The number of legal directories on the internet is growing. This growth adds to the confusion and expansion pains for new attorneys trying to create an online presence. However, if law firms focus on only a single directory, it should probably be FindLaw.
FindLaw is an online repository of legal information. It serves as a resource for lawyers and their customers. The site offers news, blog posts, and information on changes to the law.
It is also a very comprehensive directory of attorneys. FindLaw features lawyers from across the country and well over 100 practice areas. The company is a Thomson Reuters property and is associated with LawInfo, Abogado, and Super Lawyers.
FindLaw is certainly not the only legal directory. There’s also Martindale-Hubbel and Avvo. Still, FindLaw is definitely a formidable online resource. The FindLaw website receives more than a million site visitors each month. That alone makes FindLaw’s lawyer directory an excellent marketing tool for attorneys.
How can your law firm benefit from FindLaw legal marketing? Start with the tips provided in this FindLaw Review and guide.
What Is FindLaw?
FindLaw’s primary function is to serve as a source of law-related information for both lawyers and the public. This directory is widely used by people who are interested in information on specific laws, answers to questions about their own legal problems, case law, and legal forms.
The site was created as a free legal information source for the general public. It gave people information on statutes and case law that they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. Back then, the only other option was to subscribe to LexisNexis or WestLaw. Eventually, Thomson West, owner of WestLaw, acquired FindLaw in 2001.
In the 20+ years since then, FindLaw has evolved significantly. The earliest incarnation of the FindLaw website was all about sharing information. People could use the site to look for a lawyer, but that wasn’t the main focus.
In 2006, the site was rebranded as FindLaw, but the emphasis was still on sharing legal information.
It was in 2012 that the FindLaw website really began to emphasize that it was a law firm directory. Still, that function was clearly secondary to sharing legal data.
Today, it is very clear that the site focuses mainly on serving as a legal directory for people searching for attorneys. As such, it’s become an important platform for law firm digital marketing.
As part of FindLaw marketing, law firms can pay to have premium profiles on the platform. However, while these listings will appear in relevant search results, there is no guarantee that they will be prioritized on FindLaw websites for a particular location or practice area.
Naturally, there are locations and practice types that bring up significantly more listings and paid ads than others. That’s to be expected, considering the reach that FindLaw has.
What is the value of FindLaw for legal professionals? Simply put, it draws a significant amount of traffic because its website ranks highly in relevant Google searches.
Law firms may find that FindLaw will rank higher in search than their official law firm website. If they haven’t invested in their directory entry, that means losing business.
FindLaw Review and Guide for Legal Professionals
As an attorney, you will have to create a FindLaw profile for yourself and your law firm. A free profile on the FindLaw site will allow you to enter your name and basic contact information. You can also detail your practice areas.
To create a profile, you will:
- Follow the "create an account" link
- Tap or click "register here"
- Enter and confirm your email address
- Add your FindLaw lawyer directory information
After you click submit, there will be a few instructions to follow. Then, the FindLaw team will review the information you entered. You should see your information posted on the FindLaw website in a couple of days.
If you are willing to pay for a premium law firm profile, you will be allowed to add important, additional information.
This information includes up to 4000 words of text to describe your practice, the addition of other practice areas, as well as details such as:
- Past employment info
- Percentage of litigation your law firm handles
- Examples of cases and clients
- Bar memberships and education
- Honors and awards
- Recommendations from others
- Memberships in professional organizations
- Languages that are spoken in your law practice
- Information on pro bono work
- Mergers and acquisitions involving your law firm
- Previous law firm names
- Your published work
If you fill out a form for a premium profile, someone from FindLaw marketing services will assist you with pricing for your law firm and other information.
FindLaw Lawyer Directory Rating System for Law Firms
Law firms may choose to include FindLaw reviews and ratings on their profiles. Clients may leave a rating of between one and five stars for an attorney or a law firm. This setup is similar to the system that Google uses. FindLaw will share an overall rating based on the average number of stars received.
FindLaw.com reviews that clients leave must be detailed. They must include an opinion with at least 50 characters and an overall rating.
Reviewers must also share their names and customer types. For example, were they paying clients, or did they receive a consultation? FindLaw.com reviews must also include the year the person worked with the law firm.
There are also some optional ratings for professional competence, quality of service, and value. However, these do not impact overall ratings. If a review is left for an individual attorney, it will not impact the rating of the law firm. Similarly, individual ratings will not change the overall rating of a law firm.
