Legal Directories: A Strategy for the Past or Future?

Legal Directories: A Strategy for the Past or Future?
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Legal directories have been a thing for years… All of them don’t have the best name if you ask around the legal industry, but some of them can be very beneficial to your practice. These directories can supply you with a stream of leads and help you increase the exposure of your website. With so many of these lawyer directories out there, you may find yourself asking, which lawyer directory is right for me? Or, which lawyer directory is worth investing in? 

I am going to break down the top lawyer directories, some of their flaws, what their real value is, and what can help you get to page 1 quickly.  The best part, without wasting your money, time, and hair!

Content is King

A Break Down of the Top 7 Lawyer Directories Based on Domain Rank

Lawyer directories can be an effective way for attorneys to grow their online practice. They provide an avenue for consumers searching for the right attorneys, while also providing brand awareness. Most of the time they provide a backlink to the attorney’s website which overall helps grow their website’s online presence. The backlink is considered one of the most valuable parts of each lawyer listing. Depending on how this backlink is implemented it can help pass the authority of the lawyer directories website to your law firm’s website. Authority is measured in two SEO industry standards. Domain Authority and Domain Rank. I think Domain Rank is a better measure to evaluate when looking for links specifically which is why the list below is broken out by Domain Rank.

Domain Rank in general is a deep analysis of your incoming backlink profile that is measured by Ahrefs (A Top SEO Software).

Learning Lesson: Domain Rank (DR) in our terms is a calculated ranking given to every website in Ahrefs database out of a 100-point scale that measures the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile. Depending on how many websites link to your website and the way they link to your website determines what Domain Rank your site receives. Check out this deeper breakdown from Ahrefs themselves:

Domain Rank Definition from Ahrefs

If you are a top-tier attorney, lawyer directories should be a key part of your Law Firm SEO campaign and the below lawyer directories are some of the most powerful directories in the SEO world. At least that depends on how you look at them…

FindLaw – Domain Rank of 90

FindLaw Ahrefs Domain Rank Overview

FindLaw (Part of Thomson Reuters) was created in 1995 as a free information source to answer legal questions from the consumer, legal students, legal professionals, and business owners about the legal industry. One piece of FindLaw from the beginning has been a lawyer directory. Over the years Find Law has monetized this directory and pushed a lot of paid directory listings through another leg of Thomson Reuters called Lawyer Marketing. Find Law originally was a US company until they opened their UK division in early 2010.

Avvo – Domain Rank of 90

Avvo Ahrefs Domain Rank Overview

Founded in early 2006 by a former legal counsel of Expedia, Inc, Avvo was created to provide lawyer referrals and answers to questions continually being solved in the legal industry. They set up their directory to feature mass lists of all attorneys in a specific industry to give the end consumer the source to be able to vet their next attorney from. The attorney profiles consist of client reviews, peer endorsements, disciplinary actions as well as legal guides submitted by the lawyers themselves. Avvo has used practices in the industry that have not been backed by the District of Columbia Bar Association. An interesting known part of Avvo’s business model, Avvo Pro, is a monthly subscription attorneys and lawyers who are featured for FREE on their site have to pay to remove competing ads that are shown on their profile. Like I always like to say, nothing is free! This is essentially them getting more search engine traffic from your name to display attorneys on your profile that pay them extra money.

Super Lawyers – Domain Rank of 89

Super Lawyers Ahrefs Domain Rank Overview

Super Lawyers (Part of Thomson Reuters since 2010) founded in 1991 is known as a higher-tier lawyer directory. Super Lawyers focuses their list on the top 5% of attorneys in every state. They also have a Rising Stars list that selects the top 2.5% of attorneys in each state. Super Lawyers states the eligibility requirements as,

“To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less.”

“Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, we limit the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public.”

