Creating Your First Niche Site for Your Law Firm
You gave it a lot of thought and picked your perfect niche practice area, so you are ready to create your first website to promote it. (If you are like me, you probably thought of five great niche practice areas you want to pursue and want to get busy creating websites for all of them, but slow down cowboy. Let’s get the first one up before we go in a dozen directions.)
Anxious as you might be, you could also be thinking that you went to law school to practice law, not to build websites. That is a perfectly valid thought process, and you may want to farm out the work. I highly recommend Lawlytics (affiliate link), who will create a publish a beautiful website for you for just $200 per month, compared to the thousands that some other services charge. But I have three suggestions if you are going to hire someone to create your sites.
1. Create at least one site by yourself. As you will see, it is incredibly easy, and it is important that you learn the basics so you can edit the site when necessary, without having to wait for “the guy” to find the time to work on your site.
2. Don’t pay more than $200 to have a website created. There are services that charge a crazy amount of money to create websites. The niche sites you will be creating will consist of about six pages and can be created in a couple of hours. There are any number of website developers on upwork.com, eLance.com or even Fiverr.com who will create an entire website for just $150 or less. If you give in to the hype and pay a service thousands of dollars to create a site, and then even more to maintain it, then you will be reluctant to put up additional sites. This is partly a numbers game. I create great sites that never seem to gain any traction, and then I put up a placeholder site intending to get back to it later to make it better, and before I return it goes to number one on the search results and starts generating clients. The best system I have found it to create the basic site myself, and if it places well on the search engines, but I don’t totally like the look of the site, I might pay someone $150 to “make it pretty”.
3. Make your website builder use YOUR platform. If you just call and ask someone to create your site, he is going to create the site on whatever platform he uses and prefers. Web builders want to lock you in as a permanent client. They will build a beautiful site using Dreamweaver or some other program you likely don’t have or know how to use, and upload it to your hosting service. Nothing wrong with that, but if you ever want to change the site, you have to call and pay to have the change made (unless you know how to use Dreamweaver, and assuming you required that the designer to give you the files). You don’t want to have to spend time learning various systems. The major hosting services all come with website builders. BlueHost and HostGator both use a website builder called Weebly, and GoDaddy uses Website Builder. If you decide to create a blog instead of a static website, all three offer one-click installation of WordPress. Pick a provider, take an hour to learn how its website builder works, and then stick to that platform, whether you or someone else is building your website. Once you are familiar with a website builder, then creating a website is about as easy as creating a Word document.
Create your First Law Firm Site on BlueHost
I recommend that you start with a WordPress site, hosted on BlueHost. I also really like HostGator, and suggest that you ultimately get both. Hosting services do crash (although it is extremely unlikely with these two hosting services), and you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. The benefit to using these two services, aside from the fact that they are both crazy cheap and offer outstanding technical support, is that they both use the website creator Weebly, so you only need to learn that one website creation system. Also, since these are the most popular website hosting services, anyone you find to create or work on your sites will no doubt be familiar with how to access these services and how to use Weebly.
But for now, let’s not complicate things. In the future, when you have a few websites up an running, then you check out HostGator and diversify a little. For today’s purposes, we’re going to keep everything as simple as possible by creating a WordPress site on BlueHost. Use this link to sign up for BlueHost and let’s get started.
Choose a Domain Name
If you click on the large BlueHost banner at the top of this page or any other BlueHost link on this page, you will receive a free domain name when you use BlueHost hosting services. By all means take the free domain name, both because it is free, and that saves you one step in the set-up process. I personally use GoDaddy to register all my names, mostly because that happened to be the first place I bought domain names so it is easier just to keep them all in the same place. If you own a domain name or already have a website on some other hosting service other than BlueHost, and are tempted to host your website there just for the convenience, please don’t do it (unless it’s on HostGator, which is also a very fine hosting service).
