Should a law firm have more than one web property? These days, the answer is an obvious and unequivocal ‘yes’. Between blogs, wikis, group publishing and collaboration efforts – not to mention content mixing and syndication – the number of web brands under firm control is set to explode. Need proof? Look no further than the online leaders in your own market. Do they have a firm website and a few blogs? Of course they do, and in the future that model can and will be expanded. Perhaps as many as one website for each major service line a firm offers.
I’m a big believer in having the main firm website define expertise and experience, and then surrounding it with content properties — I call it my hub-n-wheel strategy. And just like money and compounding interest, the trick is to make the sites work together and to be more than the sum of their parts.
The firm’s main website has a distinct purpose when it comes to business development – it must establish trust, experience and expertise. You can match the tools that best fit each firm’s practice — group pages, detailed lawyer profiles, testimonials, success stories, client lists, transaction lists, speaking engagements, media quotes, publications, etc. — it doesn’t really matter which. The bare minimum must still be met – tell the visitor your experience with their issue, show that you’re good at what you do, and that others have trusted and benefited from your service in the past. Even if the visitor has arrived at your firm website from your blog (or another content property), the website should reinforce that message, albeit in a more formal way.
Content properties, such as blogs, are not removed from the trust, experience and expertise equation. Not at all, but the technique is intentionally different. Great content is still the most efficient way to attract online visitors to your website, but content based properties often (and should) lack the formality of the main firm website. The message should be consistent, but the personal delivery method has a much better chance of connecting with the reader. And when it comes to establishing trust with an online reader you haven’t met yet, nothing beats that personal level of communication.
The positives for creating this ‘wheel of content’ around your firm website, ie. the hub, are numerous. First of all, as alluded to above, the mix of personal and formal communication often work well together. Migrating the user from the casual feel of a blog to the more professional website can be akin to meeting someone at a cocktail party or a networking event prior to a meeting in your office.
Next, via strategic linking, your content can also be levered to increase exposure for lawyer profile pages back on the main website, both through direct traffic and through better rankings in the search engines. There’s also an overall benefit to passing site trust between firm owned web properties. The search engines judge you by the company you keep, and on the web that equates to who’s linking to your website. Not connecting two firm owned web brands is simply a missed opportunity in my books.
Lastly, my personal take is that a law firm’s brand can be broken into four streams – firm, regional, practice groups, and individual lawyers. Pull these elements together online and you’ll likely get my hub-n-wheel approach. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and nothing is more important making the pieces of the puzzle aware of each other, and work together.