As the end of the year is almost at our doors, we are thrilled to share the list of the most important marketing trends you need to know for 2021. Throughout the year, we have been researching, collecting, sharing, and analyzing the information from essential sources to determine where the industry is heading. If you are planning your online marketing strategy for the next year, you are in the right place, as the internet has transformed into space where most of your clients are going to make decisions. It’s the place where you can build relations with customers in any part of the world.
As the technology keeps changing, the industry keeps reshaping and so does its trends. We have collected the most important aspects of marketing you need to know for the coming year, and unfolded each in the most straightforward way. With this list, we hope when the year 2021 starts around the world, you are confident in your strategy and have a plan for your firm. So, let’s get started!
1. Customer Reviews to Help You Rank Locally on Google Maps and The Local Finder
You probably won’t be surprised if we say one of the most critical aspects of your business and its marketing is going to be customer reviews. Customer reviews determine the satisfaction level of your clients and help others in the decision-making process when they determine whether or not to do business with you. According to statistics in 2019, 72% of customers won’t take action until they read the reviews. Sounds important enough, right? Not only does it help other customers have an impression on your company, but reviews help them find your business. If they cannot see your business at all, they will not have any kind of impression in the first place.
But how exactly do reviews affect your local ranking? We searched for a “Lawyer in Savannah,” and as you can see in the picture below, the lawyers in the top results have above 4-star ratings, and the very first result has the most significant number of reviews.
If you are in the top results of the local search, you will more likely get more phone calls, visits, and clients.
Keep in mind that your clients’ location affects the results. However, in the search above, we used an IP address from a different continent. Our results weren’t based on the distance between the searcher’s location and the business, but it was based on the relevance. Also, users themselves can sort the results as desired by distance or relevance. If they choose to sort results by distance, then the results will be based entirely on the distance between the client and the business. But if they choose relevance, Google uses special algorithms to rank those.
In November 2019, Google’s newest local algorithm update was announced, and many local businesses experienced a drop in rank. For several days, business owners had been wondering about the changes that appeared in the way Google ranked their companies. Changes appeared because Google, with its algorithm update in 2019, decided to use the user’s location as the main factor to rank local businesses. The business that is the nearest to the customer is going to rank better on the search. Although now the main signal for the local ranking turns out to be proximity, there are other vital signals you should keep in mind. Positive reviews are among the top ranking signals for Google Maps, as it indicates your business is trustworthy.
“High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews,” says Google on its Google My Business Help Page.
Additionally, reviews are like free advertisements for your business. According to the research published on BrightLocal in 2018, 91% of 18 to 34 year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
How to Get Google Reviews
First of all, you should add or claim your business listing. To do so, you can go directly to Google Maps and add your business from there, as shown in the picture below. Google Maps SEO is essential for law firms looking to drive new case sign ups.
Alternatively, you can add your listing through Google My Business. To find out more about claiming or adding your business, you can visit Google’s support page here.
To get more reviews, remind your clients via email, phone, or in person that they can easily leave reviews for your business using mobile devices or desktop computers. It’s a good idea to reply to all reviews, even the negative ones, so the other customers know you are accessible to them and it’s worth their time to write a review.
And how to get more positive reviews? The answer is simple: Provide the best customer experience! Solve your clients’ issues, be patient, flexible, and caring. There’s no guarantee that all of your satisfied customers are going to review you on Google, but if you make all the clients happy, the chances of more positive reviews will grow automatically.
2. Use LSI Keywords
Nowadays, Google is trying to put more emphasis on the searcher’s intent, rather than just keywords. The intention should be the most important part of the search process, as without understanding the intention of a customer, providing the relevant results becomes extremely difficult. Back in the day, Google and other search engines solely relied on keywords and analyzed pages based on how many times each one of them mentioned the specific keyword. But as time progressed, Google changed, and so did its algorithms – the formulas Google uses for finding related webpages and arranging them. Today, search engines try to understand your page’s overall topic rather than count the number of times a specific keyword appears.
How to Help Google Understand the Intent of Your Content
If Google truly understands the aim of your webpage, then the chances of getting relevant and high-quality traffic are higher. To understand the content better, Google nowadays relies on LSI Keywords – Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords. Those are words that are related to the primary keywords semantically.
