Using Technology to Market Your Law Firm
Tips on Web Site Links
- While panelists viewed links on a law firm website as helpful information, they noted that they serve to take people away from your site.
- The panelists suggested that it may be better to dispense with links, and instead work on placing your content on OTHER relevant websites, with links back to your website and vice versa.
- www.Findlaw.com was considered as a top place to put a law firm’s content. There are more than 12,000 articles in the FindLaw library, categorized by 50 subject areas that can be searched by author, title and keywords. FindLaw will set the lawyer’s name and a link back to the firm website at the top of the republished page.
- The panelists suggested that marketers check their web site log or traffic reports at least once a week.
- Web Trends is a program that graphically shows which pages visitors are viewing when they come to your site, and what domains they are visiting from. Web Trends also counts pageviews, the number of visits to pages, unique individual visitors, and the total people who visited the website.
- Web Trends (or a similar log analysis program) should be part of the service your external Internet service provider offers.
- Hits are not a good measure of traffic to a site. A “hit” is counted for each graphic shown on a web page, and therefore counting hits does not provide clear traffic information.
- If you see a lot of traffic from visitors from “.edu” domains, which indicates an educational institution, it could indicate that many law students are visiting your site and you should set up a recruitment section on the website.
- Don’t count traffic from your own law firm in the overall traffic report. The law firm’s website is probably the default startup page on firm browsers, so every time an employee starts their browser, it could be counted as a page view of your site. A filter can be used to remove firm visits from traffic numbers.
- A big benefit of traffic reports is that it can be used to measure the success of a marketing campaign. For example, if you tax group does a big print advertising campaign, check for an increase of the number of visits to the tax practice pages.
- A 2000 study of law firms and in-house counsel indicated that practice group information and news pages are the most important areas to in-house counsel on law firm websites.
- Also note that America Online is in Virginia so if you see a lot of traffic from this state, many of your visitors are using AOL to view your site.
The panelists emphasized that information on websites should be put into databases, not static HTML pages. The advantages include:
- Minimal need to know HTML code when entering data. Content is entered in text boxes on the computer, and is easily updated by clicking on “save” and the data replicates to web.
- Databases are cost effective & efficient.
- They can be developed with future needs of the firm in mind.
When your firm is considering database software, the IT/MIS department may be resistant —
especially if the website is hosted internally and the IT department will be expected to maintain the databases. Law firms may want to consider an outside developer to build its web databases.
Michael Goldblatt, Associate General Counsel of Tidewater Inc. in New Orleans, listed the five things that irritate him the most about law firm websites:
- Too many graphics, splash screens and frames that slow down loading time.
- The home page is too confusing and fails to let visitors know the resources inside.
- There is no site map or search tool to aid navigation.
- Lawyer phone numbers and emails are hard to find, and there is no after hours contact listed.
- Contact information (i.e. street address, phone, fax, and e-mail address) are not listed for all office locations
Recommendations from the Panelists
- Your domain name should contain at least the first two names of your firm. Simply listing the initials, such as “pqr.com” makes your site hard to find and remember. Search engines focus on names then initials. Initials alone can cause confusion (for example Morgan Lewis & Bockius had “mlb.com” as its domain name, and attracted mistaken visits from people looking for “major league baseball.”
- Ask your webhost to generate a report on which search engines the firm is listed with, and what search terms people are using to find your firm.
- Use the web to conduct client surveys; a password-protected extranet can be useful for this. Online surveys are great ways to also provide feedback on seminars and other marketing efforts.
- Use the “search” feature on the Law Firm Marketing portal to find numerous articles on how to promote your firm online and offline.