Finally, it’s spring! The light of day lingers past dinnertime. The sweet smell of flower blossoms float in the warm air through windows, now open. I cringe at the thought of all the dust and dirt drifting into my house and finding a home on my window sill, and I am reminded that spring begins with spring cleaning; or it should according to Martha Stewart and me! I rely on her overzealous spring cleaning list and try to tick off at least half of the tasks before summer. Don’t tell Martha that I don’t get to every one every year, but I still find that starting with a checklist is the best way make anything happen.
Like the dust on my sills and the flannel linens that are swapped for Martha’s crisp cotton ones, your law firm’s website should have a spring cleaning as well. You could work on these tasks any time of year, and spring is the perfect time because the winter holidays are behind you and you have some can-do momentum still pulsing before the summer hits. If you need buy-in or approvals from partners, they are not yet out on vacations or at the beach. My advice is to simply begin. This list will help you get started.
1. Start with attorney bios
Attorneys’ bios are the most-visited pages of law firm websites, so you should literally put your best face forward.
- Is there anything that should be added from the last year? Consider: significant matters, awards, publications, memberships and board appointments, or speaking engagements.
- What accolades are out of date? Consider implementing a “retention policy” for speaking engagements older than three years, for example. If they spoke about the coming data privacy concerns of Y2K in 1999, it’s no longer relevant!
2. Practice area pages come next
Right now, everyone is talking about storytelling to connect with consumers. The same approach can and should be taken with matter descriptions on your practice area pages
- Can any new matters be added to the list?
- Can they be more descriptive of the problem and the unique approach and solution achieved by your lawyers? Just a list of case names is a snooze that generates little interest for the buyers of legal services.
- If your clients have confidentiality agreements, generalize the description to hide their identity. If there are many similar ones, use that to your advantage: Hundreds of M&A transactions… You get the idea!
3. Check the dates
Do you have news articles and event posts that go back five, 10, or (gasp) 20+ more years? (Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it.) It’s time to ask yourself if they are still accurate or relevant. Yes, it shows that you were focused on the topics even way back then, but that may just add to the clutter on the site that should be cleaned up—this is spring cleaning! If you find articles that predicted Brexit to pan out differently, consider cleaning those out and write a new one.
4. That’s so SEO
If you are not crafting the page snippets, make sure there is an automated system in place for these to be created. They have SEO value because they influence what a person perceives will be on the page and therefore helps them decide to click. Or not. Your SEO company can support this if you need help.
5. Benchmark SERPs
Identify the keywords and terms for which you want to be found in search. Then open a private browsing window, like Chrome Incognito.
- Note: your location and search behavior influence what pops up in your search results, so two people may have different results on the same search terms. Remove that variable by searching in private when you benchmark.
- Search for all the terms and note your position in the search results.
- Don’t like what you see? Invest in a pay-per-click campaign or SEO support. Don’t be shy, your competition isn’t!
6. Benchmark Analytics
Take a close look at your Google Analytics for patterns, trends, and maybe even a surprise or two. It can reveal which pages of your site are getting lots of attention, and which give you an opportunity to take advantage of messaging on pages people see most.
- If priority pages are not getting the views you expect, they deserve extra love. Build internal linking or a marketing campaign to support this.
- While you’re at it, take a look at your social media analytics!
7. Fix broken links
It is a best practice when you launch a new site, to go through a “301 redirect” process in which you match up every link on your old site to a new link on the new site. This way, if someone linked to a page or bookmarked something, the redirect still takes them to the appropriate place on the new site. Since everyone does not follow this, links break. It will naturally happen over the course of a year, and now is a good time to check for them. There are tools and people out there to help if you don’t have the bandwidth to tackle this.
8. Link LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the most widely used social media platform for professionals, so make sure that your lawyers’ bios link to their LinkedIn profile. This helps make business development more engaging and interactive. You probably have been training your lawyers to create a profile and use LinkedIn, but don’t forget the step of making that link available in the bio.
9. Share and share alike
Is your website content easy to share on social media? It should only require one click for website visitors to share pages of your site via email and on social media. This is a simple plug-in your web agency should install for you. This is valuable engagement, so don’t make people work too hard for it.
10. Mobile review
When you view your website on your phone or tablet, it should not just be a tiny version of the homepage and content. It should present the content—particularly content people read on mobile: contact info and news—in a clean mobile format. This means no need for zooming and sliding the view back-and-forth.
- Review any new pages added to your site in the past year: Do they work as expected on mobile devices?
- Make sure all the phone numbers are clickable and directions links open right up in your device’s default maps app.
11. Check behind the curtain
Are the fields in your website back-end clearly labeled and easy to use? Most CRM systems can be edited so that field headers are named in a way that is intuitive, even with an example that shows the way the content should be entered. This makes training easier and reduces inconsistencies in the site content. Focus on the pages edited most frequently.
12. Plug in to the plugins
As with your computer software and phone apps, your website plugins should be updated when new versions become available. Developers do this to fix bugs and release improvements, but sometimes this can break other functionality.
- Make sure that your plugins are working the way they were designed to function within your site.
- Pro tip: only use highly-rated plugins that are absolutely necessary. I’ve found that some extra coding during site development can replace many plugins and generally avoid this headache altogether.
13. Mind the footer
Make sure all the little details that sit in the footer of your website are in good working condition.
- Check that the links all work, especially to the legal disclaimers.
- If there is a copyright notice, make sure it has the current year listed.
- If you have social media icons there, make sure they are relevant and linked correctly. Twitter exclusively uses the bird symbol, not the lowercase “t” logo. Google+ doesn’t even exist anymore, so pull that one out.
14. Domain yo’ name
Find out when the domains of your websites and blogs expire and make a note in your calendar to renew, so you never get a “Page Not Found” message where your site should be!
15. Policy is the best policy
Review your disclaimers and policies to make sure they are accurate and updated.
- As a result of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union requires prior, informed consent regarding data. California is imposing a Consumer Privacy Act in 2020. Address this now—before it becomes hindsight.
You can accomplish almost anything on this list on your own. But if you, like all the legal marketers I know, are completely busy doing a million things, you might need some help sifting through the cobwebs and clutter. LISI is ready to assist with any and all of these cleanup tasks, so don’t hesitate to give us a call! Once your website is sparkling clean, you can sit back with a glass of (spiked?) lemonade and take a deep breath of fresh spring air. Aaaand then get back to the zillions of other things you have to accomplish because—let’s be real—in legal marketing, there’s always more to do!