To explain it simply, if a client’s search query is “Lawyer for wills,” Google is still going to scan your page to see if the term “Lawyer for wills” appears, but it will also search for LSI Keywords such as “inheritance”, “Legal services” , “testament”, “legal document”, and others to determine how relevant your content is to the search query. The goal of using and analyzing LSI Keywords is to understand the context behind the search and provide better results. But we shouldn’t confuse synonyms and LSI Keywords: Having semantic relations between words doesn’t mean having the same meaning, but it means having associations between the meanings of words. A possible LSI keyword for a “testament” can be “death,” but “death” and “testament” are not synonyms; they are words associated.
LSI keywords have become even more important with Google’s latest algorithm update BERT – the highlight of the year in the SEO world that was announced in October 2019. The goal of BERT is to help Google understand the human language to determine the goal of the user behind the search, rather than specific words in a sentence. That’s why you should consider having as many LSI keywords as possible, so Google understands the objectives of your page better as well as the intention of the user. LSI keywords can increase your SEO traffic and bring more traffic to your content.
Although LSI keywords are influential in the process of optimization, you cannot exclude the main keywords from the play. Those keywords are compulsory to have, and LSI keywords should be there to help them.
While Google is trying to better understand the content of millions of webpages for delivering the best possible results to users, your primary goal should be delivering the greatest content to those who are searching for it. And to be more discoverable by your potential clients, it’s always good to remember about LSI keywords as a way to communicate your goals and intentions to Google and other search engines.
3. Position Zero & Voice Search Continues to Develop
Position Zero (P0), also referred to as a featured snippet, is the result of the search that appears above the list of webpages. Most of the time, it is an answer to the question the user searched for. With Position Zero, the user doesn’t need to click any website to find the answer.
If we search for “What is divorce mediation,” we get the definition of the term on the top of the page, above the search results, as shown in the picture below.
Position Zero is great, not only because your website appears on the top of the search, but it is becoming very important with the development of the voice search. When users ask Google a question, it uses Position Zero to answer their question, instead of reading out loud the list of relevant web pages.
Position Zero is very competitive, as all the voice search devices like Google Home, Echo, Alexa, or Apple HomePod, have only one best response to a question – and the response could possibly belong to you. Why is it important? Research by Hubspot found that a page in position 0 will receive 114% more visitors than the page that ranks first.
The Importance of Voice Search in 2020
It shouldn’t be a surprise that living in a fast-paced world increases the demand for voice search. When a user has the opportunity to simply ask for something and get a result without taking a seat, opening a laptop, and typing something, they will most likely use it. Why? Because it saves time and energy and seems like a faster solution for certain situations. Besides, our busy environment makes us multitask, and it happens that we want to search for something when we are driving, cooking, cleaning, or busy with something else.
According to the statistics published on quoracreative.com in 2019, 60% of smartphone users have tried voice search at least once in the past 12 months, and 55% of teenagers are using voice search on a daily basis. Google says 20% of all searches are a voice search, and based on the study by ComScore, 50% of all searches will be done through voice by 2020. 2020 is expected to be the year of voice search. According to the same statistics, 3 common keywords in voice search are “how,” “what,” and “best.” According to SeoClarity, more than 20% of voice search queries are triggered by a combination of only 25 keywords that I’ve shown below.
There is no doubt that the voice search is going to be crucial for your law firm in 2020. But with the online search, we know that search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo use special algorithms to provide the best results to our queries. But when it comes to voice search, are the results the same? And are the algorithms the same? To briefly answer this – no. Voice search is different, and so are its results.
The results for voice search tend to be different also because the queries are different. When users search for something using voice search, they are not going to just say some keywords like “attorney, experienced, injury, contingency.” They are more likely to say, “I want to hire an experienced personal injury attorney with a contingency fee.” Voice search queries are longer than typed ones and use more natural language. According to Search Engine Watch, Google delivers better results for natural language queries in voice search. Additionally, per Search Engine Watch, mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be locally based.
How to Optimize for Voice Search in 2020
Google uses keywords to find your content. When you want to optimize your website for voice search, consider using long-tail keywords, made up of three to five or even more words. The way people search using their voice is very close to how they usually speak, and their queries are going to be much longer. But this doesn’t mean you should fill the page with long, never-ending sentences. According to a study by BACKLINKO in which 10,000 Google Home results were analyzed, Google prefers short and concise answers, and the typical voice search result is only 29 words in length. The average count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words.
