Your law firm needs a website as a professional looking online brochure, but not necessarily to grab your share of clients who may be looking for your lawyer advertising on the internet. The second consideration is whether and how much to spend on Internet advertising which includes keyword bidding, search engine optimization and lawyer directories.
While printed brochures may still have a use for some law firms, their importance has diminished for law firms utilizing direct response advertising where clients will usually retain a lawyer at the initial meeting, such as personal injury, divorce, and individual bankruptcy. Potential clients responding to direct response advertising will usually meet with the lawyer and the personal relationship established, whether positive or negative, will overshadow any impression created by a printed brochure. However, clients who have retained a lawyer may later go on the Internet to view the lawyer’s web site. You don’t want your client’s latest impression to come from a poorly designed web site. With a professionally designed web site, your clients are more likely to refer you to their friends.
Today, people routinely check out a business by looking at it’s web site. Your web site address should appear on your business card, letterhead, printed brochures and giveaways. While you’re printed brochure was thrown in the garbage long ago, your web site is always readily available. Not only will potential clients be unimpressed with a website that looks like a novice built it, but so will competitors, adversaries and in the case of personal injury matters, insurance company claim representatives. Make sure that you have a competent web site design firm build your web site. For an interesting look at how a web site viewer’s eye looks at a web site see the Eye Tacking Study.
If you do not want to spend the amount needed to use a web site design firm, you can choose from 20 beautifully designed law office template web sites (on 3 pages) at TemplateMonster for around $50 (one time charge) or you can customize the template for around $300 at TemplateTuning (TemplateMonster & TemplateTuning are both divisions of the same company). The hosting service I use which has the best 24/7/365 telephone support (if you have some technical knowledge) for only $9.95/month is HE.net.
Don’t expect to start a web site and find that people hurt in an accident will go to the computer, look on the Internet, find your law office web site, and call you. First of all, the Internet is a big place covering not only the United States but the entire world, while your law practice is probably only looking for clients near your office. Your web site, if it comes up in a search engine at all, may come up in a search by someone in California, although you may be in New York. Second, it is extremely unlikely that your web site will show up within the first pages of a search result, because lawyer web sites typically only have a few pages. Search engines are programmed to look for good informative content, not a short blurb about your firm, the cases you handle, and some verdicts you won. Unless you’re willing to spend thousands of hours on your web site, your web site won’t have much of a chance, without keyword bidding. Third, if your law practice is one that can benefit from direct response advertising, such as personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or criminal, the web site is less important for advertising. With a personal injury practice, it is probably even less important because in most instances people with serious injuries will have retained a lawyer before they are able to get to a computer. The number of personal injury clients signed in New York through the HURT911.org web site are approximately 0.5% of the number of clients signed through TV advertising. For the amount of time and expense required to obtain clients through the Internet, your money is better being spent first on traditional means of direct response advertising. For those law firms with a large budget already being spent on traditional media, adding Internet advertising to your media campaign is a good idea.
To get around the problems with search engines, many law firms bid on keywords which will guarantee you first page placement if you bid high enough. web sites appearing in the search results because of keyword bidding will appear in a special section marked sponsored web results or sponsored links. People frequently ignore these results and go directly to the non-paid search results. I recommend keyword bidding only for larger law firms which can afford the cost. There are several reasons. One is that there is a lot of fraud due to competitors clicking on your advertising and there are computer robots that click on links. Fraudulent and robot clicks can cost you many thousands of dollars. See
Click Fraud Roils Search Advertisers By Stefanie Olsen at C/Net News. A keyword bidding management company can monitor your clicks and obtain refunds that are due you. My experience is that keyword bidding will result in your paying for fraudulent and robot clicks, salespeople, lawyers, people with general interest, people who already have a lawyer, as well as people hurt in an accident. While I did have a case that came from my web site www.HURT911.org which settled for $125,000, I have spent thousands of hours on my web site and the bigger it gets, the more work it needs to maintain it.
Bidding on keywords requires a lot of knowledge if you don’t want to waste your money. I see many large firms bidding on keywords which will not bring them any targeted traffic. I could write several pages on how to bid on keywords and maybe I’ll do that in another article. If you decide to bid on keywords, I recommend that you use a company that specializes in managing your keyword bidding. Make sure that they understand exactly who your clients are, what they are looking for, and what you offer.
Tip: If you list your e-mail address on a web page, it will be picked up by spammer software which scans web sites all over the Internet collecting e-mail addresses. This is guaranteed to deliver substantial quantities of spam to your e-mail
account. My suggestion is that you do not post your e-mail address on your web site. Instead, use a form, like mine at
www.HURT911.org/contact-us.php, that the sender can fill out and which will be e-mailed to you without exposing your e-mail address. Alternatively, you can post your e-mail address and mask it. To find out more about masking and a masking tool, see GetNetWise.