Attorneys have 14 days to verify information in reviews. All verified reviews are published except for those that contain spam, vulgarities, or information that applies to a different organization.
The Benefits of Having a FindLaw Profile as a Law Firm
One of the major benefits of a FindLaw profile is the effect a listing can have on your law firm's search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
By keeping an updated profile and earning positive reviews, attorneys can improve their FindLaw SEO. This work is particularly helpful for any law firm that aims to improve off-page SEO. Off-page SEO will positively impact your authority and could lead to Google giving your law firm a preferential ranking.
Link building is one of the most powerful off-site SEO tactics. One of the benefits of FindLaw SEO is that it provides you with a backlink to your website.
FindLaw’s law firm backlinks are particularly valuable because of the volume of traffic the website receives. This traffic adds to your website's perceived authority and will eventually increase your organic traffic.
There are additional branding opportunities that allow you to share news about your FindLaw reviews. For example, the brand that owns FindLaw also owns SuperLawyers, another rating service. If your law firm has been ranked there, your legal profile will also link to your SuperLawyers rating.
This backlinking is important because the Super Lawyer designation is highly respected. It’s worth creating a profile on FindLaw if you have received this designation. Your FindLaw profile can be a very helpful tool for digital marketing and SEO services.
Acquiring FindLaw Client Reviews
Start by enabling reviews and ratings on your law firm’s FindLaw profile. Some law firms choose not to participate in the FindLaw review process, but this generally decreases the SEO value of their listings.
After you have enabled reviews, let current and potential clients know they can click the button to leave a review at the top of your FindLaw profile. If they do, they will be able to leave a rating and share their opinion.
Clients are prompted to leave a rating that falls on a scale from one to five stars, an opinion of 50 characters or less, and their contact information.
After they submit their review, they will receive an email verification. This verification allows them to confirm that they left the review. The listed law firm also receives the client’s information to verify that they worked with that person. The client may opt to have their review appear anonymously.
FindLaw website design allows visitors to mark reviews as helpful. This feature helps others see which reviews are useful.
Attorneys may select certain reviews to appear at the top of their law firm review section. These selected reviews are followed by those left by verified clients from new to old. Unverified clients appear at the bottom of the reviews list.
FindLaw's Marketing Services: A Review
FindLaw.com for legal professionals does include marketing services. However, the results they offer are mixed. The primary function of link building does work well. However, the site content is uneven. Additionally, the site doesn’t always apply SEO best practices.
Here are some issues that cause FindLaw’s internet marketing to struggle:
- Lackluster marketing and SEO services
- Services also sold to direct competitors
- Lead generation results can vary depending on how your listing displays
Law firms should ensure their goals and expectations align with the marketing services that FindLaw provides.
FindLaw Website Design
It’s very easy to identify FindLaw websites. FindLaw design is very recognizable and doesn’t allow for much difference between law firms, even if they are direct competitors. It’s fairly clear that the primary objective here is functionality, not appearance or individuality.
There are a few other things that FindLaw clients should know. The first is that the company uses a proprietary content management system.
This setup makes it difficult to make changes to your website while you are a client and virtually impossible afterward. If you leave FindLaw, you may need to rebuild your website and its content from the ground up.
A final note on Findlaw's website design is the lack of up-to-date SEO services. Optimization is inconsistent and doesn’t reflect modern practices.
Other Options for Creating a Web Presence
FindLaw is just one third-party provider that offers website design and law firm marketing. Justia is another popular choice. Our Justia Lawyer Directory Guide provides helpful insights into this service.
There’s also SuperLawyers. While this isn’t a web design service, it does offer backlinks and other digital marketing benefits. Our SuperLawyers directory guide offers insights on using this site to maximize its benefits for your legal practice.
FindLaw Website Content
The most important component of any legal website is its content. FindLaw clearly agrees with this notion and has a service page that is dedicated to attorney content marketing. That page states that both search engines and potential clients love content.
It isn’t possible to objectively state whether FindLaw produces high-quality content, and it's also impossible to determine whether the company outsources or uses in-house writers. There is no clear information on the client’s role in content selection, audience targeting, or geolocation targeting.
