As we all know, the legal industry is a particularly competitive space, especially online. But despite that, there are not always obvious differentiators between each legal service provider - at least in the eyes of the public.
So, when the service you’re offering is broadly the same, but you’re in a crowded marketplace, how do you stand out from the competition?
By doubling down on the elements that demonstrate your firm’s trustworthiness. This will help you:
- Perform better in search engines
- Improve visitors’ perception of your firm and services
- Provide a better user experience
- Persuade more web visitors to instruct you
So, focusing on demonstrating evidence of trustworthiness and expertise is of fundamental importance if you want to drive more visitors and leads through your website and beat the competition online.
In this post I’ll recommend seven tactics, methods and techniques for achieving this and taking your law firm’s website to the next level.
Let’s get started…
1. Display awards and accreditations
People who are looking for a solicitor will want to see evidence that your firm has objectively high standards - and the easiest way to demonstrate that is to show off any third-party or industry accreditations and awards held by your firm.
For instance, JMW displays badges like the below on almost all of their pages:
What if you haven’t won an award but you’ve been nominated? Most awards provide ‘finalist’ or ‘nominated’ badges that you can use on your website - and you should.
Why? Because being a finalist still displays those objectively high standards that we’re trying to convey, and shows you to be a leader in your field.
Would you want someone researching solicitors to leave your website without knowing you weren’t ranked in the Legal 500? That you hadn’t been nominated for - and won - awards voted on by your industry?
I’d imagine not. So tell ‘em!
2. Make reviews & testimonials easy to find
Online reviews have a significant influence on a visitor’s likelihood to buy a product or invest in a service.
Need some evidence? Here are some stats to back that up:
- 71% of B2B buyers look at reviews during the consideration stage (G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing)
- 97% of shoppers say reviews influence buying decisions (Fan and Fuel)
- Displaying reviews can increase conversion rates by 270% (Spiegel Research Center)
So, if you’re already getting reviews via an online review platform like Trustpilot, make them visible on your site.
Most content management systems (CMS) allow you to easily integrate your website with your chosen online review platform, meaning reviews can be pulled into pages on your website like this:
But when it comes to reviews, there’s more to consider.
All companies should also have a Google My Business (GMB) profile set up, which is visible in search results on Google, rather than on your site. This is crucial for improving your local SEO presence, especially if you are a law firm that specialises in local or regional cases.
Many people choose to rate and review companies on GMB profiles as it’s so quick and easy to do - which is good if you’re providing a good service.
Having good reviews on your GMB profile is important because it is visible when people are in their research phase - even before they’ve visited your site or even heard of you. If you have good reviews, it can make a big difference in persuading someone in Google to visit your website over a competitor's when researching potential law firms on the search engine.
GMB ratings and reviews are also local search ranking factors that can affect how prominently you appear in the search results pages for people looking for local services - so it’s a big deal.
We’re assuming here that you’re already generating reviews and testimonials naturally. But what if you’re not? Not to worry - even if someone has had a great experience with a law firm, they often need some encouragement to leave a review.
So here are some ideas for your business to get more positive reviews/testimonials online:
- Ask personally for reviews at the end of the process
- Gather emails of clients and send a request for a review
- Offer printed cards or handouts at the end of service asking for a review
Build trust among new web visitors by making it clear that you’re trusted by others, and invite feedback to demonstrate you take customer service seriously - both of these activities will do wonders for your web presence.
3. Produce case studies
I couldn’t tell you how many solicitors’ websites I’ve seen of late that don’t contain any case studies.
Perhaps some think that if they have reviews or testimonials on their site then that’s enough to persuade prospects to work with them, but case studies actually perform a wholly different function and are crucial for different reasons.
Where reviews and testimonials provide visitors with an idea of past clients’ sentiment about the outcome of the service, case studies give a valuable insight into the process that the client went through in order to get to that result.
And that’s the kind of information that can make or break leads.
Yes, prospects want to know that you are capable of achieving the result they want, but they also want to know :
- How you work and interact with your clients
- The expertise and skill utilised to get the desired outcome
The fact is, the more you can do to demonstrate your expertise, the more likely you are to get leads.
Not sure how your case studies should look? Here’s a template that we’d suggest using:
Title: [Brief description of case - outcome] e.g. Paraplegia caused by spinal cord injury - £6.65m compensation
Section one: Overview of the case
Section two: Overview of your strategy
Section three: Overview of what happened
Section four: Overview of the final stages of the case and final outcome
Section five: Get in touch
4. Shout about CSR
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a crucial business practice that is particularly important in this day and age.
As the name suggests, it’s all about embracing socially responsible policies in order to benefit society. Naturally, this also benefits the organisation too, as it engages staff and customers.
As I mentioned at the very start, competition among law firms has never been higher, and it’s vital you do anything possible to gain a competitive edge.
Showing potential clients that you stand for the same things as they do can be a serious draw, especially when there are very few other perceptible differences between your firm and your competition.
It’s likely that you already know all this, as the vast majority of law firms do invest in socially responsible activities, however, it’s not always obvious to website visitors - and that’s the bit I want to change!