Users nowadays, with mobile, desktop, or voice search, want to get results as fast as possible. That’s why the page speed affects all types of searches, including the voice search. Google uses page speed as a ranking factor, and if you want to optimize your webpage, you must make sure your page loads fast.
Now that we have discussed the importance of Position Zero in a regular search as well as in the voice search, let’s see how you can rank for it.
How Can You Position Your Content to Rank for Position Zero?
First and foremost, start with the quality of your content. High-quality content is always the beginning of any process in SEO.
Secondly, figure out what opportunities you have. Not all keywords have featured snippets, so find the ones that have it. For the beginning, check the keywords you already rank high for. Most of the featured snippets are derived from the results that rank high.
To rank for featured snippets, you should format the question you want to rank for as a header (h1, h2, h3, etc.). If you are going to answer it with a list, make each bullet point a header (step 1, step 2, step 3, etc.). Remember, featured snippets are between 50-60 words, so you should be targeting that length.
Many queries that have featured snippets begin with “how-to,” “how to do,” “what is,” or “how long,” and Google will be looking for an answer for the search. As a demonstration, we have searched for “how to get divorced,” and here are the results:
As you can see, the featured snippet we received is a step-by-step explanation of how to get divorced. It’s brief and precise. Think of what your clients are going to be asking online, and how you can answer their questions. Find what you rank high for already, and target those to rank for Position Zero.
4. Create Engaging Content and Engaging Social Media Posts
Is Social Media Important to Law Firms?
Social media is very important to your firm, as it’s a unique space where, instead of selling your services, you build relationships with customers. Besides being a popular marketing channel, social media enables you to have a conversation with your audience where you can explore what their needs are or deliver the message you want to convey.
In 2017, Attorney at Work Reader Survey asked lawyers about their social media habits, preferences, and attitudes. It turned out that 96% of the respondents use social media, and 70% of them said their use of social media was part of an overall marketing strategy. The American Bar Association, in their survey in 2018, found that 35% of lawyers who took part in the survey have been rewarded with clients as a result of using social media.
Tips on Creating Content
For the content you make, you should create headlines that stand out, make bullet points, and highlight the keywords in the text. Keep your content simple; remember, your audience may not know most of the jargon or legal terminologies. And the content you create is mostly for your clients, not for your colleagues. Pretend you are talking to a friend that has no background in law and writes in a very simplified way. You want to use this sort of dialog so that every visitor can understand the intent behind the page. Use graphics and pictures to illustrate the ideas behind the text.
To create eye-catching posts on social media, consider using images and videos. Sometimes, visuals illustrate the message you want to deliver, or sometimes those visuals carry the messages itself. Either way, those help you stand out. If your posts have visuals, they are more likely to be reposted on social media – so be creative. Visuals can be original graphics created for the post. You can create posts about legal tips; you can ask your audience a question in your posts or offer advice around a subject. You can also share inspirational quotes that are relevant to your field.
How to Create Engaging Content and Social Media Posts for Your Law Firm
With millennials becoming customers for many lawyers, the demand for purpose-driven content rises. Clients want to be part of something bigger, and people seem to engage more with content that serves a higher motive.
To get started, you can post about a charity event or donations you make, because for many clients, especially for millennials, it’s not about what you have – it’s more about what you give. They want to be part of a bigger experience and feel like, by simply being your client, they bring change in someone’s life. Besides, you can create directly-engaging content, such as asking them like or share in exchange for $1 that will be donated to a cause that matters to your firm and your clients. Not only will you make a difference, but it will let everyone be a part of it.
The site content you share on social media can be either blog posts, FAQs – one question at a time, new awards, press releases, new wins, victory stories, or lawyers who do video marketing. When it comes to company news or personal content, you can share your employee birthdays (it will show your audience you care about your team and your colleagues matter to you), pictures from your meetings, or a celebration in your office. Remember, if you have an office pet, everyone wants to see it! According to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, about 85 million families in the United States own a pet. We love pets, and if you have one to post about, just do it! If you have allergies and are not planning on adopting a pet in 2020, you can still share videos from others who are posting about their animals.
When it comes to sharing content, choose heart-warming videos and pictures. People love looking at cute babies and pets online. Additionally, ask questions, create polls, and give advice. Share about legal news you find on social media or online. Post about community engagements. Remember to wish happy holidays to your clients, and if there are events happening in the local community, let them know!
