Q. “Do I need a website?”
A. Yes, You Need a Website and Here’s Why
By Beryl Vaughan
There is no better vehicle to communicate in some detail what you know, how you convey your opinions, and your strengths. Let’s talk about how things work, and dispel a few myths.
Q. “I have a website but it doesn’t get me work. Why?”
A. How do you know it isn’t getting you work?? Have you asked attorneys? Do you have code on your site that is collecting data? If data supports your belief, it’s time for a critique and repair. If data contradicts your beliefs, then you’re doing something right!
As an absolute baseline, your website functions like a sophisticated business card and CV, providing contact info. and, of course, your actual CV. Without a website, you’d have to be there, 6 states over, business card in hand. All day, every day.
A high-functioning site, however, provides a mosaic of information from you (not about you.)
The ultimate goal is to receive calls from attorneys who are pre-informed by your site, and ideally, pre-sold. I know of no better alternative to a website to produce this outcome.
Here’s how it’s done: People like to understand and don’t like to feel confused, at best, and ignorant at worse. Attorneys appreciate your help to understand what they don’t know, and why the topic has med-legal application to their case.
“Content is King.” This saying applies to the expert witness more than any other feature of the site. My secret sauce is pinpointing topics that marry your interests and expertise, with the attorneys who can bring you those cases. Designing meaningful content is where marketing takes place. Content that pre-sifts visitors is the gift that keeps on giving.
Big Time Google Rewards. Great news! What you do for a living is what Google rewards: informative sites are promoted higher in Google rankings than (a) sales-heavy sites, (b) static sites (sites that don’t change are dropped by Google as if you had died.) Quality content is Google’s latest “preference” followed by mobile-friendliness. You’ll get dinged if your site hasn’t changed in awhile.
User Experience 101: Let’s talk about the mechanics of a website. This is called the User Experience (“UX”–in the Glossary.) A website can have an underfunctioning design or be annoying to use. It’s fixable and deferred maintenance isn’t an option if you want an effective site.
- Information easy to find, and easy to read. (Light grey text on a medium gray background is one of my pet peeves.)
No broken features, like links that go to the wrong place, or nowhere at all.
Answers await before the questions are asked.
Are you easy to reach the moment the decision is made to do so? Contact info. on every page.
Inviting design is wonderful and engaging, but there are more things in heaven and earth, oh mass production website farms, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Critical feedback is the only way to know what’s working and what isn’t. There is nothing better than a second set of eyes, because you are not the best judge of your website.
- Be repellant. Imagery and text will need a fresh look from a young attorney to identify a tone that is off-putting. Why a “young attorney”? Because whatever your audience, that will be the person most likely to view your site.
- Watch the tone of your content. Unless you’re a natural writer, you might be surprised how often patronizing and self-congratulatory impressions sneak into the text. It’s tricky to see it, as the author, when you’re educating about something your reader doesn’t know.
Data, data, data. Where would medicine be without research and data? Ditto your website. Data-gathering and “Analytics” document the behavior of visitors to your site, how they got there and what they did next. It’s invaluable to determine the scenario just described: did the one call derive from 2,000 visits to the site or just one?
Case in point: analytics told me about 10% of keyword searches to this expert’s website was “Borderline Personality Disorder.” In response, I posted more on the site about this topic but found no change in clients seeking an expert about BPD. Further, the BPD seekers left the site too quickly to be reading anything at length; data analysis confirmed it. I jettisoned the BPD information from the site.
Let’s dispel a few myths about websites:
Myth 1: Content has a few seconds to “grab” the attention of a visitor (true) without too much text (false.) Your website is all about text. You want clients to linger on your site to read because you have something of substance to say. Your clients are counting on it.
Taking the attorney’s point of view, identifying relevant content in the form of articles attorney is seeking.
Research shows content on a website between 1100-1400 words gets the most attention, defying the maxim you must write short, simplistic articles.
Myth 2: Mobile-friendly design is more important than desktop design. Google’s 2015 algorithm revamp gave preference to mobile-friendly sites and this is true today. You know from the calls you get that those attorneys, junior associates and paralegals tasked to find someone like you, do so from a desktop computer. Your design should not be a slave to the mobile device, though it cannot be a complete failure on a small screen. Adaptation is accomplished with “responsive design,” meaning whatever your site looks like on a desktop, it will rearrange itself into a smaller format for a smaller screen.
Myth 3: The Traffic Myth Dispelled: Traffic to your website is not the measure of success.
2,000 hits are not better than 1,000. In fact, a $20,000 case may come from one call. If there were 10 visitors that day and one was the case you got, then 10 visitors is just fine. Schocking: Traffic that’s just barely flatline is excellent when the few visits produced a few quality cases. Websites bring in “traffic” for all types of reasons. Just add the word “blockchain” or “porn” to your site and you get traffic that’s no use to you. Your content will engage some and others will go off on their merry way.
Your website is a destination from all over the web, your business card, articles about you. Make the effort to go there worthwhile for your visitor.