Quite often, when we talk with law firms, one of the main topics of conversation is their website performance and its success as a source of new cases. Often, the conversation goes something like “I have a website that has good search-engine performance, but I am still not getting as many new cases from the site as I was expecting….can you help me understand why?”

In most cases, the answer is easy, though perhaps a little disconcerting. While the firm website should be a primary component of the marketing strategy for most law firms, it isn’t a magic bullet.

There’s no question that the firm website is replacing the yellow page ad as the focal point for prospective clients to turn to when researching the firm, and that usage of Google and “Local Search” capabilities continue to increase while yellow page usage is on the decline.

However, it’s also true that every day, more and more firm websites are launched. And law firms, as a whole, are becoming much more web savvy and more knowledgeable on search engine optimization, making it more difficult for any one firm to stand out from the crowd. To add to the challenge, more law firms are also advertising aggressively. In large markets, firms are spending millions on television advertising and direct marketing programs. In short, competition is increasing, the bar continues to be raised (no pun intended) and just having a website no longer ensures that people will visit it and call your firm.

As attorney Scott Trost mentions in his blog, The Trost Report, the face of Plaintiff Law is changing, with the television advertisers continuing to capture more and more market share, ultimately squeezing non-tv advertisers out of many markets – website or no website.While I don’t totally agree that small firms (plaintiff firms or those in other practice areas) can’t be successful in this climate, success surely requires more than just launching the new website and hoping that people will call.

Law Marketing (and marketing techniques in general) continues to evolve. It isn’t a once-and-done event, it’s a process. The tools, trends, and technologies are ever-changing, and the savvy firms are changing with them. Ensuring that your phones ring month after month and year after year takes effort and an integrated marketing program, not just a website. And, it’s only going to get more difficult from here.