It is always going to be especially tough for smaller or up-and-coming law practices to compete with the huge, successful firms in their areas.
One way to do it, however, is to optimize your website for organic search so more leads can find you online.
Search engine optimization (SEO) encompasses so much, from content marketing to links.
One sometimes overlooked aspect of SEO is site architecture.
Specifically, what kinds of site setups are best for law firms looking to get ahead.
Creating an ideal site architecture involves thinking of your layout from a UX perspective.
You want people to be able to navigate around your site easily, using the logical flow of buttons and links that guide people naturally from the homepage to the various services you offer to the contact page with all your information.
In this post, you’ll discover some tried-and-true aspects of a great law firm website architecture, the kind that will help both users and the Google spiders to search your site easily, ideally find it useful, and get it to rank higher in the SERPs.
The Importance of Website Architecture to SEO
Let’s take a few moments first to discuss website architecture and why the UX segment of SEO is so important for getting ranked.
You already know that SEO content and your website structure should be constructed for people over search engines.
However, it just so happens that what is good for users is also good for Google, so all the most important aspects of an expertly crafted site architecture will apply across the board.
A well-organized website will be easy for users to get around.
From the homepage, they will be able to access a host of other resources that are located just a few clicks away.
And that point is important. You don’t want to bury important web pages multiple clicks away from the homepage, or not have anything on the homepage that links to them at all.
Google’s web crawler will have a hard time finding those pages, and the pages will likely not rank very well (and probably no one will ever actually see them).
Another, similar reason an organized website architecture is essential is that the right page structure “shares the wealth” of PageRank.
If your local service pages all link up one level to your main service page for bankruptcy, business, or whatever kind of law you practice, you are telling Google that that primary service page is important, optimized, and worth ranking highly.
So, now you know why you need to put the time into organizing a straightforward and tidy website architecture.
It’s important for any business in any industry, but now let’s look at how law firm websites should structure themselves for maximum organic results.
Aspects of Effective Law Firm Website Architectures
Law firms are, of course, service-based organizations.
Instead of hundreds of product pages with little descriptions, your website should ideally feature:
- A homepage.
- As many main service pages as you need to describe what your firm does.
- A blog.
- A contact page.
- An “about us” section where you profile your attorneys and profess your firm’s values and mission statement.
Those are the essential elements of a quality law firm website, but how do you structure them on the site itself and link among them?
Let’s get into it.
1. Slam-Dunk Homepage
The homepage is a logical place to start in a discussion of effective site architecture.
The homepage of any website, but especially of a law firm site, needs to convey a great deal of information all at once.
It needs to show what your firm is about, what legal areas it practices, and how much previous clients trust your services.
How is this accomplished?
First, the homepage needs to use competitive legal keywords.
For instance, “chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney Milwaukee” shows high competition and only 10 searches per month in Google Keyword Planner.
Go after a term like that in your H1, H2s, and meta tags.
These terms describe what your firm primarily practices and will be found by people who are well on their way toward employing the services of a lawyer.
Next, remember that you are a service-based company that must rely on customer reviews to gain traction in your geographic area.
You should devote a block of your homepage to displaying five-star customer reviews with brief blurbs praising the legal services you provided. Those reviews will help to generate trust among new visitors to your site.
There are a few other major aspects of a good law firm website homepage I want to mention, and they all have to do with the visual presentation you make to users.
Your website’s main nav, which will be most important when seen for the first time on the homepage, must be concise and clear in its layout, since that is what potential clients will use to get around your site to see what services you offer.
You must organize the nav in a logical, top-down way. A “Services” or “Practice Areas” tab should drop down to a menu showing organized columns of your legal specialties.
Any kind of “About Us” or “Our Firm” tab can break down into a few sections that perhaps provide a history of the firm or state your organization’s mission.
Internal Link Structure
Related to the main nav is the internal linking you do in your homepage content.
You already know that homepages should not be loaded up with written content, but small blocks can briefly describe your service areas and link to them using keywords.
That internal link structure is vital. Everyone knows homepages are important; Google does, too.
The pages you link to from there are going to be easily crawlable. They will also be easy for actual human users to get to.
Colors matter on a website.
The psychology of colors tells us all about what effects colors have on us.
- White means equality and fairness.
- Red is an arousing color and best used for call-to-action elements.
- Blue is generally calming.
Law firm websites looking to convey auras of professionalism should avoid bold, vibrant colors in favor of lighter schemes.
Whites, tans, light golds, charcoals/blacks, and light blues are optimal.
2. Create Above-the-Fold Content
With a law firm website, you don’t want to get too fancy or obtuse with presenting your content.
Users come to your site for help with their legal troubles, and those people are probably worried and hoping they can trust you to help them.
Reward their effort in visiting your site by making it clear that you are there for them.
Do this by presenting your best content above the fold.
Don’t make users dig around to find the information they need like that service page explaining how you have helped thousands of people declare bankruptcy, or that blog post showcasing your knowledge of recent tax-resolution cases.
Depending on how your homepage is organized, present some links to those service pages, or a contact form, or some reviews to establish trust right away.
Sticky content is a good idea, as well.
Videos, forms, and surveys get people to stick around your homepage longer than they otherwise might, so don’t rule out those elements.
Whatever you feel is most important to your firm, make it one of the first things users see upon arriving on your homepage.
Essential information presented above the fold is an absolutely necessary element of a well-made website architecture.
3. Generate an Effective URL Structure
I have reviewed the importance of getting your main nav and internal links correct.
Now I need to discuss the importance of creating a simple but informative URL structure for the pages on your site.
It is vital to get this right because you are aiming to tell human users and search engines alike what your pages are about through the structure of your pages’ URLs.
The general advice on creating URLs is to remove excess words and include some keywords.
While those parts make sense, what you really need to have on your mind all the time is that your URLs should reveal what will be found on that page.
Keep it simple.
Look at these examples:
For a blog post, make the URL a simpler version of the actual title.
So, your post entitled “10 Great Ways to Succeed in Business on a Budget” might be www.website.com/blog/10-ways-succeed-business-budget.
While you’re at it, be sure to add canonical tags to your URLs on the back end.
That way, if there’s a chance a page could be picked up using multiple terms, Google knows where to direct people.
Owning a great law firm filled with hard-working, experienced, and knowledgeable lawyers is one thing.
Getting found online amidst a sea of other such firms is quite another.
That is why no detail listed above should be overlooked.
Attorneys need to do everything they can to keep their SEO up to speed, and maintaining a strong yet simple site architecture is one aspect of doing that.
The best, most logical architectures are going to be straightforward and organized.
A simplistic main nav is not “amateur.” It’s conducive to all or most of your site getting seen by people and Google.
That’s exactly what you’re after.