By Dan Goldstein, President, Page 1 Solutions, LLC. This article is published in the Summer 2015 issue of The Trial Lawyer magazine.
I have been actively working on website marketing for personal injury lawyers for more than 15 years. During that time, I have consistently followed the premise that my client’s website is the foundation and you should get that right first before developing secondary sites or using directories to market your firm.
That still holds true today. But you can’t stop there.
In the last few years, I have witnessed the resurgence of online directories, both in terms of traffic generated to my clients’ websites and in their placement in the search engine results. Since Google’s Pigeon update in 2014, specialized directories, including legal directories, consistently rank high in the search results and bring even more traffic to law firm websites.
In addition, because of the importance of local search results (e.g., Google Maps listings) and online reviews, the implementation of an aggressive directory marketing plan should be part of your overall online marketing strategy.
In July 2014, Google announced an algorithm update intended to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results. (That algorithm change was dubbed the Pigeon Update.) Most of the changes in Pigeon were behind the scenes, but it did impact local search results. In some cases, the impact was quite substantial. According to SearchEngineLand.com, the Pigeon Update may have improved the rankings and visibility of online yellow pages and specialized directories such as FindLaw and Avvo.
Regardless of whether it was Pigeon or other factors in Google’s algorithm, in almost any search for a lawyer or law firm -- regardless of whether your search is open ended, geo-specific, case-specific, or both geo-and case-specific -- you will find online legal directories ranking high in the search results. And, if you search on Bing, you will often find Internet Yellow Page results interspersed with online directories and local attorney websites.
In addition to the high rankings of directories in the search results, there are several other good reasons to incorporate legal directories into your online marketing strategy:
Direct referrals from directories that generate leads and cases. If your directory profile page includes a mini-contact form and a phone number, you may generate direct leads and cases from the directory. If your profile has a link to your website, you may also generate leads and cases indirectly after the prospective client visits your website.
Local Search. One of the most important factors in Google’s Local Search (Maps) algorithm is a consistent Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) across the web. Online legal directories allow you to control how your address is formatted. Make sure you use identical spelling and/or abbreviations across all your directory listings.
Links to your website. Backlinks to your website can help your rankings in the organic search results. Some directories include links to your blog and social media pages, which can make your directory profile much more substantial. While some directories use “No Follow” links from attorney and profile pages, any link back to your website is good because it can generate traffic. And, many directories allow you to publish articles, blogs, checklists and guides with “Follow” links back to your website.
Reputation Management. More and more prospective clients are checking out your online reviews before calling your office. While reviews on your Google+ page and Yelp still are the most important, you can positively impact your reputation by asking clients to post reviews on your directory profiles -- at least on directories that make it easy for clients to post reviews. In addition, look for directories that encourage attorney endorsements from other attorneys. Avvo.com and PersonalInjury.com are two directories that offer both client reviews and attorney endorsements.
There are a number of good legal directories to incorporate into your online marketing strategy. The following list is a starting point:
FindLaw -- A major player for all types of lawyers and law firms. This directory allows for free listings, but charges a lot for paid placement. It generates a lot of traffic and comes up high in the search results.
Avvo -- A major player targeting all types of cases. Free listings are available as well as paid placement. Avvo ratings allow clients to compare lawyers with one another at a glance. Only lawyers can participate; not law firms.
Lawyers.com -- This directory is still important for all practice areas even though the sale to Nolo and conversion to a lead generation strategy may have a long-term negative impact. Free and paid listings are available.
Justia -- This directory targets all practice areas. Free listings are available. Excellent legal resource.
Nolo -- Excellent resource with information about all types of law. The Nolo directory is available to paid customers only. Pay per lead model uses a network of legal websites to generate leads. Leads are sent to up to four lawyers/firms in a market.
PersonalInjury.com -- This targeted directory is gaining market share and value. Unlike the directories listed above, this is exclusively for personal injury lawyers and law firms. Consumer friendly content updated daily. Profile links are “No Follow.” Links from articles and blogs are “Follow.” Free listings can be upgraded to enhanced attorney profiles for $50 per month.
AccidentAttorneys -- This directory is only for personal injury lawyers. It is more expensive because only one lawyer or law firm can participate in any market or city -- which means you get all leads from that area. All links are “Follow.”
Attorneys.us -- This directory is available to all attorneys regardless of practice area. $50 per year. All links are “Follow.”
GlobalLawFirms.org -- This is an integrated network of 100 legal directory websites that are either geographically targeted (e.g., DenverLawFirms.org, OrlandoLawFirms.org) and practice specific (e.g., PersonalInjuryLawFirms.org). Profile links are No Follow.” Links from articles are “Follow.” Under $200 per year for a profile.
thenationaltriallawyers.org -- This site is owned and managed by The National Trial Lawyers and is available by invitation only as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in your state.
Note that while this article focuses on legal directories, it is important to have a strong presence on some of the major business directories such as the BBB and Angie’s List as well as local directories. For local directories, the starting point should be Yext.com which allows you to post your listing across multiple local directories from a single interface.
Dan Goldstein is the President and owner of Page 1 Solutions a website marketing firm for attorneys, dentists and doctors.
Dan joined Network Affiliates as General Counsel in 1993 after working as an attorney in Denver and Washington, D.C. In 1994, Dan took over Network Affiliates’ Medical Advertising Division. He directed the Medical Advertising Division for approximately 10 years until late 2003. In the mid to late 90s, Dan helped a number of clients develop websites and became interested in website marketing and search engine positioning. Because website marketing began yielding exceptional results for clients, Dan created Page 1 as a joint venture with Network Affiliates. In 2003, he purchased the majority interest in Page 1 from Network Affiliates and turned his full attention to Page 1.
While at Page 1, Dan acquired MegaHunter, LLC as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Dan is also the managing partner of PersonalInjury.com, which promises to become the leading resource for consumers to find personal injury lawyers and information about personal injury law.
Dan has written numerous articles and given many presentations on Internet marketing at various conferences for attorneys, physicians and dentists. He remains actively involved in the business of Page 1, focusing on research, content development and search engine marketing.
Dan enjoys karate, traveling, hiking, camping and keeping up on current events.
Need to talk to Dan? Give him a call: 303-396-1204