And finally, go live! Live videos have unexpected elements in it, and viewers feel like they are part of it. It’s a great way to build authentic relationships with your clients. Think of a live-streaming campaign you can make for your firm. Even if the video is not an event or breaking news, but simply an attorney answering incoming questions from potential clients, it’s still great for the company. Live videos are not edited, and because of its authenticity, those bring trustworthiness to your business and help people interact with you. It also helps you reach more people and make you more memorable. Statistics in 2019 show that Facebook Live Videos produced 6 times more interactions and 10 times more comments than regular videos.
Remember, your job doesn’t simply end when the case is resolved or your client leaves your office. To be honest, your job never ends. You have to continually work on creating content for your firm and let your prospective or existing clients engage with your company. Engaging and valuable content drives more traffic to your site, and the more visitors you get, the more potential clients you have.
5. Purpose-Driven Branding & Social Responsibility
As the motivational speaker Simon Sinek says, ‘it’s more important to focus on why you’re doing something than what you’re actually doing.” Your why is your purpose, cause, and belief – it’s what’s driving your motivation for action. It’s the motivation for the existence of your company. People want to know why you want to do what you are doing. Nowadays, there is no shortage of law firms, and your clients won’t be scared to turn their backs if they realize there is nothing more to your firm than just being a law firm. As we have talked about engaging content, people want to be part of a bigger experience. The law firm they choose is going to represent who they are. Not only law firms, but many millennials choose products, the gym, or even a bank based on the purpose of those companies. The message is the brand and how you present the company, and it’s becoming more and more important for a successful marketing strategy. You have to be committed to doing something either for the community, for the planet, or something that matters to people.
Why Is a Purpose So Important to Your Law Firm’s Marketing Strategy
If your firm has a purpose in existing, then people have a reason for coming. Your goal should not only be solving legal cases, but also improving the quality of people’s lives. In a study in 2018, 80% of people say they are loyal to a business that helps them achieve the Good Life. And according to another study, 76% of people believe making a difference in the lives of others is necessary for living the Good Life. Thanks to the internet, we are exposed to issues all over the world, and your clients cannot ignore the air pollution, poverty, social injustice, lack of education, inequality, and other problems that we face nowadays.
According to the Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study, 77% of customers say they have stronger emotional bonds to purpose-driven brands. Ultimate Guide to Marketing in the legal sector in 2019 states that there is a rise of purpose-driven brands as firms acknowledge both customers and employees want to associate themselves with companies that really stand for something.
How to Find a Purpose
By finding a purpose, we don’t necessarily mean attending a charity event after reading this report or donating $1,000 to an orphanage. If you are not authentic in your actions, everyone will sense that. If you start attending every charity event that is happening near your business, people will start doubting your motivation. Find your core purpose. What is the biggest change your firm can make? If you haven’t thought about that, make a list of the issues that really matter to you and try to find out what your clients are going to care about. It can be fighting air pollution, helping children with Down syndrome, or maybe helping elderly people. Once you define what the basis is, start building from there.
What Happens After You Find a Purpose for Your Firm?
Once you define what the change is you want to make, attend the events that are connected to your purpose. Make donations that matter to the issue that you are trying to solve. Now, we are not saying you should not attend every charity event you want to; you should feel free in doing so. Attending every charity event becomes a problem only when you start posting about each one of them. When it comes to social media, remember to share the posts that are more related to your main purpose. Remind your audience why your firm exists, and what’s the reason for them to be a part of it. Remind your employees there is a far bigger motivation to work for you than just delivering services. And don’t forget that social media and your webpage is the place where you build relationships with your audience, and that is exactly why you should be sharing information about the change you are trying to make.
6. Personalized Marketing and Lead Generation
What kind of content are you planning on creating in 2020? We have talked about creating engaging content that attracts your clients, but do you know who your clients are? To create the content that will attract your customers, you must know who your customers are. But even if you determine who they are, it is going to be such a large amount of people that sometimes have nothing in common. So, how do you create the content that attracts all of them? The truth is that you don’t create such content; there is no type of content that can attract every single client you have.
What Is Personalized Marketing?
