So how many practice areas can you target with one website? The answer, of course, is that it depends. What I hope to do with this post is shed light on some of the problems and considerations with targeting multiple, unrelated practice areas so that you can make a decision that is a best fit for your practice.
First, an example. I spoke with a law firm this week that wanted help with their online marketing strategy. The firm is a general practice that handles around 7 or 8 unrelated practice areas. The practice areas vary from consumer facing work such as personal injury and criminal to business litigation. The firm has a single website that discusses all the various practice areas they can handle. They asked what they could do with the website to start driving more business in.
The 30,000 Foot View
The firm’s website, as it currently is being marketed, is what I like to call a “brochure style” website. In other words, the site is setup to show every type of service the firm is able to offer to every type of client. The website has basic content on each of the practice areas. So it has a little something about everything, but nothing in-depth about any one particular area of practice. For site visitors that are referred to the firm, have searched for the firm by name, have engaged with one of the firms’ attorneys offline, or found the firm via offline advertising or marketing, the site is effective at communicating the practice areas they can handle. However, things get more difficult when we think about how to generate new business online with people that are unfamiliar with the firm, but are looking for the legal services it offers.
The difficult part comes when we start to view the website through the eyes of launching an effective SEO campaign. There are a few obstacles with the current website setup we need to consider:
- The audiences for the firm’s various practice areas are very different
- There is not a lot of in-depth content
- Competition in search, especially for the consumer facing practice areas, is very high
Let’s break down these issues in a little more detail.
The audiences for the firm’s various practice areas are different
This is one of the biggest obstacles facing a site setup such as the one I’ve mentioned. The problem is that a potential client searching for help with a personal injury or criminal issue requires a very different voice and marketing approach than a visitor looking for help with their business litigation problem. Positioning a site to effectively target one of these audiences will mean that the site will not resonate with another audience as optimally. The end result is that conversion for some of the practice areas will decrease when they are not the main focus of the messaging.
There is not a lot of in-depth content
This would be a problem even if the site was only targeting one practice area. The bottom line is that great content is the cornerstone to a successful SEO campaign. There needs to be a healthy amount of relevant, quality content being added to the site on a regular basis. This is true of each of the practice areas that the firm wants to target.
Competition in search is very high
I probably don’t need to tell you that competition in the legal search world is stiff. This is especially true in the consumer facing practice areas such as personal injury, bankruptcy, criminal, etc. It is difficult for a site that focuses on many practice areas to compete, from a search marketing perspective, with a site that is fully dedicated to a specific practice area.
What Are Some Ideas To Address The Problem?
Increased Focus – One suggestion would be to increase the focus of the online marketing. For instance, perhaps the firm prioritizes one or two of the practice areas to put their marketing muscle behind. They can leave the remaining practice areas on the site to serve the purpose of a “brochure site” to show visitors that the firm handles the work.
Build Out The Content For Various Practice Areas – The firm can build out more robust content sections for each of the practice areas. They can integrate blogs or article sections on the site for each of the practice areas they are targeting. Basically, the idea would be to create mini portal sections of the site that speaks directly to the audience that particular section appeals to.
Create separate websites or blogs for each practice area – The firm can separate the practice areas by web property. In other words, they launch an individual blog or website that covers one specific practice area. The difficulty with this strategy is that the firm will need to allocate appropriate resources into each one of these properties to get it to perform. Additionally, they are not going to be able to include all of the websites/blogs in the local search efforts since Google, as well as other local portals, only allows the use of one website on a profile.
Paid Search – Another approach would be to prioritize some of the practice areas as targets for organic search and drive in business for other practice areas via paid search.
As you probably have gathered, there is no “right” answer to the question how many practice areas can I target with one website. The best solution depends on the goals of the firm and the resources available to execute on the strategy.
Photo by alexanderdrachmann