Legal websites have to strike a balance when it comes to the type of content that is featured on their site. Search engine visibility is at the heart of any good Internet marketing campaign, but the kind of content that search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing rank favorably is not necessarily the type of content that compels potential clients to pick up the phone and contact your firm. This is best illustrated by using a theoretical case study:
A criminal defense law firm in Colorado wishes to launch a firm site that competes for keywords relating to their main areas of practice. They design a site that has relevant content relating to crimes like theft, DUI, assault, etc., creating unique pages for each of the crimes. After being indexed by Google, that content is thrown into the mix with all the others hundreds of thousands of pages by attorneys on Colorado criminal defense (778,000 according to Google).
In an effort to set themselves apart, they begin to beef up the ‘relevant’ content as Google’s webmaster guidelines instruct them to do. By adding more content to their pages, including things like Colorado legal statutes and discussions of the law, they are able to increase the ranking of their pages. With the addition of incoming links from outside sources that have recognized the website as an authority on issues of Colorado Criminal Law, Google begins to recognize the site as a valuable location with a plethora of information for the keywords the firm is trying to target.
So after a time, the firm is able to get to the coveted first page of Google results for their keywords… but now what? What the firm is left with are pages with thousands of words worth of information on Colorado theft charges that is dry, worded in legal-speak, and quotes legal statutes that most individuals have no interest in.
It is important to remember that any potential client that visits your site is not interested in becoming an expert in the crime that they are accused of committing. They are not interested in practicing law, representing themselves, or reading the legal statute or penal code that they have been charged with. This is exactly the type of legal website content, however, that will result in those pages having a high visibility in search engines. It is the content that Google most readily rewards with favorable search engine rankings.
A potential client wants to know that you can get them out of the mess they are in and defend their rights in court. They want to know that they can trust you, they want to see other cases you have handled like theirs, and they want to hear from people you have worked with in the past. This type of content does not inherently “match” with the content that Google would offer favorable rankings to.
So a balance of both is the best course of action for any website. Write informational content to get better rankings and write compelling information to get potential clients to pick up the phone and call.