Having a strong online presence will help you grow your law firm. Lawyer directories are largely undervalued and underutilized, but can provide you with a competitive edge at a low cost.
Let's discuss how they can bolster your law firm's marketing goals.
Legal firm directories are essentially repositories or databases containing attorneys and law firms, typically sorted by geographic location and practice area. Most law firms use them as a way of promoting their practice. Some directories are free, and others are available for a one-time or periodic fee.
The best law firm directories make it easier for potential clients to find your practice and also offer valuable marketing opportunities such as lead generation, search engine optimization (SEO), and social proof. Some legal directories even rank firms using criteria such as capability, experience, and expertise in their jurisdiction or practice area.
You can reap several benefits from listing your practice in the best legal directories:
You have a much better chance of getting a call about your services when your contact information is accurate and up-to-date on major legal directories. Online directories categorize businesses by industry and service, and your listing will show up for related searches. Because of their visibility, these listings often generate more leads than a company’s website.
Your prospects also like directories. People prefer having relevant information properly sorted in front of them rather than going through Google search results one by one. In other words, if they see your sponsored listing, click on it, and find what they are looking for, they are likely to visit your website and contact you.
Many law firms refrain from online legal directories as legal resources because they are concerned about negative reviews. However, doing this prevents them from receiving positive reviews, which is critical for online reputation management.
The benefit of positive reviews far outweighs one negative review. As long as you respond to negative reviews promptly, they won’t affect your ranking. It actually indicates to Google that you have a high level of customer engagement, which is desirable.
When a user performs a search in an online lawyer directory, it displays a list of relevant results, each with a brief snapshot, so they can decide which one to click on to learn more.
You will still be seen by users even if they don’t click on your listing. Each time someone encounters your brand, they become aware and familiar with it, which prepares them for future engagement.
Several directories sort business listings by location, making it easier for potential clients to find your firm. By finding directories and submitting your website to them, you will have an advantage over competitors.
The need for a law firm can be unpredictable for many customers. Having your contact information readily available online will help your business connect with clients faster.
The best legal directories exist to help people find the services they require. Because they are relevant and useful, search engines reward them. That means a link from one of these law firm directories will have the same SEO impact as a link from another high-quality website.
In search engine optimization, backlinks are links from other sites that point to a website. The more backlinks a website has, the higher it ranks in search engine results. As an added benefit, many legal directories include a brief description of your website that will enhance its visibility and attractiveness to potential customers.
Legal directories provide yet another route for clients to find your firm. Being included in the following ones makes your firm more respectable, and Google rewards law firms listed on the best lawyer directories with higher rankings.
The Google My Business Directory (GMB) is a global listing of businesses managed by Google. Lawyers can add their law firms to the directory for free, which then appears on Google Search and Google Maps searches.
It includes information such as the law firm’s name, address, phone number (NAP), business hours, etc. As Google is the top search engine online, listing your law firm with Google’s My Business is essential for SEO.
A comprehensive legal database, FindLaw provides law-related information for attorneys and consumers, including statutes, news, and blogs. As a part of Thomson Reuters, FindLaw includes a Lawyer Directory featuring attorneys nationwide across over 110 practice areas. It is also affiliated with Super Lawyers, LawInfo, and Abogado.
Avvo is an online legal directory for lawyers and the public. It contains client reviews, peer attorney recommendations, and disciplinary actions taken against attorneys. Avvo’s reach is wide, and it’s usually one of the first sites your clients or potential clients will see on search engine rankings.
Founded in 1991, Super Lawyers is a peer-reviewed rating service of exceptional lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained high levels of peer recognition and professional accomplishment. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. In addition to peer recognition, each candidate is also evaluated on 12 indicators of professional achievement.
The Martindale-Hubbell network has evolved from a simple list to a leading global network of more than one million lawyers with a portfolio of websites and tools. Law firms can use their online products and services to enhance their local SEO rankings and attract more prospects with pay-per-click advertising, social media, and optimization services.
Aside from being a lawyer directory and portal, Justia also offers website development services and attorney SEO services. Like most legal directories, it provides both free and premium listings. Justia uses bar association information to create profiles for all lawyers in the United States. Lawyers who pay a fee to claim their profile will also appear on the Legal Information Institute (LII) website.
