SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE:
• Learn the three most important things you should offer on your website
• Content is king – Find out where you can get FREE content
• What you don’t know about SEO (search engine optimization) will hurt your practice
How to Make Your Website Work Harder For You
Welcome to the teleseminar on Marketing for Divorce Professionals by Divorce Marketing Group. My name is Martha Cam. I am the Vice President of Marketing for Divorce Marketing Group. For those of you who are joining our monthly teleseminar for the first time, welcome, and for those of you who are returning, welcome as well. I will give those of you who are new a 30-second intro on the background of our company and this seminar series. Divorce Marketing Group is the only agency in North America dedicated to helping divorce professionals such as family lawyers, certified divorce financial planners, therapists, mediators, those professionals who are servicing people going through a divorce. We help them promote themselves on- and offline. We have created this teleseminar series where, every month we provide tips and information on how to promote your practice and get more clients.
Today’s session is about how to make your website work harder for you. Hopefully most of you who are on this call already have a website and are interested in knowing how to make it work harder for you; although the tips that I’m going to give you today will be highly relevant to those who are thinking about developing a new site, or revamping the sites that they currently have.
Three Winning Website Pointers: What Needs to be There
So there are three aspects to today’s session. First, I will discuss the three most important things you should have on your website. The second part is about contents being king and how to get free contents. The third part talks about how what you don’t know about search engine optimization will hurt you. So let’s begin with the first part which is the three most important things you should offer on your website.
With respect to this topic, I will begin by saying that you should be very clear with a statement that is placed right up front on your home page that allows someone who lands on your home page know what it is that you do, why it is that they should consider hiring you and who it is that you are offering your services to. What you want to think through is what is called, in the marketing sense, a positioning statement. That is a statement that tells someone in 30 seconds what it is that you do, why they should hire you and, the target audience that you’re going after. Because let’s face it, we have specific audiences that we target and for those people who are within our target audience, we want them to contact us.
If not, what we call a self-selecting process should happen so that you won’t need to spend time with people who really shouldn’t be engaging your service. So this positioning statement can also then be translated into a tag line for your company. For example, if you are a family lawyer, you want to make it very clear that you do family law. Also note that there are people who specialize within family law. They specialize in working with people who have instances of domestic violence, or domestic violence plus child custody issues, or highly contested divorces. These are the things that you want to be very clear about up front (the kind of service that you’re offering).
The second item you want to inform your website visitor about is why they should hire you over other people who are also in the family law business. When you remain clear on what areas of service that you provide, this information should get even clearer. Why should they hire you? If you are specializing in father’s rights, then it becomes obvious why someone should hire you. You can proceed to explain that you would be fighting for them to get their fair share of the settlement for parenting time, support payments, so you’re actually expanding on your first part where you indicate clearly what services you’re offering.
If you are someone who is offering all services within family law, then you want to concentrate on certain aspects of who you are and how you do business. For example, there are lawyers who are extremely progressive. Progressive can be defined in terms of flexible hours, willingness to meet with people outside of 9:00 to 5:00 or perhaps in terms of where they would meet a client. Some lawyers will only meet a client at their offices where some clients, due to work schedule may need to meet somewhere other than their lawyer’s office..
Finally you will want to discuss who you are after. If you are offering a whole spectrum of family law, you may want to indicate that you only work with high net worth people or your specialty is working with celebrities on their divorces. You can now begin to see that on your first page, you want to offer this brief statement, a paragraph or two, describing who in particular you work with, the kind of services that you offer and the reasons why prospective clients should choose you. Of course, when you package that statement in an enticing way, it invites people to look further into your website to explore more because on the home page it has given them an indication that you are the lawyer that they would like to consider hiring, so therefore the next step for them would be to go and explore your website.
I’ve worked with a lot of lawyers. A lot of them say that they have experience. By all means that is something that you don’t want to delete from your website. But an awful lot of lawyers have experience, so experience alone is not going to get you there. This is my point: Work hard on your positioning statement and if you can, come up with a tag line that captures it in an enticing way.
The second most important thing that you should offer is a website that is user-friendly. What does user-friendly mean? It means all of the following areas:
1. The text of your website should be written in such a way that it can be understood by lay people. I’ve often come across websites from law firms that are full of legal jargon, jargon that a possible client would look at and say, what does that mean? How does that apply to me? So as much as you can, avoid jargon. And simple terms such as “parties” which are actually referring to someone who is actually looking at your site, I’m not a lawyer myself. When I look at a site like that, I can’t identify with it. I’m not a party. My spouse is not the other party. So I always encourage my clients, both on their website and when they’re speaking to their clients, to call them the spouse, the parents, you and your spouse. Those are terms that visitors are more familiar with.