Personalized marketing is a marketing strategy by which companies, based on the data they collect about their customers, deliver individual messages and service offerings to their existing and potential clients. Personalized marketing will enable you to deliver individual messages to your clients based on the information you collect regarding them. As opposed to traditional marketing, messages delivered through personalized marketing are more relevant to your clients’ needs, and it becomes more likely that they will respond to your offerings. Besides, by approaching your clients as individuals, you are letting them know you care about them and are willing to invest your time in finding ways to gather information about them and find ways to reach them individually. Eighty-one percent of consumers want brands to understand them better and know when and when not to approach them, according to a study in 2018.
How do you collect the data about your clients? Be clear and transparent. Scaring customers is the last thing you want to do. Let them know you are collecting data for marketing purposes. Remember that the demand for personalized marketing comes from clients themselves. They don’t want to see emails from you that were sent to hundreds of other clients. Automated emails that used to be so popular back in the day become less important as the possibility of delivering unnecessary information to your clients is higher. And your clients want to communicate and engage with you instead of being offered services they don’t need.
To collect the information, provide benefits to them for sharing their personal data. Collect only the information you need and try to be brief in your questions. If there is something they get in exchange for their information, and they know the data is going to be used for improving their experience, the client will be happy to collaborate! A good example of getting a benefit as a customer, from sharing your data, is a music application providing a playlist for you based on the songs you have listened to in the past year. Think of what is equivalent to a playlist when it comes to your law firm. Maybe it’s the blog posts they have been reading or the information they have been searching for most frequently on your website.
The ways of collecting data differ as much as the data itself. Not all the information is the same. There is Quantitative data which reflects users’ activity on your website, on social media, customer complaints, and transactional information. There is Qualitative data that reflects your clients’ thoughts, desires, motivations, and satisfaction level. And there is Descriptive data that collects information about your clients’ career, education level, lifestyle, hobbies, and such.
If you do want to know more about your clients, besides collecting information on your website, create questionnaires and surveys. Be brief and precise in your questions, and make sure to let your clients know the purpose of collecting the information. Ask why they are your clients in the first place and what brought them to your company, among other questions about their motivations, expectations, needs, and problems.
Use the data you gather to help you define the buyer personas for your business: who they are, what challenges they have, and how your law firm can address those challenges. Then, create content to address the needs of each buyer persona. This strategy is very effective if you want to generate leads online. You could create downloadable content (white papers, ebooks, infographics, guides, checklists, etc.) in exchange for an email address.
Personalized Email Marketing
Now that you have collected data about your clients, it’s time to use it for business. Sending personalized emails is a great way to reach your clients. The data you have regarding them enables you to send relevant information. Don’t send the email without a subject. One study shows that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. If you are sending the email about a special offer, make it personalized too! Offer something you know they need, based on their case or previous experience, and let them know the offer is exclusively for them. Also, it’s a great idea to reach clients using a personal email from a company representative, so they know it’s a human communicating with them. According to statistics, 82% of marketers have reported an increase in open rates through email personalization, and 74% of marketers said that targeted messages and the personalization of emails improves customer engagement rates.
7. Consolidating and Updating Content
As we mentioned earlier in this report, Google algorithms change and so does the ranking. If you wrote content 5 years ago and ranked well in desired queries, there are chances you don’t rank for those anymore. 29 Google algorithm updates were confirmed from December 2014 until today, according to MOZ. What it simply means is that Google changed the way it searches for content. Search is becoming more and more about the intention behind users’ queries, rather than just words.
Reasons for Consolidating and Updating the Content
Back in the day, it used to be that Google was looking for the number of times a page used a keyword to determine its relevance. If you really wanted to rank for a car accident, you would have a number of pages for each question regarding a car accident – and it worked. You would have an FAQ page with answers linked to a different page on your website, and you would rank well. Additionally, you would write a blog about car accidents, too, and it would let Google see you are all about car accidents. Guess what? 5 years later, the content that helped you might be hurting you. The long pages of content make search engines confused, and you might be stagnant in the rankings. The cause of stagnation is the similarity of the content you have on your website. Now everything has changed, and Google is not going to rank your webpage just because you have loads of pages about “car accident.” Contrary, Google will be confused about which page to rank for the query. To rank better in 2020, you should consolidate the content that is too similar.
