In the Media - How Good Is Your Website? Why It Should Always Be a Work in Progress

It’s been more than 30 years since the very first web page went live, aptly enough with instructions on how to use the World Wide Web.

However, even its creator, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, could not have foreseen the future and the seismic effect his invention would have on all of our lives.

The business of law, for example, is now largely if not wholly done online. Clients no longer need to see or even be in the same location as their lawyer.

But while having a website is the norm, how many are actually fulfilling their potential? A good website requires effort and investment to make sure it is giving consumers what they want. When was the last time you reviewed yours?

As our latest white paper ‘Trust me, I’m a lawyer – Marketing legal services in 2023’ shows, law firms have come a long way in recent years but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

How important is my website?

The short answer? Very. The pandemic not only changed how often we used the internet (the equivalent of 22 years over a lifetime according to one survey) but what for, with many more goods and services being purchased online including legal services.  

This year’s annual tracker survey from the Legal Services Consumer Panel – which polled 3,500 people – found that 43% now shop around before making their choice – up from 30% the previous year. A similar YouGov poll of 1,000 people who had used conveyancing, employment or family law services in the past two years found more than 40% looked online for information first.

Research for our white paper showed a number of basic errors still being made by law firms, however. More than 60 of the 100 firms we interviewed didn’t have a mobile-first website or didn’t know if they did, for example, despite data from Google suggesting that visitors are five times more likely to leave if it is not. More than half (52%) of firms didn’t consider it important.

It was also surprising to find that just 37% of firms monitored what was being said about them online on sites like Trustpilot and Review Solicitors.  

Far from being against it, the firms we spoke to were broadly supportive of online marketing with 84% investing in it, including their website, content and SEO.

The willingness is there, but all too often we find their strategy – or lack of – lets firms down. The majority of decisions about marketing spend are still being made by management rather than a dedicated marketing resource, reinforcing the suspicion that most activity is probably ad hoc or reactionary at best.

Where am I going wrong?

Another study, this time of the top 100 law firm websites by web designer Shape Works highlights the dangers of not keeping them up to date. Just one website was rated as excellent in terms of page speed for mobile devices, and more than half (54%) were not well optimised for searches. Most were also described as being “riddled with broken links” – an average of 225 per site.  

For a strong website that performs well in search engine results pages, the first things to get right are the technical performance and content. Below are my top tips.

  • Make it mobile

A mobile-friendly website is essential nowadays. Search engines prioritise sites that work well on mobile since this kind of traffic is growing. You can check your site's mobile performance on Chrome by running a Lighthouse report. Find it in your Chrome menu, under 'More tools' and then 'Developer tools'. Don’t forget to maintain accessibility standards throughout.

  • Boost your speed

A fast website will not only be rewarded by search engines but can stop your visitors from getting impatient and leaving. Google also offers a free tool for this and whether it performs well according to its Core Web Vitals metrics, which show site owners how users experience a page and what specific elements could be improved. Some helpful ways to boost your site’s speed include compressing images so they’re smaller but still high quality, reducing the amount of redirected links and removing unnecessary code.

  • Improve internal linking

Search engines will find it more difficult to crawl and index your site if there are broken links, which can lead to problems when it comes to rankings. Make sure you regularly audit your site and ensure links all point to the right pages. You can automate this by using tools like Ahrefs or Screaming Frog.

  • Analyse user intent

A user has a specific intention when they start looking for information online – whether that’s informational, transactional or navigational. If your site can meet their intent, it has a better chance of ranking well so target relevant keywords and give users what they want. Google’s Helpful Content algorithm update provides a useful guide.

  • Update regularly

Search engines reward sites where the content is regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevancy, which is particularly important in the legal industry. Create a plan to review and update your content, including adding publication dates which will signal that content is new.

  • Display EEAT

Google has highlighted experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EEAT) as key factors it uses to determine how highly to rank a page. This is about showing search engines that your content will not have any negative consequences for users’ finances, health or wellbeing. You can demonstrate your EEAT by providing author biographies detailing their experience, highlighting that your firm is regulated and displaying any reviews and awards you’ve received.

The legal sector has always been a competitive space and even more so now, with diminishing returns from further reforms and a recession on the horizon. There’s never been a better time for firms to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd. Websites are a shop window to do just that – make sure that yours stays open.


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