Legal Marketing & Web Design Blog

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Multiple Practice Areas–One Website?

It is not at all unlikely for a solo-practitioner or a multiple attorney law firm to specialize in more than one practice area. When building a main website for these multi-practice firms, we are often asked how to present all of these areas on one site. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this question.

There are multiple factors to consider in determining whether one site will do the trick or multiple sites are needed to adequately represent all of your firm’s services.

Identify the practice areas you want to showcase
Carefully evaluate your practice areas and ask yourself, how different are these specialties? In some cases, an attorney may practice both business law and employment law. While these are distinct specialties, the connection between the two is apparent to the site’s visitors. However, if you are a solo-practitioner specializing in estate planning and personal injury cases, the connection is not as apparent. If a visitor is looking for a highly specialized attorney for a complex estate planning matter, they may question the expertise of an attorney who splits his or her time focusing on other areas of the law.

Take a look at competing sites in your geographic area
The goal of most attorney websites is to drive business and we all know that if you can’t be found in the search results, the site isn’t going to accomplish much. As such, you must always consider search engine optimization in the early stages of site development. When deciding which areas of practice to feature on your site, do some homework-scope out your competitors sites and narrow down which geographic areas you would like to target.

In certain areas of the country where you have only a few dozen firms to compete with, you may be able to have a more generalized site which lists multiple specialties and still ranks well. However, if you’re in the heart of New York City or Los Angeles with thousands of firms to compete with, it is better to showcase only one practice area (or multiple practice areas that are very closely related, such as family law and matrimonial).

The reason for this lies in the importance of content to SEO. The more content pertaining to one practice area, the better the site will do in the results. Search engines tend to give higher priority to websites with a narrower focus that is closely associated with the search term because such websites are deemed to be more relevant to the user’s search. Additionally, there are a limited number of high value “hot spots” within various areas of a website that convey context. With multiple practice areas, it is difficult or even impossible to place important content in those areas. In narrowing the number of practice areas, you may actually broaden the reach of your site.

Design Elements
If you want to feature several practice areas on your website, you will have to consider the design. If you practice estate planning and commercial real estate but would really like to feature happy families in your header, you may need to create two different websites with different imagery as happy families may appeal to potential estate planning clients but not to corporate clients. If you do decide to feature multiple practice areas, make sure your website design has broad appeal to your target audiences.

While the idea of designing and maintaining multiple sites can be daunting, more focused sites which highlight just one specialty may be more favorable with search engines and potential clients. If you have any questions about the best option for your firm, contact us today. Our talented designers can ensure that your branding is consistent across multiple sites while our search engine and marketing consultants can work with you to develop highly optimized content and effective messaging on your website.