As Rudyard Kipling noted, “Words are of course the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Lest you’ve forgotten the cardinal rule of website success, I will say it again: While the look and feel of your legal website is crucial—and perhaps second on the overall list—content is the heart and soul of any website. The ultimate goal of your legal web pages are to build a relationship with potential clients, and while the glitz and glamour of your design may initially “hook” your reader, if your copy is not extremely compelling, they will click on by with lightning speed.
Not to mention the fact that search engine bots just happen to be the blindest users who will ever visit your site—web crawlers virtually ignore the flashy design and go right to the meat of the content to determine how your legal site is indexed and found. Search engines ferret out quality content, and content happens to be the only factor they value, so you can see just how important unforgettable the legal copy on your pages can be.
How to make it Personal
The Internet gets more personal by the day, therefore writing in third person using long legal terms your readers may have trouble understanding will only ensure they pass you by and find a website they can understand. Your potential clients come to your website because they have a problem they need solved in the most expedient manner possible. Your legal copy needs to make a personal connection with you and your firm, and legal blogs especially should convey your personality. Reach your clients by speaking directly to them—in plain English without the technical/legal jargon.
Hold Your Visitor’s Attention
Compelling copy grabs your reader, holding their attention to the very last sentence. When you are writing legal copy for your website or blog, put yourself in the shoes of your potential client. What is their problem? How can you solve the problem? How is your solution different/better than that of your competitors? How can you, right this very minute, make your reader’s life easier and better by solving their legal problem? Don’t forget to slip in a reference about how you can also save your client time. Because we are all so crazy-busy, anything that saves us time and/or trouble becomes very appealing.
Break up Your Page
You are probably aware that readers of web pages scan your legal website pages more than they actually read. Huge chunks of copy can be overwhelming, causing the visitor to leave your website quickly. Frequent paragraph breaks, headings which tell the reader exactly what the paragraph is about, and bulleted lists can all help your reader get to the end of your page. We love short bursts of text, short, easy-to-read sentences, balanced white space and bold black headings, so incorporate those things in your legal blog and web pages.
Edit before Publishing—then Edit Again
Don’t edit as you go along, rather wait until you are finished and can see the whole picture. When you stop to edit as you go along, you compromise your creativity. Once your legal article or blog posting is complete, then go back and remove any undesired elements. Once your content satisfies you, proofread, proofread—and proofread yet again. If you were meeting a prospective new client for the first time, it’s a sure bet you would go out of your way to make a great first impression. Your legal website or blog is your first impression for a score of potential clients, and, let’s face it, the old adage about never getting a second chance to make a first impression is quite true. If your first impression is full of spelling, grammar or punctuation errors, your professional image can be critically damaged. Many copywriters read their words out loud to ensure they have the rhythm they were aiming for, hopefully the rhythm of natural speech.