In the legal industry, websites are never static. They are the central hub for your online marketing efforts, which means they are dynamic channels for regularly published content, social media feeds, and more. But at some point, even the most dynamic attorney websites need a redesign.

When that time comes, getting the redesign done right becomes vital. Potential clients will likely find out about your firm through your website, giving them their first impression of the quality of your services and credibility as a legal professional.

That’s what makes search engine optimization (SEO) an important consideration from the start.

SEO for lawyers is a complex topic. But as you redesign your website, creating a blank slate can play to your advantage. This post will tell you when and why your website might need a redesign — and offer a checklist to make sure SEO is central to that process.

Above all, a website redesign presents an opportunity for growth. It allows you to give your website a facelift, making it more attractive and relevant for your key audiences. 

The redesign allows you to address:

  • Changing audiences, both geographically and demographically.
  • Evolving legal services offered by your firm.
  • A greater emphasis on credibility, especially in areas where competition from other legal services has increased. 
  • Changes and updates in SEO best practices since the time your website was designed.
  • A more comprehensive user journey that focuses on relevant content and guides potential clients towards your counsel.

The average lifespan of a website operating at its peak performance is between two and three years. Some law firms succeed with websites approaching five years in age. Finding the right time to undertake your redesign is crucial.

How to Tell That Your Law Firm Website Needs a Redesign

Pinpointing the right moment for a website redesign is difficult. Instead of suddenly dropping performance, your website will gradually begin to decline in effectiveness. Month-over-month statistics may show little change until you look at the bigger picture.

Understanding some of the most common reasons for a website redesign can be helpful. When you begin to spot two or more of these signs, it might be time to start thinking about an update:

  • Conversion rates are dropping
  • Bounce rates are increasing
  • The user experience (UX) is measurably declining
  • The website doesn’t display well on mobile devices
  • The content on the website is outdated
  • The website doesn’t rank prominently (or at all) for relevant keywords.

We’ve already mentioned another factor above: if the website no longer reflects your audience or the legal services you offer, the need for a redesign becomes more evident.

Three Factors to Keep in Mind Before Taking on the Redesign

Understanding the factors above is only the first step to a successful redesign project. The final variable includes understanding a few central factors that can make or break its success. 

  1. Your website goals. Never start a project just for the sake of getting it done. Instead, begin by articulating your goals for a redesign in your overall legal marketing strategies.
  2. The cost of a redesign. You can find services as cheap as $300 or as expensive as $100,000. The best solution is probably in the middle, but make sure you know your budget and the cost of a redesign before you start your project.
  3. The time required for a successful project. Expect your full redesign, from planning to post-launch monitoring, to take between three and six months. Everyone involved in the process should be available for that type of commitment.

Everyone in your law firm should be in agreement over these three variables. That ensures alignment throughout the process, from picking the right website design partner to making sure you get the SEO just right.

A Comprehensive SEO Checklist for Attorney Website Redesign Projects

As you redesign your legal website, SEO should become your central consideration for ensuring its success. Most consumers find legal services online, chiefly through search engines like Google. If you are not redesigning your website with SEO in mind, you may be missing out on scores of potential clients and leads.

Follow this checklist to make sure your new online presence is ideally positioned for long-term SEO success.

[ ] Perform Competitor Research

A close review of your competitors’ websites can provide ideas for your own redesign. Perform SEO competitive research to better understand your competitors’ website structure, the types of content they focus on, and the keywords for which they perform well.

This research will allow you to define the must-haves your audience expects and potential ranking opportunities that your competitors have not considered yet.

[ ] Perform Keyword Research

Ongoing keyword research is part of any SEO strategy, but it’s especially important as you rethink your website. Analyzing the keywords your audience is most likely to use when looking for legal services online allows you to structure your entire site according to their needs and preferences, from page titles to content.

[ ] Audit Your Existing Content

The content of your pages, from blog posts to landing pages, is among the biggest indicators of your site’s relevance and how it will rank in related searches. An SEO content audit helps you understand which of your pages your audience likes, which may be unnecessary, and which needs some updates before becoming a part of your new site.

[ ] Review and Update Your Information Architecture

Beyond your content, your navigation holds the key to a great user experience. Website visitors should be able to easily find your services, learn about your attorneys, or get helpful information on their legal issues. After all, 38% of users look at the site’s navigation in their first visit, and 60% will leave a website and never return because of a bad navigation experience.

Start by mapping your current structure. Then, compare it to the structures found in your competitive analysis. Finally, create a new sitemap that better aligns with your core content categories and user expectations. You want to create an intuitive way to navigate through your website.

[ ] Optimize Your Key Content and Landing Pages

With your basic structure in place, it’s time to look at the key content you’ve found valuable enough to keep during your content audit. Optimize it according to your keyword and competitive research. You should create the most engaging content on the pages that will receive the most prominent positions on your site.

[ ] Map Out Your Redirects

Broken links are bad for your SEO and your user experience. And yet, almost half of all websites have them. Your redesign can potentially create more broken links, but it also provides an opportunity to fix broken links.

When you have a sitemap for your existing page in place, you should create redirects for all pages that will go away. If your URL structure is changing, pages you’re keeping will need redirects as well.

[ ] Optimize For Page Speed

Your website loading speeds are among the most important SEO and user experience factors. Older websites tend to slow down because they’ve become bloated over time; old pages and large graphics may increase your loading time. Your redesign can address these issues by making sure all graphics and images are compressed and optimized to the right size.

It also gives you the opportunity to confirm that videos are embedded correctly and HTML coding is as lean as possible. While we’re on the topic of images, you should also make sure that you’re not using copyrighted images.

[ ] Check for Mobile Friendliness

Ever since Google introduced its Mobile-First Index, a website that works well on small screens and desktop computers has become vital to SEO success. Checks for mobile friendliness should be ongoing in your redesign project. You should ensure that everything from the design to the content and the navigation works well on smartphone and tablet screens.

[ ] Update Your XML Sitemap

Think of your XML sitemap as the floor plan for your website. It’s how search engines like Google and Bing know where to find your content and how to index it. Before launching your redesign, update your XML sitemap to make sure it includes all of your current pages, URLs, and navigation. 

[ ] Update Your XML Sitemap

Think of your XML sitemap as the floor plan for your website. It’s how search engines like Google and Bing know where to find your content and how to index it. Before launching your redesign, update your XML sitemap to make sure it includes all of your current pages, URLs, and navigation. 

[ ] Consider Adding a Live Chat App

You’ve probably seen those live chat boxes in the corner a website. If you don’t have it, you should consider adding one as it’s a great way for people to quickly interact with your business. For more info, check our article on the 10 best live chat apps.

[ ] Add Call Tracking to Your Website

Adding call tracking such as CallRail is a great way to help you determine the source of your leads. See our article on the the 5 best call tracking software to get started.

Following the above checklist may seem complex, but it ensures that your new and updated website will increase your presence on Google and other search rankings. And of course, you don’t have to go through the process on your own.

Partnering with a marketing agency specializing in legal SEO can go a long way towards making your website redesign successful. LawRank has a proven history of building and redesigning websites to rank on the first pages of search engines like Google. We’ll handle every aspect of your website redesign, from content and design to navigation and optimization.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our legal SEO specialists to discuss your website needs.