This article was originally included trial magazinepublished by the American Bar Association.
Most legal practices rely on third-party consultants or agencies for website development and online marketing assistance. Unfortunately, not all providers are transparent. Knowing the right questions to ask (and who to hire) can be difficult if you’re not familiar with digital marketing. Here are five important truths that are often not revealed until it’s too late.
1 – You don’t actually “own” the site
Your company’s website is an asset, perhaps a significant investment of both money and time. It is important to secure ownership beyond your current agency relationship. Portability is not guaranteed. Understanding the content management system (CMS) your website is built on will make it easier to move your site in the future.
Agencies build websites on either proprietary systems or open source CMS such as WordPress. If your site is on your own system, you probably won’t be able to host it elsewhere. Despite “owning” the graphics and design, we do not own the underlying code that makes the site work. Without it, you would have to build your site from scratch and turn your design back into a working website. It is also important to understand the licensing restrictions associated with content and images used on the website.
A proper understanding of ownership gives you greater flexibility and greater control over your company’s web presence. If you’re not willing to invest in a new website each time you switch providers, go with his open source CMS.
2 – Your project is outsourced
Great websites are created all over the world. In general, though, it’s wise to know exactly who is designing, coding, inputting, and managing your website design project. Just because an agency says its website is designed in-house does not mean that no part of the project is outsourced.
In-house teams typically offer superior levels of security and communication, and can handle changes faster without having to consider vastly different time zones and team schedules. It’s also beneficial to be able to speak directly to the designers and coders involved in the project to avoid phone games.
3 – SEO takes time
This fact is frustrating for both government agencies and law firms. Unfortunately there’s really no way around it. Three to six months is a common estimate, but it often takes 12 to 24 months for best results. It’s important to remember that content must be created and optimized, crawled by search engines, indexed, and ultimately reflected in positive results. Luckily, this process has sped up dramatically in recent years, but it’s still excruciatingly slow compared to paid search and purchased leads.
It’s worth noting that incremental progress can be seen more quickly. Anyone you work with should be able to provide regular reports detailing improvements and highlighting all the progress your website has made. Traffic and leads typically don’t increase until you do, but it’s a long way from obscure to the first page, and the journey should be well documented.
4 More traffic is no substitute for more leads
Website reports allow you to enter various metrics that detail your company’s online visibility. You can track virtually anything, but organic reports often include Google rankings, website traffic, and leads generated. So your ultimate goal might be to retain more clients, but your website needs to generate leads to reach that goal. This happens as a result of an increase in organic traffic due to improved rankings.
Reports can be misleading if increased traffic doesn’t lead to increased leads. This can happen if your website isn’t reaching the right people. This is common when sites rank nationally in searches despite the company’s local target audience. While this increased traffic may have side benefits, it’s important to recognize when increased traffic doesn’t serve your primary goal.
The best way around this problem is to find the signal in the noise. Request a report, or at least a summary, containing only actionable data that the company fully understands. It’s easy to get misled by numbers, or by secondary metrics that don’t actually hit your goals.
5 – Ultimately, compliance issues are your issue
Most attorneys are familiar with their ethical obligations when it comes to advertising, but can the same be said for marketing agencies?
In addition to your state’s rules of professional conduct, attorneys are increasingly facing compliance issues regarding privacy laws and accessibility.
Half of all states have recently passed privacy laws or have privacy bills under consideration in their legislatures. These laws are intended to protect consumers and prohibit certain websites that collect personal information (names, emails, IP addresses, which are essential for most legitimate sites). , requires us to make certain disclosures. Unfortunately, many digital marketing agencies are not compliant with these regulations and do not offer their law firm clients dynamic privacy policies or her cookie consent tools.
Another important consideration is whether your company’s site complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With 1 in 4 of her adults in the United States having a disability and millions of people using assistive technology to access the Internet, the need for an accessible Her website is more important than ever. Sadly, some institutions downplay the importance of accessible sites. Their lazy approach can result in missed business opportunities or, worse, legal problems for your business.
Before starting your project, make sure that your institution is familiar with compliance rules and regulations.