Category Archives: SEO

Should A Lawyer Have A Blog?

If you already own a website, why should a lawyer have a blog?

Nowadays, when people have a problem they immediately turn to Google and other search engines to find the answer. The way things work online, a few words or phrases are typed into the search bar and websites that best match it will show up.

For certain legal concerns, you may see searches like this:

  • Wife wants divorce
  • Can my brother sue me
  • What do I do if I get arrested?

In these situations, having a blog and writing about the legal perspective can bring more visitors to your website and potentially lead to new clients.

To achieve this, you will need to write articles with headlines like the following:

  • 7 Things You Must Do When Your Wife Wants A Divorce
  • What To Do When Your Brother (Or Family) Wants To Sue You
  • How Your Arrest Will Affect You And Your Family

Blogging is a powerful tool that takes time, commitment and a little online knowledge to make it work. Here’s a few things lawyers starting a blog should know.

Guidelines For A Lawyer’s Blog

You may not be a web designer, but there are a few things you should know if you intend to provide your thoughts, ideas, and professional advice online. A website is just like your office space: the way it is organized, the overall aesthetic, and the level of professionalism all play a part in whether people will stick around or click away.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when it comes to lawyer’s having an online blog:

  1. Create a responsive website. Many people are navigating the online world from a smart device. This means that your lawyer website has to be 100% responsive and mobile friendly. When it comes to the design elements on the page, keep it simple and keep it clean. And, don’t over complicate the language. People from all kinds of backgrounds will be reaching out to your online. Using simple, everyday language will be the best way to connect with potential clients.
  2. Have a clear way to contact you. There is a purpose to providing a website and this is amplified by adding a blog. Whenever you have visitors coming to your site, your contact information should be clear and distinct. Visitors should be able to send an email with ease or touch your number causing it to instantly dial. Reducing the level of frustrations on your website and in your blog will make the experience that much better in the palm of their hand.
  3. Educate your prospective clients. The main purpose of blogging is to exemplify your professional and answer any questions they may have. The information you provide is often the best place to begin a relationship with you. They can get to know who you are, what you offer, and how you think. Your blog is the place to build trust so that the consultation can happen without any doubts and uncertainties.
  4. Answer questions and solve problems. You might think that there is already a lot of information on the web and as a lawyer, it may be a waste of time to be blogging about it. Your competitors may be hundreds of articles ahead of you and you keep wondering why they continue to get more and more clients. Start blogging. This is an investment in your services and the easiest way to get started is by answering the most common questions your previous clients have asked you before. When people are coming to you online, they are hoping you have the answers to your problems, which the only way you can prove to them that you have it is by writing a blog.
  5. Add special offers. As a lawyer with a blog, this is a great opportunity to attract new clients. One of the best way to do this can be done by offering a free initial consultation. Inside your blog as well as on the side, you can create banners and advertisements that tell your visitors they can sign up for a risk-free, no obligation and no money consultation. Or, perhaps you are doing something special and offer flexible phone consultations.

 SEO Benefits Of Blogging

There’s a few things behind the scenes that lawyers should know about blogging. If you’re unfamiliar with how websites work and how Google shows your website to people searching you could be wasting your time blogging online.

Here’s a little summary of lawyer SEO and how a lawyer that blogs can benefit from it.

