Now Is The Time To Position Your Law Firm’s Website For A Successful Start To 2020
Running a law firm doesn’t leave much time for dealing with SEO—in fact, it doesn’t leave time for much of anything. Between client meetings and court dates, there isn’t a whole lot of mental space to worry about Screaming Frogs (more on what that means later).
But if you’re one of the many law firms that experience slower business in November and December, that can become a great time to position your law firm’s website for a successful start to 2020. You’ll be sprinting out of the gate come January 1st, and keeping a marathon pace over the next 12 months if you use these slow times to:
- Check out your law firm’s competition
- Audit technical site issues…and fix them
- Create a content plan
- Optimize your site to grow leads
You’ve got to have a law firm marketing strategy, and preferably one that doesn’t involve driving around looking for flashing lights to follow. Trust us when we say it’s much easier to have an optimized site that will pull in search traffic and grow law firm leads you can follow up on from the comfort of your office—you know, the one paneled in rich mahogany and lined with leather-bound legal tomes.
Keeping your site updated on a regular basis is something that isn’t usually on the docket of your law firm marketing plan. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the complexity of your profession makes it hard to outsource content creation. One way or another, you’ll most likely need to buckle down and do it yourself—or at least be involved in the process.
Thankfully the holiday lull in business can be a great time to position your law firm’s website for a successful start to 2020. November and December may be hot seasons for retail, but they’re generally not so busy for legal professionals. If you’re involved with traffic citations, DUI charges, or bankruptcy, the late Fall and early Winter are slow. Tax attorneys are reasonably busy during this time, but still less busy than they’ll be in March and April.
So with this lull in activity, you have a few options regarding how to spend your time: you could hop on a plane and head somewhere tropical, you could sip on eggnog lattes at the mall and people-watch, or you could take care of an often-overlooked component of your law firm marketing plan that will probably not fit into your agenda once business picks up.
Actually, you might be able to combine these options: nothing stops you from working on your law firm’s website will sitting on the beach or sipping on eggnog lattes…but we digress.
Check out your law firm’s competition.
Now’s the time to check out what your competitors are doing in terms of law firm marketing 2020. If they haven’t already updated their content, you can at least check out what they were doing in 2019. User-friendly tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush will allow you to get the real backstory on competing law firms and their sites.
You can look at their pages that get the most traffic and analyze the content to see where you can engage in the highest form of flattery: copying—just not copying it too directly, because that would be unethical…and would not help your SEO. You can also use these tools to see what keywords are hot, and craft content around these buzzwords. Otherwise, you risk falling behind the organic search results as competing law firms leverage these terms in their site content.
Audit technical site issues…and fix them.
Nobody likes to be audited…and nobody likes to perform an audit (at least, we think they don’t). But the seemingly onerous task of reviewing your law firm’s website for technical issues probably won’t get taken care of in busier months. November and December are great months to sit down, open up the laptop, and check out tools like Screaming Frog to run a sitewide audit for problems (told you we’d explain this one).
A sitewide auditing tool can help you pinpoint issues like duplicate content, broken links, 404 errors (read: pages that have vanished) and missing alt text (read: descriptions of images), which can all be flagged and addressed. You want your site to look excellent, just as much as you want your physical office to impress clients. Technical issues with your site don’t look good and create a frustrating user experience; to that end, you’ve got to make sure it’s running smoothly, and fix any problems. If you don’t have the time or expertise to fix them, you’ve got to find someone to take care of it, before they get too busy with the New Year.
Create a content plan.
The less-busy months toward the end of the calendar year are a great time to brainstorm content. Content of course, is king today. Longform blog posts are great for building SEO traction, email marketing, posting on LinkedIn as thought pieces, and for link-building on social media. Unfortunately, you won’t have time to write a weekly blog once things get busy. If business is slow in the winter, that can be a great time to craft some content that can later be dispersed throughout the year, or plugged in to a weekly spot when you don’t have much time.
Even if you can’t bring yourself to pump out a series of blog posts, you can still map out your content plan. With a roadmap for the coming year, you can even hand that plan over to a copywriter or someone who can take on the task of search engine optimization for your law firm. This roadmap might include a list of keywords (which you’ve gleaned from your research and checking out your competition), along with other key pieces of information such as a summary of each potential post.
Part of your content plan can also be a social media management plan, which is a little bit more nuanced since it involves picking out more images and interacting with potential clients in a public space.
Reevaluate Site Design
One thing you can do without having to create content or use technical tools is just look at your law firm’s site and competitor’s sites.
Have you noticed that property owners remodel or redecorate their assets every few years? It can be hard to sell or rent out a living arrangement that’s soaked in mustard-yellow tones from the 1970s. The same is true of your site (though it’s presumably a little more up-to-date, since the consumer-facing internet didn’t really exist in the 1970s). Styles change, even as often as every year. Does your site have a look that’s contemporary and worthy of client confidence?
If you have a hard time assessing which parts of the color wheel look the most professional, consult with someone who can, and who can help you make sure your law firm’s site appearance conveys trustworthiness. Designing your site is probably even lower down on your to-do list than writing content, but it’s just as crucial in terms of your law firm marketing plan.
You can invest tons of effort in SEO, but if you build it and they do come and are unimpressed, they will leave (and by “they” we refer not to the ghosts of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, but potential clients). A word to the wise: learning how to use even the “easiest” most “user-friendly” drag-and drop templates can take hours, if not days or weeks to master. Pay someone else to take on the headache, especially if they have experience in designing websites for attorneys. You’ll also want to make sure that your site looks good on mobile, because more and more web traffic is coming in from handheld devices.
Optimize your site to grow leads.
Optimizing your site to collect leads is standard operating procedure today. You need to make sure that every page is equipped with a popup that will help you collect emails and that will grow law firm leads which become part of your ongoing law firm marketing strategy. Though it may seem unnecessary, test out every page and every popup to make sure you’re able to collect contact info from every visitor. Are all your content pieces ending with a call to action, such as meeting for coffee or emailing you any follow up questions engendered by the article?
You’ve also got to make it worthwhile for visitors to offer up their email. Another standard practice has become offering some sort of free gift in return for potential client info. For service-based industries like a law firm, your best bet would be some sort of piece of content, like an ebook. Of course, that will necessitate more content creation, but if you have 8-10 weeks of slow business, you can certainly pump out a 5,000 word book on a topic that might address some client concerns, or throw together last year’s blog posts to create an annual magazine. Helpful hint: get an editor or copywriter to make sure what you’ve put together is readable for the average consumer.
The time is now to get your law firm’s site positioned in a way that will help your law firm grow in 2020—and we don’t mean “now” because this article is a timeless piece of sage advice that will always address your situation. Rather, we mean now because we’re talking about the months of November and December, which fall toward the end of the calendar year. It’s a slower time in terms of business, which means more time to take care of important website tasks that otherwise might get swept under the rug. Check out the competition. Audit your site. Create a content plan. Make sure your site is collecting contacts. If you get all this in position, your law firm will be sure to be super busy the rest of the year.
If you need a new website or help with search engine optimization strategy or execution for your law firm, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.