This legal directory has a Moz domain authority of 69, and a Moz page authority of 37, both of which are some of the highest in the business. Lawyers.com only does paid listings and offers a dofollow link back to your website. It provides over 700,000 keyword rankings, making it a strong contender as one of the best law firm directories in general.
NOLO is one of the most popular and free legal directories for attorneys and law practices, with over 100,000 legal professionals listed on its site. Users can access attorney profiles, ratings, and reviews to discover an attorney or firm that fits their specific needs. NOLO also offers expert legal articles related to law topics which are helpful when searching for new legal information.
HG.org provides freely accessible information about the law, government, and related professions for the legal profession, businesses, and consumers. With more than 4 million edited pages, it is the largest non-subscription legal directory in the world. Its directory of law firms and networks covers 195 countries with 5,000 cities in 260 practice areas.
Mediate.com is ranked 8th overall among law firm directories and the only mediation directory in the top 100! It is the world’s leading mediation website and provider of online services for mediation professionals and programs.
In recent years, legal directories have become very specialized. For example, you can list your law firm in particularly competitive practice areas such as personal injury lawyer directories.
The Enjuris platform exists to assist people who are dealing with life-altering injuries and accidents. In its online personal injury lawyer directory, users can find profiles of personal injury attorneys by state. A fully customizable listing by Enjuris can maximize personal injury lawyers’ exposure. Their customers report a 200% increase in website traffic within 12 months.
Established in 2013, the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys is a professional organization that champions personal injury lawyers. With NAOPIA, attorneys have access to continued educational opportunities, and the public has access to the most accurate, current listings of top-ranked attorneys in their state, helping to ensure that all those seeking personal injury lawyers receive quality representation.
Based in Los Angeles, Personal Injury Warriors is one of the nation’s largest associations of personal injury advocates. They invite experts from legal and medical fields to discuss the latest ways the law affects personal injury claims and the medicinal developments that change potential court outcomes. Personal Injury Warriors vet attorneys before listing them in their directory.
The following are the best criminal defense directories to list your legal services if you are a criminal defense attorney:
NACDL members are all world-renowned criminal defense attorneys. To assist the public with finding representation, the NACDL offers the Find a Lawyer Directory. Users can search by name, city or state, and even distance. They can also filter their searches by area of practice.
America’s Top 100 criminal defense attorneys is a collection of the best defense attorneys in the country. This professional organization and online legal directory represent the best American trial lawyers specializing in criminal defense or civil plaintiff law. It also provides recognition to distinguished attorneys and offers essential legal news, information, and continuing education to trial lawyers across the country.
As a family lawyer, your inclusion in top family law directories enhances your credibility and law firm marketing strategy.
Individuals can use North American Family Law to identify leading practitioners in their regions. To simplify the referral process, only one attorney is listed per city, making it easy for users to select legal representation. Their research and selection process covers key locations across North America.
As well as marriage and the termination of legally recognized family relationships, the directory covers a wide range of legal issues, including divorce, child protective proceedings, juvenile law, and more.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) is an industry leader in continuing education, publications, networking, and training in Family Law. Fellows have access to a wide range of services, including virtual and in-person continuing education, seminars, networking opportunities, referral opportunities, and AAML’s family law journal and publications.
The National Academy of Family Law Attorneys recognizes the best family law attorneys in the country. Through a stringent selection process, the NAFLA awards the top family law attorneys in each state with their most prestigious “TOP 10” title. Few attorneys (less than 1%) make their list due to their exceptional level of knowledge, skill, experience, expertise, and success in family law.
Small law firms that service a specific geographical area will fare better investing in a Google My Business profile and more niche, local directories. Certainly, they should list themselves in larger directories; however, the more local ones will serve them better.
That’s because 80% of local searches convert. Law varies from state to state, so there’s little point in listing in massive directories only to be ranked at the bottom of the list. An optimized Google My Business profile, and investing in Local Service Ads are guaranteed to drive relevant leads to your law firm.
Online legal directories inform Google and other search engines that you exist. You can maximize their potential by following these steps:
Those directories that have the highest number of users specific to your industry are the best for your business.
Try ‘google-ing’ your business type+location (e.g., a personal injury lawyer in Leeds) and see which directories appear on the first 3 pages of Google results – those are the ones to focus on first.