  1. More authority. There are elements of your website that determine your overall “web authority.” This is known as Domain Authority (DA) and is ranked on a 100-point-scale. Websites that provide more content will have a higher DA which boosts their rankings in the search engines.
  2. More web pages. Whenever you publish a new blog post, you are expanding the depth and details of your website. Each page URL gets indexed by Google and other search engines which increases your likelihood of being found and is supported by all other benefits found in this list.
  3. More Links. Links are an important variable that determines how well you are ranked. When you link out from your site to another authority site, Google recognizes this. However, when you link to other pages on your own website, this too is counted toward your overall ranking. Blogging gives you the chance to greatly enhance the quality of your site and give it that added boost.
  4. More trust. Many people are seeking solutions to their problems online. If you can position yourself in a way that provides online advice and trusted information, this too helps your ranking. Google tends to favor sites that give visitors trusted information that people actually need. Having a blog will provide that added trust that other websites lack.
  5. More traffic. Publishing regularly will allow you to generate significantly more traffic to your website, and ultimately, to your legal services. Google will often refer people using its search engine to sites that are active and consistently providing relevant and trusting content.
  6. More long tail keywords. Keyword stuffing (i.e. using a common keyword or phrase over and over again in an article) can lead to Google penalties. When you are blogging with quality, original content, you will end up with much more “long tail keywords” in on your website. Over time, this will increase your chances that you will be able to answer specific problems that prospective clients are seeking for online.
  7. More user experience. Google wants people to have the best user experience. To ensure this, Google expects websites to provide visitors with real answers and solutions to their problems. This will be measured by the amount of time people are spending on your website. If many people are leaving, you site is likely not the solution. However, that’s where blogging can help.
  8. More SEO. Blogging is content marketing. And, when you are blogging you are directing your content to a specific, target audience. In doing this, you are already creating the right SEO conditions to succeed online and the more you publish the more you can expect will return.

The Value Of Blogging As A Lawyer

Aside from the technical benefits your website receives with having a blog, there is considerable value when a lawyer blogs.

Take these into consideration:

  1. Save time and improves services. Imagine dealing with a client who didn’t do a background check and they continue to ask basic questions before even getting to a consultation. Having content in your blog is a quick and simple resource to redirect inquiries to the answers they are looking for. After they get the information they need, the next steps can be made with less hassle.
  2. You get noticed more. You already learned a little about the influence that Google has, however, if the information your provide is truly valuable, it’s going to be shared. When a lawyer has a blog and they can connect with the needs of people experiencing legal conflict, it’s quite common that they will share this advice with their friends and family.  Blogging allows you to share your experience and expertise as well as provide trust and support for those in a legal crisis.
  3. Perfect for advertising and announcements. Another great advantage for a lawyer to have a blog is that you can showcase your past successes. Perhaps your firm was featured in the news for a big case, or you were appointed an award in your community. Posting an update about this and sharing this online gives your website that dynamic edge and professional appeal.

There are all kinds of reasons for a lawyer to have a blog. However, as a final note, the most important reason for any lawyer to start blogging, whether you are a fresh our of law school, an experienced attorney, or a retired judge, is that you can continually develop and hone the legal skills as a lawyer.

Should Lawyers Buy .law Domains?

If you are considering a website or a blog to showcase your legal services and expertise, there are many different Top Level Domains (TLD) to choose from:

  • .com
  • .gov
  • .org
  • .law

This article will examine whether lawyers should buy .law domain and briefly review a few methods to succeed online.

What are Top Level Domains (TLD)?

Without going too in depth about the concept of domain names, here’s a simplified version of what domain names are.

Domain names are the important piece of information that provides a readable internet address of your website. The ending of the domain name is what is known as a Top Level Domain with the most common being .com, .org, and .net.

Overall, there are more than 1000 TLDs available.

Is There Any Significance In Having A .law Domain Name?

Having a TLD can be useful in marketing, search engines, and website optimization. When you consider the most common TLDs like .com, .edu, and .gov, these are recognizable, popular, and rank well courtesy of their authority.

They is some speculation that having these TLDs do not provide measurable proof that you will get ranked higher (such as with .edu and .gov domains).

Also, according to Matt Cutts, new TLDs, like .law, might not receive a boost in the search rankings. Your .law domain will not be treated much differently than other domain names already available.

“Sorry, but that’s just not true, and as an engineer in the search quality team at Google, I feel the need to debunk this misconception. Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long-term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”

While Google may not rank a .law domain higher, from a personal point of view, there is significant value to be considered.

What Are The Benefits Of A .law Domain Name?

From a branding point of view, having a .law domain allows you to position yourself as a professional and a figure of authority.

