Posts Tagged ‘website design for lawyers’

Copy that Meshes With Your Web Design

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Great web design never just happens by accident rather it’s the result of skill, talent, perseverance and process which accurately answers the questions regarding your site’s intended user. It conveys a specific voice, perspective and point of view which you have likely researched endlessly in order to achieve. You have a specific strategy and you have labored over every single detail, yet when all is said and done, you realize that your content has taken an unfortunately backseat to the design elements—a fact which is hurting your overall site and lowering your rate of conversion. For many, when they are finally at the end of the design phase, there is simply little creativity left over to devote to the content of the pages resulting in content that simply doesn’t work with the overall design of your website.

How to Make Your Content Mesh with the Design

Even if you’ve written content that fits the overall theme of your site, does it actually fit into the site? In some cases even though the written words fit physically, they fail to ring true for the intended users. What this means is that along with a design theme for your pages, you also need a copy “voice,” which meshes with that theme. The best way to ensure your voice matches your design is to ask yourself a few key questions. Who are your targeted visitors? What do you think those visitors most want to know, to do, to have answered? How do you want to make your users feel, and how will you persuade them to identify with your particular website to the point they will become a client? Attorneys talk to people every single day—this is, after all, your passion and how you make your living. When taking an objective look at your site’s content, pretend you are having a conversation with a client who just walked into your office. Are you achieving the same results with your written words?

Does Content Precede Design?

Some believe that content should actually come before design and that design minus the content is simply decoration. The underlying message is that quite often web designers create their magic without a single clue of what content will be added to the pages. Unfortunately, simply slapping some hastily-written words into a pre-existing design can cause your site to take a significant negative hit. The design should always reinforce the message, so if you are unclear about your message, then how can the perfect design for your business be created? Web designers should be aware of the potential length, tone, style and structure of the copy to come and should ideally create the surrounding visual elements to support this content, creating an experience which works together for the benefit of the user.

What Your Web Designer Must Know

The designer of your site must be aware of the number of navigational areas which will exist on each page of the website as well as any particular themes in the content which could potentially be extended into the visual design. Any requirement for content such as testimonials, definitions or explanations should be conveyed to the web designer as well as the average page length of the content which will be displayed. Particularly for smaller sites, it may not seem viable to consider content ahead of design, however when content becomes as important as design, it is a sure bet the user will have a more positive experience. When design flows with content to the point it is virtually seamless then success has truly been achieved.

How Great Content Serves as an SEO Link Building Strategy

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Link popularity has evolved into a major ranking factor with Google’s latest algorithm, meaning your site is assessed both for the quantity and quality of links which point to your site. In fact, when Google’s PageRank came into being it actually determined the relative “importance” of your site simply by checking the other sites which linked to your own. Google still gives considerable weight to PageRank and links, but also considers some 200 other signals as well.

Links are beneficial to your website because they increase your Google PageRank and bring more visitors to your site. If your link building campaign is well thought out, well executed, and above all, legitimate, then you are well on your way to a site which climbs up the rankings quickly and stays solid. On the flip side, a poorly-executed linking campaign will not only waste your valuable time, but can also get you a slap-down from Google.

High Quality First, Unique Second

While unique content is certainly good for your readers, it’s possibly not quite as good as you might think. If your content is actually 100% unique, then you may have to copyscape-proof the site before unscrupulous site scrapers beat you to the draw, leaving the search engines believing they are the originator of your content. Other than this, however, unique is good, certainly head and shoulders above copying other’s content.

What is great content? Well, great content is definitely non-spun, and is highly readable copy which educates your readers and gives them something of value. If you have a site which is full of great content, your click-through rates—as well as the average time spent on your site—will go up accordingly.  It is also likely you that you will begin betting more and more new visitors (and fans) to your site, leading to increased social sharing. High quality content is written from the heart without the sole focus of keywords—in other words it is written for humans, not search engine spiders even though ultimately the spiders will reward you.

Best Practices for Content Links

The best way to avoid raising a red flag with search engines is to build the links in your content slowly and naturally—too fast and your site may look suspicious. Always remember that quality links are miles above quantity in the overall SEO scheme. The best links come from websites with high PageRank, are respected, trusted and high quality, and have content related to your own. It’s much better to have a single great link than twenty, thirty or forty inconsequential ones. While difficult to obtain, links from .gov and .edu sites are highly coveted, as they are generally considered authoritative.  Strive to have your target keywords in your anchor text, but avoid repetition in keywords.

