There’s no point in buying a Ferrari and keeping it in your garage

Unless you can no longer afford the petrol….

Recently we have been reviewing a lot of professional services firm websites and in spite of the fact that we shouldn’t be, we remain surprised at how many of them are being let down by proprietary content management systems.

Larger organisations often have vast amounts of content and good domain histories, and as such they should routinely rank well for the short tail and longer tail keyphrases related to their services. It would appear that often poor on page optimisation arising from inadequate CMS functionality is holding them back.

Traditionally larger professional service companies would have taken the view that ‘we do not wish to be instructed by members of the public and as such search engine rankings are not important to us’  but as internet usage continues to grow, particularly mobile internet searches, they run the risk of only being found by those who already know them thereby losing out on countless opportunities to grow their brand, extend their influence and reinforce their authority.

Recent research by Forrester (as brought to our attention by Ben at Barker Brooks) titled The Rise of the Digital C-Suite, where ‘C-Suite’ is a term used to describe the chief executives, heads of finance and heads of information at the 10000 most successful companies in the world highlighted that not only is the internet the C-Suite’s top information resource but also that members of the C-Suite search for information themselves.

So, back to the title of this post; if you have a strong professional online presence which is not being presented properly to search engines as a result of a content management system which is not fit for purpose then, effectively, you’re keeping the Ferrari in the garage.

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April 5, 2011 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

Are you making the most out of your content? Check No.1

If you’re putting time and effort into creating regular content for your website then you want to be getting the most out of it. There are a range of options for getting your content out there but the first thing you should do is check that your Content Management System (CMS) is doing all it can from an on page optimisation point of view.

The first thing I always do when reviewing a customer site, or potential customer’s site, is have a look at their page titles. If their page titles, as opposed to their article titles, are poorly structured then they are falling at on page ooptimisation hurdle number one (I never thought I would say that).

What is a page title?

When an internet marketeer or search engine optimisation refers to your page title he, or she, is referring to the text which is displayed at the top of the browser bar. Here is a screen grab of Austin Lafferty’s page title:

Lafferty Page Title

Where this become increasingly important is in the creation of articles, bulletins and news items relating to a service or a company but not specifically designed to attract traffic from a single search engine query. Such items will pick up the longer tail traffic, i.e. traffic arriving from phrases you are unlikely to guess at. Over time such traffic will dwarve that arriving from your very specific keyword targets, particularly where your site contains a depth of content.

In such circumstances, if your page title does not reflect the nature of your content, perhaps by dynamically picking up article titles, then your CMS is letting you down and you are not maximising your efforts.

What should you do?

Check out your articles to see if the page titles vary from article to article and display a title relevant to the content. If they don’t get on to your developers and give them the hairdryer treatment.

 

 

February 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm Leave a comment

Big Law Firm Websites: Instruct us, we’re approachable

Further to our recent post I’ve been having a look around more big firm websites and there is a clear pattern of strong personal imagery and this, combined with a more informal approach to bulletins and updates, is quite interesting as it reflects the requirements of online buyers in almost every area (i.e. they want to know more about who they are buying from).

At Moore Legal Technology we’re fortunate to have ready access to a senior marketing and advertising professional and when I asked her for comments she was unequivocal:

“Larger fims have obviously done their research and as a group they have found out that their clients wish them to be less stuffy, more personal and more approachable, and they are using this to try and differentiate themselves from their competitors. This becomes more and more difficult as other firms jump on the bandwagon thereby diluting the initial objective. “

The customers we work with generally have different objectives to the biggest firms in the country in that they are almost always looking to generate business online. This does not mean that they cannot benefit from observing the approach of others within their industry and beyond, in fact we are doing a lot of work at the moment bringing a personal touch to their websites (more integrated partner and solicitor images) with an element of peer review (customer testimonials) to encourage the bystander effect.

While they are unlikely to approve the budget for a photographer to snap them in boutique hotels there are a lot of options out there and we do our best to achieve what we can in accordance with goals, returns and approved spend.

This approach can perhaps be seen as a step down from the biggest firms in that we are looking to use techniques to draw out enquiries from people that have never heard of our customers before. Ultimately we are all looking to achieve a goal with what we do online and for smaller firms it is an issue of giving some real though to what you do want to achieve before blindly commissioning someone to ‘sort out your website’ for you.

February 16, 2011 at 8:46 am Leave a comment

Big Law Firm Websites: Instruct Us, We Look Good.

Why is it that big law firms appear to be going down the route of presenting themselves and their lawyers online as clothing models?

I’m not going to name any names here but I’m finding the recent trend of big law firms to present themselves online as arty and trendy quite bizarre. Its as if they’ve swallowed one of the recent intendance reports whole and choked up the results into a design specification.

Perhaps they are being sponsored by top shop, or TM Lewin or maybe its to make up for the fact that, generally speaking, lawyers are seen as being a bit square.

 

 

February 11, 2011 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

Legal Website Design: What makes them click?

There has been a lot of research done into what makes people click. Most of this relates to websites offering products for sale, as opposed to professional services, but it is interesting to look at a couple of the key principles and apply them to legal website design for lawyers.

1. Reviews: Often we are swayed by what others are saying about a product, in spite of the fact that we usually have absolutely no idea what makes them qualified to comment.  This behavioural phenomenon is known as social validation and its closest cousin in the offline world is  probably a referral, or recommendation, from someone you hardly know.

Client testiomonials are probably the closest things lawyers can get to a review of their product and these should be prominently displayed on the service pages they relate to.

2. Include Pictures and Stories: Use client experiences and previous cases to tell a story which your potential client can relate to. Use pictures as a way of giving your potential clients a point of reference for their story; something they will latch onto and associate with. We generally work on combining a picture of the partner/fee earner who works on particular cases with individual client pictures where available.

Once you get traffic arriving at your site you have to work at hard at converting it into new business. Learn from the experiences of other service providers to make the most out of your online assets.

February 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

Law Firms: How to Generate Business Online

I know our posts have been a haphazard in terms of timing, but we’re sticking with it and if you follow our advice you will attract new clients. We’ve given a brief overview of domains and templates and are now ready to move onto on page seo for law firms.

First things first; if you are commissioning a third party to design your website make sure that the following are editable:

1) Page Titles: The most important aspect of online seo – if your page titles aren’t keyword rich you’re onto plums.

2) Descriptions: Although the descriptions are hidden within the code of your site and have little actual relevance in terms of affecting your rankings, they should be drafted carefully as they present one of your first opportunities to get potential visitors to click on your natural results. Essentially they should include reference to page keywords together with clear calls to action (i.e. Phone 0845 620 5664 for free initial advice!)

3)Heading Tags: In the same way as headings in a written document help to identify degrees of importance and natural breaks, heading on a website serve the same function and help to distinguish less important body text frompage headers.

If you don’t have control of any of the above, then our advice would be to go elsewhere.

January 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm 2 comments

Design mark 2

Being true geeks we’re really enjoying The Art of SEO by Enge, Spencer, Fishkin and Stricchiola. Its perhaps a bit technical for the non geeky to just dip into but if you already have a decent understanding of seo, indexing and web development in general then it is well worth a purchase.

Design for law firms is slightly different and nobody would say that one size fits all, but here is a nice piece titled “The Golden Ratio in Web Design” which is well worth a look. Essentially your web design should look simple.

January 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm Leave a comment

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