Interesting practice with Super Lawyers, is they charge the attorneys or law firms represented upwards of $20,000 for their feature. There are many attorneys and law firms that question the ethics of this process as well as have a bad taste in their mouths about the award themselves. Read more about what others are saying in the ABA Journal here

Justia – Domain Rank of 88

Justia Ahrefs Domain Rank Overview

Justia, a legal information retrieval website founded in 2003 by Tim Stanley is considered one of the largest online databases of legal cases. Interestingly enough, Tim was formerly part of the giant previously mentioned above, Find Law.

Justia’s main focus is basic legal information, law codes, case examples, and opinion summaries. Their major goal is to help consumers and lawyers get access to information quickly and free.

One process that was reported in 2007 by the New York Times that helped Justia acquire this information said, that Justia was spending around “$10,000 a month to copy documents from the US Supreme Court and publish them online”, so the public can access them without paying fees. This jumpstarted Justia’s platform very quickly allowing them to be one of the original sources for all this unique information online.

Justia actively gets millions of consumers to their site so it can be greatly beneficial to be listed on their lawyer directory. 

Justia monetizes its platform by offering paid services within its attorney directory as well as they provide legal marketing services.

Martindale – Domain Rank of 85

Martindale-Hubbell Ahrefs Domain Rank Overview

Martindale-Hubbell is one of the oldest legal information services companies originally founded in 1868. Now operating under the parent company Internet Brands they are known prominently for their Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory which provides listings for lawyers or law firms with background information about that attorney or law firm. Their first directory was published in 1868 by James B. Martindale following their first legal directory in 1870.

Martindale’s Directory is marketed now as, “Gain exposure to 15 million visitors monthly. Differentiate yourself with robust professional profiles that confirm for prospective clients why you are the right lawyer for them. Highlight your experience, your reputation, and your contact information. More than 15 million consumers monthly can view detailed information about your firm’s practice when they search for attorneys in your practice area and location on Lawyers.com℠, Martindale.com, Nolo.com, and other sites within our network.”

So, Martindale itself does not have the reach of the 15 million visitors monthly, however, through their network of sites(next two directories to come and more) tied with the direct marketing efforts pursued they have can reach 15 million visitors.

Martindale-Hubbell has grown its list of marketing services significantly since the start of its first legal directory.

Nolo – Domain Rank of 85

Nolo Ahrefs Domain Rank Overview

Formerly Nolo Press founded in 1971, started as a website that produced DIY legal books, easy legal fillable documents, and contracts for consumers to handle simple legal matters easier.

In 2006 Nolo started a directory of attorneys based on the idea to allow consumers to compare side-by-side profiles of a shortlist of qualified attorneys under each category.

In 2011 Nolo was purchased by Internet Brands, Inc owners of Martin-Dale Hubbell to add it to their list of legal websites for marketing and consumer reach purposes.

Lawyers.com – Domain Rank of 82

Lawyers.com Ahrefs Domain Rank Overview

Lawyers.com, another brand underneath Internet Brands Inc. They offer free online legal assistance to the public in their ask a lawyer section. This allows them to pair their network of attorneys to consumers asking specific questions. The initial legal assistance is free in hopes that the consumer turns into a client for the expert lawyer who is answering. Their directory covers over 150 practice areas getting very niched down. Their content covers 1000+ practice areas. They advertise their directory as 95% of all US lawyers are found in their directory with 25 million monthly visitors to their network.

Flaws in the Current Top Ranked Lawyer Directories

There are many flaws when looking and analyzing the top-ranked directories in the legal space in 2021. We are just going to start a list here below. (Please reach out if you can think of flaws that we missed.)

  • Owned by monopolies.
  • List of competitors grouped (no exclusivity).
  • No customization.
  • An extensive amount of keywords are already targeted.
  • No continual month-over-month increase to your content.
  • Another review source that you have to send clients/peers to get a good rating. 
  • If your rating is hit by a client that did not like your service, it is very hard to get back up as new attorneys collectively keep getting added.

What is the REAL Value in These Lawyer Directories… Backlinks, Relevancy, Removing Competition?

Let us dive into the real value of the major law directories. 

