Whether your firm has an established website or you are just beginning to build one, how you present your firm online will determine whether prospective clients find you. Generic website and social media content puts your firm’s name on the internet, but that presence doesn’t guarantee that anyone will see it. Your goal is to match your firm to prospective clients who need legal services in your area. But if your site content is too general, will individuals using specific search terms find your firm first? More importantly, will your firm even turn up in their search results?

Your client’s customer journey and what it means to you

A recent Martindale-Avvo study spoke with individuals who were in the process of researching lawyers and followed their journey through hiring and working with an attorney. Consumers seeking legal help use specific terms when searching the internet according to the 2019 study, “The Legal Consumer’s Journey: A guide to how people choose and hire an attorney.” They all ask family and, perhaps, their larger network of online friends and acquaintances for recommendations. But they also search the internet and look up names on professional directories, before, after and while consulting their close-personal and wider online networks.

Through interviews, the study found that, at moments in their search, consumers feel overwhelmed, embarrassed, and anxious. A prospective client wants to be reassured both that a prospective firm has an excellent reputation and that individual attorneys have relevant expertise, will listen to their concerns and take into account their priorities. A person contemplating divorce may be wondering about her property and looking for someone who will act aggressively to protect her interests. If she has children, she may want a lawyer who has handled custody cases. Likewise, a student just arrested for DUI doesn’t see himself as a criminal, so he searches online for a lawyer who has handled many DUI cases in local courts – not a “criminal defense” lawyer.

Why your terms should match your clients’ terms

Maybe you’re thinking, “Great. I’m set. I’m a family lawyer and my website says so, and so does my profile and bio in all the legal directories.” But what if our sample divorcing mom searches for someone who handles high net worth divorces involving children? She’s worried her spouse will contest custody. None of her searches include the words “family law.” Or, perhaps your firm bills itself as a personal injury and criminal defense firm, but your site doesn’t mention that you also handle DUIs and misdemeanor drug cases. Will the college student arrested last night for a DUI find you online?

Specific terms will help prospective clients find you. Don’t just say you handle personal injury law – detail the kinds of cases you handle, such as workplace injuries, slip and fall, and auto accidents. Have you helped clients with a workers’ compensation application or appeal? Make sure you mention that, too.

Then think about all of the questions your clients ask you for each of these types of cases. What are the top five questions you get asked about child support, DUI arrests, setting up a trust, filing for bankruptcy? What are the most common circumstances in each case? Include the answers to these questions and keywords in the descriptions for each of your practice areas. These are the terms your future clients are entering into a Google or other online search as you read this.

Give prospective clients another way to find you by leveraging online tools

Just as having an up-to-date, descriptive website is critical to your online visibility, reviews are critical to your online reputation Social media and online directories give your firm visibility where consumers look for lawyers. If your firm isn’t there, consumers will make assumptions about why your profile is missing among those of highly rated firms.

And those ratings matter. Prospective clients will compare a short profile or a list of practice areas to their very specific needs. If they don’t see that an attorney can represent them in that area, they may move on to the lawyer who has it all – the right qualifications with excellent reviews and a four-star rating.

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