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Conversion Rate Optimization for Law Firms: A Best Practices Guide (Part 1: The Basics, Design, & SEO)

Services: Law Firm Website Design . SEO . Internet Marketing . Law Firm Marketing Guide . Content Marketing . PPC

Successful conversion rate optimization leads to a sustainable increase in leads who decide to convert into customers. This happens by improving the pathways to your calls to action, driving more people to your website, and making your services seem more attractive and engaging, for example.

While you may think that by creating a great website and content, you’re good to go, the process of optimizing for conversion rates is actually a continuous process with considerations that you may not have made when considering basics like traffic generation and attractive website design. The conversion rate optimization (CRO) process involves understanding how potential clients move through your site, what actions they can (and do) take, and what may be encouraging or stopping them from calling your firm.

In this two-part guide, we share our CRO expertise to give you all the essential information you need to successfully optimize your website for conversion rates. This is part 1, where we will be exploring the basics of CRO and how to leverage website design and SEO to increase conversions.

Note: for part 2 of this guide, click here.

Effective Online Web Presence for Law Firms

Your web presence is everything you put online.  Stop thinking just about your website and start thinking about everything you could be doing online.

The main things your web presence relies on, in addition to your website, are content, SEO, and internet marketing. Your content should not only be on your website, but also on other high-trafficked websites, blogs, trade publications, and social networks. SEO helps you rank high. And internet marketing includes pay-per-click, social media, conversion rate optimization, and other marketing techniques to help you round out your web presence.

In the next section, we discuss our top tips for improving your web presence.

Top Ways to Improve Your Web Presence

  • Design
    • Message: Have a clear message, powerful tagline, and crisp logo.
    • Brand: Have a unified brand across all your websites and print materials.
    • Typography: Enlarge headlines and paragraphs for information hierarchy.
    • Imagery: Use imagery that best represents your brand.
    • Content: Feature your most important content on the home page.
    • Structure: Create an organized structure for your website.
  • Technology, Usability & Platform
    • Use a Content Management System: Make it easy to update your website by managing your website content on a management system like HubSpot or WordPress.
    • Check for Errors: You should make sure that your web pages have no missing pages or broken links.
    • Build: Make your website W3C compliant.
    • Leverage Tools to Improve Performance: Submit your site to Google Webmaster Tools, Sitemaps, and Analytics.
    • Size: Make your site at least 960 pixels wide and have clear rollovers.
    • Optimize for Mobile: Create and test a mobile version of your website or “Responsive Design”.
  • Marketing
    • Calls to Action: Include your contact information in header, footer, and sidebar.
    • SEO: Build links to your website and properly tag your site’s web pages.
    • Social Media: Integrate social media into your website and network.
    • Content: Write content regularly. Become an authority in your area.
    • Paid Advertising: Consider paid ads online to increase traffic and convert users.
  • Content
    • Standard Content – About Us, Practice Areas and Info, Service Areas and Info, Products and Info, Bios, Contact, and Resources.
    • Advanced Content – Lists, Top 10, News, Articles, Recommendations, Directory of Resources, Research Articles, Interviews, Free Tools, Expositions, Humor, Reviews, Video, Audio, Surveys, Contests, Trends, Advice Columns, Charts & Graphics.
    • Create Objectives and Schedules Establish KPIs for each type of content you create, and understand what your expertise is and how it meets the needs and interests of your audience. Then, determine how often you can deliver and post content — consistency is key.
    • Remove Spam – Don’t copy and don’t have duplicate content on your site.
    • Blogging – If you want to rank high on a topic, write an article on that topic.  If you want to rank high for an area, write many articles.
  • Search Engine Optimization
    • Research: Research and brainstorm all keyword phrases – this can be done in less than 5 minutes if you are short on time, so no excuses.
    • Analyze: use SEO and keyword data tools, such as Google’s, to analyze your pages’ performance.
    • Finalize a keyword phrase list.
  • On-Page Architecture
    • Title Tags
    • H1 – Headlines
    • Content (mention keyword phrase a few times)
    • SEO-Friendly Page Names
    • Meta Description
    • Footer Text
    • Alt Tags
  • Build Links
    • Research: Get links from top-ranked sites’ posts.
    • See who links to your competitors, get those links.
    • Create: Write interesting content and get free links. This includes articles, press releases, and reports.
  • Reciprocate links: When someone links to you, reciprocate and link to their content.

