There’s a lot to be done when starting out and opening a new law firm or launching a legal product. If you are looking at learning all there is to know about how to start a law firm in Australia, you will know that includes a good, solid website presence.
Do what you can to ensure you avoid overlooking these five key things that regularly come up. We see these mistakes being made regularly and they are problematic for law firms. These mistakes are also applicable for people who are launching products to sell to the legal market.
Mistake 1: Underperforming Content
You already know that the language that you put on your website should build trust. So it’s incredibly important that your content speaks to your target market about their problems and identifies that you are the solution. While that part might be straightforward, what most firms aren’t aware of is that this content should be optimised for online search if you want search engines to love your website over others.
You will have heard of the term SEO (search engine optimisation). The next step beyond creating exceptional content that connects with your target audience is to match it up with the phrases that people type into Google, Bing or other search engines when they are looking for the product or the service that you offer. These are called keywords, and they are either individual words or phrases that can indicate whether somebody has intent to hire a lawyer or more generally, they have a query relating to your product or service.
For example, if you offer Conveyancing, you would need to have some research done and perhaps the keywords that are regularly used by people searching for a Conveyancer in your area or target market might be ‘conveyancing Sydney’. If that was relevant to you, then you might want to use that phrase on certain pages of your website, amongst other popular phrases. There are a range of keyword phrases that potential clients type into search engines, but this example should give you an idea of how valuable the inclusion of keywords into your website content can be.
So should you expect your web designer to do this for you?
It is uncommon for web design companies to specialise in helping you optimise your content for search because it is truly a speciality in itself. We assist many of our clients with keyword research and search engine optimisation immediately after we have completed their website build.
When you optimise your content to make sure that it’s connecting with those popular search phrases that people type in online, you have an enormous advantage over your competitors.
Mistake 2: Copying Other Website Designs
The second mistake I see people making when starting a law firm is copying other website designs in their field. Differentiation is key. Copying a successful competitor won’t result in the same success, it will dilute your point of difference. You website should exude who you and your team are, what your firm does what makes you different.
Generally people compare three law firm websites and compare. If yours looks too similar to the others and the other law firms are more established, then you will have a harder time earning that trust online, making an impact and getting more clients.
If you go with the approach to have a highly creative law firm website design to make sure that you stand out, I encourage you to choose a website designer that will take into account the user experience across devices. Which leads us to mistake number three…
Mistake 3: Websites That Are Not Truly Responsive
This is something we’ve seen a little too much over the last year. A recent instance was when a client came to us with an existing website that they wanted to be revamped. Their site worked effectively on desktop and their iPhone. What we discovered thought was that when it was viewed on an Android device, there were elements that were not functional. Not a small error when you take into account that 44% of Australians own Android devices.
Mobile responsiveness is particularly important because statistics show that many people look for products and services on their mobile devices, like their phones or their tablets on the bus, on lunch breaks, late at night on the couch or in bed. So, when you’re launching a new firm or a new product, you want to make sure that your site is fully functional and looks great across all devices.
Mistake 4: Technically Unoptimised Website
This is one area that cannot be seen so you will not realise if your site is not up to scratch in this area.
Like buildings, websites need strong foundations. Websites need to be technically sound because when search engines like Google or Bing are looking to provide information to their target market, they assess the credibility of your site and issues that you cannot see can contribute to search engines putting other firms in front of potential clients. If your website is what we call ‘Google fit’, then you can be confident that you will be able to rank higher than your competitors who have a less technically-sound website.
More recently we’ve seen a number of sites that have been created by other website designers, and when we’ve taken over their hosting and maintenance, or we’ve been engaged to undertake a website design refresh, we’ve discovered that the site hasn’t been able to be crawled by the search engines. ‘Crawled’ is a term given to the bots that crawl the internet to search for updates to content and generally scan the web. This is because their previous web designer forgot to do a few key steps to ensure that the search engines were able to crawl their site. Worse still was that they didn’t know that they had to do these steps and thought that it was only for the SEO professional to do.
This is very disappointing for people who’ve had that experience. Unfortunately, there are a number of those designers around and their clients are none the wiser. So while I won’t cover what is involved in technical optimisation because there is a lot of it, you must know that a highly credible web designer is going to make a difference even when you might not be aware of it. At Loyalest, we do a full, comprehensive technical performance check, and give you those results at the website handover stage.
Mistake 5: Not Offering Appointments Online
Law Firms often overlook the value of an online booking calendar. If you create rules for the calendar, for instance, that no one can make bookings within 24 or 48 hours, this is a good way to manage the enquiries and is a highly effective tool to get potential clients into an initial call or into a first meeting, at a time that suits them.
At the point that they are searching online, often late at night on the couch or in bed, that is when people are often thinking about the problems that they have to solve. They are looking for solutions in the moment. So, a booking calendar gives people that opportunity to commit to starting a working relationship with you. Even if you are unsure if this is a good idea for your firm I recommend you test this out for a period of time. I’m confident you will see that it can be highly advantageous, especially if you are prepared to offer a complimentary 10 to 15 minutes initial conversation.
Naturally, people will not be making phone calls late at night because they know no one is going to be at the office. You can restrict your hours of booking availability accordingly.
When you’re launching a new firm or a new product, your goal is to reduce any potential friction points that will stop potential clients from connecting with your firm or your business. You want to create some stepping stones for them that feel comfortable and not overly-committed. That’s where a free initial conversation can be helpful even if it’s 10 to 15 minutes. It is a no-obligation opportunity for them while you have the opportunity to earn their trust and demonstrate your credibility where you might not have had the opportunity before.
While there are lots of mistakes that law firms and legal product companies can make when they first start out, we hope this has provided you some insights into what can be avoided. If you are going to go to the effort of creating good content for your website, have an SEO specialist help you optimise it. Go with a website design that is unique to your brand, offer an online booking calendar and engage a web designer that is highly skilled not just in design but the technical elements as well and maximise your chances of your website being one of your highest-performing assets.