How to select a domain name for your law firm

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law-firm-domain-nameGuest 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.

Dot what?

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.

Consider generics

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.

(photo: Mike_fleming)

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.

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  • Jake

    Great article. I’m going to add a few more domain names.

  • Joe Murray

    Great article. The generic branding concept makes a lot of sense. I will reconsider my firm’s website as a result of reading this.

  • These are important considerations. Lawyers should be wary of becoming overzealous in choosing domain names and violate some lawyer advertising rule. Don’t choose names that try to make you out to be better than other lawyers (www.bestfamilylawyer.com) or names that overstate the size of your firm if you’re a solo (www.jonesandassociates.com). Some states prohibit magic words like “specialist;” others do not. Some states also have a low tolerance for crass names (www.pitbull_lawyers.com).

  • Bob Olea

    Good article. Surprisingly, many firms will never ‘get it’ when it comes to the internet. I did some cold call marketing for one of my best legal names – BusinessAttorneys.com – earlier this year.

    Some of the reactions were almost comical. And these were medium sized ‘business law’ firms. Too funny. Still for sale for the right buyer…..

  • John Di Giacomo

    Great post Alex. I’ve noticed that domain names that contain keywords related to your practice are also extremely helpful, especially when it comes to Bing. Bing really likes keyword domains for some reason, even more so than Google. Attorneys don’t often realize that spending a little money on a decent domain will pay off in a very short amount of time.

  • David Twitchell

    Good advice. Too many of my clients ignore key terms in favor of a lengthy firm name when picking their domain names.

    I would say that while short, generic, dot com domains (and lots of them) may be beneficial, in the legal market it is erroneous to suggest that a dot net, dot org or dot info domain will likely benefit a competitor. Legal practices are largely region-specific. Twin Cities lawyers are not in competition with Los Angeles attorneys, generally speaking. The inclusion of a geographical term lengthens a domain name and makes it less generic, but may be beneficial.

    I would also point out that traffic does NOT lead to new clients. Being found for searches that actually apply to your practice, and then presenting your services in a positive way is what gets you new clients. Many popular and expensive SEO practices will increase your traffic. Very few, if any, will actually gain you clients. If people spent more time creating/obtaining quality content for their sites, and less time trying to game the system, they would find their Internet marketing efforts more successful.

  • Nice article. We’ve written an article on domain name selection that complements this post well… you can read it here:
    Domain Name Selection
    Hopefully it might prove useful to a few people
    Thanks for posting!

  • Great Article,

    With the hope starting a practice in the near future, this definitely helps. I will start researching different site names and hopefully find one that is still available.

  • Pete

    Should also consider Google’s Penguin algorithm when deciding to host more than one website including a generic domain. Google may penalize your site that is otherwise thin and spammy on a keyword filled domain based on your practice area. For SEO purposes, brand name domains will win in the end.

  • Rosa

    Nice article. I will like to add that if you also provide services in another language, secure an exact domain match in that language. The premium domain name Abogados.com is own by a savvy firm that knew the value of the Spanish domain name for Lawyers.

  • While having a domain name that is an exact match to a popular keyword that gets searched in Google is great (i.e. CaliforniaAttorney.com is an exact match to the keyword phrase “California Attorney”) having a domain name that contains at least part of the target keyword phrase your website is targeting can go a long way as well.