Simple Design Changes to Increase Conversions

Even if you have the basics down, it’s possible you are still missing out on client conversion opportunities. By overlooking the power of stronger calls to action and subliminal messages, you can inhibit pathways that lead the user to ultimately contact you. Often a few fairly simple changes in color, images, and placement of calls to action can be the reason your conversion attempts succeed or fail. In fact, just a few simple design changes can lead to a 300% increase in conversions in 24 hours.

We were able to help one of our clients achieve this exact success.. The screenshot below is the “before” version of their website:

BEFORE

We made the following updates, which, overall, made the website more attractive and clear. This allowed clients to more easily get the information they need to make a decision about calling the business. We:

  1. Changed the color of the phone number
  2. Connected the navigation color with the gavel color
  3. Changed the form’s button color, making the call to action more attractive and clear
  4. Included a testimonial with a reliable source to add credibility to the service being provided
  5. Added two new buttons to help navigate the user to helpful information
  6. Flipped the photo horizontally so the family is looking in the direction of the contact form

AFTER

In other words, it’s always a good idea to optimize and edit your site. Sometimes, simple changes can lead to significant changes in your conversion rates, so finding room for improvement is definitely worth the time!

Designing for SEO: 5 Key Elements to Include

Design is one key component of successful conversion rates, but you must complement this with SEO. Without SEO (more on this below), your search rankings, user traffic, and website visibility may greatly suffer. On the other hand, if your site is not well designed or does not provide a great user experience, you may also risk the loss of conversion rates, brand recognition and business credibility.

It’s no coincidence that our two most popular services here at PaperStreet are Custom Web Design and Search Engine Optimization. Knowing how vital they are to our client’s websites, we work hard to ensure that the two complement each other. In fact, we take it a step further and use design to enhance SEO.

5 Design Elements That Directly Affect SEO:

1. Visual Prompts

Visual prompts guide users to the important sections of your site and deeper into your pages. They prompt them to take the desired actions, such as “sign up”, “buy”, “learn more,” etc. They are important for usability and conversions. They can also be properly SEO’d.

Visual prompts can be images (such as directional arrows, buttons, and illustrations), bullet points (to provide only the need-to-know info), and headlines (to distinguish sections and their titles, also important for SEO emphasis). As an example, see how we created strong visual prompts for Bloom Legal with orange arrows.

Those arrows are not just graphics though; they are HTML text with font replacement and graphics applied. This gives it a great look and also helps with SEO. Getting your users’ attention usually leads them deeper into your site, and that means more page visits, ultimately resulting in higher search rankings.

2. Flash

There was a time when Adobe Flash was the “cool kid on the block,” but now we know it has major limitations in terms of SEO. To put it simply, sites built in Flash lack the capability to display the data needed for Search Engine Optimization.

We advise using Flash sparingly or for appropriate and specific interactive elements within the site, such as a 3D animation or Flash within an image to provide enhancement.

3. jQuery

A perfect segue from Flash is jQuery, as it accomplishes animation and interactive elements in place of Flash. A jQuery is a JavaScript library that allows for faster development and, most importantly, still holds hidden content and retains the necessary page markup information for SEO.

4. Include a Blog

We highly recommend our clients have a blog on their site. It’s a great way to become an authority on a subject, drive traffic to your site, add fresh content continually, and target key search words, all of which are fantastic for SEO. We design blogs that are visually stimulating, as well as functional. Take a peek at some examples:

5. Fatty Footer

Fatty footers include valuable content, often a more detailed navigation menu or a call out from one of your site’s sections, like the blog. Having this additional content provides more keywords for the search engines. Although the text in a fatty footer is not a huge boost for SEO because the footer text is lower on the page, it still helps. We are pretty big fans of the fatty footer, as it gives us a little bit more room to be creative and any benefit to your SEO is one worth using. It is also the last item on the page that the user sees, so it is a great opportunity for related links, calls to action and branding elements. (Here’s an example of one of our fatty footer creations.)

When great design is combined with SEO, you are setting your site up for success. When designing your site, make sure that you include SEO-friendly visual prompts, use jquery elements and not Flash, include fatty footers, and a unique blog design.

How to Handle SEO When Redesigning Your Website

Everything has a shelf life. Once in a while, the stock needs to be examined, rotated, or completely abandoned for a newer, shinier, updated product to take its place. Your website and your website’s SEO information is no different. They are directly intertwined, so if you are looking at one, you’d better not ignore the other.

  • Some of the main, global SEO redesign items to monitor are keyword phrases, content, Google Analytics, and URL structure. We explore each of these elements in more detail below.

