As the head of a digital marketing agency, I look at and evaluate a lot of websites, and while it’s true that much of that evaluation is somewhat subjective, there are offenses that – speaking objectively – there isn’t an excuse for.

Having had a great deal of success helping the social security disability experts at Lemoine Law Firm generate more and better leads through their website, I’ve been perusing other SSD firm’s websites, and those of their digital agencies, and the thing I’ve been most struck by is how often the date in the copyright notice in the footer is years old. We’re talking 2011-2014 old.

Small Investment

Now you might say “what’s the big deal? No one looks at that anyway.” And in most cases you’d probably be right – but let’s evaluate the issue from the perspective that all business decisions should be viewed: that of ROI.

Let’s start with the ‘I’: if you have basic coding skills you will invest a maximum of 15 minutes in the fix. If you have to pay someone to do it for you, I can’t see it costing more than $25 – and that’s assuming that you would be charged at all. If my agency was managing the site, I would be so embarrassed that we let something like that slip that I wouldn’t bill the work – and that would be after begging forgiveness for such a boneheaded oversight.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about 15 minutes or $25 every time January 1 rolls around. I mean 15 minutes or $25 EVER. How is this so, you ask? Because with a couple lines of code you can make the damn thing update automagically! That’s right, folks: set-it-and-forget-it.

Now, before you ding me for being overzealous about such a seemingly small thing, you should know that I’m apparently not the only one who gets his boxers in a knot over this. Someone (who, IMO, should be up for a Nobel Prize) created the aptly named updateyourfooter.com with all the code and instructions you need to eliminate this scourge of digital communication from your online presence.

Big Reward

So, the investment is quite low, but what about the return? To my earlier point, I’ll concede that most website visitors aren’t paying attention to some tiny disclaimer at the very bottom of your site, but I’m living proof that some do. And when I do, what kind of perception of your brand does it create?

Let’s take these social security lawyers, for example. They’re busy people, and typically don’t know or think about much about digital marketing. But at least 90 percent of these firms have websites, most with a good bit of educational content, and many with lead-capture forms and even video. The point being, they know their website is necessary and valuable and that prospective clients do use it – otherwise they wouldn’t have one at all. But what they may not fully appreciate is something that we’ve learned from experience: when it’s done right, a social security firm’s website can be a lead-gen machine; and conversely, when it’s done wrong, they’re leaving a LOT of business on the table.

I could write a whole series of blog posts on just what right and wrong are for these firms (and maybe I will), but let’s get back to the topic at hand – which also happens to be a glaring example of ‘wrong.’

Say I’m looking for a social security disability advocate and the SEO – or even worse $10 PPC ad – you’ve invested in does its job and I land on your site. Then, as I’m scrolling around, I happen to notice © 2011 in the footer. Even if you update your site every day it looks like nobody’s minding the shop. I might wonder if you’re still in business – or maybe I’d just feel more comfortable putting my financial well-being in the hands of someone that’s a little more on-the-ball, or has better attention-to-detail.

Maybe that will never happen to you, but with the average value of a new social security disability client in the thousands of dollars and the cost to insure that it doesn’t happen in the low tens, it’s pretty clear where the risk/reward evaluation nets out.

Last, But Not Least

If it seems like I’m being somewhat harsh on the non-digital businesses out there, I’ve saved the worst for last.

Many of these law firm’s websites have something else in the footer – somewhat fittingly, in close proximity to the outdated copyright notice: that’s right, agency credit – complete with link to agency website. Don’t get me wrong, great artists should always sign their work – but the expired date kindof calls into question the ‘great’ part.

But surely, when I click through to that agency’s site, surely, being digital marketing professionals and all, they keep their own copyright notice up-to-date.

Nope. At least not all of them.

But, maybe they’re no longer in business…

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