Jump on the Blog Bandwagon

Blogs are an excellent way to acquire links to your website, as well as offering short, informative posts which readers find interesting.  Remember, search engines love fresh content, and newly published content is miraculously indexed almost constantly, sending a link right back to your site. Blogging is rich in relevant keywords about your overall subject or topic, again, linking back to your website. There really is no downside to blogging, other than the time you will invest, however the rewards you reap may well make that time more than worthwhile.

Give Your Content an Assessment

Look at your content with a critical eye and ask yourself whether it is good for the user, credible, authoritative and high quality. If you can answer yes to all these questions, then incorporate responsible link building strategies within your great content, and you have a recipe for success.

SEO Basics—as Decreed by Google

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Since most website owners believe that Google alone brings over 90% of the traffic to their website, you can clearly see why it matters how Google’s great algorithms view your website. You may have hired the very best professional web designer for your business website only to find it still is not ranking well with Google. And, we all know that if your site is not ranking well, then it is difficult, if not impossible, for potential customers to find you. Often, the most beautiful, perfectly laid-out sites on the web simply sit there with little to no traffic, therefore no business for you. What you may not have realized is that simply pulling together a fabulous website is no guarantee it will be seen—the site layout and content must be thoroughly optimized to be search-engine friendly.

How Do You Get Good Google Rankings?

There are really only two ways to drive visitors from Google to your website—you either buy ads which will show up on the Google results pages, or you work your fanny off trying to get high rankings organically. Although you may wish there were something in between the two, there really is not, so in the long run it’s better to simply suck it up and devote the necessary time and energy needed to make your website design pay off big time. I you are uncertain of what Google considers their “bible” of basic SEO techniques, read on!

Descriptive Titles are Key

Because nobody actually reads website—we have fallen into the scannable age—content on your site must be optimized in ways that will catch your reader’s attention. The first thing users see your title, and if it is not highly descriptive, using your selected keywords or key phrases, your user may click away and look elsewhere for the information they seek. Your title must be clear, concise, and descriptive all in a few words. The best titles offer something tangible to the reader—“Ten ways to Lose Your Belly Fat,” or “How to Avoid Being Shortchanged During Your Divorce.” If you are a reader in search of ways to lose belly fat, or are going through a divorce with an obnoxious spouse, then you have immediately targeted in on a title that professes to help you with your problems.

Choose Your Keywords Carefully

Choosing the right keywords for your website is a crucial first step, and in general you should avoid generic keywords and focus on the more specific or niche keywords which describe your business product or service. You should start out by brainstorming and making a big list of the keywords, then use a specific program to see how well those keywords rank. Once you have narrowed down to a shortlist, talk to friends and relatives and ask them what words they would type into a search bar to find your business. You may be surprised to learn that many of their suggestions are not ones you would have thought of.

Work on Securing Incoming Links

Other than a good site structure and the highest quality content, incoming links from other quality websites are almost essential in reaching your goal of increasing your ranking. The very best way to secure those links is through content that is both informative and adds value. Once others begin reading your exceptional articles, they will want to link to your site, and Google places a high value on those links.

Spend Plenty of Time on Your Content

The content on your pages is the underlying factor which will get you the high rankings you seek. Whether you write the content yourself, or have it written, make sure the end result is something that your users will find extremely helpful in solving a particular problem or issue. Use your chosen keywords judiciously throughout the content, and follow the basic Internet readability rules by keeping paragraphs short, using descriptive sub-headings, and keeping the content shorter than you would write a hard copy. Though it can be overwhelming and seem incredibly complex, once you’ve mastered Google’s basic rules, you will be well on your way to a perfectly optimized website which moves quickly up the ranks.

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Almost everyone involved in search engine optimization will agree that compelling, exciting, interesting content is one of the very most important factors in how your website will rank. Of course you must pay attention to your chosen keywords, as well as scattering the appropriate number of those keywords and key phrases throughout your page. The bottom line, however, is that if your reader is not fully engaged, then it absolutely will not matter how shrewdly you’ve placed your keywords, because the reader will be clicking off your website in nothing flat. Really great content will compel your readers to link to your pages from their own sites, which in turn increases your inbound links and your overall exposure to potential clients and customers. The question is—how do you write such amazing content?

Is Your Content Relevant?

The primary factor in writing great SEO content is to ask yourself whether or not the words on the page add up to relevance to your reader. Narrow your field when you pick a topic; rambling or introducing too many ideas to your readers only confuses them and muddies the waters. If it appears your subject is expanding, split the article into two, or write a blog posting which addresses the additional subject matter then a user types in words on their search engine, they want to find the answer to their problems or question; if they can’t immediately do that on your site, they will be quickly moving on. Your content should build trust among your users, giving them the information they need the most.

