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Search Bars on Legal Websites: Putting Power at Fingertips


A mother of three going through a divorce comes to your family law firm’s website looking for an attorney to represent her in a custody dispute. She has a couple specific issues and needs to know if your law firm has knowledge of, and experience in, those types of matters. Like most people, she tries finding the information by clicking on a few links and skimming practice pages and biographies. Not finding the words she is looking for, she scans the page for the little magnifying glass to help her pursuit.

But there is no magnifying glass or search bar.

Frustrated, she closes your website and moves on to the next.

In a world of instant-gratification, law firms need to give website visitors the answers they need quickly. A website search function gives clients, potential clients, referral sources, and even news reporters the information they need to verify your expertise and contact you. A recent survey by Search Engine Journal found that nearly a third of their respondents feel “put off” when there is no search box on a website and more than 40% said the search box is “the most important feature on a website.”

Website Search and Law Firm Marketing Strategies

Besides providing good client service and helping to develop business, a law firm website search feature supports law firm marketing strategies in a variety of ways:

  • Keeps people on the site longer
  • Leads visitors to more informative content
  • Mobile visitors appreciate searching fast
  • Analytics on search words

Not enough can be said about the benefits of search-generated analytics. Knowing what visitors to a law firm website are looking for can provide great direction for modifying website organization, design, and content. For example, a family law firm website might see frequent searches for “visitation disruptions” or “domestic abuse,” so it would be important to ensure there is plenty of information on the website about those issues.

Website Search Engines

There are choices when it comes to search functionality. Many website content management systems have a search feature available, so checking with your law firm website designer is a good place to start.

Simple search functions randomly display results. Smarter search functions include features like auto-complete or options for words and names that are often misspelled, shortened, or have common nicknames – like “Bob” for “Robert.” Some search features allow content to be “weighted” so that search results display practice pages and partners before blogs or other content. Search results can also be displayed by page type.

Many law firms use advanced searches on attorney biographies and practice pages. These include fields, usually drop-down boxes, that allow searching by title, practice areas, location, content type, etc.

Law firm website search functions provide a better experience to site visitors and a variety of benefits to the law firm. Learn more about searching and other critical law firm website features by scheduling a consultation with Scorpion.