Legal directories can be an excellent source of website traffic, so long as you stay organized from the beginning, use a consistent NAP (name, address, phone) and stick with the “Good” directories.
“Legal directories are important because they dominate the search engine results,” said Conrad Saam of Mockingbird Marketing, who covered the key points in a Webinar presented with Dustin Curtis. A sample Google search for a lawyer produced results from Findlaw, Avvo, Justia and a newcomer: Thumbtack. “Thumbtack does extremely well in search engine results, they do excellent SEO and Google is one of their investors. It's new to the legal profession, so approach it as an experiment.”
Saam said there are a dozen “Good” directories: primarily Avvo, Justia and Lawyer Legion, the last of which ties into a lawyer's profile on the pro-marijuana site NORML. The full list is Avvo, Superlawyers, Justia, Lawdeeda, Lawyers.com, Lawyer Central, Martindale Hubbell, Nolo, HG.org, Lawyer Legion, Target Law and Legal Web Finder
Most of the good directories give lawyers a “followed link” that provides SEO value to a lawyer's website. (Avvo and Lawyer Legion don't.) Avvo has the largest base of attorneys, and Justia also adds you to the Oyez and Stanford directories, according to Saam.
Curtis and Saam advised lawyers to stay organized from the beginning, by making a record of all the passwords and usernames used for each directory. “At least 25% of our directory work is going in and trying to find you password. If you are working with an agency, insist that they give you the usernames and passwords,” Saam said.
It is essential that a lawyers' name, address and phone number appear precisely that same in each directory. “This will help you perform well in local searches,” Saam said. Typical inconsistencies are listing “Suite 177” in one place and “#177” in another, or being listed as “ABC Co.'" in one directory and “Alpha Beta Charlie Co.” in another directory.
“You must keep them all the same,” Saam said. “Google can't understand that they are the same law firm. It will think they are different firms.”
He offered these tips:
- Don't use your 800 tracking phone number in local directories. Use the primary phone number for your office.
- Go to USPS.gov and see how you are listed. The information is pushed out into many directories.
- Have the links to your firm all go to the same web page – not several pages. List the link to the page with the best conversion rate. “Use the page on your site will make a person hire you,” Saam advised.
- NORML does very well in search results for DUI or OWI lawyers. “There will be fewer attorneys listed, plus visitors to the site are ready to hire a lawyer,” he said.
Avoid the “Bad” directories
Don't waste your time with the “bad” directories: LawGuru, Rocket Lawyer and Legal Docs. “We've spent countless hours trying to get profiles live and it didn't work. I would really avoid these because they are a huge time suck.” In one case, Curtis talked to an account rep three times to get a profile live, and it only went live for a few hours.
“If you have a listing at one of these directories, try to delete it, Saam said.
Bypass the “Ugly” directories
A trio of sites were named as not really bad, just not effective: Legaladvice.com, Legal Web Finder and US Legal. “Don't avoid them, they just don't perform well,” Saam said. "They are a good citation source, but that's it. They are “ugly” because they are not investing in their technology.”
They advised lawyers to track the performance of their directory listings by plugging them into Google Analytics. View “Tracking Referral Traffic” to see which are sending the most traffic to your site. “Directories do work, but you need to check your referral traffic to see where it is coming from,” Saam said.