What every lawyer must understand is that any writing published on their own website will be attributed to them. It doesn’t matter if they wrote it or hired the content creation out to a company that provides website services for lawyers. This attribution is true in the eyes of potential clients and any bar association.
We strongly recommend approaching FindLaw for answers to the following questions about their content services:
- Who is hired to write website content?
- How are quality assurance, editing, proofreading, and originality checking done?
- Will the content that you publish on my website be exclusive?
- If I don’t like the content, may I have it removed or changed?
- How much content is included in the website design package I have chosen?
- Is it possible to request additional website content? How much does that cost?
- Does my law practice assume ownership of content that we pay for?
- Is there a guarantee that all content complies with legal ethics?
- What is the content planning process?
- Do lawyers have any control over topic selection?
Once you receive direct answers to these questions, you will be able to determine how useful FindLaw’s content marketing services will be for your practice. This determination is exceptionally important.
Of all legal marketing services, content has the potential to make the biggest impact in terms of building your reputation and helping you acquire clients. Conversely, content also has the potential to do the most damage, as you are responsible for the content on your website regardless of who created it.
FindLaw SEO Services
If you contract with FindLaw for website design and other services, you may notice that your site's search engine ranking improves quickly. This rapid promotion is largely attributed to FindLaw’s link-building strategy.
FindLaw will add several links to your company website on its pages. Unfortunately, the company will remove them if you leave FindLaw to use another provider of SEO services for lawyers.
There have been some recent attempts by FindLaw to improve SEO techniques. However, the company's methods still fall behind those of other marketers. Specifically, pages often lack structure.
Keyword research is also an issue. It doesn’t appear that much time is spent on this research, despite it being such an important part of modern SEO services.
FindLaw is known for its effective use of backlinks. Unfortunately, this focus has led the company to use its own pages as sources instead of relying on sites that have higher authority. Because of this setup, FindLaw clients may lose out on the benefits of the link juice provided by more reputable sites.
PPC FindLaw Review
FindLaw offers attorneys PPC (pay-per-click) services. PPC involves online ad placements that are sold to the highest bidder in a particular marketplace. Clients with winning bids have their ads displayed above organic search results on search engine output pages.
There are positives and negatives to using PPC for attorneys. PPC does bring increased visibility and traffic. However, organic leads tend to be better qualified.
It’s also important to note that PPC for attorneys can be prohibitively expensive. This reality is especially true for certain practice areas and regions. There is also the risk that people will click through to your website but won't convert into paying clients. If that happens, you lose the money spent on your ads.
Lawyers should feel absolutely confident that they are getting a good return on any money they spend with a company that offers PPC services for lawyers.
There is no available information about the effectiveness of PPC services from FindLaw. The company also does not publish its PPC fee structure.
Before purchasing PPC services, attorneys should be aware that FindLaw may also be submitting advertising bids for competing attorneys. It isn’t clear if this causes a conflict of interest or how any such conflict is handled.
FindLaw's Lawyer Directory vs. Google Ads
It’s undeniable that FindLaw directory listings tend to do very well in organic search listings. This backlink authority is the most demonstrably worthwhile of all the services the site offers.
However, the attorneys who get the best results from this setup do a significant amount of their own work, keeping their profiles updated and ensuring they are receiving adequate traffic. Regardless, FindLaw remains one of the best legal directories for ranking purposes.
Things can be more complicated than simply receiving rankings. Ultimately, it matters how your backlinks perform. FindLaw does very well for certain practice areas and specific types of searches.
However, it may not be a top performer in every case. For example, the results are not skewed as heavily toward FindLaw if you measure conversions, not just traffic.
Because FindLaw has fairly stringent contract requirements, lawyers should gather as much information as possible before they purchase a premium directory listing. For example, consider asking to review some analytics data. This insight should help you to determine whether it's worth entering a long-term contract that doesn’t really have an “out clause.”
How does FindLaw compare to Google AdWords? If you look at the numbers, “personal injury lawyer” may cost 50 dollars per click on Google. Forty clicks in a month would cost $2,000.
At first glance, that appears to be significantly more expensive than a thousand-dollar monthly premium directory listing for your personal injury law firm.
However, this direct price comparison doesn’t take into account that with Google Adwords, you can customize the phrases you bid for. For example, you can make keywords location specific or add words to refer to a more specific practice area.
These PPC keywords may be less competitive and less expensive but attract better-qualified leads. For example, instead of using “personal injury lawyer,” your firm might use “Car accident injury lawyer in Chicago.”