Anyone who registers a new .law domain, must provide a phone number from the licensing of your agency or firm.

Having to go through this additional step during the registration process creates a trust factor for those searching for you.

Buying a .law domain name will provide an additional layer of credibility courtesy of the verification process required.

This is a summary of some the benefits you’ll receive when you buy a .law domain:

  • Brandable & Authority. Using this TLD allows you to create a strong and memorable brand. A .law domain can be descriptive and capture the core of your practice. When deciding on your domain name, consider using your own name, area of practice, or your target market.
    • Examples:law, NewYorkCity.law, StultzandBrinks.law, jones.law
  • Verified & Trusted. When you register your .law domain, you become verified and trusted by those seeking your services online. Only qualified lawyers can apply for this domain. Once approved, you will have a branded and trustworthy domain surrounding your legal profession.
  • Competitive & Professional. Your new .law domain will stand out amongst others. The .law is exclusive to lawyers and provides a distinct and official finish to your online presence.

If You Already Have Another Domain Name, Should You Transfer To A .law Domain?

As mentioned before, there may not be any considerable boost to your rankings in the search engines. If you already using a domain and it is working well, you may not want to transfer your website to the .law domain.

Consider .law as an investment in your practice but only if you don’t have a domain name already. When you transfer a website over to a new domain, you may lose traffic and potential clients.

Getting a new .law domain is an ideal choice for those starting a new website.

Aside From A .law Domain, How Can Lawyers Succeed Online?

A domain name is only one of many factors to consider when putting your law practice online.

One of the most critical areas of getting noticed and finding new clients comes from the content you provide.

Here’s a few things you may want to keep in mind:

  • Offer meaningful, relevant and original content. Most search engines approve of original content. However, they should be written in a way that’s natural and connects with your target audience.
  • Create backlinks on authority sites. When you have published quality content, try to get your site linked with .edu or .gov sites as these have authority. Read law firm SEO Tips hereNote: Never buy backlinks — you could be penalized.

As an authority on the web and a professional of law, you have a responsibility to provide quality content that is relevant and informative to your visitors.

This update from John Mueller on Google’s Webmaster Central makes it clear that content is crucial and the domain name is not given “artificial advantage in search.”

So, Should Lawyers Buy A .law Domain?

Getting a .law domain could be the strategic edge you need to have a competitive advantage online.

However, while a TLD like .law adds a professional touch your online service, providing good content that follows Google’s recommended practices will be much more powerful.

If you are preparing to settle on a .law domain name, remember to incorporate this into your website development:

  1. Publish high quality, original content on your site
  2. Provide relevant content to your potential clients and targeted audience
  3. Avoid SEO practices that could penalize your website (i.e. keyword stuffing, purchasing links, or other Google violations)

Achieving this will lead you to an authority site on the internet especially if you’re considering starting a blog.

SEO For Attorneys

Attorney Search Engine Optimization (SEO) requires strategic planning, careful techniques and smart tactics to attract more prospective clients to your law firm.

If you’re unfamiliar if SEO, this is the standard practice of configuring both on-site and off-site elements of your website. The purpose of SEO for lawyers is to push their website to the first page of search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.). This is important.

In this article, you will get some insights on SEO for attorneys while learning a few skills to improve your website and increasing the likelihood of finding more customers online.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ATTORNEY SEO

Before revealing some methods you can use to improve your website’s SEO, you should know a few things about the nature of search engines.

First, Google dominates the search engine industry. There are somewhere between 60 to 80% of searchers using their service. However, when it comes to SEO for lawyers, other search engines like Yahoo and Bing should be considered as prospective clients can be found there too.

Next, getting your law firm’s website ranked is both vital and challenging. Research on Google’s search results has discovered that about 91.5% of searchers make their choices based on what they find on the first page. Take a look at the remainder of the pages:

  • Page 2: 8%
  • Page 3: 1%
  • Page 4: 4%

There are paid methods of getting your website to the front page, (i.e. PPC lawyer campaigns), however to save on spending SEO allows you to drive more organic visitors to your website.