2. The navigation on your website should be fairly simple and conventional, if possible. Conventional meaning navigation that appears on the top across or down the left. A lot of websites show navigation down on the side and is easily identifiable so that when I click on something it will take me to what I’m expecting to be taken to. There are a lot of websites out there that are however, very creative in design. Some of them are so creative that you don’t even know where the buttons are and if I click on this, I can’t tell what is going to happen. All that means is that the visitors to your site will have to learn how to navigate your site. While that might be interesting to you or to the designer who built the site, it isn’t interesting to the person who’s come to visit just to look for the information that they need. Remember society generally has little patience online and to try to find their way through a site that is frustrating. My recommendation is therefore to offer a site that is easy to navigate.
3. Offer a site that has content that isn’t just about you, your experience and your firm. Offer content that is either written in such a way that it’s about the visitor, the people who are having a family law issue, people who are going through a divorce. And point to resources that are helpful to them. Obviously your website needs to talk about you and the services that you offer so that a visitor can be sure that they’ve come to the right place. They would like to know about the experience, the background of the attorneys that are working for this law firm, but if you could also expand your website so that you offer some articles, maybe FAQs on topics that a divorcing father would be interested in reading, or that someone who is self-employed would like to know about (what are one’s obligations and responsibilities are and rights are when it comes to the business that I have built. Does my spouse have the right to some or it or all of it?).
So make sure that your website be user friendly and I’ll summarize it this way: Have navigation that is easy to follow so that the visitor doesn’t have to learn how to navigate through your site, have your text written in such a way that as a lay person I can relate to it, using as little jargon as possible, and have a section on your website where content is useful to someone who has lots of questions going through this difficult time.
The third important point you need to offer on your website is a clear call to action. What is a call to action? If you are interested in having someone call you, make sure that on almost every page, especially at the home page, that you have your phone number very easily accessible. If you can offer a 1-800 number, fantastic! If not, a local phone number is fine. Make sure it’s visible. And if you’re looking to gather more information from the visitors before you engage yourself talking to them, you can always ask them to fill out a submission form.
The question about a submission form is how much information do you want to ask of the person. This is something that you will have to gauge for yourself and decide based on your own business objectives. Just understand this principle: The more questions you ask, the less inquiries that you will receive. A fairly general kind of question people ask would be the person’s first name – you don’t even have to have their last name – their phone number, their email address, and then you may want to ask them what issues are they dealing with so that when you receive the email, you can make sure first that it is the area of law that you practice in and that it is an issue that you are interested in following up.
There are also submission forms that ask more questions. For example, net worth of the couple, or are you a self-employed person. Those are good questions to ask as long as you know what the tradeoffs are. Those are the three most important things that you want to consider offering on your website.
The third time I thank the person who refers a possible client to me is after that person becomes a client and I have delivered and completed my services. I normally ask for a testimonial and if my client gives me a testimonial or a quick email to thank me for a job well done, I would make sure that my referral source gets my thank you again to let them know that the client turned out to be very happy with the services that we provide. So, there are the 3 opportunities to thank your referral source. That’s how you can stay top of mind.
Content: Where to Get it and What it Does
We are now going to move onto the second part of the information I’d like to present to you, which is that content is king and where can you get free contents. This relates back to what I said earlier in Part 1 about creating a section on your website where you offer information so that your website can become a resource.
Content is king – you may have heard of this. It’s king, not only to the visitors, but also to search engines. A search engine’s sole purpose is to provide useful pages when someone types in the key words (such as father’s rights, or child custody). A search engine is going to research, in a matter of seconds, all the websites available that have content about child custody and father’s rights if those were the key words being used and serve them up to surfers. If your website has lots of pages that contain these key words, then those search engines would serve up your page.
So if you have a website that has six or seven basic pages about yourself and your experience, the likelihood of you showing up is lower. Of course there are a lot of other things that you could do to drive your ranking up with search engines. I’m not going to discuss that part. For now I’m just making the point that if you have a resource section with pages of content with these key words, then search engines are going to support you in showing your pages. From a visitor standpoint, they would be interested in coming back to visit your site or even forwarding those pages that are of relevance to a friend of theirs who is going through a particular issue and is looking for answers.