Most law firms that take part in CSR initiatives might write a blog about it, or fire off some tweets or Facebook posts, and that’s about it. But just think, if you were a prospective client visiting your site a few months later, how likely is it that they’d happen to stumble upon it? In most cases, very unlikely.
So you need to keep that content front and centre. But how do you do that? Here are some ideas. Why not:
- Add a carousel image to your homepage highlighting your CSR endeavours and linking through to a dedicated page on the topic?
- Bring your activities into focus on your page content? When talking about your services, you should also talk about why someone should choose your firm - and this is the perfect place to talk about your commitment to improving the society around you.
- Create a dedicated social media account for everything that you’re doing that automatically feeds into your website?
Whatever you do - try and make sure it’s easy for people to find evidence of this important key differentiator.
Need some tips on coming up with or implementing CSR policies?
Take a look at the following posts for starters:
- Top 20 Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives of 2018
- 16 Brands Doing Corporate Social Responsibility Successfully
- 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Implement a CSR Plan
5. Create Engaging People Pages
Most people who are prepared to take legal action are likely to be realistic about the fact that it’s going to take a fair bit of time to get their issue resolved.
That means a lot of time dealing with one or more lawyers at your firm.
And (sorry to break the news to you) that won’t generally be something clients look forward to.
That being the case, having engaging people pages on your website can make or break someone’s decision to instruct your firm.
There’s two reasons for this: the first is that it’s the best chance they have of evaluating the person who they might be working alongside and interacting with for a significant period of time.
The second is that it gives potential clients the best chance of finding out more about the actual human(s) that they’re going to be entrusting with an issue that has probably had a big impact on their lives already, and an even bigger impact if they don’t get the result they want.
So, what should your people page say?
We’d recommend including at least the following information:
- Job title
- A summary of your career background to date
- What you consider to be your areas of specialism
- Details of landmark/key cases you have worked on and their result
- Accreditations, awards, qualifications you hold
- Your approach to your work with clients - what they can expect from dealing with you
- What you like to do in your spare time - any more interesting/unusual/fun facts about you
Your people page should be written in your own tone of voice to convey, as much as possible, your personality, as that’s the whole idea of this page!
6. Thought Leadership, Personal Branding and Authorship
Google has a category or classification for websites known as ‘Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)’ websites.
These are websites that offer advice or information that can have an impact on visitors’ future physical or financial wellbeing.
The key thing to note is that Google has higher expectations of the information on these kinds of sites than on others, because it can make such a big difference to the lives of the reader. Google wants to protect searchers from low-quality content that could be detrimental to them, so they look extra hard for content that demonstrates expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT) instead.
What does that mean for you?
Well, legal-related websites fall into the category of YMYL, which means you need to try extra hard to demonstrate EAT on your site. If you don’t, your SEO performance will slip compared to your competitors. The result of that is fewer visitors and fewer cases generated via the web.
All of the tips we’ve given so far in this post deal with demonstrating the T in EAT, but what about the first two letters?
Here are some tips for demonstrating that extra level of expertise and authority:
- Blog more frequently as a company, and ensure the content you’re posting is more insightful than your visitors might be able to find elsewhere. Meet, then exceed their needs
- Better understand your audience so you consistently provide great content that your audience loves. Understand the keywords your audience are searching for, and the intent behind those searchers - what are they looking for this? Why are they looking for it?
- Be comprehensive but format your content so that it’s easy to digest
- Think about what your audience might want to know next, create content - such as guides, blogs, news and other resources - that meets those needs and make it easy to find on relevant pages
- When you’re writing content for your site, include as much helpful information as possible and cite multiple sources to show that what you’re saying is educated, informed and trustworthy
- Get your staff to develop personal brands by becoming frequent blog authors - both on your website and on others as a guest author
- Aim to gain links from other authoritative websites, as well as social shares
- Set up author profiles/bios for your blog that tell Google and readers about the author, so that they can connect the author with social media profiles, off-site content and so on - this all reinforces a personal brand. Below is an example of a good author profile in the eyes of Google:
7. Be Transparent
Last year the Solicitors Regulation Authority announced that all law firms must provide user-friendly price and service information for a range of common services.
This requirement means that solicitors will need to provide clear information on pricing (and what that price includes), typical timescales and the experience and qualifications of staff undertaking the work. This information has to be published in a prominent location on the firm’s website.
The requirement for price disclosure does not extend to all legal services, but law firms will be required to provide information for those services most commonly utilised by consumers.
The services covered by the mandate include:
- Motoring Offences
- Employment Tribunals
- Debt Recovery
- Licensing Applications
For more information, read our more in-depth post on the topic here.
This is just the start...
Believe it or not, but the seven tips listed in this post are just the start - I actually cut out other fundamental tips and methods you can employ to beat the competition to avoid this post being even longer.
So, if you’re not doing everything in this list, then there’s a good chance you’re falling behind the competition as we speak. But if you are, there’s still a lot more that you can do to pull even further ahead of your peers.
If you’d like to know more about any of these techniques, or those that I decided not to include in the post, I’d be more than happy to talk them through with you.
Just get in touch either by email or phone and I’d be delighted to explain!