1 13 Mistakes Common in DISABILITY WEBSITES by Jim Pawell direct
2 The quality and marketing effectiveness of Social Security disability websites are not as strong as those of other specialty legal websites. DUI and injury websites, for example, are on average much better. This website weakness is good marketing news for disability lawyers, since the lower competitive bar means it takes less time and effort to create a top disability site in your region. This lag behind the more competitive subjects makes the future of disability websites easy to discern. Search dui lawyer or injury lawyer in a few of the larger metropolitan areas, and you will see where disability lawyer websites will be in a few years. If you want to look even further into the future of lawyer websites, review a few of the general web marketing advice sites. Lawyers in general are late adopters, so legal websites across all specialties have yet to adopt many of the techniques now being used successfully by leading e-marketers. Regional firms reaching out nationally The bad marketing news for disability lawyers is that their field is governed by federal law and thus disability firms in many regions are seeking and accepting cases nationwide. This means that your website should compare favorably to sites from local firms with national aspirations like: Freedom Disability is a national Social Security Disability advocacy group. We provide education and representation services to help people with disabilities, in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, file for disability benefits. ssdi_ssi.html. Because Social Security Disability claims are governed by federal law, we can practice in all 50 states and take cases as far as the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. 2 Head disability attorney s knowledge, care, experience, nationwide staff and understanding of the social security claims process has resulted in a very high success rate.
3 National lead-generation sites Disability law s uniformity across state borders also means that national disability websites designed solely to generate leads for local attorneys can be surprisingly effective. National marketing sites are cumulatively skimming a high percentage of claimants every month with free case evaluation forms that are forwarded to unnamed subscribing disability attorneys. Search social security disability or social security disability lawyer and you will find pages of lead-generation competitors like these:
4 Staying competitive The first step in improving your web-marketing game is to eliminate your website s obvious mistakes. Most disability-website weaknesses fall into the following 13 categories. My high-impact suggestions are highlighted. 1. Writing without performing keyword research. Before writing for your site, you must check search volume on phrases likely to be used by prospects seeking disability information or representation. Each page on your website should be written to draw traffic for a different set of keywords commonly used by disability claimants. These keywords should be localized for your region. 2. Failing to analyze the competitive disability sites. Conduct several Google searches using your target localized keywords (e.g., Miami disability lawyer, social security disability Chicago). Which websites come up on pages one and two? Those are the disability websites you need to leapfrog on Google s organic search rankings. Those are the sites that prospective clients will compare to yours before selecting who to retain. Those sites determine how much work you need to do on your firm s website. STICKINESS 3. Focusing on yourself and your practice. Teaching is the most effective way to keep visitors reading, and has the added benefit of simultaneously demonstrating your expertise. Instead of writing about yourself, answer the questions you most commonly hear from prospective clients: How long will it take? What are my odds of success?? How much will I receive? How much will it cost? What work will you do? What work will you need me to do? What is a hearing like? What questions will I be asked? 4
5 4. Providing a general overview. When they provide any explanations at all of the appeal process, most disability sites offer a few non-specific paragraphs. Claimants who have been searching the web for information have already seen those same unhelpful descriptions several times. Distinguish yourself by detailing exactly what, for example, a disability hearing entails: What the hearing room looks like How many people will be involved How a hearing differs from the trial shows on TV What to wear The questions asked of the claimant The questions put to the witnesses How long it will take for a decision to arrive 5. Aiming your content too low. Most sites underestimate the sophistication and knowledge base of disability researchers. Assume your site visitors have already read several other disability websites, talked to other disability claimants, and maybe even skimmed a disability selfhelp book or two. Your site needs to offer information not found in those other locations. 6. Not writing enough pages page disability sites are common. To be an effective marketing tool, your site needs to be bigger. More pages will help your organic search engine ranking, keep visitors on your site longer, showcase your expertise, build credibility and familiarity, and encourage a higher percentage of your visitors to contact your office. STANDING OUT 7. Not differentiating your site and your practice. What makes your services different from those of the other disability lawyers listed on pages one and two of Google? This can be a tough question to address, for disability lawyers and their websites appear similar. They make the same promises, offer the same descriptions of the process, and charge the same fee. How do your services vary? Make sure those differences are readily apparent on your website. 8. Omitting video. An easy way to highlight some of these differences is to 5
6 offer video. Nothing highlights the unique you faster and more visibly than a video. However, you should balance the talking-head time with images that support the message. And your video messages should primarily be educational, just like your text, if you want to keep the attention of your site visitors. 9. Trumpeting multiple practice areas. Gone are the days when a lawyer can promise on his or her website to be an expert in multiple subjects. Too many sites are dedicated solely to Social Security disability for you to promise expertise in disability, personal injury, and workers compensation. You need one site for each legal specialty if you want to compete with the focused sites. STAYING FRESH 10. Not building your site using a content management system. If each new page you want to add to your site requires new coding, your site is going to be a lot harder to maintain. Content management systems like WordPress and Joomla make it as easy to add or change paragraphs and pages on your website as creating or modifying a document in Word or WordPerfect. 11. Letting your site stagnate. Forgetting about your site after launch is a sure way to slide down the organic search rankings, reduce the time visitors spend on your site, and reduce your conversion rate. Stale sites are shunned by both Google and visitors. You should regularly update your disability information, add new pages, and seek new inbound links. One infinitely expandable category of disability information is medical. CONVERTING VISITORS TO CLIENTS 6
7 12. Not using lead-generation devices. The most effective marketing websites offer a variety of ways for visitors to obtain more information. E-booklets, ed lessons, and free case-evaluation are the most common delivery methods. How much contact data you request from site visitors should be scaled to the value of the additional information you offer. Give your offers prominent placement and keep them simple. 13. Failing to follow up leads. Timely response to inquiries is the key to high conversions, and the best way to ensure prompt follow up is to automate as much of the follow-up process as possible. Auto-responders are the most efficient method for following up requests for e-booklets and lessons. Well-trained staff or attorney attention is needed for case submission forms. Think in terms of telephoning a prospect in minutes rather than hours when a good lead arrives, for the prospect may complete a competitor s case submission form if you do not respond quickly. I am happy to offer free personalized suggestions for improving your disability website. Telephone or anytime, or visit me at the James Publishing table at the next NOSSCR conference. Best wishes for marketing success. Jim Pawell direct Copyright 2010 James Publishing 7