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Website maintenance helps ensure your law firm website continues connecting your practice with new clients. Just as neglecting proper maintenance on a home or a car carries risks, there are risks associated with improper maintenance of your law firm website. Check out this post to learn more.
Maintenance matters. Car owners know that a maintenance schedule keeps their vehicles in working order. In addition, when something breaks on a car, prompt attention to the matter helps keep it performing reliably, rather than leaving the driver stranded on the side of the road.
Likewise, homeowners know that maintenance matters in their house. Neglecting routine maintenance often only allows issues to grow into even more significant and more costly problems.
A law firm website is the same in many ways. Routine maintenance helps keep your law firm website up and running, so potential clients can better find your firm. An up-to-date website improves your return on investment and ensures it is doing the most work in connecting your firm with potential clients.
If you neglect your routine maintenance or improperly perform your website maintenance, there are big, often interrelated, risks for your law firm that could have far-reaching consequences. Keep reading to learn more about just three of these big risks your firm takes when it fails to properly maintain the firm’s website.
1. Lost Money
One of the most obvious ways neglecting your website maintenance impacts your firm is lost money. Of course, this does not necessarily refer to physical dollars and cents leaving your law firm’s account.
However, many of the issues that arise due to a lack of proper website maintenance can often ultimately cost your firm. A poorly maintained site may cause a series of problems that eventually cause your firm to fall behind the curve, miss out on new business opportunities, and, in turn, lose money.
Almost any website maintenance issue could potentially cost your firm money (and this is one of the reasons website maintenance risks are often interrelated)! In this section, we are covering just a few of the ways you may miss out on profits due to improper website maintenance practices.
Poor User Experiences
Poor website user experiences that cost your firm clients and money go beyond an unappealing design. Without proper maintenance, your law firm website is likely to run more slowly and, in turn, visitors are much more likely to bounce from the page quickly. This decreases your conversion rate and a quick bounce back to the search engine results page can even impact your website performance in search results.
If you have broken links on your site that are no longer functioning, this diminishes the user experience. If you have not implemented the latest accessibility standards for law firm websites, many users are likely unable to effectively navigate your site.
People Can’t Find You
Unless someone is already familiar with your firm, they are probably starting their search for a lawyer on Google or another search engine. However, effective search engine optimization (SEO) to increase visibility on the search engine results pages (SERPs), often requires your law firm to continuously update your website and implement the latest SEO best practices.
When you neglect important aspects of law firm website maintenance, your SEO strategy also suffers. Thus, your website does not reach its full SEO potential and does not perform as well on SERPs. This diminished visibility costs you clients. After all, if they cannot find your firm, how do they know who to contact?
Without proper maintenance, your website is more likely to experience unexpected downtime or errors for various reasons, especially at inopportune times. Whether due to a security breach, server issue, or some other problem, unanticipated website downtime is not good for your firm.
With proper maintenance, you can typically avoid downtime with your scheduled maintenance and even plan for the rare event where a scheduled downtime is required. However, unexpected downtime due to improper maintenance often means a longer time where people cannot access your site and is more likely to occur during a peak time for your website traffic than scheduled, routine maintenance.
Outdated Designs & Information
Think of your firm’s office. You likely keep things tidy in your lobby: no overflowing trash cans and no stacks of files or messy papers. You probably have some artwork and a welcoming place for clients to sit. Perhaps you even have a friendly receptionist waiting at a desk to greet clients.
These details are often meticulously thought through to ensure you make a positive impression on your clients. Most attorneys know your office reflects upon you, your professionalism, and your practice.
Think of your law firm website the same way. It is a digital office – the digital version of a potential client walking in the front door. Much like your office’s appearance reflects on your firm, so does your law firm’s website. By implementing current design best practices and avoiding outdated designs, you make a better impression on these prospective clients and improve your website’s overall performance too.
Similarly, you want your website information to remain current. Old or outdated content may contain inaccuracies about the law that both hurt your reputation and negatively impact your SEO efforts. Disconnected phone numbers, defunct emails, and former office addresses all make it difficult to contact your law firm when a potential client needs assistance.
Having former employees on your site may mislead prospective clients who wish to contact that lawyer. Former employees remaining on your site even opens your practice to the risk of negative consequences in the unfortunate event that lawyer makes a legal mistake or engages in unbecoming behavior that invites bad PR. However, you can mitigate these risks with updates made during routine maintenance that help ensure information and content on your website remain accurate.
When your design is not user-friendly, does not follow current best practices (think about those old websites you used to visit in the late ‘90s), or simply has out-of-date information, you face the potential of lost business.
2. Increased Security Concerns
Hackers are a problem in the modern age. While we cannot fully explain why a bad actor may target a small law firm website, the fact remains that these problems do occur. You want to protect your law firm’s data, your potential client contacts, and your law firm brand.
Hackers often want to do the exact opposite. They want data from you and your site visitors. They may want to make negative changes to your site, whether by adding malware or simply messing with your brand identity. Or, their reasons may be wholly unfathomable.
Regardless of what motivates a hacker, the fact remains that improper website maintenance poses a major security risk for your firm. These security risks can cost you credibility with clients, could potentially expose your firm to liability for a security breach, may impact your site’s rankings in search results, and, of course, can cost your firm money in the form of lost clients and business opportunities too.
Keeping your website secure is integral to ensuring your website’s ongoing functionality and avoiding the risk of malicious acts against your site. Therefore, performing routine maintenance to improve your website security and keep it current with best practices is important to your law firm’s overall success.
3. Negative Brand Impacts
If you do not proactively update your website and perform routine maintenance, you are also likely hurting your brand. For instance, if users get warnings from their browser that your website is not secure, they almost certainly pause for a moment to wonder if they can trust your website. However, the questions likely do not stop there.
Potential clients also likely start to wonder if they can trust your law firm. This type of credibility concern reflects on your brand, influences the potential client’s perception of your practice, and can diminish your law firm’s overall performance.
As another example, domain renewals are an important part of maintaining your law firm’s brand. When you launched your law firm website, you most likely purchased a domain name from a domain registrar that reflects your firm’s branded identity. These domain names require consistent renewal (usually anywhere from every one to ten years).
If you do not renew your domain on time, your website (and your associated email accounts) will go down and become unavailable. If you do not act, the domain registrar from which you purchased your domain will eventually place your domain back up for purchase and it could be bought by someone else! Losing your domain name would certainly have a strong impact on your marketing efforts and your day-to-day law firm operations.
Damage to your law firm’s brand and reputation can impact your long-term success. While these are just two examples of how law firm website maintenance can impact your brand, there are certainly other possible ways in which falling behind on your website maintenance exposes your brand to risk, such as the previously discussed possibility of lost credibility due to security concerns.
Thus, this is another website maintenance task your firm cannot afford to overlook without risking major consequences.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
The risks associated with improper website maintenance are simply too big. The impacts of neglecting routine maintenance of your law firm’s website can be far-reaching challenges that your firm would be wise to avoid. Luckily, website maintenance does not have to be hard.
With our Justia Elevate websites, we take care of much of the behind-the-scenes maintenance for your practice and automate reminders to help you ensure you don’t miss something important – like that upcoming DNS renewal. Contact us today to learn more!
- Behind the Scenes: Your Law Firm Website Maintenance
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