gavel and cell phones

Lawyers are masters of English and other languages. As writers, they excel in choosing just the right words to convey the right meaning...in a certain context, that is.

However, after a decade serving the needs of hundreds of attorney's and law firms, one thing is clear: Lawyers often struggle with writing for the Internet.

Why? And what should they be doing different?

Writing for the Courts is NOT Writing for the Web

The writing style attorney's learn at University and in their careers is very specific. The language they choose concisely meets the needs of their client for legal purposes. The goal is to create documents that stand up in court.

But common people do not speak like this...nor read like this...or even search like this.

When the average person searches for something on the Internet, they do so using the language in which they speak. This is called the common vernacular.

While every lawyer knows what is meant by "common vernacular," most still get caught up writing as if they are writing for the courts. This leaves their websites with two big problems:

  1. People do not understand it
  2. The search engines do not direct people to the site

As to the latter, the reason search engines do not send people to the site is because the site is not using the words real people are using to look for answers to their questions. Search engines only match words, not abstract thought. At least not yet. Maybe one day they will as AI improves, but for now we must write in the common tongue.

2 Common Mistakes Lawyers Make When Writing for their Website

Over the years, I have identified two of the most common mistakes lawyers make when writing for their websites. These two mistakes alone, if corrected, will result in far more traffic to their sites. More traffic will result in more clients. What are these two common mistakes?

  • Failing to Write in the Language of their Clients
  • Not Enough On-Page Written Content

Failing to Write in the Language of their Clients

As mentioned, lawyers tend to use the language of the courts rather than the language of the people when writing their websites. Related to this, many rely on well-known legal book publishers for the content on their websites.

This results in their website first, sounding just like every other law firm. It also sounds stiff, unresponsive to the needs of their clients. It is a cookie-cutter approach with no real life...and prospective clients, if they ever find the site, glaze through what is written and move to the next site (your compeitition).

Instead, write from the heart. Write, as if talking to a client across the desk from you. Tell him why he should choose you. Explain to him in simple language how you will help him, be with him, guide him and do your best to make sure he gets the best outcome possible.

Do not fall into the trap of trying to "sell" him here. Just show him who you are and why you consider yourself the best choice for his case. Save the selling for his appointment.

In fact, a short video would be great for this, but make sure that you also put a transcript of the video on the page somewhere. Remember, search engines do not listen or view video as do we. A transcript will go a long way to helping get your site found.

Not Enough On-Page Written Content

Which brings us to the second big problem: Not enough written content.

See, every time we search, we use words. We ask entire questions into our phones. We type extensive queries into Google Search. A decade ago, the average search query was 3 words. Today, there is no real average. Just as many people use two words as use six or more.

But one thing is certain: The more key words (descriptive words) that appear on your website, the more words your site will rank for in search. The more it ranks in search, the more people will find it.

This is why you want a transcript of the video on the same page. It will help your page rank for more keywords in the search results. This, in turn will help that page be found more than it would otherwise.

And use Captions and Alt Text for images. The captions too will appear as words on the page and with the image which can help you be found in search.

Finally, provide extensive information about the topic of the page.

Far too often I find that a law firm offers several specializations, each with its own page. But then only provides a 300-word description of the service. This is old-school SEO. It is out-dated.

In fact, Google search crawlers see a page with so few words and does two things: 1) Ignores the page, 2) penalizes the site. So, few words are hurting the site and the page.

Think of it like this. If you are conducting legal research, do you look for brochures or books?

In the same way, prospective clients are doing research about their cases, wanting answers. And they are not looking for a 300-word brochure - they are looking for in-depth information...answers to their questions.

And if you answer their questions to their satisfaction, they will be more inclined to use your services. It is that simple.

Need Help Writing for Your Law Firm Website?

Since 2009, Oakes Writing has been helping website owners grow their business online through carefully crafted written content. Most clients during that time have been law firms, some of which are listed in our Portfolio.

Many are not listed because often, lawyers do not want the public to know the information did not come from them. It is ghost written, discretely and without revealing the client relationship.

This allows law firms to provide what is needed, expertly written, but in a way that allows them to take credit. This increases their business because they become the experts the public relies on for answers.

While we work with any law firm, our specialties include:

If you would like help with the written content on your law firm website, call now 337-660-4774 and ask for Jeff.

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