Backlinks

A backlink is one of the biggest factors to help your personal website. Specifically, a do-follow backlink is what law SEO and marketing companies are searching for. Many services provide backlinks as well as specific websites, however, there is only a specific amount in the “top-tier links” category in the law industry. Most legal directories are in these top-tier links as they have been mining lawyers for years and getting each lawyer to link back creating a powerful overall network. So essentially the number one part of a law directory is the link back to your website.

Depending on how unique the backlink is or how much authority is coming from that backlink, will affect how this link can increase your personal website. There is also an element in the backlink called the anchor text that if allowed to be customizable can be a huge increase to the weight of the link. Not all directories will allow this and not all directories even have a backlink that will allow the best benefit for your law firm. This is why you have to make sure to research each directory’s benefits before you commit to a listing or sign up for a “free listing”. 

Relevancy

All links are not created equal for how they will impact your law firm’s website. Authority is one way to judge a link, however, beyond authority, the next two measures to evaluate are relevancy and trust. Relevancy is related to how relevant the website is that links to your website’s article or page. So if we are evaluating your law firm’s link structure, the best links that can go to them would be legal-related links. Yes, we could all go get an article featured on Forbes, but is Forbes relevant in the legal industry? They may have a section on their site that is legal-related however it is not as relevant as if we were evaluating a site that is ranked with similar authority but is branded as a legal content website. 

Next, let’s take in the topic that you are working to get your law firm ranked for. Let’s take “Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney” for example. If I were trying to get my client or firm to rank for this phrase I would look for links that would either allow me to customize the anchor text, or I find a lawyer directory that already has a page with that category ranking that I can join. This will mean that the link we are acquiring is not only legal-related, but the context of the page is exactly the context that we are wanting our page to rank for. So to become the number one Los Angeles personal injury attorney you are most likely on a lot of the Los Angeles personal injury attorney directory pages as those links are built with a better structure to impact your website. 

One thing though that doesn’t make full sense about this strategy is the fact that each of these directories will add any and every attorney in that demographic and practice area. So now if we are looking for something unique and different to impact our website are these directories that stuff 20 to 30 attorneys on each page beneficial? Or would an exclusive listing that is going to no other attorneys in that demographic and practice area be more beneficial? I would say the secondary and currently, we are testing this in hundreds of demographics and practice areas to determine this as factual! 

Removing Competition

Now that we have talked about authority and relevancy… we are going to go into a not-so-technical metric that some law firms and marketers don’t necessarily think of right off the bat. Another major benefit of lawyer directories is the fact that a lawyer directory listing can kick out the website of your competition.

Yes, we are all racing for page 1 rankings! And it is factual that lawyer directories have the power to take a lot of this page 1 real estate for the major terms every attorney wants to rank for. So imagine now that you have already done the work for that page 1 ranking. Even better, you’ve done the work to get the top spot on page 1 for those major terms. What’s next?

Now it’s how many secondary rankings can you get! We all know in the SEO world to target the same phrase with two pages on your website is very hard. Well what if this was a lot easier? What if it is as easy as joining an exclusive directory that can help kick out additional page 1 ranking with an exclusive position highlighting only one law firm… yours!

Don’t Join a Lawyer Directory Before You…

For years, the major legal directory companies have been promising attorney’s leads and all you must do is join this network of attorneys where consumers are constantly searching for you!

If only attorneys and lawyers knew right off the bat they were not going to get leads from these legal directory companies it would save them the money, but even worse than money, it would save them from that “hope” that is always in the back of their head that what they are paying for is worth it.

Before you join any legal directory make sure the analytics they are providing you is something measurable. For instance, is an impression a measurable result to see an impact on your business? Probably not…

Make sure the directories are providing you access to all the results that matter. If their goal is to bring you customers and leads they should be reporting to you month over month how many customers you have acquired from them. Either via phone call, email or website clicks. Those stats should be reported to you and not hidden.

I am here to tell you the days of lawyer directories not reporting physical numbers and taking your money are over. Well, only for those attorneys and lawyers who are vetted into Attorney At Law Magazine’s Local Legal Authorities!

