We talk a lot about identifying opportunities for legal professionals to gain exposure online. One of the oldest methods for gaining visibity for your firm are legal directories. We're asked all the time about whether or not legal directories actually work. Unfortunately the answer, like the answer to so many other marketing questions, is that it depends.
However, there are some signals as to whether a legal directory is more or less likely to produce results for your firm. The first of these is search engine visibility.
Search engine visibility refers to how well the directory is positioned in relevant organic search engine results.
Before I dive into search engine visibility analysis, it is very important to understand that this is only one factor of much deeper analysis that needs to be done to make a good prediction of whether or not a directory will generate results for your firm. Profile visibility within the directory and the specific profile page itself, also play important roles.
WARNING: DON'T ASSUME THAT HIGH SEARCH ENGINE VISIBILITY ALONE WILL EQUAL RESULTS.
Likewise, don't assume that just because a directory listed here isn't the highest ranking for the search term analyzed that it won't produce results. The purpose of this post is not to endorse or condemn any of the directories listed. It's merely to demonstrate one of the core factors to determining the potential for results. With that out of the way, let's dive into search visibility.
For this analysis I selected 50 search terms, each containing a major U.S. city concatenated with the keyword lawyers. For example, "new york lawyers", "los angeles lawyers", and "chicago lawyers". Again, it is worth noting that these search terms were chosen for demonstration purposes.
I also selected 3 major law firm directories, FindLaw, Lawyers.com, and Avvo. Again, these were chosen for demonstration purposes only. There are many additional legal directories out there that may perform better for your particular practice.
Next, I checked the search engine position of each of these directories for the search terms within each of the three major U.S. search engines, Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
You can download the results here: searchvisibility.csv
Here you can see each directory's position for the various terms in each search engine. But what does this tell us? Assuming everything else is equal, your profile is more likely to be viewed in legal directories with higher search engine visibility.
However, it is also worth noting, that when it comes to organic search results, it is often a "top 3 take all" (and in some cases a "winner take all") game. Therefore, directories with first page listings not in the top 3, are really unlikely to generate visitors for that particular search phrase.
So, what is a lawyer to do? Before diving into a search engine visibility analysis, you need to brainstorm keywords and search phrases. Once you have a fairly diverse list, you can simply head over to the search engines and take a look at how the various directories appear for your search terms. Better yet, you can head over to seobook.com and download the Rank Checker tool.
Again, please be advised that this is only a basic analysis of one factor that should be considered when choosing a directory.
More important than any forecast is your ability to measure and track your specific data and results. Make sure that you have web analytics for both your profile and your website, as well as, a dedicated tracking number so that you can actually view how many calls were generated from the listing. Keep track of visitors to both your profile page and referrers to your website.
Photoe by: quinn.anya