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February 07, 2013 Articles

Five Law Firm Web Strategies for 2013

By Michael Eck

We are in the midst of a digital revolution. Never before in our history has information been so accessible and instantaneous. In 2010, 77.3 percent of the U.S. population had access to the internet (239,893,600 Internet users) With rapid smartphone and tablet growth, our society is constantly connected and accessing information in a matter of seconds. An increasing amount of law firms are now finding new ways to leverage their websites for industry recognition, promotion of legal services, and as an influential aspect of legal counsel decision-making process.

When building a comprehensive law firm website, attorneys should strategize web solutions that makes sense for their practical goals and objectives. Below, we review five relevant web strategies to consider in this process.

Create a Consistent Mobile Brand Experience
Why is mobile important in 2013? Mobile Web traffic is rapidly increasing, representing 13 percent of total web traffic and mobile Internet usage is projected to surpass desktop usage by 2014. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for building a mobile website. Mobile strategies are reliant upon specific company objectives and industries, but the most important element to remember is portraying a consistent brand aesthetic across your mobile website. Often, budget, timelines, and resources play lead roles when developing and executing mobile solutions. So, which mobile option is right for your company? The three most common ways to build a mobile presence are responsive web design, a secondary mobile website, or a mobile application (native or web). Of these three, responsive web design is the clear trend.

Understand Perks of Responsive Design
Over the course of 2012, responsive web design has started to pick up more traction in the technology arena. Still new to the concept? Responsive design recognizes a user's screen resolution and then auto-adjusts the content to fit that device based on predefined design breakpoints. Responsive websites do not require browser sniffing and device detection like secondary mobile sites.

Another benefit of responsive web design is that, because an entire website's content is accessible through a single address, there is no need to update content for multiple platforms. Google also loves the methodology of simplifying the website address usage and has actually made it their preferred way of building mobile websites.

Maximize Your Content-Management System
A website content-management system  (CMS) should contain all the necessary and advanced tools needed to maintain a website with fresh, relevant content. A CMS should have a user-friendly interface with an intuitive design that provides simple instructions to create, upload, and organize content. The flexibility to add/remove pages to your site as needed is important for law firms to publish fresh and relevant content. Rich text editors allow for easy updates on web pages with content, images, links and set styles through a friendly user interface. Advanced users can switch to HTML mode and update directly through code. New content-management systems have custom search engine optimization (SEO) tools allowing users to add page titles, meta descriptions, and meta keywords to assist in configuring pages for SEO.  Another benefit of a full CMS is the simplicity of creating, deleting, saving as a draft, or publishing new web pages. A page can also be set to public or private and be hidden on the site, accessible by only a direct link or website address, or administrative access.

Optimize Attorney and Professionals Sections
Whether your law firm is large or small, optimizing your attorneys' biographies and professional pages is crucial for web traffic and creating a positive user experience. Optimizing your website is nothing new, but optimizing for long search is an important and growing segment of today's web experience. A long-tailed local SEO strategy is a great area for optimization. Law firms are also carving out their niche practices, industries, and services through search-engine marketing. Remember to optimize attorney bios for mobile readability and include important information such as practice areas, publications, featured clients, and LinkedIn profiles. The integration of social profiles and channels throughout law firm websites are another important part of customizing the users experience.

Build a LinkedIn Strategy
LinkedIn is the top spot for professional networking and your online résumé. LinkedIn currently has 187 million members and is on pace to surpass 5.3 billion professional-oriented searches in 2012. New features and updates to company pages and continued expansion of member profiles are providing real benefit for law firms to have a LinkedIn strategy. The new company pages allow detailed expansion of services and information, much more value than the simple biography of previous company pages. Member profiles now have skill sets to display on their profiles and recommendations for each. Integration of LinkedIn profiles into your website can assist the cross-promotion and expansion of your firms' marketing efforts.  

There is no off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all website strategy or solution for law firms. Many factors come into play when deciding which strategy best fits your company's web goals. Enabling the latest web technologies and knowing what is possible from a digital standpoint is critical to reaching your target market.

Keywords: litigation, solo practitioners, small firms, websites, web strategy, responsive design, SEO, mobile, LinkedIn, content-management system, attorneys bio

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