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Boosting Your Firm's Web Traffic

by Michael Shambaugh

The most common question lawyers ask us at ParticleWeb is: "How do I get people to my site?" The full answer is complex, but the key is to make sure your law firm's web presence maximizes the chances for visitors to find you through the internet's most popular search engines. The following article lists some steps you can take to improve your web site's compatibility with the major search engines.

Avoid the Use of Frames
Although they were popular in the earlier days of the World Wide Web, frames make your web presence very difficult (and sometimes impossible) for a search engine to index. (Indexing is the process a search engine uses to determine what searches match your web site and how highly it should rank for those searches.) Many search engines are not able to read the portions of your site contained in a frame, resulting in your web site being largely ignored by that engine.

Use Relevant Page Titles
Each page title on your web site should include words you think your clients will use to find your firm. A page title is the string that appears inside the <title> and </title> tags near the top of your web page's HTML source. If you'd like your site to rank higher on a search for "medical malpractice", for instance, you might want to consider something like "Medical Malpractice Representation by Smith, Smith & Jones" for your home page title.

Use Plenty of Relevant Text
Include plenty of text content relevant to your practice areas in the body copy of your pages, especially the home page. Images are great for projecting a professional image; however, search engines cannot index graphics. First, you should always include your law firm name and contact information on each page so that you achieve geographical relevancy to your target client. Other obvious keywords include "lawyer", "attorney", "legal", "law firm", etc. You should describe your practice areas and the expertise you have in them. For example, if your specialties include personal injury, you might include medical or health-related topics potential clients can use to find your web site. Include a "Frequently Asked Questions" (or "FAQ") page on your site listing common client questions and your detailed answers to them. Lastly, post articles authored by you or others about subjects related to your practice areas. If your site becomes a repository of useful, free content, your web traffic will increase and prospective clients and colleagues will seek your expertise.

Encourage Others to Link to Your Site
Doing a good job on the previous item will help this along, as people naturally seek out and link to good sources of information on the web. Additionally, you can institute a "reciprocal linking program" with non-competitive sites. Identify other sites on the web that might appeal to the same demographic as your site, and offer to exchange links with them. You can find good candidate sites for a reciprocal link by going to a major search engine and searching for the same terms you would like to rank highly on. Contact any sites that place highly in the results (who aren't competitors of yours) with a reciprocal link offer. The more popular the site that links to yours, the better.

Make Use of the Pay-Per-Click Options Available
This is the fastest, although relatively expensive, method for building traffic. With this service, you bid on specific search terms with providers like Overture, Google, and FindWhat. Results for those terms are returned in order from the highest bid to the lowest. For instance, someone who bids $5.00 on "georgia personal injury" would appear higher in the results than someone who bids $4.00. You agree to pay the provider your bid amount each time someone clicks on the link to your site from that search return. It can get expensive quickly, but also can build traffic quickly. Its something to consider, even if only for a few months to build up awareness of, and links to, your web presence.

Don't Count on Meta Tags
Meta tags are HTML tags embedded at the top of a web page's source. They provide search engines with a description of your site, and a list of keywords that ostensibly determine how your site will be found in a keyword search. I say "ostensibly" because most search engines today completely ignore the keywords specified in meta tags. They were so heavily abused in the past that they became an unreliable mechanism for the engines to determine the relevance of a given page to a particular search request. Today, virtually all of the major search engines rely on the text contained in the body of your site, the number of links from other sites to yours, and other elements to determine your page's rank, not the meta tags. It won't hurt to include them, but don't focus on them as a route to search engine success.

Rome Was Not Built in a Day
Keep in mind there is no quick, cheap method for generating a lot of relevant traffic to your web site. You will need to invest time and effort in determining who you want to attract to your site, and in developing content that matches your potential clients' expectations. Over time, your site will become a powerful reflection of your professionalism and dedication to your clients and colleagues, and it can also become one of your most effective practice marketing tools.

About The Author

Michael Shambaugh the author, has six years of experience building web presences. He currently serves as the Chief Technology Officer of ParticleWEB Services, a web presence provider for the legal, business to business, and healthcare markets. He may be contacted at or by telephone at (770) 792-9037.

All material © 2003. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express written permission of the author or ParticleWEB Services. Links are acceptable and encouraged.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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