Website 201

As promised, more from the ABA Techshow, and more from Steve Matthews, who presented on website basics for lawyers.

Getting noticed and ranked high by search engines is very important for firms, because most of the traffic to your site will come from searches on Google and the other search engines. So how do you engage in “search engine optimization,” or SEO as it’s called?

Page SEO factors

  1. Use page titles and make them unique and descriptive; it helps search engines understand what you’re about. When you’re browsing, look up at the top of your browser: you’ll see the title of the page. You’ll be surprised at how many websites ignore this really important labelling.
  2. Should you use meta descriptions, those hidden labels that speak only to bots? Yes, but perhaps don’t bother with meta keywords: we’ve known for some time now that Google ignores these.
  3. Be sure to use keywords in your URL structures. By all means avoid those long, incomprehensible page addresses that some systems spit out automatically.

Content writing goals

  1. When writing content for your site, it helps SEO if you break out unique topics and place them on their own web pages.
  2. Remember: viewers scan a page before they commit to reading it, so you must catch their attention. It helps to use short paragraphs, section headers, or bullet lists.
  3. Use descriptive titles for your web pages.
  4. Stick to natural language: don’t write for search engines but for your readers; go back and consider SEO after drafting.

Link building

Incoming links from respected sources are most important for ranking on Google and other search engines. So link popularity drives the search results. Work with others to
get a good mix of links, some to the home page, and some to pages within the site. Be sure to get links from quality sources. Cross links with similar subjects work best. And aim to get a mix of new links and old links: Google has two bots, one for each type.

Calls to action

Remember that you want viewers to act on what you’ve presented. So be sure to have contact points highlighted on the site: phone numbers, email, contact forms. And couple these with an invitation—people like the permission to get in touch.

Location, location

Google has recently combined its regular search results with its more specialized “local search” results. So be sure to take steps to get a Google Places page. And be sure to fill out Google’s form completely, add a logo, photos, etc.

And list yourself with Bing and Yahoo maps and other location directories. Google likes corroboration from such sites. Be consistent, make your listings exactly the same on each listing.

Write, write, write

Most important of all, write for places in addition to your firm site. Get your material out there on as many online sites as possible. This will increase your profile and drive people to your site—and to your firm.


  1. Thank-you for writing a recap, Simon. It’s amazing we’ve got any posts up at all this week with all the Slaw members infiltrating south!