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5 Things to Consider When Joining a Lawyer Directory

Lawyer directories are a form of online marketing that can provide added exposure and an increase in leads. Directories can also rank well in organic Google searches, allowing prospects easy access to members of that list. While there is some debate over how effective lawyer directories are compared to other forms of online marketing, there’s a good chance that at least some of your competitors are paying to be a part of relevant directories. Before you decide whether or not to join, and which one(s) to use, here are 5 things to consider when joining a lawyer directory:

  1. Does the directory give you a unique advantage? You’ll be investing your time, money, name, and brand when you sign up. But are you really going to get an edge from this site that you can’t get anywhere else or on your own? Approach this question by understanding the legal marketing landscape and where you fit in. You’ll need to know if your prospects typically find you online, how SEO works on a general level as well as specifically for your business, and how pay-per-click campaigns work. If you decide it’s worth it to join, be clear on all the rules and how changes to those rules can impact your business.
  2. Who ultimately benefits from the directory? Hopefully, your firm! However, if you research the corporate structure of some top directories, you’ll see that some are publicly traded companies, or owned by publicly traded companies. Others are independent, privately owned directories. Either way, it’s important to know where the affiliation of the brand ultimately lies.
  3. Are there conflicts of interest when it comes to what your marketing dollars are financing? While attorney marketing is a revenue stream for the directory, there could be another, main business activity that actually puts you at a disadvantage. Maybe the directory has specific agreements with your major competitors. You should bring up these points when you call around to learn more about any directory.
  4. Are you creating online assets in for the legal directory that you will need to walk away from should you cancel your subscription at some point in the future? In addition to listing your name – which is why you are paying the monthly fee, you may be encouraged to add original content. Sometimes, when you add this content, the rights actually belong to the directory, whether or not you remain a member or not. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you are paying a couple hundred dollars per month to be listed, creating content for the directory, and then not have ownership of your work if you decide to unsubscribe in six months, one year, or any other time in the future.
  5. How does the directory track results of your listing? If they are hesitant to be 100% transparent on this point, be wary. They should be able to give you the activity generated by your listing, including number of phone calls originating from your listing, the number of emails, clicks to your website, views of your profile, etc. If you can’t accurately track your ROI from a directory, you can’t be sure the fee is worth it.

If you are still debating whether a directory is the right marketing channel for your firm, consider some of these pros and cons.

Pros of Online Lawyer Directories

  • Cost – There is a wide range of legal directories, many providing cost-friendly marketing options compared to other channels. Many directories charge less than a few hundred dollars a month, so getting your investment back may only take as little as one new client per month.
  • Quick results – Your listing may be up and running within a day or two of signing up for the service. The best-case scenario is that you start getting results almost immediately. This is possible depending on the quality and size of the directory you decide to use.
  • Volume – Prospects go to directories for the sole purpose of vetting attorneys. Therefore, directories offer the potential for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of potential clients to view your listing.

Cons of Online Lawyer Directories

  • Reputation – Sometimes it may be tricky to determine which directory (or directories) are worthwhile. All services will try to convince you that they have the edge over others, but it is your job to ask specific questions as described previously and to get as much information as possible. Other inquires may involve what your firm can expect, pricing, how long the directory has been up and running, whether the company has positive reviews with the Better Business Bureau, etc.
  • Lack of visibility – Your firm is not guaranteed top results just because the directory itself ranks well on Internet searches. If you are not listed within a few clicks, then using the directory may not be an effective use of your marketing budget. Ensure that your firm gets preferential placement on a regular basis so that you are easily visible to prospects.
  • No filtering – This is not always a bad thing, but it can cost your firm a lot of time to qualify the leads that come from directories. This is a good problem to have if you are well staffed. However, if you are a small firm with a handful of attorneys who are all swamped, it can cause a quite a disruption.

Once you find a directory you believe will be beneficial to your business, here are two quick tips for your listing:

  • Instead of using an 800 number in local directories, use your primary office number. This indicates that you are proud to be a local business.
  • Make sure the links to your firm all lead to the same landing page – just one, not multiple pages. List the link that has the best conversion rate according to your analytics.

And as with any other marketing investment, your firm makes, evaluate the results of being listed on a directory regularly to decide if you are getting a good return on your investment.