Legal Marketing & Web Design Blog

Friday, June 15, 2012

Links, Links Everywhere!

Most of the firms that we work with have no shortage of links on their websites. These links take users to websites for colleagues, organizations that the attorneys belong to, online resource guides and news articles. And while strategic links to well aligned websites can make your law firm’s site a great tool for visitors, they can often require frequent review and modification.

We’ve all had a run in with a dead link. You’re cruising around a site and find a link that piques your interest so you click on it with anticipation, and within seconds are redirected to a screen which tells you that the page you’re looking for cannot be found. The URL has changed or been removed from the host site altogether.

This is very common with news sites. Take for example, the New York Times. When a story is first published, it is made available for public viewing on www.nytimes.com. However, after a few days, the newspaper archives the article and it becomes limited to those with a paid online subscription. We often see firms add links to popular news stories on their websites without realizing that most will eventually expire. This can cause frustration among site visitors and can easily make the most professionally designed attorney website seem outdated and poorly developed.

When considering what links you will add to your website, make sure that you are able to get a permanent URL from the source to ensure that it won’t change over time. Occasionally, you might find that you can Google and access an article after it has been archived. Through the search results, you may be able to read the article in its entirety but the link is not permanent. Essentially, the news website has a mechanism in place which detects visitors from a web search and grants them access but that same link would not work on your firm’s website.

If you’re featured in a news story or authored an article for a publication, ask them if you can include a copy of the article on your website so you don’t have to worry about the URL expiring. If you’re unable to find a permanent URL, consider writing your own short article on the subject matter. This might just include a short summary and your legal expertise related to the subject matter. This small step can help to enhance your site’s copy and will ensure that it never becomes outdated.

Of course, there will be situations where linking to the original source is absolutely necessary. When that is the only viable option, make sure that you review the link each week to ensure continued functionality.