Did you know? Depending on your niche, industry and the keywords your web pages rank for, organic listings can receive up to 90% of clicks.

SEO FOR ATTORNEY: WHAT TO DO

 There is a critical thing to know about SEO for attorneys. Marketing online for lawyers and law firms must abide by the rules and regulations detailed by the state bar associations.

Careful considerations must be made when representing your law firm online. Performing ethical SEO will allow you to rank on the first page of search engines without any penalties. Here’s a few things you can do.

Lawyer SEO Keyword Research

Keyword research is always the foundation for any SEO strategy. You can optimize your website by focusing on keywords that have purchasing intentions. This means that you should use specific words people are searching for which will lead to them sign up for your services.

You will find that these search terms and phrases will have a high volume compared to others.

Also, slight variations in phrases can lead to a significant difference in the volume of traffic and click you receive. For example, if someone was searching for “NYC divorce attorney” they are likely to receive more searches than for “NYC divorce attorney.” The term “lawyer” tends to be used more frequently than “attorney.”

You can use Google’s keyword planner to get a basic understanding of which keywords are being used and which ones you should add to your website.

Here are some tips to guide your keyword research for effective attorney SEO:

  1. Make a list of terms related to your practice area (i.e. divorce lawyer, Family divorce lawyers, etc.)
  2. Compare multiple variations of your keyword phrases to find what people are actually searching for.
  3. Focus on high search volume keywords with moderate competition.
  4. Also, consider low competition keywords that can be easily targeted.
  5. Dedicate pages using phrases and terms that are related to your main keyword phrase (i.e. divorce lawyers in NYC, NYC divorce lawyers, etc.)
  6. Research the keywords your competitors are using and ranking for, then make better content that ranks higher.

Local SEO for Attorneys

Most law firms are operating from a single community which makes targeting prospective clients very competitive. In order to get your website noticed, local lawyer SEO allows you to target your website toward particular demographics in your area.

Here’s a few ways to improve your local attorney SEO:

  1. Sign up for Google My Business profile.
  2. Sign up for Bing Business Listings.
  3. Sign up for Yext and get your website listed on hundreds of local websites.
  4. Sign up for AVVO.
  5. Create a location specific page (i.e. Divorce Lawyer in NYC) using specific terms that get your page ranked.

Attorney SEO: Schema Markup

Schema markup is HTML code which makes the content on your website easily understood by machines. Schema’s are important as they allow search engines to figure out the real meaning behind the content being displayed on your website.

There is a dedicated set of schema you can apply to your website that lets search engines understand that your website is related to a law firm of legal profession.

You can apply this schema markup to content like:

  • Addresses
  • Attorney Biographies
  • Attorney Names
  • Client Reviews
  • Emails
  • Phone Numbers

Using schema is a great way to get your site to stand out in the search engines. When you use schema markup, your website will have additional visible features such as star ratings, business logo, and contact info.

SEO Attorney Strategy: Link Building

In 2016, Google announced that links were one of the major factors that influence how a page is ranked in the searches. To get your push your rankings toward the first page, you will have to dedicate a significant amount of time building links from other websites. However, not all links are the same.

You need to get your lawyer website on high ranking websites. For lawyers, these are websites like AVVO, Lawyers.com, Justia, Super Lawyers. Getting your website linked on these sites will add authority and can likely boost your rankings in the search engines.

Keep in mind, it takes more than one or two links to start seeing some changes. Getting quality backlinks is a tiresome and exhaustive effort. When building backlinks to your law firm, be sure not to put your links on too many bad sites. You don’t want your site to be penalize for unethical backlink marketing.

Summary of SEO For Attorneys

SEO for attorneys is a necessity in order to get your law firm or legal service to stand out in the search engines.

Start with researching the right keywords for your website. Once you have those, build pages and posts around those keywords. On a deeper level, add schema markup to help search engines understand what your website is all about. And finally, make as many high quality backlinks as possible.