It is also important to know your law firm’s online metrics to better understand the expected ROI on this marketing investment:
Make sure that your NAP (business name, address, phone number) is the same in all directories. For example, do not use “st.” if your address is “street.”
Using online directories allows you to add details such as business descriptions, your URL, your firm’s expertise, and images, for example. This also provides you with the opportunity to optimize your website for high-volume keywords. So, be sure to optimize your listing to the fullest extent possible!
Lastly, you must update your listing if your business number, website, or location changes. Top legal directories are dynamic websites where clients can learn more about your business. You don’t want someone to leave a negative review because your information is outdated.
Client reviews have the power to increase credibility, visibility, and sales for your company. It is important to have good reviews and ratings to prove to clients that your law firm provides excellent service and policies.
Customers tend to trust online reviews, as most of them will browse your reviews before deciding to call you. Although clients may leave reviews organically, it doesn’t hurt to develop a review strategy for showcasing social proof online.
This is why it’s so critical to provide clients with an easy and convenient way of leaving reviews. Don’t believe us? According to Thomas Reuters, Two-thirds of clients (over 50%) said they would be more likely to hire a lawyer with peer and client reviews.
Many law firms include too much distracting information in their directory listings. If potential clients want additional information, direct them to your law firm’s website!
A directory listing should convey two things: 1) why a visitor should choose you (what makes you unique, valuable, and different), and 2) why a visitor should visit your law firm’s website (refer to more information on your website).
An online directory listing is not intended to tell consumers everything about you, but rather to distinguish yourself as an experienced specialist from the general marketplace and encourage them to visit your law firm’s website.
The most important driver of local SEO remains your website, and the best directories are merely tools to enhance your SEO strategy and drive more traffic to your site.
Most directories allow you to provide a link with keywords describing your site. Getting links with targeted keywords/phrases will help you rank higher than your competitors.
Maintaining your SEO strategy is also always a good idea. The popularity of keywords fluctuates; therefore, you may need to make some tweaks to yours regularly.
Suppose you pay the best law firm directory $500 a month. If 1,000 people see your listing, you’ll have a 3% click-through rate—that’s 30 people who will click on your listing.
Let’s say out of those 30 people, 20% contact you, which equals six people. A 30% conversion rate gives you two additional clients per month, meaning you’ve paid $250 per converted client.
Now you should know how much each client is worth to you.
Let’s say you’re a personal injury lawyer. You make $3,000 — $5,000 on state cases and $15,000 to $75,000 on federal cases. You can average that number out for both types of clients, but either way, the numbers work out very well — you’ve paid $250 per client, and you’re earning thousands from each.
Keep in mind; you should give legal directories at least 6 months to a year to show results. Don’t rely on data from a single or two-month experiment. Budget a portion of your marketing budget for testing legal directory listings, and stick with the ones that perform best.
Be prepared to switch platforms if you notice a decrease in the quality or quantity of leads from a platform you previously used. Directories are in constant competition, and some simply grow more rapidly than others.
Finally, it is essential to remember that directories are useful for B2C attorneys, not so much for corporate lawyers.
According to Thomas Reuters US Consumer Legal Needs Survey, almost a third of respondents who needed legal services turned to law firm directories, and 24% began conducting online research for law firms within a day.
You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to jump-start your digital marketing or get listed on online legal directories. Comrade is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps law firms build their presence and get more leads. Our experts blend creativity & technology to help transform & grow your business. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Natalie:One of the subjects that we haven’t talked about just yet, we talked about SEL, we talked about PPC and digital marketing in general. Then you keep seeing those other websites and local directories pop up in search results whenever you’re searching for legal practice.
Natalie: Why don’t we talk today about the directories? Are they effective? There are paid, there are non-paid directories. How can legal firms use those directories and what results they can expect?
Sasha:Yes, cool question. There are a dozen or so of highly visible directories specifically for attorneys. The most visible one is probably Avvo, A-V-V-O. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, right? There are so many of them, a dozen or so.
Sasha:Yes, they are effective. If for nothing else, they’re effective because they have high visibility to Google. When you list your firm there, you create a highly credible link pointing back or your website.
Sasha: If you have watched other videos, we’ve been talking about this for a while; that you need to have highly credible links from highly credible websites going to your website which will uplift your website in Google’s eyes. It will give it more authority.
