Redesigning Your Website – Optimizing

March 14, 2014 Tanya Lord

Updating your website is a process - one that can feel overwhelming, even if you've been through it before. To help you navigate the journey, we've partnered with a few marketing experts to bring you a candid collection of advice and best practices, which we’ll be delivering through our Redesigning Your Website series.

Last week, we shared some tips to help make the content development process go smoothly. This week, we move into the Optimizing Phase.

Optimizing

PHASE 8 – OPTIMIZING
After you've spent considerable time and effort creating and editing content, it is important to ensure you make the most of it. Have a plan in place to enter it correctly, optimize it for search and make it easier for users to find.

CONSIDER OUTSOURCING SOME OF THE WORK.
Even if your firm doesn't completely rewrite all site content, you’ll most likely need to allot time to enter text into a content management system before it appears on the new site.

Gail Hageman, formerly of Hunton & Williams LLP (now at Steptoe) says she had a strong resource base, including a web editor and data entry assistance, while at Hunton & Williams, which helped the firm save time during its redesign.

“We did some work internally, like photo cropping, which helped,” she says. “Make sure you have things documented, plan ahead, keep a checklist—persevere, and eventually you’ll get there.”

CARVE OUT TIME TO CATEGORIZE CONTENT.
Business law firm Benesch, for example, labeled information by client matter number, description, dollar amount and entered “every possible piece of information you could get about a transaction or matter” into fields in its database, says Julie Gurney, Director of Marketing & Communications.

“It’s not just for the site,” she says. “Let’s say an attorney says, ‘Do we have experience representing an auto manufacturer in an M&A transaction in Michigan?’ You just need to type in that criteria, and you’ll get a list.”

For a law firm like Benesch, which opens hundreds of matters a day, having a method to sort through the massive volume of case information is a huge asset to staff members.

“We use it internally, and clients can search on the site using the information, too,” Gurney says.

Edwards Wildman wanted to make sure it could cross-market its services using its new site.

“Our search is front and center on every single page throughout the site,” says Jennifer O’Leary Cathell, eMarketing, Design and Brand Manager at Edwards Wildman. Users can filter searches, which also pull in info from blogs and other sources to help reinforce firm expertise.

“For example, we want to make sure searching for insurance on the main site will find information posted on our insurance blog,” O’Leary Cathell says. “It’s one of the ways we are really looking to market our experience.”

HAVE AN SEO STRATEGY.
Websites are law firms’ calling cards, so making them easy to find is as important as making them look good.

“Start thinking about SEO from the get-go,” says Marie Alvarez-Yapana, Marketing Manager at multi-service law firm Loeb & Loeb LLP. “Don’t build the site and then develop an SEO plan.”

To enhance its site’s search ranking status, Loeb & Loeb hired SEO professionals to offer best practice advice. Alvarez-Yapana also attended webinars and conducted research through legal technology associations.

The result: the firm decided not to include certain elements on the new site that it felt wouldn’t help increase SEO (the site’s flash images, for instance, were scrapped).

Benesch also included some search engine optimization improvements in its redesign. Pages were named with vanity URLs, like beneschlaw.com/corporate. Vanity URLs are easier for web crawlers to identify; longer addresses comprised of colons, exclamation points and other characters can prevent sites from turning up in searches.

Once your design and content are set, you’re in the home stretch! However, the work isn’t quite finished yet. Next week, our experts will share some advice to help you prepare for launch. In the meantime, you can find tips for preparing, and all other phases, in our Definitive & Candid Guide to Successful Websites.

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Tanya Lord Head of Marketing Communications

As Head of Marketing Communications for One North, Tanya connects professional services organizations with the most innovative digital strategies, industry trends and thought leaders.  Responsible for leading One North’s marketing communications, she ensures the successful delivery of One North’s message by reinforcing the agency’s deep industry knowledge and vertical expertise. She can also keep you current on the latest celebrity gossip.

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