Keyword phrases

Let’s start with the basics. If you are redesigning the aesthetics of your site, you might want to take a new look at your keyword phrases. While your keyword phrases should always be evaluated by your SEO team, you should engage in another conversation to think about the current business strategy of your firm and how they apply to it. Are you adding practice areas? Are you changing them? Are you consolidating them? The point is, redo your research. See where your competitors are. Bring it back to the basics and find out what terms are being highly sought after at the moment and what needs to be revised based on your findings.

Content

Content is still king. While you definitely want to maintain any valued content that you have, you might want to look into consolidating the content that does not carry as much value. Keep the content that rocks and drives traffic. Look at your high performing pages and figure out what is working properly. Replicate that with your new or revised content and add that to the new site design.

Google Analytics

I’m not going to get into all the amazing features that Google Analytics allows you to find out about your site, but I will say this: If you are ignoring it, you are doing a disservice to your website, the people visiting it, and potentially big SEO factors.

You can find out all sorts of data from Google Analytics, like what pages are being visited the most and are the highest performing, what keywords are most commonly sought after leading to your site, the amount of conversions you get to your site versus visits, etc. If used properly, there is a huge wealth of information that can be gathered here. Look at the records of your current site. Do not lose that when re-launching your new design.

URL Structure

Based on the above, it’s understandable that your site structure may change. Certain pages might be less important; you may find certain pages are extremely high performing and others not so much. What we want to try and do, though, is keep all your existing URL structure the same, if possible. This can minimize any negative impact on search rankings.

Sometimes you can’t and won’t be able to maintain the same structure, especially if some of your pages are going the way of the dodo. If this is the case, plan out 301 redirects. 301s are a way to make sure an old link that a user might have access to, or maybe found through a search engine, is guided not only back into your site but into the next best appropriate page.

Once your new site launches, make sure to run a link checker program, such as Xenu, to check your website for broken links. You can then redirect any of your findings as mentioned above.

Tricks of the Trade

We have covered some of the main points of what to watch out for when thinking about SEO in your redesign. While there are more advanced factors to check up on, such as XML and HTML sitemaps and form verification checks, keep these main points in mind, and everything should work out perfectly.

Using Anchor Text to Boost Your Law Firm’s Search Rankings (SEO)

While many law firms struggle to understand and utilize SEO, even fewer attorneys know about how to use keywords in anchor text links – a simple, free tactic that anyone can learn to boost website traffic and client inquiries.

I find these tiny-yet-powerful links cause a lot of confusion, so here are the basics you need to know.

What is anchor text?

Old school links used to just give you a URL or “www” address. Example: “Learn more about our attorney web design company by going to www.paperstreet.com.”

An anchor text link uses other words to link to a new page. In this example – Learn more about our attorney web design company — there is no www address that the reader sees. It is embedded in the anchor text.

Why does anchor text matter?

Google and other search engines assume that if a link called “New Orleans DUI attorney” leads to your site, chances are pretty good you are a New Orleans DUI attorney. So, every time the search engines read anchor text, it acts as a vote saying “Hey, this is what this page is about.” And that can add up to higher rankings.

How do I create a link using anchor text?

In most content management systems, like WordPress and Total Control, you would do the following:

1) Write the phrase that you want to be your anchor text.

2) Highlight that text you just wrote.

3) Select Insert.

4) Select Hyperlink.

5) Paste the actual www address, or URL,  you want to link to in the link field.

6) Voila!

When do I use anchor text links?

1) Any time you want to link to a page in your website, use anchor text instead of just typing the www address.  Example: Learn more about PaperStreet’s law firm SEO services.

2) When a keyword phrase comes up naturally in your website copy and you have a detailed page dedicated to more information on that topic, use anchor text. A common example of this is linking from a main practice area page (like Intellectual Property law) to a sub practice area page (like Trademarks) when the phrase “trademark attorney” appears in the copy on the main IP page.

3) Use anchor text in press releases, or other online copy that may or may not be on your actual law firm website.

Common mistakes with anchor text

  1. Using anchor text that does not include keywords.
    Bad example of anchor text: Contact us today. Click here for more info.
    Instead, do this: Contact our California immigration law firm today. Click to learn more about our San Francisco attorneys handling H1B Visas.
  2. Overkill.
    For a standard copy, two or three links per page is plenty. (The exception is a landing page where the entire point is to link to other pages, in which case, link away!) And make sure you are accurate with your links. Don’t say a page is about something it isn’t just to try and get better rankings. That’s unethical – and annoying to readers who click and don’t find what they are looking for.
  3. Inconsistency.
    If you have decided you want your homepage to rank no. 1 for “Houston estate planning lawyer,” then don’t use that same phrase as a link to your “About Us” page. If you do both, you are giving a vote to each page, and the votes could in essence cancel each other out, or at very least, confuse the search engines.

