happy new year on the calendar

What’s your 2012 Website Resolution?

With the New Year just days away, you’ve probably already decided upon your New Year’s Resolution. Like many, you might have vowed to drop a few pounds, spend less money eating out or promised yourself that you will finally master that guitar that has been taunting you for years. And while setting a New Year’s resolution is generally related to personal betterment, it is also a good idea time to reflect on the need for improvement in your professional life and set goals for your practice in 2012.

Very often in day to day operations, the firm’s marketing plan and the online cornerstone of that plan, the firm’s website, takes a back seat to the “billable work.” Unfortunately when this happens, most firms lose their marketing momentum and it can be difficult to regain even when business slows down. To help you get started once again and set your 2012 website resolution, consider the following:

What is the goal of your website?
When we first begin working on a site, we ask each firm why they want a new site and what they would like it to be used for. Some firms will say that they merely want to begin building an online presence; others might be using it as a resource for fellow advisors while even more want to attract new clients. As your firm grows and the website evolves, the overall purpose of the site might change. It’s important that you sit down every few months and reevaluate your main goals for the site.

If there have been changes to the purpose of the site, you will want to make sure that the call to action is updated throughout the site so it is evident to visitors what they should do next. You will also want to make sure that the copy and imagery is well aligned with the site’s new goals.

How are you tracking performance?
Many firms invest in a site and then have no idea as to how it is performing. With free tools like Google Analytics at your disposal there is really no excuse for not evaluating traffic to your site. At the least, you should have a firm understanding of how many visitors come to your site each month, where they come from (Google, referring site, direct traffic, etc) and how long they are staying on the site. Without this data, is impossible to measure success and most importantly make changes to the site if current strategies are ineffective. Commit to reviewing site statistics at least once a month. To make this goal easier to stick to, set up your Google Analytics reports to be mailed to you monthly.

What is your content strategy?
Take a look at your firm’s content strategy. How often in the past 12 months have you added new, relevant copy to your website? If the answer is less than 10, you need a much stronger content strategy. You’re probably sick of hearing it but there is just no way to get around it—fresh, quality content is singlehandedly the most significant factor in your site’s search engine optimization strategy and more importantly, the single most significant factor to website visitors. Keep in mind that content does not have to come in the form of a six page article; short blog posts, a few frequently asked questions and even links, with good accompanying descriptions, to externally hosted articles can make a huge difference.

Before the start of the year, come up with an outline of new posts or additions you might make, then head to your calendar and schedule a time each week where you will tackle one of these posts. We know that this is easier said than done once your schedule picks up again but it’s absolutely essential for website success. Treat your website content appointment just as if it were a client appointment and don’t double book thinking “I can go back to that another time.” If you can’t make time to write frequently, enlist the help of your staff and split the work, or consider checking out a content library like Insight in Motion which gives you access to hundreds of articles that be posted on your site in a matter of minutes.

Is your site personable and interactive?
Think about the competitors in your area. Do they all have websites? Most likely, the answer is yes. Increasingly, internet users have more and more options when it comes to finding a local attorney online. With more competition, there is a much greater need to connect with the site visitor. As 2011 draws to a close, evaluate your site from an outsider’s perspective. If you had never heard about your firm and stumbled upon the website, what would you learn? Would you feel comfortable initiating contact with the firm? Now, step back into your role as an attorney in the firm. Is the message or information you are giving off accurate or enough to entice visitors? In many cases, it’s not.

To further connect with site visitors, more firms are placing videos on site pages where you can hear directly from the attorney(s). They’re also revamping attorney profiles, steering clear of the old bulleted-list of accolades and diplomas to make room for inviting profiles that speak to both professional and personal experiences. In the New Year, reevaluate and if necessary, redefine your message and approach to visitor interaction.

As with any New Year’s resolution, the suggestions above take time and commitment. However, if you are steadfast in your resolve to improve you website, you’ll undoubtedly see results that will lead to a very happy 2012.