It may help to have a good idea of how you intend to use paid search and where it fits in with your organic strategy. Then determine whether your money and resources are better spent maximizing your Google Ads spend return or if it’s worth investing in a paid directory entry from FindLaw.
Our Google Ads guide for lawyers offers some important insights.
FindLaw's Lawyer Directory: Managing Your Website
This section is most applicable to attorneys who are seriously considering using FindLaw for website hosting, promotion, and management in addition to having a directory listing.
It is definitely easy to see the benefit of contracting out this work, particularly for solo practices and small law firms. The idea of managing your website can seem overwhelming, as it will distract from more important work, like serving your clients. Managing a relationship with a single service provider may also seem less complex.
Additionally, established law firms may see revenue decrease or stagnate, especially in relation to expenses. When that happens, it’s tempting to invest in products or services that will result in better customer acquisition and increased revenue.
This same mindset also drives legal directories to expand their services to include website design and administration. They sell free or low-cost websites that are often created using cheap website builders or open-source content management systems.
Unfortunately, the infrastructure behind these websites is often lacking. Additionally, while the website and management may be free, there is often an underlying cost. That free website may perform poorly compared to those of direct competitors. This disparity can lead directly to a loss of revenue.
Finally, FindLaw offers website services and directory entries to law firms that are in direct competition with one another. That may not be a conflict of interest that lawyers want to ignore.
Getting the Most Out of the FindLaw Lawyer Directory
Start Producing Your Content Yourself
Longer content ranks higher in Google search results. Top-ranking pages often contain well over 1000 words. However, FindLaw content pages are significantly shorter than that. They are not long enough to compete with more authoritative, in-depth content. This limit alone is a good reason to produce your own content.
FindLaw promotes the notion that keyword optimization is what matters most. However, there are other important considerations when it comes to ranking content and earning leads. First, there are a limited number of relevant keyword phrases for a given practice and a lot of competition for many of those phrases.
Successful content marketing requires creating content that goes beyond keywords. It must be targeted to the right audience and specifically relevant to your law practice. This type of content will get better results than content that is likely too short to meet those criteria.
Ask for Detailed Reports to Know What's Going on
FindLaw offers clients marketing reports to show how well their digital marketing strategies are performing. However, those standard reports may not show enough information to be reliable. For example, the record of a page view isn’t very meaningful unless you understand the path a potential client took to arrive at that page in the first place.
The FindLaw team invests a significant amount of money in Google Ads to create leads. However, to manage costs, they rely on very generic keyword phrases.
This approach may attract a significant amount of traffic. However, this traffic comprises poorly qualified people with no conversion intentions.
Use a third-party tool such as Google Analytics that will provide your firm with more detailed information. You can then discern whether new clients are coming from FindLaw’s marketing or branded keyword searches.
Analyze Other Competitors
When searching for keywords that are relevant to your law practice, you will find results from other lawyer websites. You will also find plenty of marketing firms that also work with law firms. Specifically, they work for law firms that compete with yours. This group includes companies like FindLaw.
FindLaw invests in its own website and content to earn high rankings on search engine results pages. However, the company is also working for many attorneys with shared practice areas and locations.
The best way to respond to this setup is to build relationships with competing listings. This approach will open up new marketing and ranking opportunities for your practice.
Start by searching for the most relevant phrases for your legal brand. Then, see which directories have the highest rankings. Create your free profile on those sites, and complete your account information. This approach will help you earn more backlinks and the occasional lead.
FindLaw Review Summary
Would your law practice benefit from using FindLaw for directory services, marketing, PPC, SEO, or website development? There’s certainly a lot of information to absorb. Here are some key points to keep in mind as you make your determination.
As you review the table of features, please consider each service's value and the return on investment. This analysis will help you discern whether services like social media marketing are worth paying for or if your company is better off simply using FindLaw as another directory entry to help your firm create a larger digital marketing presence.
For most attorneys, we believe that it’s better to choose a marketing agency that ensures better quality and more control over your online presence. However, we also understand that most lawyers need help with website development services, marketing, search engine optimization, and PPC.
If you need one or more of these services, we recommend connecting with a high-performance law firm marketing agency like Grow Law Firm. Our experts will help with these digital marketing services without locking you into a one-sided agreement.