Learn from my experience. I’ve used probably ten hosting services over the years, moving from one super offer to another, and they all pale in comparison to Bluehost and HostGator. It becomes a huge pain to go here to do something with a domain name and then there to deal with a WordPress issue and then someplace else to deal with some other domain names. It got to the point that I was having to create lists in order to keep straight which domains were maintained where and which hosting services were hosting which sites. It also complicated any technical support, because I would go to one with a problem with a website, only to be told that the cure would require doing something related to the domain name which involved a different provider. Yes, only a moment ago I suggested you might want to diversify at some point in the future, but that’s just paranoid me. You may decide to keep everything on BlueHost once you see what a great hosting service it is. Personally, I keep all my WordPress sites on BlueHost, and all my static sites on HostGator. I can live with that level of complication because I always know which site is where, and don’t have to maintain lists to keep everything straight.
You should start clean right now with a single provider, whether it’s BlueHost or HostGator. Between the two, I am suggesting that you sign up with BlueHost only because I had to pick one to walk you through your first website, and the videos I am going to show you are based on BlueHost.
After you sign up with BlueHost, the first thing you are going to need to do is to pick your free domain name. This is a crucial part of the process, and cannot be undertaken lightly. In my book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days, I go into great length about how to pick your domain name, and I suggest you take the time to review that information. By the way, I refer often to my book on these pages, because the techniques explained therein are the foundation of marketing your law firm on the Internet, and I can’t repeat the 30,000 words it contains every time I want to explain something. Of course I’d love for you to buy it because I think it’s really good, but don’t think I’m pushing books. It’s a $5 ebook, and even though it was the #1 law firm marketing book on Amazon the last time I checked, trust me I’m not getting rich off of it. I see some attorneys charging hundreds of dollars for “master marketing courses” that provide just a small portion of the information I am giving you here for free. Buy my ebook and we’ll call it even.
So back to the domain name. Briefly stated, you want your domain name to consist of keywords for the niche practice area you have chosen. In the prior article, I suggested the motorcycle accident attorney should call his blog “White Line Fever”, but actually that’s not very good for SEO. He might want to give up the SEO benefits in order to have such a catchy name, but he’d probably do better with something like, FreewayMotorcycleAccidentAttorney.com (still available at the time I am writing this).
Did you know that 50% of searches on Google are unique? In other words, people use very long searches, and half the time that is the first time that anyone has used that precise search. You can’t hope to know the precise term your prospective client will use to find you since 50% of them are unique, but you should strive to use the keywords that are likely to be included in his search. The prospective motorcycle accident client may well use a search term like, “where can I find an attorney for a motorcycle accident I had on the Ortega freeway?”. Notice that this very specific search nonetheless included everyone of the keywords in our hypothetical attorney’s domain name, FreewayMotorcyleAccidentAttorney.com. Equally impressive, if our attorney comes to realize that there are motorcycle accidents on the Ortega freeway just about every weekend, he could add a page to his website devoted to that stretch of freeway, or add a post to his blog about it, and his website will undoubtedly become the number one website for similar searches.
I was contacted about a site that beautifully illustrates just how successfully you can niche down using the approach I just described. There is a music festival here in Southern California called the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Every year it gets slightly out of hand, and we are informed of the number of arrests on the nightly news. An enterprising criminal attorney realized that was a potential market, and created the website ArrestedAtCoachella.com. When the news wanted to do a story about the arrests at Coachella, guess who they found and interviewed? Better yet, one news station did a whole bit on how to avoid being arrested, acting out various scenarios and asking the attorney about the legalities of each. Look at this video. As they say, you can’t buy that sort of publicity.
As many times as I say “niches make riches”, attorneys are resistant, as reflected by their choice of domain names. Recently I received a very nice email from an attorney, thanking me for writing my e-book and asking a question about his choice of a domain name. He had a long established website that used his firm name as the domain name. He had learned from my book that a domain name based on your firm name is a wasted SEO opportunity, because no prospective client will search by firm name (unless they already know the name of your firm). He had purchased the domain name MemphisTennesseeAttorney.com (I changed the city to protect his privacy) and wanted to know if he should dump the first site and relaunch it under this new domain.
