What To Consider
Our last post on this subject was in 2007, so I figured we should update our advice. The good news is our advice basically remains the same: Pick one website and make it your best.
If you still feel the need to develop multiple websites, answer these new questions:
- Time & Budget: Do you have an increased time and budget to manage multiple websites?
- Content: Do you have enough content for multiple websites?
- Practice Areas: Do you have different practice areas?
- Marketing: Are the additional websites for branding purposes only?
- Firm Size: Are you a large law firm with multiple practice areas?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may consider a multi-website strategy. However, I would only really consider a having multiple websites if you answered yes to almost all of those questions.
Time & Budget
The more sites you have, the longer it will take to design, build, populate, and maintain; and, of course, that directly leads to costs. If you are on a small budget, then consider starting with one website. If you have a larger budget, then you may consider multiple websites.
The key is unique content. If you are going to create multiple websites, then be prepared to write unique content. If you are simply putting out niche sites on a variety of topics and changing the content slightly, you are definitely going to receive a penalty from Google, not only for the topical sites, but perhaps your main site too. Sure, a few of your Contact and About pages can reiterate the same information. However, if you go too far, you will run afoul of Google’s duplicate content check.
Different Practice Areas
The main reason firms choose the multi-site route always comes down to differing practice areas. This is usually the case when a firm practices in odd groups, such as criminal, family, and oh . . . termite law. Or when a firm tries to play both sides and act as a defense firm and personal injury firm.
If your practice groups do not logically flow together, then it is time to think about multiple websites. If you are trying to act as professional advisers to competing interests, (Defense vs. PI), then, yes, create multiple websites. If your practice areas are simply a listing of your firm’s services, then a corporate website will work. In this instance, a topical blog and/or website can also serve well, as it will allow you to direct traffic to that area.
Marketing: Branding vs. Search / Social Media
One key update to our 2007 advice is with search engine optimization and social media. I completely understand the need for multiple websites for branding purposes. Often you want to label your firm as the dominant PI, criminal, or business law firm in your area. That can easily be done with a new website and domain.
However, it is definitely tougher now to rank sites high in Google than seven years ago. Often, firms with multiple website strategies are merging the websites back into one central resource. Why? I will give you three reasons:
- First, authority through back links can be spread too thin across a network of websites. It would require you to build the same amount of links on multiple websites, and often you cannot obtain the same link more than once.
- Second, social network profiles can also be spread too thin in number, followers, or updates. Again, you may not be able to register them all for multiple websites.
- Finally, with Google Local and maps, you may be only able to claim one website as the dominant website for the map purposes. This could lead to one practice area ranking higher than the others.
One of the final deciding factors is the firm size. Often we see large firms with 10, 20 or 100 diverging practice areas go with multiple websites and blogs. This is good. It allows the firm to uniquely brand and provide advice for each practice area. However, for reasons stated above it increases costs, content writing requirements, and can lower overall SEO and social rankings.
If I were still a small firm, I would focus on producing the largest website possible and integrating all my web assets into one website strategy. If needed, create sections on the website for each practice group.
If your firm has the budget, content and unique practice areas necessary to build two separate sites, the multi-web strategy can work. Otherwise, I would consider consolidating your web presence into one major website.
Want to talk it over? Give us a call at 954-523-2181.