One of the most essential marketing tools a small law firm has to reach out to current and potential clients is its website. At its best, a well-done website can help your firm develop its brand, rise in search engine rankings, let potential clients know what you’re all about, and best of all, turn those potential clients into actual paying clients. Creating a website that achieves all that takes a lot of thought and effort, and there are so many pitfalls a firm can fall into during the process. Here are a few steps to take to avoid some of the most common errors.

Start with a Plan

      Good attorneys don’t just plunge into a court battle without doing a lot of research and planning first, and you shouldn’t throw together a website without a lot of thought, either. To make sure your website works for you, consider carefully what goals you want it to achieve. What kind of brand do you want to present, and how will you present it? What kind of clients are you hoping to attract, and what other kind of websites are they visiting now? What type of content will you include besides the necessary information? Do you want to include blogs, videos, or social media posts? Answering all these questions before proceeding will help ensure that your website will be functional and attractive rather than sloppy and confusing. And don’t forget that intelligent website management isn’t a one-time project.

Going Mobile

      Given how essential cell phones and other mobile devices have become to daily life, it’s astonishing that an estimated 90% of small business websites aren’t designed with the small screen in mind. What looks great on a big desk-top screen might not translate well to a phone screen or even a tablet. Failure to consider the smaller screen might result in illegible text, murky graphics, or even content that’s cut off or inaccessible. As if that weren’t bad enough, having a site that isn’t mobile-friendly will cause you to rank lower in Google’s search results. Make sure your potential clients can read your site no matter what kind of device they use to access it. If you use a system like WordPress to build your site, check to see if there is a plugin available that will ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.

Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

      Long gone are the days when a small business could hope to be the first in the phone book to catch a customer’s eye by naming itself the AAAA Company. More sophisticated ways of organizing data demand more advanced methods of attracting attention and savvy businesses will use Search Engine Optimization to improve their ranking in online search results and get potential clients to notice them. A little time invested in learning some basic SEO concepts can yield big results.

      A keyword is a prime way to maximize your presence in search results, so use a keyword tool to make sure you find a good one for each page of your site. Remember to include that keyword within other elements of the site, like the URL, the meta description, and the Alt Text on images. It may seem counterintuitive in the short attention span age, but Google likes a lot of content, so long and larger pages with more words will also improve your ranking. And don’t forget basic logistics—nobody likes a slow-loading page, so check how long yours takes to load and speed it up if necessary.

Keep It Fresh

      Your new website may be a thing of beauty, but it’s not meant to be a work of art for the ages. A website that looks old and dated will not only turn off clients but will fall in the search rankings. Make sure you monitor its performance using a tool like Google Analytics or Hubspot and update anything that’s causing you to lag. Add new content like regular blog posts to raise your SEO ranking and keep clients coming to see what’s new. The key advantage of a website is that it isn’t meant to be static, but can be a constantly evolving way of connecting with clients both new and old.

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