Getting a referral from a friend, looking through lawyer directories, and opening the phone book: Those used to be the ways people found lawyers. Today's lawyer directories still matter, and not just for getting referrals.
Ever since lawyers started marketing online, a heavy debate has ensued over whether lawyer directories still matter. In the past, print directories and the phone book were the foremost methods for finding legal assistance aside from asking a friend. Today, 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine for answers. Many people still rely on personal referrals to find a lawyer.
Online directories like Martindale.com sell themselves as contemporary digital tools for reaching qualified clients. Whether or not they do this successfully depends on whom you ask.
According to Martindale, “corporate counsel are using martindale.com on a regular basis as part of their hiring process” and 90% of corporate counsel use Martindale-Hubbell when hiring outside counsel. Some attorneys are not convinced, however. Consumers behave differently than corporations. They don’t typically look for lawyers in online directories. Consumers use Google, the largest and most sophisticated lawyer directory in history. Meanwhile, businesses tend to stick with the attorneys they know or ask those they trust for a referral.
So why, then, do lawyer directories still matter?
Lawyer Directories Influence Your SEO
Lawyer directories have a role to play in technical search engine optimization (SEO). If you have a website for your practice, that website needs to rank high in search results to get organic traffic. Part of what gets a website ranked high in search results are the number of reputable inbound links associated with it.
There are several factors that influence search engine optimization (SEO), some of which are debatable. SEO is not an exact science. The rules are becoming more sophisticated all the time. But reputable inbound links are a tried and true method for billing your website as trustworthy. Post links back to your own website when you get listed in lawyer directories. The more inbound links you have, the better, as long as they are from trustworthy sites.
By this logic, it’s tempting to post listings in as many lawyer directories as possible. There are hundreds online. Just keep in mind that not all of them get significant amounts of traffic. Search engines may also consider some less trustworthy than others. Entire businesses have arisen out of link-building. The terms of what constitute a reputable link can change. If you’re going to link from directories, pick the ones you know are legitimate.
Take cost into consideration as well. Some reputable directories come with a price tag. The costs of getting listed in several of them may not be worth the SEO boost.
Lawyer Directories Are Part of Your Marketing Mix
Lawyer directories still matter from a traditional marketing perspective. Although most consumers are likely to turn to a search engine when they need legal help, some do still refer to directories. They should still be a part of your marketing mix, even if they don’t take center stage.
Consider directories for their local search results. When someone searches online for a lawyer, they are more likely to type in a query like “personal injury lawyer near me” or “Massachusetts divorce lawyer” instead of the name of a law firm. These types of queries usually bring up search ads (something you should consider), but they also bring up law firm websites and local listings in lawyer directories. Most directories claim to rank for local search results. Research your best options.
Some Directories to Consider
Here are some of the most reputable and highly searched directories to consider:
Some of these directories are free but offer additional paid services. Some of them, like Lawyers.com, require payment.
Build Your Own Marketing Strategy
Don’t rely on listings exclusively to market your firm. Be wary of marketing services that want to host your website, your SEO, and your content on their own platform. When you work with these types of companies, you surrender ownership of your marketing assets. If you ever decide to go with a different service, you could lose all the work that was done.
Develop your own marketing strategy and put your own assets into place. Host your domain and your blog with a third party like GoDaddy so you can maintain control over it. If you need help with marketing, look for consultants who prove their efficacy with metrics and rely on you for project approvals. Building your own marketing apparatus and getting listed in directories creates more avenues for new clients to contact you.