Sixty-five percent of people in need of legal representation begin their search for an attorney on the Internet, according to a 2009 report in the New York State Bar Association Journal. How difficult is it for these potential clients to find a particular firm online and, once they do, are they motivated enough by what they find to take the next step and contact that firm? Some lawyers embrace online marketing and do it well, while others make mistakes that cost them clients, money and time.

Lawyers are highly educated and trained to write for the courts, where complex legal jargon is expected and well understood. Writing for the Web (and for prospective clients) is an entirely different animal. A law firm administrator should consider asking his or her nonattorney friends whether they find the law firm’s site content easy to understand and compelling. If the answer is “no,” the firm should consider hiring someone with experience writing for the Web. An experienced writer can help the firm communicate with prospective clients more efficiently and effectively, as well as include a strong call to action. Experts can also improve a firm’s positioning on search-engine results by incorporating keywords into the copy that are relevant to the firm’s practice and that prospective clients are most likely to input into search engines.

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