So how do you get content? I know a lot of you are very busy and you say I don’t have time to be writing all this. First of all, I encourage you to write if you have the time. If you write, you could use this article that you write in multiple ways. You could actually take the article and send it to other professionals. If you are a lawyer, for example and you’ve written an article about child custody, you may want to send that article to other divorce professionals such as financial advisors, therapists or mediators. Say to them, “I offer you this article to put on your website and what I ask for is a link back to my website and an acknowledgement that I’m the author of this site”. You can begin to see the power of writing. That’s just one point.
And if do you write articles, you can certainly use and repurpose them and post them on blogs. There are blog sites that invite guest bloggers to put their writing on their blog. Our company has a blog site: http://blogsondivorce.com. We have experts in the field of divorce blogging for us, so that way we can keep the contents fresh and have a wide range of content from mediators to realtors to lawyers to CDFAs. So I do encourage you to write.
Conversely, if you’re not going to write, what you can do it is take on writing that other people have done. This is now the reverse role. If you are a lawyer who practices in California, and a lawyer who practices in another state has written an article about what’s the best way of working with a lawyer to get the most out of your money and your relationship. An article like that is often generic because it likely wouldn’t touch on local divorce or family laws. You could actually take that article and put it on your site, and wouldn’t risk losing business to that family lawyer. Through your own network, look around and see whose articles you might be interested in posting on your site. Of course, you are required to get permission from those lawyers.
The other way to obtain content is to look outside of the legal field. If you know, or if you’re already working with accountants, therapists, see if they have articles that you could post on your site. In that instance, they could either be working in your city, in your state or province, or they could be working in other states.
Then the other way of getting free content is rather simple. You do not have to even get permission. You can create a page on your site where you have lists of links to articles that you think that your audience would be interested in. When you create a link, you could just copy the URL and paste it onto your web page. You do not need to get permission. So you can organize your resource page so that you might have a few links about legal issues and then you may have a section about parenting, emotional health and wellbeing (such as how do you manage your anger) and the like. And when you get the links together, you can email it to people and let them know, to come to your site and find a whole host of articles, or FAQs that are of interest to you.
There are pros and cons to everything. When you do it this way and someone clicks on that link, they’re being taken away from your site to another site. Sometimes people wander off and they may not come back. However, the benefit of doing it this way is that you don’t really have to spend the time to write.
Another way of getting free articles is go through your association. The bar association may also use some articles that you could post on your site. If you are a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, I know for sure that the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts has pages on their website that you can take. Of course you want to just double check with them. Often, associations welcome their members being promoted and so if they do have articles, ask them if you could post them on your site. Of course, the minimum requirement would be that you give them a link back to their site and acknowledge who the author was and where the article came from.
Now, I’m going to talk a bit about getting free content through an automatic feed. If you go online and Google “free contents” or you could Google “free divorce content,” you’ll come upon sites that offer content for free. Not only that, you can get that content and put it on your site. They actually can offer an automatic feed, meaning you could devote a page on your website to those articles to be set your website to update automatically. Of course, you have a choice of what sort of articles to be set so if you want to feature content on divorce, it can be done.
As I said before, there are pros and cons to every option. When these articles are automatically sent to your website, you have to be careful about how relevant they are and how much promotion or advertising there might be. That is something to be mindful of.
Then there are websites such as Divorce Magazine that have newsletters. You can contact us and see if you want to buy that service and then it could be uploaded to your site automatically. But pay attention: Articles or newsletters put on your site should be written for lay people.
I now want to discuss a topic for those of you who find writing to be difficult but find speaking easier (I know a fair number of people still use Dictaphones and you could certainly do that). You could dictate a blog post or article. In ten minutes of speech, you probably would end up with an article that is anywhere between 600 to 1,000 words. This seminar is being recorded and it will be turned into an article to be put up on Divorcemarketinggroup.com. But for those of you who don’t have an assistant who can transcribe it for you, what you can do is send a recording to Speakwrite.com and for about $30.00 to $50.00, they will transcribe one for you.
SEO: What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You
This all goes back to what I talked about earlier with respect to building a website, and being aware, or making sure your web master is aware of what to do to have your site be search engine friendly. The things that you need to pay attention to aside from having content is also to make sure that your meta-tags are prepared. If you are not familiar with meta-tags, ask a designer. If they’re not familiar, you want to find a designer who is familiar with meta-tags because you want them to be a part of your website.
That concludes today’s session on how to make your website work harder for you. If you’re interested in receiving a transcript of this telesemiar, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be conducting our next session on June 24th, which is a Thursday, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The topic for the next session is How to Use Social Media to Build Referrals. So we hope to welcome you for that. In the meantime, have a good day, and thank you.