Content Marketing vs. Link Building: Which Should SEOs Focus On?

Whether you run your own blog, eCommerce platform or business website, brand advertisement is a constantly looming question worth thinking about. According to 99 Firms, 44% of website referral traffic goes through Google as it is the biggest global search engine out there, with 72% of marketers stating that content relevancy is the biggest challenge when it comes to SEO positioning.

Content marketing and link building both add to the overall SEO ranking and general positioning of your brand in their own respect, to varying degrees. Given that the nature of this question is complex, we will go through several points in regards to both content marketing and link building to unearth which approach to SEO would suit your needs the most. Let’s start off with the basics and go through the most poignant questions on the matter.

Basics of SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often considered the de facto deciding factor in a brand’s search engine relevancy. SEO trends are constantly shifting in favor of fresh topics, original keywords, and content relevant to individual search queries.

Technical optimization elements such as keyword density, content formatting, multimedia optimization, and link building are considered baseline requirements for brands that aim to reach the first page of Search Engine Result Page (SERP). However, balancing how much content you produce against how much attention you pay to link building (promoting your hyperlinks on other websites) is a matter of perspective.

Some businesses aim for split attention between the two while others (such as in the case of eCommerce sites) go for a totalitarian approach and place all of their resources into either one or the other. Both approaches are viable and neither is the wrong choice when it comes to search ranking optimization. With that said, optimal SEO will bring your brand certain perks that would otherwise not be available to you.

Advantages of SEO

When it comes to direct advantages related to SEO of your content and website as a whole, there are quite a few items to consider. According to Tech Jury, 93% of online experiences begin with search engine queries, while only 7% of users will go as far as the third page of SERP in order to find relevant content for their engagement.

This effectively means that businesses that don’t regard SEO as an important element of their online brand awareness strategy will effectively lose a tremendous amount of traffic to other brands. Applying the right combination of link building and content marketing to your website however can bring several advantageous points to your brand, including but not limited to:

  • Streamlined and accessible website User Experience (UX)
  • Higher engagement and conversion rates
  • Better brand positioning and industry authority
  • Better networking and affiliate marketing opportunities
  • High return on investment (ROI) in terms of incoming traffic and revenue

Without Content, There is No Link Building

An important point of discussion can be made in regards to choosing either content marketing or link building while completely disregarding the other side of the SEO equation. While possible, this type of approach to brand-building is ill-advised for several reasons.

For one, in order to practice efficient link building, you should have quality content available on your website, whether its blog posts, product pages or other forms of media. No platform, blog or business will promote your links or embed them in their content if there is no tangible value on the other side of the hyperlink. On the other hand, content marketing by itself might yield you positive SEO and traffic over time. However, without link building, your site will come off as very competitive and unfriendly when it comes to networking or cooperation with other businesses.

Without content, there is no link building to speak off in terms of organic SEO and traffic generation. Without link building, there is no high traffic or content engagement, leaving your site barren of leads or word of mouth. As we’ve mentioned previously, both of these SEO approaches offer valuable advantages – let’s dive deeper into each one to discover the minute details which will help you decide on the best combination of the two for your specific business and industry.

Content Marketing Gives your Site a Voice

In the proverbial sea of websites, having a distinct voice is one of the most essential aspects of brand positioning. Content marketing can give your website a voice in regards to how the audience perceives your products and services and differentiates it from others in your industry. Your business culture, long-term goals, company vision, and mission statement will all add to the effect of brand marketing for whoever decides to visit your website.

No amount of link building will ever manage to help your website “speak” to the audience through blog posts or creative product descriptions as content marketing is able to. Backing that content up with well-positioned links on competitive industry websites and aggregates will ensure that your site is reputable and professional in the eyes of stakeholders.

