Top 10 Legal Directories Your Law Firm Must Be Featured On
When a client needs a lawyer, there’s a good chance they’ll start with a search engine like Google. Google displays a local pack of nearby business that relate to a user’s search at the near-top of the search results—a good reason to focus on local SEO for your law firm. One of the best ways to boost your local visibility is get your law firm listed in online legal directories.
Local search is a little bit different than organic search. Local search results (at least based on recent changes to Google’s algorithm) are ranked by a mix of distance, relevance, and prominence. If you can make sure your law firm is consistently listed on the most reputable legal directories, you will build the prominence of your law firm in Google’s eyes.
Of course, sometimes browsers click on through directly to these directories from the search results page. If your firm is listed on these legal directories, you’ll be able to get right in front of potential clients who are performing a focused search with intent to follow through.
Unlike recipes, cute cat videos, or conspiracy theories, people do not conduct law firm searches for entertainment…these searchers mean to take action.
What Are Legal Directories?
A directory is a list of services, usually within the same category.
That said, a legal directory is just a list of law firms and lawyers.
These legal directories can be paid or unpaid, curated or uncurated. Though many directories allow law firms to list themselves on there for free, many of them might charge a membership fee or premium to be displayed more prominently (more on this later).
Some legal directories are curated by a (generally qualified) mediator who picks and chooses which firms are the best for different areas of law. This practice of curation is common across disparate business verticals, including services; even though you might associate such a review process with fine dining, there are certainly legal directories that are selective in terms of which law firms they display.
Why are Legal Directories So Important?
It’s a good practice to get your law firm listed on every business directory you can afford to spend time on—especially the biggest ones like GoogleMyBusiness, Yelp, and Foursquare. The more directories you can consistently list your law firm’s contact info on, the more visibility you’ll have in local search.
However, in addition to listing your law firm on these general directories, you’ll also want to list it on legal directories that specifically cater to potential clients conducting a search for a lawyer with some serious intent to follow through.
These directories are a business onto themselves, and they make money from advertising and paid listings. In order to make more money, they need foot traffic (read: browsers) so many of these directories will pay to get at the top of the search results.
To explain a little more: Google does not just answer user searches by providing a list of websites with the most relevant content (though you definitely want to be on that list). At the top of the search results are (around) three different spots that are paid for. These positions are taken (in the case of this particular search topic) by legal directories that have paid to appear at the top of the search results should anyone type in a keyword or phrase like “I need a lawyer” or “[type of] lawyer” or even just “lawyer.”
Google is getting increasingly good at matching intent with results, and not necessarily just what is typed in. That said, if someone typed in something like “bankruptcy” or “divorce,” Google might have also provided a list of law firms—and law firm directories paying for ad space will appear at the top of the list.
In fact, in many cases these directories dominate the entire first page of the Google Search results, in both the paid advertising and the organic search results. The reason is that many of these directories compete to appear as high as possible on the organic search results page, so they pump out tons of written content relating to the legal field.
What’s The Difference Between a Paid & Non-Paid Profile?
Creating a non-paid profile on a legal directory is free, and most business directories will grant you a free listing. However, some of them may offer additional services such as access to customer support, expanded profile space, and the ability to contest reviews.
This mix of services for paid profiles will vary from legal directory to legal directory, so see what’s included in each package. Some directories may attempt to upsell you on select services you don’t really need, so use your discretion in picking out the package that makes the most sense (if you are creating a paid profile).
One of the more common perks available to paid profiles is the ability to include a link for browsers to click through to your website. Otherwise they might have to fill out a form provided by the directory, which in turn leads to you contacting them (and giving the directory an email to market to in the process). If you pay for a clickable link on your profile, you’ve got to make sure that someone who specializes in web design for your law firm has created a well-designed place to land that communicates the professional competence of your law firm.
Why You Should Consider A Paid Profile
But on the other hand, in many cases you will want to pay for a profile, especially with those directories that only list paying law firms. These directories may also engage in ongoing marketing campaigns to put you in front of previous browsers who have returned to the scene of the proverbial crime and once again need legal services.
Even on those legal directories that list law firms for free, a paid profile might get you better visibility at the top of the search results, or even just a different-looking profile that stands out. Again, you’ll want to take a look at what’s included in the listing price.
You’ll also want to take a look at the site to gauge how professional it looks. Do they run ongoing blog content to engage browsers and boost their own SEO? If it’s not a specifically curated list, are there a decent number of law firms listed?
If you’re still wondering how to assess the validity of online legal directories, we’ve put together the following list of the top 10 legal directories your law firm must be featured on. Remember that local search engine optimization for your law firm is an ongoing process that requires multifaceted solutions, and listing your firm on these directories is not the end-all…though it is important.
List of The Top 10 Legal Directories
Justia.com allows browsers to search by area of legal practice, along with providing helpful links for legal research and legal field news. The right hand side of the homepage displays a few paid profiles, and paid profiles also appear at the bottom of articles explaining each area of legal practice (though browsers can click through to see a longer list of paid and unpaid members).
LegalZoom is a premier, nationally-recognized one-stop shop for small businesses to get all their paperwork lined up. This can be a great place to get your law firm listed if you feel like you will be aiming to work with a lot of small to medium-sized businesses—but keep in mind that it’s a curated list of law firms that aligns with LegalZoom’s image.
FindLaw.com has resources for both consumers and lawyers, among them an extensive and user-friendly directory that allows you to display your contact information, website link, and (if you choose) a special check-mark indicating you provide free consultations. The way FindLaw is designed makes it easy to tell which law firms have put work into their listing.
Nolo.com is not only a legal directory, but a place where you can publish law articles to establish your thought leadership. A basic listing is available for a flat fee, and premium services (which include lead generation) can be bought on a sliding scale based on lead volumes and ROI.
Avvo.com is a lawyer directory that allows users to filter search results and refine what they’re looking for. One of its unique features is that it prominently displays your years of legal experience, along with the text of client reviews (not just the number of stars).
Lawyers.com is an incredible resource for clients facing a legal challenge, with real-world case statistics that can generate potential costs and outcomes, along with one of the most detailed lawyer review databases on the web. Sponsored lawyers appear at the top of the directory, which displays both client and peer reviews.
Legalmatch.com displays its most highly rated lawyers right on the homepage. Ratings are broken down into a number of sub-topics like response time, understanding, communication, and knowledge—allowing clients to get a more nuanced view of their choices.
Superlawyers.com is a curated list of legal professionals that have been screened and vetted through a nomination process conducted by a board of directors. They also publish a print magazine of their best listed lawyers, which is distributed to law school libraries throughout the United States—meaning that a listing on Superlawyers can not only bring you client referrals, but also attract new, qualified lawyers to your firm.
Martindale.com is an attorney ranking service that has actually been around for 150 years…which is long before the internet. Their online legal directory continues the tradition of excellence, along with providing extensive marketing solutions, networking, and legal news to law firms.
Best Lawyers is unique in that it’s not only curated, but entirely based on peer review. You cannot pay to get your way onto their directory, but you can be nominated. Moreover, browsing the directory also requires a subscription—so it’s only really a directory for paying professionals. But if you’re listed on Best Lawyers, you can rest assured that you’ve established real world prominence. Even so, because it’s a pay-to-view directory, it may not boost your local SEO.
If you need help with your law firm search engine optimization strategy or execution, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.