I regularly deal with attorneys who are struggling to grow their business. One area where I regularly see the legal profession err is the way in which lawyers fail to “relate” to potential clients through their web presence. There are three simple things you can do in your practice to boost your web presence and your client list. Let’s take a look at them.
Lawyers need to choose blog topics that relate to potential clients
This is a biggie where attorneys get it wrong. I regularly see lawyers choosing blog topics that explain exceptions to the hearsay rule or a general discussion about some other area of the law. Here’s a newsflash – potential clients don’t care about that material. They are on Google looking for a lawyer because they want information relating to their specific problem. So ask yourself “who are the clients I typically service” and write blog posts on subjects that impact those people directly.
Let’s look at a few hypotheticals:
- A mother is concerned that the father of her child is abusing drugs and she wants to change custody. A series of articles dealing with how courts proceed in family cases involving drugs will speak directly to this potential client.
- Someone has been arrested for a DUI and wants to know how the driver’s license suspension process works. A detailed series of posts discussing how the process plays out, again, speaks directly to this person.
- Someone with a home and a mountain of credit card debt is worried about how housing price increases impact their chances in bankruptcy. A series of blog articles on the topic answers these questions.
The above are all scenarios that people face on an everyday basis. Yet, for reasons beyond my understanding, many attorneys with blogs don’t speak to the issues these people are facing. Considering the needs of your potential clients, and addressing them, accomplishes two goals. First, your phone volume will increase because you are providing value to potential clients. Second, your site will suddenly start getting meaningful backlinks as people link to useful information.
Attorneys need to write in layperson terms when generating website and blog content
I was told numerous times by clients that they liked talking to me because it was “like talking to a person and not an attorney.” People want to deal with someone they can relate to. By breaking things down in terms people can understand you become the person they feel comfortable with and are more likely to pick up the phone and call. Matt Cutts made this point really well earlier this year in the following video:
While writing in layperson terms may not directly impact search results, ask yourself this question – are people likely to link to a site they don’t understand? The answer is no. Here’s a simple rule for your content writing – if you’re using a term that you didn’t know before you went to law school (e.g. search & seizure, joint custody, bankruptcy cram down, etc.) then that means that the people searching for a lawyer don’t know so you need to explain, in layperson terms, what that expression means.
Attorneys strike out in web marketing by not providing specifics to potential clients
Again, clients are looking for specific information that deals with their specific problems. Lawyers often miss this point completely in their blog writing. Here are three common examples of mistakes I see:
- Criminal defense lawyers writing a general article on how the Fourth or Fifth Amendments work.
- Family law attorneys writing general articles on whether someone should file for divorce or child custody
- Business law attorneys writing general discussions on topics such as “should your form an L.L.C.?”
Sorry to burst your bubble – potential clients don’t want to hear your manifesto on these topics. When you call a plumber to your house do you want a lengthy and abstract discussion on how your plumbing works or do you want him to just fix the frickin’ problem so you can get on with your life? Hopefully it’s the latter. All potential clients care about are specific answers to their specific questions.
Instead of the above examples, consider the following:
- Criminal attorneys can write a series of blog posts discussing how the Fourth Amendment applies to a very specific situation that the attorney has seen multiple times. If you’ve seen it multiple times then chances are there will be plenty of people searching Google for a discussion on it.
- Instead of writing a “should you file for divorce” article, write a discussion on “should you file for divorce if ‘x’ occurs.”
- Instead of an abstract discussion on whether someone should form an L.L.C., write about whether an L.L.C. is a good choice, and why, for someone facing a specific problem common to your potential clients.
These three points can be broken down into a very simple concept. Provide people with the information they actually care about, in a way they can understand, and in a way that actually answers their specific question. Doing this will put you ahead of most of the attorneys out there and get your more clients quicker than you may think.