A question I commonly hear during during the sales process is:
What if we have your firm do the SEO and marketing, but we use another firm to design and build our website?
My answer is normally:
You could, but I don’t reccomend it.
Below I’ve given three reasons why it usually makes sense for law firms to use a single agency for website design and SEO / marketing. Below those reasons I’ve given an exception to the one agency for both rule.
The reasons to use one agency for both services are:
1. The best legal marketing agencies tend to overlap with the best web design and development agencies
In the legal marketing space, almost all of the agencies who have a reputation as being among the best in legal web design tend to also have a reputation for being the best in SEO and digital marketing.
In the early days of Google this was not as likely to be the case. After all, Google and other search engines used to be easy to manipulate. You didn’t necessarily need an exceptionally well designed and coded website to rank high for your keywords, so why would an SEO agency feel compelled to add design and coding talent to their staff?
But in 2017 Google is a more sophisticated beast. A website with ineffective design and sub-par development simply doesn’t have a chance of producing consistent quality leads for a law firm. The legal marketing agencies who survived Google’s evolution did so because they were able to expand their capabilities beyond SEO.
If you’re considering agencies that have great reputations within the legal marketing space, it’s likely that those agencies are more than capable of both building and marketing your firm’s site.
2. Web design-only projects lack strong incentives
If you hire a company or an individual freelancer to design and build you law firm’s website as a one-off project, they lack a strong incentive to go above and beyond to ensure that site is built to succeed.
After all, creating a comprehensive content marketing and SEO strategy – and then building an intentional design and website architecture to accommodate that strategy – takes far more time and resources than putting up a WordPress website that looks “fine”.
The goal of most web design agencies who get one-off projects is to get each project done as quickly as possible. As long as you’re satisfied with how it looks, their job is done.
But when the agency who builds your website is also responsible for ensuring that you see a return on your digital marketing investment, that agency has a much stronger incentive to think long-term, and dedicate all necessary resources to your project.
3. The advantages of proven standards and processes are lost between multiple agencies
One commonality shared by all successful businesses, not just marketing agencies, is that they have standards and processes which have given them a competitive advantage of some sort.
If the agency that you intend to hold accountable for generating a positive ROI on your marketing dollars does not control the production of the most essential tool that they’re using to generate that ROI (your website), they will necessarily have a harder time ensuring that standards are met and processes necessary for success are able to be followed.
The major exception to the rule: Need for advanced website functionality
Most law firms don’t need their website to do anything complex. Most firms need their website to covey relevant information quickly and effectively, allow people to easily locate contact information, and generally create a positive brand experience for anyone who accesses it.
However, there are cases where law firms may require the website to have more advanced capabilities like user portals, payment gateways, and integrations with third party CRM systems.
In these cases, when advanced (and uncommon) website functionality is required, it may be prudent for your firm to use a specialized web development agency to build the site, and a separate agency to handle digital marketing and SEO.