Free: 10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common
For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.
Guest post by Alexander Ripps
Selecting the right domain name for your law firm or private practice is an important decision. As broadband continues to expand, both domestically and abroad, securing your online identity is more important than ever before. When selecting your domain name, there are certain characteristics you should always look for. Specifically, you want a name that is short and easy to remember.
Keep it short and easy-to-remember
The two elements go together. The shorter the name, the easier it is to remember. This may require using an acronym of the partners’ names instead of the full name of the firm, but most people have short attention spans. The shorter name will ultimately serve you better. A memorable name is simply a name people will easily remember. Once you’ve made a list of potential names, try saying them out loud. Imagine hearing it on the radio. Is it easy to understand? Would the average person be able to spell it easily after hearing it once? These are important questions. If the answer to each of them is “yes”, then you are on your way to choosing a good domain name.
A final consideration should be the extension of your domain name. Simply put, there is dot Com and there is everything else. Dot Com is the king of the domain name world because it is the most ingrained in the consciousness of internet users. Many times a consumer will remember a domain name and assume the extension is dot Com. If you do not have a dot Com extension, you are requiring more work on the part of your potential clients. Also, if a company or person already owns your desired name in the dot Com extension, and you elect to register the name in an alternate extension (.Net, .Org, .Info, etc), all the resources you put into advertising your name will undoubtedly benefit the .Com owner (who is likely a competitor). If your name is already registered in dot Com, but can be acquired for a reasonable price, it is an investment that will pay for itself several times over.
In addition to choosing a domain name that accurately represents your online identity, law firms and solo practitioners should be aware of the advantages of owning generic domain names in addition to their specific law firm name. Consider the following example.
Joe Shmoe, John Doe and Jane Hoe are lawyers. They have just opened their new practice: Shmoe, Doe & Hoe, LLP. The firm specializes in employment law. Anxious to start promoting the new law firm, the group registers the domain name SDHLaw.com. Excited to be online with their own website, Shmoe, Doe & Hoe, LLP believe they have taken the necessary steps to secure their online brand, and that new clients will flow in as the result of their new online presence. Unfortunately, Shmoe, Doe & Hoe, LLP have done nothing more than create a website that few people will find, and from which few new clients will emerge. This law firm, like many real life law firms, has neglected to understand the value of a generic domain name when creating their online identity.
A generic domain name is exactly what it sounds like. It is a domain name consisting of a generic term describing a product or service. The fictitious law firm used in the example above specializes in employment law. Some generic domain names that would be beneficial for the firm to use include: EmploymentLaw.com, EmploymentLawyer.com and EmploymentAttorney.com. All three of these generic terms get searched thousands of times a month. When you own a domain name that matches exactly what people are searching for, that leads to traffic. Traffic leads to new clients.
More is better
A law firm (or solo attorney) should never ask whether it is better to own mylawfirmname.com or a generic domain name. The answer is always both! For any law firm that is serious about embracing the internet as a means of attracting new clients, the goal should be to create a network of domain names that ultimately direct the viewer to your main law firm website. By owning as many generic domain names related to your niche as possible, not only will you be able to drive traffic to your main site, you will create instant credibility within your specialized field.
There are several other benefits of owning a generic domain name. In most cases, a generic domain name is simply more memorable than a name referring to a specific law firm. Remember, part of establishing an online brand is to create something people will remember. Finally, generic domain names are inherently valuable. A great generic domain name will always have value. In the event times get tough, or if your firm dissolves, a generic domain name may be one of the best assets you have and can provide instant liquidity.
The key to success in today’s online world is visibility. Using generic domain names to shape your online brand is one of the best ways to maximize your firm’s visibility.
Today’s guest post comes from Alexander Ripps, who recently graduated from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law in Washington, DC. Alexander is also the founder and President of Domainer Nation.