North Carolina divorce attorney Lee Rosen (@leerosen) has one of the best legal websites in the game, and so I was excited when he critiqued a fellow attorney’s website on his blog .
One of the points that Lee drives home is that a legal website ought to be more than a digital business card.
Instead, a good legal website should solve problems and answer questions.
I’d like to look at the distinguishing features between business card websites and resource websites. Then, we’ll look at what you should expect from each in terms of SEO success.
Business Card Websites Have These Features:
- Business logo
- “In-your-face” calls to action that are primarily about instant lead capture. Phone numbers, email contact forms and LiveChats that are meant to capture leads on the spot, and they are everywhere
- A bunch of pages for each of the firm’s practice areas, but most of the text is unhelpful, generic sales copy (eg. “We have the experience, passion, and resources to aggressively pursue your interests. Call us now for a consultation.”)
- Pictures of tons of books
- Pictures of gavels
- Pictures of scales
- Pictures of pretty people who don’t work at your firm (stock photos)
Resource Websites Have These Features:
- Copy that addresses a specific legal subject and speaks directly to what the audience cares most about.
- Subdued calls to action which are more about creating value for the user than direct lead capture (ie. ebook and white-paper downloads, email and RSS subscriptions, blog commenting, and links to social media profiles).
- Tools that help users answer a question or solve a problem. Examples include things like “calculators” for determining potential legal fees, downloadable legal forms, etc.
- Curated content that helps your audience find trusted information.
What type of website is yours?
There is nothing wrong with investing a small amount of money in a nice business card website for your law firm. It’s a good thing to have for when people turn the to web for more information about you and your practice.
When you pay someone to “SEO” your business card website, you waste time and money
So here’s the thing: It’s really, really hard to get other online content publishers to link to a business card website, and you need links for your site to rank well in search engines.
So when you try to “SEO” a business card website you have to be creative spammy in order to build links.
Then, even if you are able to spam your business card website to the top of search results, you’ll eventually get penalized by Google, and your money goes:
Say you do divorce law. On your business card website homepage, you have content that reads something like:
My name is Attorney Bob, and I do divorce law in the city you live in. If you need to get a divorce in the city you live in, call me, Attorney Bob. My phone number is 555-555-5555. What’s that? You also need help securing custody of your child? I, attorney Bob, can help with that too. Call me. Attorney Bob. CALL ME!
Ok, so your copy is likely much better than that, but the point is, you are only telling people that you can help them get a divorce. You’re not helping in any way other than giving them your phone number…just like what a business card does.
A resource website, on the other hand…
Here is what Lee Rosen’s law firm website homepage looks like:
That is what a resource looks like.
Putting aside the fact that this type of content will surely outperform your business card website content in terms of getting potential customers to contact you, it is worth linking to because it provides real value.
Spam tactics are not necessary because web content publishers will be like “hey, I’m writing about divorce law issues and this site is a good reference and so I will snappily link to it” (in that last sentence ‘snappily’ is a typo; I meant to type ‘happily’, but now I really like the word ‘snappily’ and so it’s staying in).
There is nothing wrong with making a moderate investment in a business card website. But, if you then pay someone tons of money to “SEO” that site, you’re making a mistake. Creating a resource website is more expensive and time consuming, but is the only type of site that is also worthy of “SEOing”.