Link Building Promotes your Brand

Speaking of brand positioning, every industry is a competitive battlefield when it comes to vying for the customers’ attention. For better or worse, your website is one of many in a specific industry, with clearly positioned leaders, followers, and newly-launched businesses. Link building can ensure that your website is visible to potential customers, curious B2B clients, and individuals who might be interested in networking and collaboration.

You can spread your link building efforts to other, related industries and thus offer unique services to that website’s audience. For example, if you run a graphic design agency, positioning your links in the arts or photography blogging niches can do wonders for your lead generation. Find interesting niches to position your brand in and use existing content marketing materials as a precedent for those businesses to consider embedding your links into their pages for mutual benefit.

Content Marketing Boosts your UX

Once you attract an audience through your link building, it’s important to create some form of value for their time and (in case of products and services) money. Content marketing in the form of blog posts, detailed product portfolio descriptions and multimedia should be created to further cement your link building efforts. This will create an efficient loop for your SEO efforts and ensure that your visitors enjoy a well-thought-out UX as a result.

Link building without any relevant content or value to back the effort up will quickly deteriorate into your brand’s reputation as a spam website. Most importantly, your SEO ranking will drop as a result of link building which isn’t backed up by quality content in the placed hyperlinks. Strive for engaging UX on your website and work on your portfolio’s sales pitches, calls to action and other engagement opportunities before devoting your attention to outreach and link building.

Link Building is a Long-Term Gain

One notable factor to consider when it comes to link building is that it can provide your website, SEO and brand as a whole with long-term gain. Once your links are positioned on competitive websites and prolific industry portals, they will most likely stay there for the foreseeable future. Whether today, tomorrow or in two years, anyone who visits those particular pages will encounter your links and be tempted to follow up on them to see what value they hold for their interests.

Content marketing, on the other hand, leans more on current trends and what is considered a hot topic now as opposed to two years ago. If you write blog posts about topics which are stale and old news in everyone’s eyes, they won’t drive new traffic to your website and most certainly affect your SEO in a less than stellar way. In this aspect, link building holds a clear advantage but it should be noted that the content your links are embedded in will grow older over time, prompting you to seek new link building opportunities constantly.

SEO Mistakes to Avoid

To cap things off, it’s worth noting that not every SEO activity will hold net benefits for your website or ranking. Even too much of a good thing can become bad as a result of spam or overreliance on singular optimization activity. In that regard, let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent SEO pitfalls you should keep in mind in your content marketing and link building efforts going forward:

Poor Internal Sitemap

Your website’s internal structure will play a major role in the SEO ranking and visitor engagement efforts. In this aspect, you should categorize your links according to their content and role in your business. Gather all of your links into a sitemap and make the map accessible through your landing page for both your visitors’ and search engine algorithm’s benefit.

Content for Content’s Sake

There will always come a time of the year when content ideas simply run dry. When that happens, you shouldn’t start creating content for the sake of publishing “new” posts or pages on your website. Look for new trends to discuss, opinion piece topics to tackle and other forms of creative content marketing instead. Patience is a virtue in this regard; it will showcase that your brand is about quality more than it is about the sheer quantity of pages.

Content quality is another important thing search engine look at. It is always a good idea to work with a variety of usual tools, writing and translation services as well, such as TheWordPoint, Grammarly, Readability Score or Hemingway Editor, to ensure the relevance, high-quality and readability of their posts.

Lack of Website Auditing

Website audit is what is commonly referred to as “SEO spring cleaning”. Even though you should actively look for new opportunities for content marketing and link building, you should also tidy up your website on a semi-regular interval. Check your pages in regards to keywords, active links, ads and other content which will affect not only your SEO but the overall UX of your website. Don’t get caught with dead links, broken media or wrong keywords in your content by running an audit on your site every once in a while.

Best of Both Worlds (Conclusion)

When all is said and done, choosing between content marketing and link building shouldn’t be a mutually-exclusive choice. Find a healthy balance of both in regards to your brand’s marketing strategy, resources, networking and most importantly – product and service portfolio available for lead conversion.

