Why Attorneys Should Rethink Their Practice Areas Pages in 2018
If you’re at a social gathering and someone from outside the legal world asks what you do, you can usually get away with “I’m an attorney.” They might ask what kind of law you practice, if you work at a big or small firm, and a few other icebreakers regarding your job, but that’s about as far as a conversation will go before their eyes glaze over.
The exact opposite scenario occurs when someone needs to hire an attorney. Scrolling through dozens of websites, many of which look the same and have the same or similar content, the reader loses interest because now that he or she wants to learn more about who you are and what you do, you’re giving out a bulleted list of services, practice areas, and experience.
With expectations higher than ever, attorneys are finding that their practice area pages are vastly underutilized, and that with the right planning, writing, and execution, these pages can not only help you boost search results but act as a sales tool as well.
Why Your Practice Area Pages Are So Important
Your practice area pages need to do a lot of the heavy lifting on your website. If your bio page tells a potential client that you are likeable, trustworthy, and experienced, your practice area page should exist to prove that you can answer their questions, satisfy their legal needs, and convince them that you are the best person/firm for the job.
However, your practice area pages do more than act as the last touchpoint before a potential client contacts you—they also play an important role in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, providing relevant answers to a reader’s search queries.
Practice Area Pages and SEO
A decade ago, practice area pages relied on bullet points. At that time, pages needed to be simple and search engines were built to satisfy brief search queries, creating an environment in which bullet points satisfied both of these needs. Since that time, searches have become more complex and conversational, and search engines have evolved to answer longer questions. “Short Tail” keywords—broad queries consisting of 1-5 words, have given way to “long-tail” ones, and queries continue to become longer and more specific—and one of the best ways to satisfy these searches as an attorney is to enhance your practice area pages.
Custom Legal Marketing author Kristen Friend gave a perfect example of this: “people looking for a family law attorney are less likely to be interested in family law in general than they are to want answers about specific aspects of family law. These visitors will relate more readily to a page discussing child custody and outlining the process of working with your firm on child custody issues […] people want to learn about precise subjects.”
Practice Area Pages and Business Development
Can a well-drafted set of practice area pages help you move up in search rankings? Yes—but they do so much more. These pages also act as a business development tool, selling your expertise and discussing your process, success stories, and results, acting as a sales tool that gives your potential client informative, interesting, and in-depth information about your work in a specific field, grabbing a reader’s attention and convincing him or her to contact you.
The Basics of Improving Your Practice Area Pages
Now that you understand why practice areas pages are so important, it’s time to start looking at what you should do to improve yours.
Answer Questions and Structure Your Pages
As mentioned above, a list of bullet points no longer meets the needs of searchers or search engines, and your prospective clients want answers about their specific queries. A person heading into a custody battle isn’t going to search “family law.” Rather, he or she will likely search for a more specific phrase such as “child custody laws in [state],” “winning custody of my child,” or “what to expect during a custody battle.”
This provides you with an opportunity to create numerous pages surrounding each area of law you practice and in turn each service you provide. A recent article in Lawerist explored some of the ways that you could structure your pages, providing an example and an outline of the potential page hierarchies.
Know Your Audience
When you sit down to write these pages, one of the most important things you can do is to write for your audience. Knowing this, you shouldn’t be writing in terms that only an attorney can understand—unless your desired client is in-house counsel. When you sit down to write your practice areas pages, you should write in the same way that you speak when you meet with a prospect—speaking conversationally, discussing their concerns, and answering questions. For example, it’s unlikely that your clients will use the legal term “spousal support,” rather opting to use colloquial terms like alimony or maintenance.
Drive the Point Home
Your practice areas pages should act as an effective selling tool, reinforcing to your potential clients the reasons that they should hire you. Knowing this, it doesn’t hurt to brag. Discuss why your philosophy is so effective. Give examples of your successes. Tie your practice areas pages in with your blog to drive the point across and improve the user flow from page to page. In essence, you want to explain to your client—in their own words—why they need an attorney, how you help them, why you’re better than the competition, and ultimately, why they should choose you to take on their case or handle their legal need.
Searching for an attorney has changed. Even if referrals are still the most common way that people find an attorney, its days at the top appear to be numbered as more people turn to the internet for their legal needs.
With this in mind, it’s important to jockey for position on the sites that they are most likely to use—search engines and find-a-lawyer services. Getting to the top of Google is no easy task, but by following the steps above, you can give yourself an edge over competitors who offer unhelpful information or bullet point practice areas.
In conclusion, each practice area page should answer the following questions that potential clients may have:
- What can you do for me?
- Why are you better at handling my specific legal needs than anyone else?
- How to you tackle legal matters like mine?
- Why is your approach better?
- Why should I hire you?
As we discussed in our recent article on attorney guest blogging, the first page on Google is dominated by three categories of website— large firms with a giant online presence, thousands of legal articles, and hundreds of attorneys to write them; small firms who have made a concerted effort to build their search authority; and third-party sites who list attorneys or provide legal matching services.
While reworking your practice areas pages is one way to draw more interest in your site, getting your profile up on a highly-trafficked, high ranking website that could start generating leads for you is another. Legal Services Link was designed to help connect attorneys and clients. Simply create your profile, receive projects, and connect with clients.
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