How to Consolidate the Content on a Website
To consolidate your content, go through every page of your website and figure out what’s the content that helps you, and find the content that does nothing for you or even harms you. Updates occur, not only in the SEO world but in the law world too! Laws change, things change, and you might have outdated information on your page. Having this kind of content can harm you. Clients looking at the outdated, invalid information are going to question your competence. Get rid of everything that is not true in 2020 anymore. You should also clear out everything that doesn’t have an audience, goal, purpose, is not optimized, and is no longer valid. Find the best pages on your website that are strong and rank better – you should keep those. Consolidating content is a very effective process that requires an investment of a lot of energy, but helps you rank. If, after consolidating, you are still not ranking well, try updating the content. The effective way of updating content is by adding 200-300 words of content every 3 months. This will let Google know you have fresh content constantly, and it will help you rank better.
8. Blog Articles to Bring More Traffic
In 2019, 55% of marketers said blogging is their top content marketing priority according to (HubSpot). And the number of bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million in 2020 (Statista). We have seen many statistics and unbelievable numbers that made us conclude blogs are crucial for the coming year’s strategy. Additionally, blogs help you build relationships with your audience and reach potential clients.
Why Are Blogs So Important in Marketing?
The blog is a platform where, instead of trying to offer a service, you offer a solution. Everyone needs a way out of the situation, and the internet is the place where most people come to solve their problems – unfortunately, not your office, which you might have been decorating for years. People love doing stuff themselves. So much content is available online, and it is so much more convenient to sit at your laptop and search for everything online. People search for everything from “how to catch a mouse” to “how to claim an inheritance.” There are thousands of legal forms available online, and the power of the internet makes people think they don’t need professionals anymore. Especially Millennials, who are experts at multitasking or, let’s admit it, experts at everything and think they are smart enough to do everything on their own. They love content-driven websites. Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts, who happen to be strangers, than advertisements, and 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites (HubSpot).
Millennials or not, people who like doing stuff themselves like to read blog articles. That’s where they find guidance and inspiration and will try to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. They search online for an issue, and if your content reaches them and helps them in the situation, they are going to remember you. But people are trying to deal with the issues themselves until they can’t. And when they find themselves still needing a lawyer, guess who they are going to contact? The firm that has been producing the content they were reading all this time. Spend some time on creating high quality content for your blog, so you can make a good first impression on your potential clients. And the more visitors you get to your website, the more potential clients you have.
For creating a great blog, start with determining who your audience is and what their issues are going to be. Try to be helpful in your articles and use the language your clients can understand. This is important as writing blogs can affect ranking. If you write regularly on topics that are relevant to your audience, have high quality content, and keep updating the blog, it can significantly impact your website’s performance in search engines like Google. To discover publicly available web pages, Google uses software known as crawlers. Every time it recrawls your website and finds it with fresh content, it will understand your site is active and typically more relevant than websites that haven’t been updated. Having a blog is a wonderful way to keep your website fresh. Remember how we talked about updating the content? When you constantly add something to your website, Google knows your website is not outdated.
9. ADA Compliance for Marketing Efforts.
In 2019, Juan Carlos Gil, a legally blind Florida resident, sued around 50 AutoNation Inc. dealerships in Florida. As he claimed, the problem was that he could not access their websites with his screen-reader software. Americans with disabilities act, the landmark 1990 law, requires places of public accommodation to be fully accessible. If you were not sure whether or not a website was considered as a public space, now you know it is. Court Judge Robert Scola ordered AutoNation Inc. to make all its websites accessible for the disabled.
And this was not the only ADA lawsuit in the last several years. There were at least 2258 website accessibility lawsuits in 2018 – increasing by 177% from 814 in 2017, according to this report. And according to the same report, in only 6 months in 2019, 1204 website accessibility lawsuits were filed within the given timeframe.
How to Make a Website Accessible
To get started, determine if your current webpage is accessible. To do so, you can use the WAVE Web Accessibility Tool, which is going to tell you what issues are on the page. When making your web page accessible, use the ADA guidelines. It will give you detailed instructions on the barriers faced by people with disabilities and common problems they face and solutions for the possible issues on your website.
Use descriptive alt tags for your pictures that are used by screen readers, players, and voiceovers for describing the pictures on the website to the users. Keep your website content simple by having sections and bites of the content, using headers and subheaders. If you use acronyms like NGO, use periods between the letters to help screen readers determine the proper pronunciation. Your website should also be fully navigable by keyboard only and it should be navigable with screen reader software.
ADA Compliance Levels
The Department of Justice determines whether or not your website is accessible based on the technical requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. and there are three different levels of accessibility: A, AA, and AAA. Each level has higher standards of accessibility.