Sasha: If for nothing else, you’ve got to be listed in those directories. All of them, if I’m not mistaken, they allow you to list yourself there for free. I think none of them actually charge for basic listings.
Natalie: Basic listings and some listings you are not allowed to publish your website, so you would need to pay for that.
Sasha: Right, and that’s where it gets a little bit tricky. All of them make money by giving you premium listings. The premium listing uplifts you in the ranks above everyone else in your category.
Sasha: For example if you practice, I don’t know, criminal defense in the great state of Georgia, in Atlanta, and you want to be highly ranked on AVVO; you’re going to need to spend some money with AVVO so you’re listed above 347 other lawyers that practice criminal defense in the great state of Georgia, in the city of Atlanta.
Sasha: Is that effective? Heck yes, it’s effective, and here’s why. When people look for attorneys, when they need help, and I’m going to use criminal defense in this case because I started with it. When people look for attorneys, let’s say you go and use Google.
Sasha: You type in a criminal defense lawyer, or some people just say criminal lawyer, which that really doesn’t make sense to me. It makes it sound like I’m looking for a lawyer who’s a criminal. People do that, I’ve seen criminal defense attorneys call themselves criminal lawyers. It’s just really hilarious, but that’s not the point.
Sasha: When people search for a criminal defense attorney, what they will see is first they will see three ads in Google, and then they will see map listings, like three or four map listings, and then there will be organic links. Invariably, a third or more of those links are going to be not attorney websites, but directories that are listing those attorneys.
Sasha: If I am a consumer looking for a criminal defense attorney, and I’m looking using Google and I go to those organic listings because I decided not to pay attention to what’s in the ads, some people skim them over. I didn’t like what I saw in the map listings, I just go to organic listings because that’s how I prefer to search.
Sasha: The first listing might be Avvo or Yelp, sometimes Yelp takes the very top or any other directory. The first few positions could really be just directories. I as a consumer, I will go and I will click on it. I will say, “Oh, that’s useful because I see all these attorneys listed in one place instead of going one by one.”
Sasha: Avvo and others make it very simple to understand what it is that you do. If you have asked your clients, former clients, to leave your reviews, they will actually see how well you are liked or disliked by your clients. Then there’s going to be a link to your website, so they will actually end up going to your website.
Sasha: Yes, it can be incredible, incredibly effective except for people who are, for attorneys, they’re obviously people, but specifically for attorneys; it will not be very, very useful if you practice law in the practice area where consumers do not look for you directly on Google. Where consumers and those could be business consumers like if you’re a B2B attorney and most of your new business comes to you through networking and through referrals.
Sasha: In that case, consumers are not going to Google your type of attorney, they are going to Google you. Then you just need to validate whatever it is that they learned through that referral and then give them some additional information so that they can see you as a very credible, reputable attorney. That’s a whole different ballgame.
Sasha: Directories, very useful for B2C attorneys that do set up themselves with premium profiles. If you do not have a premium profile, unless you practice law in a very, very lightly populated area and there are very few competitors, chances are you’re not going to pop up at the top of the list. People who do spend a little bit of money on promoting themselves through those directories will pop up at the top of the list.
Sasha: Now, how do you choose between those dozen or so directories? You want to start with the biggest and the worst. The way that I would go about this is I would look at who gets the most traffic, who gets the most search volume in my specialty area, in my practice area.
Sasha: For example, if I am a criminal defense attorney, I would interview Avvo and others. I would say, “I’m in Atlanta. If I do have a premium listing, how many people should I expect to see my listing? How many of them can I expect to click on it?” From that, you can make an inference as far as, “Here’s how many phone calls I should get.”
Sasha: Here’s how you decide on that; for example, Avvo says that there are a thousand people that will come to this listing, not your listing but to this page with all the listings looking for criminal defense attorneys per month. Then you can ask them, “What’s the click-through ratio? How many of them are actually going to click on my listing if I’m position number one, two, three, or four?”
Sasha: I think they have four paid listings. They’re going to tell you if they divulge that information, which they should; they’re going to say, “Our click-through ratio is 3%”, as an example. Out of 1000 people, 30 people are actually going to click on your link and look at it and say, “Okay, interesting.”
Sasha: Then you should make an inference, and they will probably not tell you this information; you, or better yet, your marketing agency, should get this information. How many of those 30 people who will look at your listing will end up going to your website or calling you right there off that Avvo listing?
