Anatomy of a bad law firm website

It seems that every week I get into a discussion with an attorney on what makes an effective law firm website, and the biggest problems that we see with law firm websites in general. In the time that we’ve been working with law firms, we’ve seen various things that hinder a website’s success. While problems can range from content to design to search engine effectiveness, for the purposes of this blog, I am going to focus on content and the biggest content-related problems that we see.

  1. Lack of Branding – The biggest problem that we see in most law firm websites is little or no branding. Quite simply, many firm websites do not focus enough on what makes that firm different from every other firm that practices the same type of law. If a visitor to your site cannot understand what makes your firm different by reading your home page, they can, and will, “click back” out of your site and look for another firm.

  2. Too much hyperbole – Do you really think that someone is going to hire you because you describe yourself as honest, hard working, ethical, trustworthy, or diligent? While these are all admirable qualities for an attorney, they also describe the majority of the population in our country, most of whom you would not want to represent you in a court of law. 

  3. Wrong Focus – When someone decides to visit your website, they are visiting to get information to help them make a decision. Aside from understanding what your firm stands for (your brand), a visitor is looking for information, information regarding their specific legal problem, recent developments in this practice are and even contact information. When creating your site, identify the 5 things that a visitor would be looking for, and make sure you provide that information.

  4. Stale Content – Creating a website is not a “once and done” type effort. A firm website must be updated regularly. A lot of law firms have sporadically written newsletters, press releases, case verdicts and such over the years and put them out on their websites because they needed to add content. Too often, however, the content that’s on the website is stale, e.g. – the most recent newsletter is three years old, the press release is dated, or the firm has a web page for “Recent News” but doesn’t list any new new press releases, verdicts or settlements. When a visitor sees dated content, it raised a yellow flag, causing the visitor to wonder if the firm is successful, relevant or even if the firm still exists!

The bottom line for website success is that “content is king.” If your website focuses on branded content that people want to read, and you have a plan to keep your content updated, you are on your way to a successful site that will help you in your marketing efforts. If you don’t have a plan, this should be addressed before Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or any other web initiative.