The most basic level of accessibility is level A. You should never stop at level A as it is unlikely to be compliant with ADA on this level. According to statistics, 57 million American adults are living with a physical or mental disability, and 38% of Americans with disabilities surf the web. If you stop at level A, this means you are leaving out millions of people from getting the full benefit from visiting your site.
The happy medium most companies want to have is level AA. This level allows flexibility in design, while still making the page accessible to millions of users.
Level AAA takes into account all kinds of barriers people with disabilities can have. Because of its accessibility level, it is the most restrictive level on interactive design elements on a website.
Although all the levels are different, they have several elements in common. At all of the levels above, websites should have text alternatives for any non-text content, have alternatives for video-only and audio-only content, add captions to all pre-recorded videos with sound, and describe the movements that provide extra information in a pre-recorded video that is not audibly explained in the video.
You can see the broader comparison of the levels by clicking here.
If you haven’t thought about ADA compliance yet, it’s a great time to get started. Target the level AA in 2020 and help millions of users find useful information on your website. Even if we leave all the numbers out of the equation, the website is, most of the time, the first experience users have with your firm, and every client with any kind of disability has to be able to open your site. In 2020, you cannot and should not ignore accessibility on your page.
10. Site Speed Under 3 Seconds
“People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.” – wrote Google in 2018.
Page speed is something you should really keep an eye on in 2020. Page speed has been among the most important ranking factors since 2018, and many websites that took forever to load disappeared from the search results after the algorithm update. Although page speed has been a ranking factor since 2009, it has never been a ranking factor on mobile. The signal used to be focused on desktop searches, and since 2018, it has become a ranking factor for mobile searches, too.
How Fast Should a Website Load?
Google’s recommended load time is now 2 seconds, but not all the websites can comply with that benchmark.
“Two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.”
Although some might be thinking that Google is putting too much pressure on SEO experts and website owners, the number was derived after many searches and based on many statistics.
Why Should a Web Page Load Fast?
The reason Google wants your page to be faster is because of demand from your clients. The bounce rate (users abandoning a website), rises if the website takes more than 3 seconds to load, according to Google.
“53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”
The search engine knows that, if they offer a slow website as a result of a search query, the user is going to abandon it. That’s why Google tries to exclude slow websites from its search.
The page speed affects not only the ranking but the bounce rate. Pingdom, in its tests, found that the average bounce rate for pages loading within 2 seconds is 9%. When the load time exceeds 3 seconds, the bounce rate rises to 38%.
Having a slow website affects not only the performance in search engines, but affects the user experience. Your website, most of the time, is the first experience your clients have with your law firm. And if they end up looking at the blank screen, this won’t be a great beginning for your relationship. Plus, if users leave your website, they won’t have the chance to look at the amazing content you have created. You should invest time and energy in finding out if your website is loading fast and what can you do to fix it.
How to Check Website Speed
Luckily we don’t have to hold a timer in our hands to check how fast webpages load. There are free online tools that you can use such as GTmetrix, Pingdom Website Speed Test, PageSpeed Insights, and WebPageTest. Those tools are going to determine not only the time your page takes to load, but find reasons behind a slow website.
The causes for longer load times vary from server issues to uncompressed and unoptimized images, redirects, and similar reasons. The tools above help to determine the cause, and each one of them will give you suggestions on improving the load time. You can check the website from different continents and countries. The server location affects the site speed and it will load faster if the location of the user is close to the location of the server. Sometimes, the server itself affects the overall performance of the site.
To check the server, you can go to https://www.bitcatcha.com/ – it will automatically check the server speed from several different countries and give you a letter grade based on performance. Sometimes, the reason behind a slow loading website can be uncompressed files. For compressing files, consider using Gzip – it’s a great tool for compressing files but not images. For compressing images, try software like Adobe Photoshop.
Unfortunately, there is no simple fix to a slow website, and the reasons differ depending on many various factors. For determining the cause of your website’s slow speed, consider using the tools as mentioned above and find ways to fix it.
Although there is definitely more to online marketing than just the trends above, those are the ones we think are going to be the most important for your law firm in 2020. We hope that, with this report, you will find yourself more confident and excited about the coming year. We hope you are ready to get started on utilizing all the tools you can to establish a new marketing strategy for your firm in order to attract potential clients and give the best customer experience to keep your existing clients happy.
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