Provide Real, Solid Answers

When you are writing your article, think about the questions a potential customer might ask you if they walked into the door of your brick-and-mortar business building. Then turn the situation around and pretend you’re the customer who knows nothing about your current business, and is just beginning to research. What questions would you immediately want answered? Avoid using business jargon—keep it simple and informative. Once you’ve determined the answers you need to provide to your users, ensure those answers are easy to find. When users have decided to buy a product from your site, then are unable to find the price or the shipping specifications, they are quite likely to click away to a competitor’s site.

Write for Optimal Readability

Internet searchers scan rather than read, so content should always follow those dictates. Break your content up into short, easy-to-read paragraphs and use bulleted or numbered list to draw the reader’s eye. You should have a primary heading which grabs your reader’s attention, as well as headings for your short paragraphs which engage the readers, giving them a preview of what the paragraph holds. Incorporate unique content into your page, through graphics, slideshows, photos or “top ten” lists.

Proofread—More Than Once!

Finally, if you want your website to represent your business—and you—in a professional manner make sure you have looked it over more than once. You don’t want any grammatical errors or spelling errors to make your users think you are sloppy or just don’t care that much about your site. If you would not hand out business cards with misspelled words or glaring errors, then don’t let your website out there until it’s been fully checked and re-checked for any problems, misstatements of fact, or any other type of error.

If your content is engaging and readable, then your visitors will return time and time again. Even better they will link to your page, tell their friends about your site, and include your link on social media sites. All of these things will boost your website up the page rankings in ways you have only dreamed about, and because this is considered organic SEO, your site will stay high in the rankings.

Designing the Very Best SEO Website

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

While many website owners are fully aware of the importance of building an attractive website which will attract the highest level of traffic, not all of them understand how to incorporate SEO techniques into that design. Further, few site owners have a good understanding of the fact that any website which is heavily sprinkled with graphics, frames, Flash or any other codes which are not specifically based on HTML will require specific SEO techniques in order to be properly indexed by Google and other major search engines.

It’s much easier to actually design your site with SEO in mind than to have to come back and completely rework it later. Consider the following when you are designing your site and you when you are done you will have not only a well-designed website, but one that is full of search engine optimization which will push your site up the rankings quickly, bringing plenty of targeted traffic.

  • When you are just getting started, remember that your URL or domain name can be a primary factor in how your site will be positioned down the road in the search engines and directories. Research your URL before deciding on one, and if you can, get some professional help. Your URL will stay with you for a long time to come, so make sure it helps your site rather than harms it. A captivating URL which allows your visitors to totally understand the content of your website simply by looking at it will allow you a much more prominent web presence.
  • Ensure the search spiders will have lots of basic links to follow in order to index your homepage text, then include internal links to other site pages. Make it easier for spiders to actually find your pages by including a site map which categorizes all the pages on your site. Include one or more links to the site map from your home page. Make sure you have included strategic keywords in all the link texts.
  • Create catchy, interesting, exciting headlines. Your headline section is crucial for SEO, and you should include your most relevant keywords so your users will have a clear understanding of the content on your page. Use targeted keywords when writing your H1 tag, using the most relevant keywords within the first 60-70 characters.
  • Make sure your content is easy to read, understandable, and makes your readers want to finish the article. Your objective is eventual conversion therefore the more informative your website is, the better, however you have to use accessible language which is easily understood by all. Web page copy is often overlooked in its importance for SEO, so try to remember that search robots require text and HTML tags in order to successfully index your site. Further, directory editors will make the determination to list your site or not based on its relevancy and uniqueness. Text above the fold is the most important to search engine spiders as are keywords at the beginnings of your paragraphs and in as many paragraph headings as possible.
  • Although there is much less dependence on meta tags now than in the past, it still doesn’t hurt to provide title, heading, description, keywords and alternate tags in the header section of your pages which are to be indexed. The description tag is especially important because it is used by search engines as a means of describing your site. Make it particularly compelling, using strategic keywords. Your title tag should be from 5-10 words, and keyword rich while also being highly relevant to your page.

While web design is certainly important, you can have the most fabulous, well-laid out site on the Internet, but if you haven’t implemented basic SEO practices, nobody will ever see it. Use SEO tactics from the very beginning, and you will have a payoff in traffic and rankings.

Web Design Tip for Lawyers

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Your website should have a fast download time!

Our company has performed numerous case studies and have reviewed numerous 3rd party case studies about the importance of quick download times and the user experience.  Through this website user studies we have noted a significant drop off in the number of visitors who stay on the site if a web page takes longer than 15 seconds to download.

If you intend on using flash animation on your law firm’s website, you should always test the pages’ download time to ensure a speedy download time. Flash animation tend to be rather large files and could seriously impact the speed o you law office website download time.

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