The Importance of a Positive Web Presence
A positive web presence is an essential part of a productive practice for an attorney at any stage in your career. The development of a successful web presence — including your website, social media accounts, and external links — will have numerous positive results.
Impact Outside Your Firm
Most significantly, a positive web presence will convey confidence, experience and professionalism to potential clients, opposing counsel and the general public. Without a significant and up-to-date web presence, small- and medium-sized firms find it exponentially more difficult to bring in new clients without expending a significant amount of time and capital. An improved web presence will not only provide quality and useful information to individuals searching for help, but can reduce the cost of other advertising.
One of the first steps a lawyer inevitably takes when litigating a case is to “Google” the opposing counsel. A well-developed web presence will influence the opposing counsel’s interaction with you. This is the first opportunity to guide the interaction, influence your opposing counsel’s perceptions and impact your future interactions. If your website is not fully developed and professional, or otherwise does not correspond with the image you are trying to convey, you may be placing yourself at an immediate disadvantage.
Finally, your website is likely to be the first place the general public sees your practice. Without a positive web presence, your firm will have to overcome the negative connotation of having an antiquated or otherwise unimpressive website. Your web presence should be a source of pride where you direct anyone, including potential clients and members of the media, looking to learn about you, your practice, and your firm. Deficiencies in your web presence may portray your practice in a way that you do not intend or want clients, opposing counsel and the public at large to see.
Many firms may consider their web presence obligations complete once a website is built, but taking that perspective may not only cost you money, but could also cost you clients. Search engines such as Google analyze your website based on certain metrics which impacts where and how your firm is displayed in the search results. These metrics include an analysis of the quality, relevance and uniqueness of the individual pages in addition to new content being developed for your website. If your website that does not have any new content, it will negatively impact your practice, since search engines view these sites as abandoned or not maintained. Without the constant vigilance, diligent improvement and addition of content to your website, your web presence, and inevitably your firm, will suffer.
Social Media’s Role
Social media is an inexpensive but highly impactful aspect of a positive web presence that enables firms to interact more informally with the public. Common social media tools include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and Avvo. It is not essential to use every version of social media. While every type of firm will have a different approach, it is important to gear social media to your needs. The successful use of social media will be geared for your specific objectives to ensure that you create ensure a successful web presence.
While social media is vital to any comprehensive web presence strategy, the improper use of social media could undercut your objectives. If the content developed by your firm does not meld with your firm’s image, you could alienate clients. Beware of the pitfalls, and social media will be a keystone to the development of your positive web presence.
Increasingly, a well-developed and comprehensive mobile experience is essential to a positive web presence. Web browsing patterns have shifted dramatically from browsing on traditional desktops and laptops to cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Letting Internet traffic land on your websites without optimization based on the screen size and without the precision of a mouse is a significant pitfall which could lead to clients leaving your website, resulting in a loss of business. While services are available to help with the technical end of the mobile experience, it can still be difficult to develop due to the inherent conflict between providing enough information and overwhelming individuals limited to a small screen. Nevertheless, a good mobile experience is essential to the development of a positive web presence.