There was a time when attorneys only needed a listing in the Yellowpages and maybe some billboards and the cases would come. Referrals by clients and reputation in their community were a large driving force as well. Times have most definitely changed and attorneys today have to stand out in a very crowded marketplace to get noticed. While word-of-mouth continues to be a highly effective way for lawyers to get new business, there is still a tremendous need to pull new clients in using other marketing strategies. The question lawyers repeatedly ask me is “what is the most effective way to bring in new clients while maintaining a budget that makes sense for my firm?”
When looking at a monthly marketing budget, it isn’t uncommon for a law firm to spend tens of thousands of dollars each month. Wordstream recently released a study revealing that the keywords “lawyer” and “attorney” are two of the most expensive keywords on AdWords and Bing. Searches like “personal injury lawyer'” and “criminal DUI attorney” exceed $100 per click!
It’s unrealistic to think more cost-effective solutions have not presented themselves for finding and securing clients.
Legal Directory Listings
Online directory listings for legal professionals are currently having a moment. Sites like Avvo, Justia, Lawyers of Distinction, and FindLaw are all a pipeline to connect attorneys with people looking for attorneys. Instead of blindly throwing darts into the abyss, directory sites like these are more specialized and have increasing numbers of organic traffic. In fact, Jurisdigital writes that the Avvo website has grown to over 1.3 million organic views per month!
Not all Directory Listings Have Value
Some sites are obviously better than others. The best use of time and financial resources is to make your listing on any specific directory site stand out to those searching. The biggest directory website listings bring the best value to those who create listings:
- Justia – Offers attorneys a free listing in their directory. Premium services, as well as targeted advertising strategies, are available at a number of different price points.
- Avvo – Much like Justia, Avvo offers a free profile and listing in their directory. Their premium services also cost more and additional advertising is available. Unlike some others, Avvo also offers attorneys web development that integrates with their platform.
- FindLaw– FindLaw attracts people to their site by offering many legal questions and answers. By educating as much as advertising, they bring significant traffic to their site. Admission to their directory of attorneys does cost, but fees depend largely upon many factors including firm size, state, practice area and more.
- Lawyers of Distinction– Marketed to attorneys as an admission to a list of “distinguished” lawyers in each state, Lawyers of Distinction allow attorneys to apply for admission to their list. If not added to the list, the application fee is refunded.
These directory sites consistently show up in Google and other search engine searches. So, if someone is searching for a personal injury attorney in your particular area, you have a greater likelihood of having your listing in one of these directories appear high in the search. Going with the sites listed above will save you considerable time and effort. Many directories will let you create a listing at no cost. Of course, there are options to pay for extras and improved placement in their directory.
The question is how much do you want to spend to look more professional and stand out from the rest of your competition? Don’t keep spending money without a strategy. Consulting someone on your team who understands legal internet marketing is a wise decision.
Pros and Cons of Legal Directory Listings
Each of the big directories listed above has its own pros and cons. You may decide to utilize some or all of them. FindLaw has an outstanding and long-standing reputation as a directory. Because of this their listings always rank very high in searches. There isn’t a whole lot of traffic driven to specific websites, but more clients calling based upon the number on the listing.
Compare this to the directory site Justia and you’ll find that Justia has more extras in their directory. You can add social media and blog feeds, videos, and much more information. This directory listing almost acts as a website in and of itself for your practice, which can mean far more phone calls and ultimately, leads. Justia isn’t the only slick directory site, though. Avvo is extremely popular and transparent. They will post your rating from the public and will not let you hide it. Much like a Yelp review, this can really help or hurt your firm’s reputation.
Lawyers of Distinction also works to put attorney’s information out to the public in a directory format. They put a different spin though by identifying all of the attorneys in their directory as a “lawyer of distinction.” This appeals to the ego more than anything else and while you may decide to make it part of your marketing strategy, you should research them to see if it’s the right fit for you and your practice.
Should You Use a Legal Directory?
While it sounds as if the answer to whether you should use a legal directory is a resounding “yes,” there are a few things you should be doing to make sure you have the best experience. Talk to your colleagues and determine what kind of experience they have had with directories. Also, remember to seek the advice of marketing experts who work independently from these specific directories.
No one will look out for your marketing budget like your own marketing experts. They know how to allocate your budget and what types of keywords should be used to get the most conversions. On the subject of keywords, you should definitely conduct your own research by searching keywords on major search engines to find out if any of these directory sites appear on the first page results.
Doing What’s Best for Your Law Firm
Once you have decided what the best strategy is for you and your practice, set up some systems to determine how well the strategy is working. If you are not getting new clients from these efforts you need to try something else or a different method of using the directories. Find out where new clients heard about you by asking “where did you hear about us?”
All of this effort and emphasis on marketing is part of what attorneys have to do to establish a strong practice in today’s modern world. While you didn’t train in law school on subjects like search engine optimization and organic website traffic, they are a necessary part of growing a practice. Getting the leading edge on that phone call is the hardest part of the battle. If your practice is solid and you are every bit as good as you think you are, this marketing strategy will boost the results you see from your other efforts, including word-of-mouth, to make your practice soar!
At Market My Market, we work almost exclusively with attorneys across a variety of practice areas nationwide. Find out how we can help you set up and manage valuable directory listings through a free consultation.