As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, attorney biographies are the most-read content on a law firm’s website (responsible for over 60% of your website’s total traffic – WOW!). So devoting a bit of time and attention to these significant pages is a really good idea.
Here are ten tips to help you make the most of your professional bio on your website.
1. Start with a synopsis and then keep it short
No one wants to read a three page curriculum vitae of facts, dates, and credentials. While it is important to include relevant details, try to introduce yourself with a brief summary of what makes you unique, and then limit the remaining description of your practice area(s), experience, qualifications, awards, interests and publications to five paragraphs or less, whenever possible.
2. Eliminate legalese; use verbiage your prospects understand
Legal jargon has its place (in contracts, agreements, wills and other legal documents), but your bio is not the place. When prospects visit your biography page, they seek to connect with you, understand what you do and get a glimpse of who you are as a human being. A bio written in technical language makes it difficult for prospects to relate to you, often sounds condescending and likely turns your prospects off. Keep it simple, yet informative and descriptive. Read it out loud. If it sounds like something that might be entered into evidence in court, it is not likely to help you develop a rapport with potential clients, instill a sense of trust or present you in your best, most likeable light.
3. Include personal tidbits about yourself
Demonstrating personality on your professional bio does not degrade you, diminish your respectability or disparage your reputation as a trusted advisor. It does, however, help you establish a bond with potential clients who are looking to hire a person, not a machine. Don’t overlook the benefits of including your interests and hobbies. You might be surprised at how often something such as a mutual appreciation for Renaissance art or an affinity for black diamond skiing in Breckenridge is the pivotal trigger for initial contact from a prospect. Personality counts! It is one of the most essential elements in the long-term prospect nurturing courtship required for continuous business development.
4. Clearly establish how you can help prospects
From the initial paragraph, express which areas of law you focus on and where your expertise will be most beneficial to potential clients. Make your specialty obvious so that prospects may determine whether or not you will be able to meet their needs before reading through your whole life story. Feel free to link back to practice area web pages within your site where appropriate so that you can keep the descriptions of your services concise and in layman’s terms. Perhaps more importantly, answer the question “what can you do for me” as clearly as possible. If writing about how you have helped hundreds of others in similar situations makes you feel like a show-off, consider letting your clients do the cheerleading for you by including a testimonial or two on your bio page. Testimonials have a tremendous impact on the buyer’s process. Use them to reinforce your position as a trusted advisor, demonstrate expertise and highlight your vested interest in your clients.
5. Remember that robots search your biography too
You may be writing your biography to “speak” directly to potential clients, but remember that robots scour your website to help those prospects find you in the first place. Search engines use certain details from your page to produce search results. There are a few easy ways to improve your search engine rankings (which, coincidentally also help your visitors immediately recognize if you’re the right attorney for them): use your most likely search keywords/terms together in bold subheadings, embedded with links to practice area pages within your site, and sprinkled throughout your bio (without being redundant). Remember to include your geographic location whenever possible (for example, “Boise estate planner,” “estate planning attorney in Boise,” and “providing estate and trust planning in Idaho”).
6. Make it easy to contact you from your bio page
While there are significant (tracking and lead generation) benefits to having your website visitors complete a form to contact you, many prospects searching for an estate planner will be annoyed by having to fill out a form. But you may not want to publish your email address on the web (remember those robots? Spammers use them, too!). There are options to facilitate direct communication: include your direct phone number on your bio; allow visitors to download your Outlook v-card (easy for visitors to use yet difficult for spammers to exploit); and include an optional 3-field (name, number, email) form that is submitted directly to the biographer’s email.
7. Publish a great photo of yourself
Yes, your photograph is important. People want to see who they might be doing business with, especially when it comes to sharing the kind of personal and sensitive information that attorneys require to provide service. Take the time to have a large, updated, professional photo taken for your bio. There is no need to go to great expense for the picture, but don’t use a tiny thumbnail that resembles a poorly scanned copy of your high school yearbook photo, either. If you have a tight budget and can’t spare $150 for a local photographer to create the right lighting and backdrop, read this blog post for do-it-yourself tips to a great professional photo.
8. Link to other appropriate pages on and off your website
As I mentioned in other tips, including hyperlinks to other pages within your site on your biography page can be valuable. Not only do the links allow you to avoid lengthy descriptions, they also give your linked verbiage more “oomph” when it comes to search engines. But linking out to other relevant websites beyond your own firm’s site can be even more effective. Consider embedding links to your most popular blog posts, articles in industry journals and other publications, associations that you belong to, your LinkedIn profile, your alma mater, etc. Links to related and relevant websites outside of your own domain add credibility not only to your visitors, but to the robots that scan your page. Gain a little positive SEO just by including links to appropriate external web pages.
9. Highlight your specialty or niche practice area
You probably covered your areas of expertise in your initial summary, and touched on them in your blurbs about your experience, credentials and history. You may have even mentioned your primary practice areas with embedded links back to their more descriptive web pages. Or you might have included a sidebar that lists those niche areas (also with links back to the proper pages on your website). No matter how you do it, be sure that your specialty or niche practice areas are obvious and unmistakable to the visitor who only scans the page without fully reading it.
10. Ask for help if you need it
You might be the very best contract writer, with hundreds of wills, trusts and deeds under your author belt, but if more “casual” writing is not your forte, ask for help. Draft a bulleted list of the things you want included in your attorney bio. Include at least one bullet for each section of the biography:
1) intro synopsis;
2) experience, credentials, specialty/niche practice area, education;
3) fun facts, interests and items that demonstrate personality;
4) publications, awards, accolades, etc;
5) contact information.
Talk through your bullet points with your Marketing Director, assistant, friend or spouse, making notes about what you say as you review the list. How we speak is nearly always less formal than how we write. Dictate changes on your personal recorder, if that would be helpful. Try to write your bio the same way you would give your elevator speech to a new contact met at a conference. Be informal, yet persuasive; concise, yet informative; professional, yet personal. Be you.
By following these ten tips, you are practically guaranteed a highly effective professional bio that facilitates better business development, improved lead generation, enhanced SEO, and more opportunities for relationship building.
Becca Fieler is an Online Marketing Specialist for BizActions | PDI Global Marketing Solutions, a division of Thomson Reuters. She provides strategic planning and oversight for our online marketing and email marketing initiatives. Becca also works with clients, developing comprehensive marketing and lead generation programs for professional service providers, including attorneys, accountants, banks and credit unions, human resource companies and others, through her role at BizActions | PDI Global, Thomson Reuters. She is a prolific writer when she has time. Read more of Becca’s blog posts here.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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