot.
The Best Law Firm Website with Obiter Marketing
This statistic is unsurprising. Getting a website right is no easy task.
You need attention-grabbing, search engine optimised content that tells your story. Your words need to build trust, establish credibility, and resonate with your audience. Getting it right is essential, since your website is your best chance to make a strong first impression.
We work with law firms to guide their website strategy, allowing them to generate high-performing, lead-generating content that appeals to search engines in-house.