Sasha: Then you’ve got to know your numbers. How many calls or inquiries does it take for you to land a client? From that, you can build out a really nice clean funnel and say, “So many people are going to see it, so many people are going to see my ad or my listing, so many of them are actually going to pick up the phone and call, and so many of them are going to become my client.”
Sasha: You will know how much it will cost you to acquire one client. The way that you do it, let’s say you spend $1,000 with Avvo and you end up with two clients per month. Now you know it will cost you $500 per client to acquire them through Avvo. It’s as simple as that.
Sasha: Then you can decide whether that $500 per client is a reasonable enough cost. If you are a criminal defense attorney and you get some state cases, which bring in relatively a small revenue, let’s say $3,000 to $5,000. Then you get some federal cases that bring in between $15,000 and $1 million, whatever it is that you charge clients depending on the complexity of the case. Once in while you’ll get OJ Simpson, and then you’ll bring in a few million dollars.
Sasha: You just have to understand what that $500 in customer acquisition cost gets you in terms of revenue. Never think of abandoning the listing after one month if the numbers look bad. In marketing and in sales we always look at the quarterly performance and want to compare the monthly and quarterly performance month after month, quarter after quarter to really understand where the numbers are.
Sasha: What happens is that there are spikes and there are drops, you just need to average it out. There are different seasons and so many other factors that come into play that you do not get to worry your head with. You just need to worry your head with the numbers; what it costs me to acquire a client, and what do I get for that client acquisition cost?
Natalie: This and our experience, we also have listed our clients to multiple directories. We’re also able to track how many calls, how many forms, how many clicks they get to those listings and from the listing to the website.
Natalie: It turns out that you really don’t know which directory is going to work for which attorney in which geographic area. The best way to know how whether it’s going to work for you is to test. I would suggest allocating a specific budget, “Okay, we’re ready to invest.”
Natalie: Don’t be afraid to invest something like $500 a month for just one listing. I’m going to tell you, with one of our clients, paying $500 is bringing him 20 leads. These are leads, not clients.
Sasha: How many clients does that convert into?
Natalie: It’s around 10%.
Sasha: 2 clients or so?
Sasha: What does each client, what is it worth?
Natalie: Thousands of dollars.
Sasha: Thousands of dollars, okay.
Natalie: For $500, basically $250 per converted client. My point is, just test different directories. Don’t be afraid to spend $500 versus … I know another client of ours, I spoke with them recently. They keep spending $100 a month, for months if not years, without getting any results; “Because it’s not a big amount, we can keep doing this.”
Sasha: They will feel the pinch.
Natalie: Right. In the course of months or years, it’s thousands of dollars that you can invest in a directory that’s actually going to bring the results and big directory.
Sasha: That’s a really good point; don’t underspend. When you do and your competitors don’t underspend, guess where the business is going to go to? The ones that don’t underspend. Being too thrifty can actually hurt a lot.
Sasha: Another point, don’t rely on directories only. They will never bring you unless you’re okay with getting a couple of new clients a month and that’s it, you really need to do other things. Directories are just one of the sources.
Sasha: If you think about it, you need to get as much attention as needed to accomplish your financial goals. For that, you really need to have what we call omnipresence marketing. You need to be present everywhere where your prospective clients, people who want to give you their money, are looking.
Sasha: Directories is just one of the ways. It would be a terrible mistake not to be listed in directories period. Unless your caseload is full without getting much business from directories, unless that is the case, you really do want to have those premium listings in the directories. That’s how you will get more traction.
Natalie: Yes. In fact, one of our clients; he’s been advertising with Nolo, one of the directories, and he paid per lead. His feedback was that for the past month, if not years, he’s seen a decline in the quality of the leads that are coming in. He’s been relying on this directory for a while, now it’s time for him to search for a new source.
Sasha: It’s interesting if you think about a directory in the same business as any other website.
Sasha: They fight each other.
Natalie: As a legal firm.
Sasha: Nolo used to have a stronger presence, and now it’s on the decline I guess. Others might be beating them and taking over their position, so there’s more traffic going to others, and more conversions, more leads, and ultimately more cases from others. That’s a really good point.
Sasha: All right, that’s a wrap. Thanks for watching.
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