Start with relevant content and look for link building opportunities that will be happy to work with you in terms of brand positioning going forward. Before you know it, you will settle into a routine of content marketing followed by link building in a production cycle which suits your staff and resources regardless of what popular trends or industry leaders might say on the highly subjective matter of either-or.

 

Author:
Erica Sunarjo is a communications professional with more than five years of experience. Erica runs her own blog BestWritersOnline and is proud of her an uncanny ability to explain the most complex subject in simple terms.

.attorney vs .lawyer vs .com domains. What Should Small Law Firms Do?

There are a couple of new top level domains that are opening up for registration in the next few weeks, and the announcement has attorneys wondering what, if anything, should they do?

What’s the deal?

Well first, let’s talk about what the change is.  Around 2006, ICANN, the governing body for domain names on the internet started taking bids for new generic top level domains (gTLDs).  Since most lucrative and/or useful domains have been taken up by domain squatters and the occasional legit business, folks welcomed the opportunity to get a branded domain name that was relevant to their business.

So, they offered companies and investors the chance to own and manage new top level domains.  Some of them are innocuous (.ceo, .bike, .directory, .beer), some are scandalous (.sexy, .xxx), and some are just industry specific (.plumbing, .attorney, .lawyer).

What makes the .attorney and .lawyer gTLDs interesting, is that they are intended to act like the .gov, .edu, and .mil “sponsored” top level domains.  Sponsored TLDs act as a signal of trust since not just anyone can get one of those domains.  You need to meet a managing body’s criteria. In the former, you need to prove you’re an attorney (or attending an accredited law school), and in the latter, you need to be a government, educational institution or branch of military service.

That’s the theory anyways.

Without going into the threat this imposes on existing ethics regulators (a threat that Carolyn Elefant covers in depth in her post “Should Lawyers Mark A Spot With With a Domain Dot – And Will Ethics Regulators Say Yay or Not?“) it’s important to note that even if regulators embrace the new gTLDs, the real question is whether potential clients will.

I’ve always considered sites with the newer TLDs as somewhat suspect.  It’s not a perfect system, but the fact that you need to pay a decent amount of money for a great .com domain is such a good filter that it tends to cloud my judgement when it comes to trusting other domains.

At least, that’s my bias.  But I’m not one to assume that everyone is like me.  I’m a computer nerd by trade, and as such have a fairly biased opinion when it comes to technology in general.

Enter real data…

Instead, I ran an experiment to find out for real, whether the regulated TLDs accomplish the task of inspiring trust in normal, everyday folk.

Here’s how it worked.  Using Google’s awesome Consumer Surveys tool, I asked a simple question of 100 people.  If you were looking to hire an attorney, based only on the domain name, who would you choose?

  • www.john-smith-law.com
  • www.johnsmith.lawyer
  • www.johnsmith.attorney

The idea for those three is based on the following scenario.  Let’s assume you’re trying to find a domain for your solo firm.  And let’s say you have a fairly common name where you can’t get the exact johnsmith.com or johnsmithlaw.com (because if you can, you should do that right now and stop reading.)

You might then consider, do I get my exact match domain with .attorney or .lawyer instead?  Will that get more clients to trust me?

Well, survey says…

Overall, I was surprised by the results. I thought the .com would absolutely trounce the gTLDs and that appears to be absolutely wrong.

.attorney and .com lead the way.
Turns out, while almost noone prefered the .lawyer domain, .attorney actually appears to hold roughly equal to slightly more trust than .com when you take into account the error margins in the survey.

Here’s the preliminary result:

.lawyer vs .attorney vs. .com trust

Younger folks prefer .com, older folks, .attorney
While that’s the general population, it’s interesting that there are fairly heavy splits when it comes to the age of the recipient. Something that might be useful to know for all your elder law folks out there.

age_split

Upper income clients still prefer .com
If your clients tend to be wealthier, or you hope to get more wealthier clients, it’s interesting to note that upper income individuals still prefer the .com.