I am personally sick of seeing these major lead companies take in as many attorneys as possible to only stuff them on the same page or pages so the consumer can pick and choose the best of the group. I don’t feel this gives the best attorneys a chance to get enough leads to make up for the cost of being in that directory. 

Why not take a step out for the consumers? 

Why not only vet the best and only the best attorneys so the consumer can just make that quick phone call or website click?

Why Local Legal Authority is the Best Exclusive Legal Directory  

Attorney At Law Magazine’s Local Legal Authorities is focused on selecting the best of the best attorneys to be represented as the exclusive go-to attorney for their local area and specific practice. Once we vet the attorney for a specific practice area and location, they are the only attorney represented for their practice and location! This EXCLUSIVE legal directory listing highlights the attorney, their practice, articles written by the attorney, their 3rd party reviews from Google My Business, their map location (GMB Embed), and a detailed description of the attorney themselves and the legal practice they represent.

Even better if you have a niche you focus on within your practice let’s take car accidents for example as a personal injury attorney. We will provide niched information on your page about that niche practice area of choice!

Local Legal Authorities was not created to group competitors on the same page to gain page one rankings in search engines where consumers have to pick from side-by-side profiles. We designed our program to vet top-ranked attorneys and provide them the most exclusive listing. This allows the best attorneys to have the leg up from the competition that they clearly deserve!  

10 Major Benefits of Local Legal Authorities

Beyond the fact that we have many technical and SEO-related benefits, here is a list of the major benefits received from Local Legal Authorities. (If you want to know the in-depth technical side, fill out this form, and let’s get a call set up!)

  1. Exclusivity for your practice area and location. There is only one attorney chosen for each city and practice area. (No competition will be displayed next to the featured attorneys)
  2. Click-to-Call calls to action, with whisper message announcing call origin. Every call received you will know exactly where the call is coming from. We utilize leading industry tracking methods to assure you the best reporting.
  3. Click to website call to action with tracking. Every click to your website is tracked and reported to you monthly. Know where your clicks are coming from to your website!
  4. Lead tracking, analytics, and reporting. We have a dashboard created that you can access at all times to see how many calls, clicks, and article reviews you received. (Image of Report)
  5. Local Legal Authority badge for marketing use. This badge is given to you to showcase your authority in your local city as well as your specific practice area. (SEO kicker, this will help your personal site move up the ranking once linked back to your Local Legal Authority page.
  6. Unlimited articles written by the featured attorney. Every article has your Local Legal Authority tracking info on the bottom so when a consumer finds your article beneficial. Note: The more articles written the higher your analytics will be!
  7. Video embed, optional but recommended! We have a spot for your video. What this allows is for your video to additionally rank for keywords you have it targeted for as well as the unique keywords our page ranks for.
    Note: This is the extra juice your video needs to outrank your competitor! (Image of Video Ranking)
  8. Featured Image of attorney. Our images additionally rank high in Google image search and other search engines. This creates additional brand awareness for whatever profile picture you submit.
  9. Client reviews displayed. Search Engine Results that display review stars have been reported to be able to increase clicks by 35%!
  10. Google map embed of office location to raise local awareness. Once your GMB is fully optimized the next thing you can do is go get high-quality sites to embed your GMB into their site. We utilize this and do it so your GMB can rank for multiple terms that are optimized for on our page. Note: This will increase your local exposure on GMB itself!

Extra Benefit: Our Web & SEO Team optimizes all content to make sure it gets that extra boost!

Who Qualifies for Local Legal Authorities?

Local Legal Authorities is the most exclusive and customized lawyer listing you can get in 2021. However, every attorney and lawyer does not qualify for this position. You will have to pass our procedure that looks into your law school, your practice, how long you have been practicing, other awards you have received, and the most important, the reviews that you have displayed online currently. (We will not represent attorneys who have been disbarred or have bad reviews!) Lastly, every attorney must have been practicing for at least 5 years.

Reach out and let’s set up a consultation to see if you qualify for Local Legal Authorities or if the attorney you represent is looking for other avenues to score leads set up a meeting today!

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