It is probably obvious that every law firm should have an impressive website to impress their potential clients with, but it is often far less understood how the coding of your firm’s website will have a big impact on your SEO results.
In this article we will explore the most important factors (from an SEO perspective) that should be considered by your web designer when they build your firm’s website.
The consideration for a website’s navigation begins with a sitemap. A sitemap is basically the structure of a website that considers its pages and directories. For a law firm, one of the most important considerations when it comes to the sitemap is how should the legal services be listed. Considerations should include: should the legal services all just be listed under ‘services’ or should these services be broken up into different areas of law such as family law, criminal law, etc. Further considerations would also include legal services that belong to specific areas of law such as listing divorce services under family law for example.
The reason why a sitemap is so important is because these considerations will determine the way that people and search engines will navigate your firm’s website. These considerations will also determine the url’s for your legal services which are an important SEO factor.
Once the sitemap is complete, the navigational menus will be built for a website and so considering these at the earliest stages is very important if you would like a website that is easy for people to navigate and also ideal for search engines to index. Having important legal services that are not part of the main pages will usually impact their performance from an SEO perspective but it can also lead to website visitors not being able to easily find the information they need.
It is not always easy to visually see if a law firm’s website has been coded using logical and clean coding but a glance at your web browsers ‘page source’ will show this information.
One of the worst examples of a website that has messy, bloated code is one that is built using a visual editor. You often see these types of ‘build your own website’ platforms advertised on the television but when you drag and drop images and text visually on a page using these platforms, they generate code automatically to try and render the web page. The code they generate is usually messy and bloated. Which means search engines also read the site this way as this is the information they need to index the website.
If you have a website that has been built using one of these platforms and you are struggling to achieve higher Google positions for your law firm then this might be the problem as these sites rarely rank well for competitive searches due to the messy code that these sites produce. Some of these platforms even produce elements within websites that cannot be read at all by search engines, which obviously impacts SEO results.
A website with ‘clean code’, should have logically structured HTML elements. The styles for the website should also be within a separate stylesheet file rather than dropped in with the main structural code. This is something most professional web designers will naturally provide if they have a background in HTML and CSS coding which is essential for building a website that search engines such as Google can easily index.
It is not enough that a website is able to be viewed on a mobile device as this does not count as being a mobile friendly website unless the website adapts to different screen sizes. Rending different layouts for phones and desktop computers is essential to meet these requirements. These website layouts are adapted using coding that recognises the different devices and screen sizes so as to generate the most suitable layouts depending on what computer or device your website visitor is using.
Google takes a mobile friendly approach for website design very seriously and so your law firm will struggle to be found in Google by anyone using a mobile phone or tablet if your website is not coded / built to be mobile friendly.
Another important consideration is that if your website is not mobile friendly then your potential clients will likely find the experience of visiting your firm’s website from a mobile device frustrating. If they cannot easily read the information about your legal services or they cannot navigate the website with a mobile optimised navigation menu then the chances of them leaving and using one of your competitors increases significantly.
It is important that all images, media and documents are optimised for web use before they are added to your firm’s website else this can significantly impact the loading times that it takes for your web pages to be loaded by your visitors. Slow loading times will impact your Google rankings so adding just one image that isn’t optimised can result in a legal service page not ranking where it potentially could.
Another important factor for your website’s speed is the hosting. If you are using a fairly fast internet connection and your firm’s website is loading slowly then this could be an issue with the server that your website is hosted on. This is not uncommon on shared hosting but usually your hosting company should be able to resolve such issues. Slow hosting will impact your SEO results though so you should fix this if you experience slow website loading of your firm’s website.
Conclusion of why the design of your law firm’s website matters for SEO
From the above we have learned that if you want your law firm to perform well in the search engines then the design of your firm’s website matters. The considerations we covered included: the navigation and sitemap, the requirement of clean website coding, the necessity of a mobile friendly website and finally the importance of website image optimisation to improve loading times.
Including the above considerations for the design of your law firm’s website will help to build a solid foundation from which you can then expand to more advanced forms of SEO in order to improve your firms positions in the search engines.