What is a website for? Some traditionally minded marketers will say that a website is your online business card. How it looks is what counts. But in the age of online research and reviews, your online presence should be far more than just a pretty face.
I recently came across an article by Sam Glover on Lawyerist.com called “How Much it Really Costs to Start a Solo Practice.” Glover gives a quick overview of what he thinks are the necessary expenses in starting a new firm. When it came to online marketing, he had a few pieces of advice:
Get a website — a good one. Don’t worry about search engine optimization, apart from making sure your website shows up when you search for your name. It’s more important for your website to (1) be good-looking, (2) have your contact information, and (3) have a good picture of you on it. Like your office decor, don’t do this yourself. Hire someone competent.
Finally, you might want to jump-start your practice by advertising. If you do decide to advertise, Google AdWords is probably the most cost-effective way to do it. It is easy to get started with AdWords, and you can control your costs.
There’s not much right about his take on online marketing. Glover seems to have an insincere relationship with the web. Like much of the rest of the article, his opinions on what a new law firm does or doesn’t need are rooted in an older business model based on face-to-face networking and referrals. There’s nothing wrong with that as part of your marketing strategy, but it shouldn’t dictate your online strategies.
Glover’s first piece of online marketing advice betrays his motives:
Don’t worry about search engine optimization, apart from making sure your website shows up when you search for your name.
Glover is treating a website as an online business card – a tool to remind a person you already met of who you are. But if a person needs to know your name to find your website, you’re not going to reach the majority of prospective clients. If you are going to pay someone to make you a high-quality website, you should make full use of it.
That’s where search engine optimization comes in. There are thousand of experts out there who will tell you they know the secret to get you “on page 1 of Google.” But you can take the first steps toward good SEO yourself. Just make sure your content includes the words people use to look for what you do.
Glover next advises that your advertising dollars are best spent on Google AdWords. But if you aren’t careful about your content, that won’t be money well spent. The broader the search term, the more you will pay per click. If you are fighting with the top local firms for results on “divorce” or “hit-and-run” you’ll be paying a lot for each ad.
If you are going to put together a Google AdWords campaign, make sure your website is ready to back that money up. Create a dedicated landing page centered on the keywords you are paying for. Build in high-quality content that shows potential clients that you know what you are talking about when it comes to their problem. Then make it easy for interested prospects to contact you – online and over the phone. Without all of these steps to back up your ad, you won’t get calls. You’ll be paying for someone to keep looking elsewhere.
Don’t treat your website as an extension of your business card. Today’s clients are looking for more to distinguish good lawyers from bad. If you are going to pay for ads and a website, make sure you have the content to back it up. Otherwise, you simply won’t get a return on your investment.
Lisa Schmidt is a content writer for Legal Linguist. She writes blogs and webpages for law firms and small businesses. If your website needs better content, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.