In the landscape of digital marketing, listings in lawyer directories are an effective way of getting their name out to clients. Seventy percent of clients find or research lawyers online before deciding who to hire. With statistics like these, most attorneys cannot afford to ignore either their websites or reputable lawyer directories.
Searching for an attorney using a lawyer directory allows potential clients to narrow their selections using factors like these:
- Practice area;
- Locality; and
- Client and peer ratings.
This flexibility provides true value to consumers, making the popularity of these directories understandable. But an attorney cannot spend a significant time and money researching which directories offer the most bang for the proverbial buck, and some directories that link to a law firm’s website can actually be harmful to its web presence. How can an attorney best balance these factors, focusing on directories that are popular while still being reliable?
Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand: Consider Lawyer Directories
Traditionally, clients found attorneys through word-of-mouth and print directories, such as Martindale-Hubbell or even the telephone book. With people turning increasingly to the Internet to research products and services, the landscape has drastically changed:
- Only 29% to35% of attorneys are found through referrals;
- A comparable percentage, 22% to38% are discovered online; and
- When consultation and research are added, the percentage of people using the Internet to learn about potential lawyers jumps to a 70% usage rate.
In other words, on average, an attorney can expect that about one-third of new clients will find him or her online. And even when potential clients learn about an attorney through other sources, a significant percentage will research attorneys online and visit their websites before making a hiring decision.
Attorneys should make the most of their online presence using many strategies, from optimizing their websites and claiming Google My Business listings to embracing lawyer directories.
Which Lawyer Directories Are the Most Popular?
One of the main considerations when evaluating attorney listings is popularity. After all, if no one is searching a directory, why bother investing time (and sometimes money) for a listing? Here are four of the top attorney directories as ranked by Alexa, an Amazon company:
However, popularity is only one thing to think about. Most listings of lawyers provide hyperlinks back to your website. And if the directory is “spammy” and provides what is known as a “follow” link, it can actually damage your website’s authority and ability to rank. For that reason, it’s also important to consider the reliability and safety of a lawyer directory before you opt in.
Not All Attorney Directories Are Reliable and Safe
The first and most important tip for using legal directories is to be selective. Some are regulated by state and local bar associations while others are not. Outside of official bar membership listings, tread carefully.
Also be aware that many lawyer directories use a multi-step claim process you must complete to acquire a profile. It is very easy to complete the original steps and then be unaware that you must officially claim the profile for it to appear in a directory search.
As an attorney, you already know that Martindale-Hubbell set the traditional gold standard of reliability, and this is also true online. Martindale.com, owned by Internet Brands, offers free basic listings and should be at the top of every attorney’s list.
Next, consider Avvo. Many attorneys shy away from Avvo as one of the newer kids on the block only to realize later that they have a listing already. For this reason alone, it’s critical that you claim your Avvo listing and provide input into your profile and score, which ranges on a scale of 1 to 10.
An attorney’s Avvo score is based in part on profile depth, so it’s worth taking the time to complete it even if you don’t want to use the website as a client-finding service. Peer endorsements, as well as Avvo-collected public information, round out the factors that go into your Avvo score. Although Avvo will not change your score, you can ask that the company hide the numerical value.
A third reliable directory for licensed attorneys is Justia.com. Justia listings are also distributed on Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII), and this can help to expand your online reach.
Lawyers.com, which is part of Martindale.com’s network, also provides a safe, reliable directory potential clients can use to find you online. This website boasts “exposure to 15 million consumers monthly.”
Still Unsure? Just Ask!
At TOPDOG, we’re licensed attorneys who specialize in helping lawyers and law firms get found online. We understand the pressures and constraints facing practicing attorneys and know how overwhelming digital marketing can be. That’s why we work with every client to build a custom plan for enhancing online visibility and execute it so our clients can get back to practicing law. Whether you have questions about lawyer directories or any other aspect of online legal marketing, contact us online or by calling: (844) HEY-TDOG (439-8364) or (480) 744-7331 today to get more information on how we can help improve your professional online presence.