The solution is to pick your most important keyword phrases and link those to your most important pages. Link your lesser important phrases (which are usually more specific) to your lesser important pages (practice area pages, attorney bios, etc., which are also more specific.) For example: A Toronto commercial litigation law firm that links “Toronto commercial litigation” to their home page, while linking “Toronto contracts attorney” to their contracts practice area page and “Attorney John Smith” to Mr. Smith’s bio.

How We Generated 145 Leads for a Law Firm Using PPC and SEO: A Law Firm Case Study

We allocated a budget of $8,500 and produced 145 leads for a law firm using a combination of traditional lawyer SEO (search engine optimization) and pay-per-click id advertising (PPC) to generate new business for the firm.

What would you do with 145 potential clients?  What would you pay to get new business?

We have been working with a prominent plaintiff law firm to increase their leads on a monthly basis.  In January 2015 we nailed down the process and got the results we were looking for, producing 145 leads from phone calls and contact forms.  We also produced 22 event interactions for another download campaign.  Overall, we would consider this a success as the budget was $8,500 total, which means the total cost per lead is a mere $58.

The firm also set up advertising that was offsite with legal directories, newspapers, and other print ads.  The print advertising brought in another 90 leads for a total of 235 per month.  Yes, it was a successful month!

Check out how we secured our January conversions from a mix of SEO search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC,) and print advertisements.

Forms

Search Engine Optimization Results

The client ranks high for their primary keyword phrases.  More importantly, they rank high for a lot of long-tail keyword phrases.  These niche phrases are not searched for a lot each, but in aggregate they make up lots of organic traffic.  We produced 90 leads from organic results, 20 from contact forms, and 70 from phone calls.

  • Method: We secured these leads through blogging, editing core content on the site, and focusing on conversions /and calls to action on each page of content. Of course, it helps that the firm ranks high too, but that is based on their quality content and backlink structure.
  • SEO Budget: The SEO budget for organic on a monthly basis is $3,000 for writing, editing, link building, analysis, consulting, and any on-page changes needed.
  • Cost per Lead: This puts the lead amount down to just $33 per lead, which is a really low rate in an ultra-competitive field.

Pay-Per-Click Results

We have also set up a Google AdWords campaign and remarketing campaign for the client. In one month of January, we saw 8 leads from contact forms, and 47 leads from phone calls.

Call tracking allows us to capture crucial data. The campaign may actually look like a failure if we couldn’t see the leads from phone calls.

  • Method – We used Google AdWords for this campaign and a very have very specific Ad Groups setup. We created to have an international campaign, national campaign, and local campaign.  We made have Ad Groups per keyword group, with unique ads that land on targeted pages.  We also used remarketing to constantly remind clients to return to the website.
  • Budget – The client spent approximately $5,500 on advertisements that month in January. Our internal management cost was $500, so the total budget was $6,000.
  • Cost Per Lead – We secured a total of 55 conversions, which pushed the cost per lead down to just $100. Again, this is fairly competitive given the bid costs for the PPC campaign on a per-click basis.

All Calls

Other Advertising Results

The client also spentds money on other advertising campaigns, which generated another 90 leads from various sources, including:

  • Directories (Findlaw, LawInfo, Martindale, Avvo): 21
  • Mobile Calls: 18
  • Direct Traffic: 17
  • Business Cards: 13 (yes, they track calls from business cards via a unique number)
  • Yahoo/Bing PPC: 9
  • Print and Newspaper Ads: 5
  • Websites Ads: 5
  • Social Media: 2

Unfortunately, we do not have all the specifics on these specific ad spends, but most likely it would be another few thousand dollars in ad spend to generate those 90 leads.  At that cost, we can estimate the total cost per lead to be approximately $30 to $50 per lead (depending on the ad costs and spending).

All in all, this case illustrates clearly how different marketing tactics can work together to bring in lead and conversion success. With the right strategies and content, your conversion rates can be transformed in just a matter of weeks.

Get Expert CRO Help

While learning the essentials of CRO can be helpful in increasing the number of conversions your website is making, it is a complex process that requires in-depth understanding of multiple aspects of online marketing, from visual to technical factors.

Luckily, our team here at PaperStreet has just the wide-ranging expertise to simultaneously improve SEO throughout your website and update your design and usability. And, as shown in the case above, our expertise brings instant success.

To learn more about how PaperStreet can earn you more conversions, contact us today.


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