When traditional offline directories like YP, WhitePages, and Dex started creating their directories online, it was only a matter of time before these directories started branching out for industry-specific purposes. Sure enough, prominent legal directories made their way online such as Avvo, FindLaw, Lawyers.com, Justia, Nolo, and many others.
Directories have been a love/hate relationship for lawyers for years and years now – while providing excellent immediate exposure for lawyers in many instances, the battle of saturation and ever-fluctuating costs offsets many of the benefits. We’re looking at how these directories have evolved aesthetically over time, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
Avvo is a prime-time contender in the world of legal directories. Many lawyers make sure they have an Avvo profile and a rating that they can showcase on their websites. By looking at these pictures from 2014-2018, you can see a common trend. The ‘Pro’ feature began to have more of an impact on Avvo’s search results. By 2017, lawyers with free consultations were put into the spotlight as well. The overall look and layout of the site changed within this period as well.
FindLaw is another heavy hitter in the field of legal marketing. From 2014-2018 not much has changed in the overall layout of the site. An interesting addition to the site is filters. Much like Avvo, an emphasis is placed on filtering search results by things such as free consultations and reviews. Although this feature wasn’t available until 2018, the importance of these factors can’t be ignored.
Specializing in legal information retrieval, Justia is a smorgasbord of legal information and law firms. Looking at the site from 2014-2018 shows an apparent shift towards premium lawyers. In 2014, premium lawyers were granted a gold star on their profiles which let browsers know that these lawyers in the spotlight. Non-premium lawyers were still seen on the same page. As time went on, premium lawyers began to take up more and more of the page until 2018, where you can’t even see non-featured lawyers on the first page without scrolling. Factors like free consultations are still favorable for lawyers, but it’s clear that premium members get first dibs.
Lawyers.com boasts the fact that you can find a lawyer for your issue wherever you’re located. Narrowing search results by practice area and location, the site lets you find information that you need quickly. In 2014, it was clear that lawyers with high ratings would be showcased first. There were no indications of a ‘premium’ status or filters like free consultations at first glance, and it remained that way until 2017 where the first few search results didn’t have many reviews but were still placed at the top. In 2018, sponsored lawyers and lawyers with free consultations were highlighted by the site mirroring other legal directories. Although Lawyers.com reached this point a little slower than other sites, it’s clear that there is a theme with these directories when it comes to who shows up higher in search results.
Yellowpages is a site that provides listings for local businesses. Like lawyers.com, it’s quick and easy to look for a lawyer in your area. The difference between Yellowpages and the other sites we’ve looked at so far is that even in 2014 an emphasis was put on sponsored lawyers. It’s subtle, but if you look a little closer, you’ll see the letters ‘Ad’ next to all of the top search results. Meaning that to be shown on the first page of Yellowpages’ searches, you have to be sponsored or a ‘premium’ lawyer. The site layout mostly stays the same and the number of reviews or free consultations seem to hold no value on Yellowpages. From 2014-2018, the search results are about the same.
Yelp handles everything from restaurant reviews to lawyer reviews. Yelp business pages have become the norm if you’re looking to reach a broader audience. While the structure of Yelp has remained mostly the same from 2014 till now, the way searches are carried out has changed. Filters like best matched, highest rated, most reviewed have been a mainstay since 2014, and 2018 brought specific factors like online booking, requesting a quote and when the law firm is open. Sponsored lawyers and other services may appear before things that you’re actively searching for due to the way Yelp handles its search results, but much like the other sites, sponsored comes first.
These legal directories certainly have evolved over the years. Some more than others, but evolved nonetheless. Let’s see where they’ll end up over the next five years.
While law directories have certainly changed the way we develop online content for lawyers, we’ve still managed to find success. If you are in need of a digital marketing agency that has experience producing high-quality results for law firms, talk to Market My Market today. We can help you with everything from web development to content creation. Contact us at (800) 954-9441 to learn more about our services and receive a free quote today.