Upper income folks seem to prefer .com dmoains ober .attorney and .lawyer

Upper income folks seem to prefer .com dmoains ober .attorney and .lawyer

Want to analyze the data for your target clients?
If you want to comb through the data to see what your target clients might prefer, head on over to the Google survey results page and tinker to your heart’s content.

And if you think this data is bunk, or if you want more info for your own purposes, this survey is set for 100 responses and only cost $10. You can set one up yourself and target the results by geographic region and income, and you’ll have the results in a few days.

I see the data, so what should I do?

Well first, don’t panic. It might seem like there’s a great gold rush out there for these domain names, but the population that uses them is tiny (relative to other TLDs) and an even smaller fraction will actually purchase the domains. And since switching and/or deciding on a domain is a BIG deal, don’t make the decision rashly.

Should I switch to a .attorney domain?
Probably not, definitely not right away, and MOST DEFINITELY, not without some professional help.

There are a number of things to consider when considering a domain switch. You’ll need to consider the cost of replacing any marketing collateral you own like business cards, pamphlets etc.

You’ll need to perform an audit of your existing site to make sure any and all pages on your site are redirected to the new domain properly (for any site with more than 5 pages, seek professional help with this).

You’ll need to update all of your DNS records to match the old domain so things like email will still work… in other words, it’s not as simple as just changing your domain.

Should I register my existing domain with the .attorney and .lawyer TLDs?
If you have $35-$100 burning a hole in your pocket and it would make you feel better to have them just in case, go ahead and buy them. But remember, if you buy both at $35, that’s $70 every single year you own them.

But what if I want to prevent someone else from registering them?
Unless you’re a giant brand with money to spare, this is generally a false worry. First of all, as a small law firm, you’re not big enough for most squatters to care about.

Second, unless the squatter commits to building content in your niche, search engines will never find the squatter’s site anyways.

And thirdly, if you’re concerned about someone coming along and registering a domain just to bad mouth you or your firm, well, the only way to prevent that is to buy up every gTLD out there, and that’s going to cost you a whole lot of money just to prevent a hypothetical.

However… one case where I’d consider squatting is if your firm is hyper personalized and your name is reasonably common. For example, if you own “marystevens.com” or “marystevenslaw.com”, consider picking up “marystevens.attorney” and “marystevens.lawyer” as building a little moat around your personal brand is important when you have a common name.

I am just starting out, should I go .com or .attorney?
Based on the data, it looks like we can rule out .lawyer. And if you can get a decent .com with no dashes, go that route for sure.

But, if you found a really nice .attorney domain in a competitive niche, like say “nydefense.attorney” or “thepersonalinjury.attorney” go for it! Given that it appears that the trust is there, it can’t hurt.

But, one thing to consider is whether having the singular “attorney” or “lawyer” as a domain name will be limiting if you want to grow your firm. The domain seems to imply a single individual, and that might become an issue down the road if you suddenly have a couple of associates or additional partners.

I already registered the domains, if I don’t switch, what should I use them for?
First, redirect them to your existing site by using a CNAME or URL record with your DNS provider. I know that’s really techy, so if you need help, just email me.

Second, if you’re not changing your primary domain, do not use your new domains for things like email or other branding materials. Besides confusing your clients, it also confuses google into thinking there really are two sites and that hurts your SEO.

Should I buy up domains for multiple practice areas?
Not unless you’re creating separate sites for each and have the time to maintain them.

Just owning the domains and pointing them all at your existing site won’t really make a difference for your site traffic. Google will only recognize those domains if you actually have content on them and have links coming in using the new domains. And since it’s highly unlikely that any consumer is going to type “newyorkpersonalinjury.attorney” into their browser bar without some sort of marketing material to prompt them, you won’t get any additional direct traffic either.

But what if I’m squatting, hoping to sell the domains to other attorneys?
Well, sorry to be the one to say it, but you’re the reason we can’t have nice things (like reasonable .com domains.)

That’s it! Any more questions?

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