Online directories provide measurable benefits well beyond exposure

Fifty years ago, someone who needed help from an attorney might crack open the yellow pages or leaf through a copy of the massive—and famously unindexed—Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Thirty years ago, that same person might've called a lawyer referral service or purchased a Martindale-Hubbell CD-ROM (indexed!).

Today, online directories have surpassed all other methods for finding attorneys, and—unlike vinyl records and Polaroid cameras—the old methods are unlikely to make a nostalgia-driven comeback. This should be welcome news to lawyers, as online directories offer a number of measurable benefits to older methods.

What are online legal directories?

An online legal directory is a searchable web-based directory of law firms and lawyers in different areas of the world. Online directories are generally searchable by name, geographic region, and practice area.

Some online directories include more information than others. The most comprehensive directories include photographs, contact information, and lists of an attorney's target practice areas.

Why should a lawyer be listed in an online legal directory?

1. Exposure

The most obvious reason why you should list yourself and your firm in an online legal directory is exposure. Consider this: 97% of people start their search for an attorney online, and 87% of people who contact an attorney go on to hire that attorney.

Put simply, a listing that includes your contact information generates direct leads that can provide a quick return on a relatively small investment.
Facing facts: According to a 2019 study conducted by the American Bar Association, the use of print marketing is declining. Only a quarter of firms still rely on print for their marketing (down from 34% in 2016). On the other hand, 75% of firms maintain some sort of online presence.

Interestingly, while potential clients often search specifically for an online legal directory, Google's 2014 Pigeon Update improved the ranking of online legal directories in general so that even potential clients who don't specifically search for a legal directory—but instead search for something like"Tampa Bay personal injury attorney"—see online legal directories at the top of their search results.

2. Backlinks to your website

Backlinks (also known as "inbound links") are critical to your website's domain authority (DA). Your domain authority, in turn, is critical to your search-engine-results-page rank. Your search-engine-results-page rank is critical to how many potential clients view your website.

Confused? Let's take a step back.

Whenever you enter a search query into Google or any other search engine, the search engine returns a page of results matching your query. This page is called the search engine results page (SERP). As you might imagine, the higher a website appears (or "ranks") on the SERP, the more clicks it receives. Studies have shown that as much as 55% of clicks go to the first 3 sites listed.

So, how can you get your website to appear higher on the SERP?

There are a number of factors that determine how highly a website ranks, but one of the most important factors is your domain authority. The higher your DA score, the higher your website will rank. Backlinks are key to improving your DA score. Both the number and quality of backlinks (links on a website that point to your website) impacts your DA score.

In addition to listing your law firm with an online directory, you can increase backlinks by contributing content (linked to your website) to a top-ranked website. This is one of the reasons why Enjuris features interviews, contributor guest posts and other content from Enjuris Partner Attorneys.

3. Local search visibility

When a person submits a search query that includes a location modifier (e.g. "workers' compensation attorney in Athens, Georgia"), Google returns a page of results that includes something called a "local 3-pack."

The local 3-pack appears at the top of the SERP in a box that includes a map and the names and locations of 3 businesses related to the query.

How does Google decide which businesses to include in the local 3-pack?

One of the most important factors is a consistent name, address, and telephone number across the web. Online legal directories provide an easy way for lawyers to check this box and increase their chances of appearing in the local 3-pack.

screenshot of Google SERP box

4. Credibility

Listing your law firm in an online directory—particularly if the directory is integrated with a relevant and respected web resource—gives the impression that your firm is credible and has a reputable standing. This is imperative as more and more prospective clients run online searches to verify the reputation of a lawyer, even when the prospective client hears about the lawyer through word of mouth.

Studies show that lawyers and law firms have increased their marketing budgets over the last few years. To thrive amidst this increased competition, lawyers need to do more than spend money on marketing—they need to spend money wisely.

An online legal directory is an effective, inexpensive tool that should be part of any lawyer's marketing plan.

Enjuris is an invaluable tool to boost exposure and set forth the messaging you want to see for your law firm. To see how you can be featured and optimize your Enjuris profile, we invite you to send us a message.

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