There are what I call primary sites and secondary sites. There is nothing wrong with having a website with a domain name based on your firm name. That can be your primary site, and that is the domain name you will list on your letterhead and business cards, understanding that it will not be the best choice from an SEO standpoint. Your secondary sites can take care of the SEO duties, and those are the sites that need the keyword rich domain names. Also, be aware that .com names are favored because they are easy to remember, but with niche sites, this isn’t necessarily a site you will be sending people to. The point is to have these sites come up in search results, so depending on how you are going to use it, you can violate some of the usual “rules” in order to get an SEO favorable domain name. If you want the name “HeartValveMalpracticeAttorney.com” (available at the time I am writing this) and find that it is taken, then you can instead get “HeartValveMalpracticeAttorney.info” or “Heart-Valve-Malpractice-Attorney.com”. Contrary to the urban legend, the search engines do not favor .com domain names, so you can use anything that is available for your secondary sites.
On the other hand, if you are creating a blog, intending to create lots of content and planning to send people there through other sites and perhaps a podcast, then you need a really good name. You certainly don’t want to be saying, “Be sure to visit my website, heart hyphen valve hyphen malpractice hyphen attorney dot com.” Incidentally, Google actually recommends that you use hyphenated words for better SEO. So, as between the examples given in the prior paragraph, the hyphenated version is the better choice strictly from a search engine optimization standpoint. As the operators of Therapist Finder and Experts Exchange learned, therapistfinder.com and expertsexchange.com make for confusing domain names. That’s why Google appreciates hyphens.
So back to our attorney. He should keep the primary site based on his firm name, but is MemphisTennesseeAttorney.com a good choice for his first secondary site? Not really. I visited the attorney’s existing site and saw that he does criminal and family law. Is a prospective client looking for a criminal or family lawyer going to use the search term “Memphis Tennessee Attorney”? Probably not, and if he or she does, they will receive search results for every attorney in Memphis and will immediately add the type of attorney being sought. It will be difficult for the attorney to seize the number one position for that search term because it is still too broad. He would do much better with CriminalAttorneyMemphisTennessee.com (still available at the time I am writing this).
“But that’s a really long name for someone to type,” I hear someone say. No one is going to type this name. The point of a secondary site is for it to come up in the search results, the client then clicks the link and is taken to your epic content, and then calls and retains you. Did you see anyone typing the domain name in that scenario?
You’re Almost There
So you’ve purchased your hosting plan on BlueHost, and you’ve availed yourself of the free name that came with your BlueHost plan. You’ve applied the information set forth here and in much greater detail in my e-book, and selected an amazing, keyword rich domain name for your niche practice area.
Now you need to create the website. For reasons I explain in this article, I treat websites and blogs as different animals, and I recommend that you have a mix of both. You should start with a WordPress created site because it is slightly easier to create a really professional site from the huge library of free templates (called “themes”). To make the process as easy as possible, I’ve gathered some videos for you. The collection of videos for setting up a WordPress blog begins with an incredible video by Pat Flynn, who sets up a WordPress site in just four minutes, and that includes buying the domain name and entering the first blog post. Later, I’ll show you how to set up a static website using Weebly in just 15 minutes.
In reality, you’ll probably take a little longer to set up either type of website, but you can easily get it done in less than an hour. That is a short learning curve in order to learn such a valuable skill. Now when you get the call from some service offering to set up your website for the reasonable price of $2,500 plus $400 per month to maintain it, you can properly respond, “Are you out of your ever loving mind?!”, because you will know there’s not much to it. Click on the NEXT button, and create your first niche site. Enjoy building your first website.
Notice: I provide affiliate links in this website that pay me a few shekels if you click through and buy the product. However, in all cases these were products that I use and recommend. Also, I seek out or arrange the best deals for you, so buying the product or service through my affiliate link will usually save you money; a clear win-win. There are obviously other hosting companies available, but again this is my recommendation based on my own experience. If you do purchase through my affiliate link, thank you so much for your support!