First law firms seized on .com online domains, then .net and .org domains. Now a land rush has started for .law domains, since megafirms Skadden and DLA Piper were among the first law firms to adopt .law URLs. However, web-marketing experts see no real benefit for law firms in getting a .law domain:
There is no evidence of any search engine optimization (SEO) benefit to any specific top-level domain (including .law) over a dot.com domain name or any other extension.
If you have a website that is working on any other top-level domain, it doesn’t make sense to transfer your website to a new .law domain.
However, registering your firm’s name with a .law extension may be a good investment to protect yourself from the hassle of having a bad actor register it instead.
Rarely does a week go by when we don’t speak with a lawyer who has amassed hundreds of yet-to-be-deployed domain names. Every time a new top-level domain (TLD) appears, there is a flurry of hype. So the release of the .law TLD into a sea of 1,500 available TLDs1 is certain to be on many lawyers’ minds.
There are some compelling arguments for opening your wallet for this latest trend, but do so only if it makes strategic sense.
Domain Names’ Ebb and Flow
Not long ago, the internet was a land of scarcity, and dot.com domain names were the prime real estate. There was a land rush for dot.com domain names, and if you missed out, you were out of luck. But perhaps you were insightful enough to register law.com or dui.com and acquired an asset that would ultimately appreciate to tens of thousands of times its original value.
Larry Bodine, is the Senior Legal Marketing Strategist for LawLytics, a web marketing company. He is also the editor of the The National Trial Lawyers website.
Dan Jaffe is a member of the Arizona and Washington state bars and is CEO of LawLytics Legal Marketing Suite.
Then the law of supply and demand kicked in. Because of the scarcity, and because of the flurry of advertising surrounding dot.com business during the first internet bubble in the late 1990s, these domain names appreciated rapidly. More domains were introduced, such as .info, .us, and .me. When the mobile web started to appear on radars, people scrambled to buy .mobi domains.
.Law domains became available in October 2015. As of September 2016 fewer than 10,000 .law names were registered2 and only 13,500 “.lawyer” domain names were registered.
The Question of SEO Benefit
The question that many lawyers will ask is whether there is an SEO benefit to using a .law domain.
There is no evidence that we have seen of any SEO benefit to any specific TLD (including .law) over a dot.com domain name or any other extension. Here’s what Matt Cutts, Google’s acting administrator of the US Digital Service, says in response to somebody claiming otherwise.
“Sorry, but that’s just not true, and as an engineer in the search quality team at Google, I feel the need to debunk this misconception. Google has a lot of experience in returning relevant web pages, regardless of the top-level domain (TLD). Google will attempt to rank new TLDs appropriately, but I don’t expect a new TLD to get any kind of initial preference over .com, and I wouldn’t bet on that happening in the long term either. If you want to register an entirely new TLD for other reasons, that’s your choice, but you shouldn’t register a TLD in the mistaken belief that you’ll get some sort of boost in search engine rankings.”
But are .law domains different because they verify that the person registering the domain is a lawyer?
Before the release of .law domains, .lawyer and .attorney domains were released. We have seen no evidence to suggest that websites sporting these addresses are doing any better (or any worse) than their analogues with .com, .info, .net, or other extensions, although we have several .lawyer and .attorney sites on the LawLytics system that are doing quite well.
Registration of either a .lawyer or a .attorney domain name requires an additional step. You must provide information (a phone number) for the licensing agency (your state bar). The cost is approximately $100.
The reason the verification process is thought to be beneficial is that the safeguards in registering .lawyer, .attorney, and .law domain names will give the search engines an additional trust factor. It’s a reasonable argument, but one for which we have not seen practical evidence as of yet.
How to Choose a
<iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/8r4Z3PizZ9g" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Getting a .Law Domain
Considerations. Here’s why you might consider getting a .law domain for your law firm.
There are bad actors on the internet. They’re everywhere. And they will prey on you. You need to protect yourself. If you have a law firm with an established brand, or if you are an attorney with an established name, you have something to protect. Registering your firm’s name with a .law extension may be a good investment to protect yourself from the hassle of having a bad actor register it instead.
And some big names, including Skadden and DLA Piper, are already registering theirs.3
Building New versus Transferring Old. While there is no reason not to consider using a .law domain if you are starting a new website, if you do use one, don’t expect any elevated value over choosing any other TLD. If you have a website that is working on any other TLD, we do not recommend transferring your website to a new .law domain. If your current website is not working, you have nothing to lose (or gain) by transferring it.
In other words, the domain extension .law itself is neutral. Other authors have taken a different position regarding
.attorney and .lawyer domains. But they may have seen something that we have not.
What Really Matters
What really matters is not the TLD, but what you do with it. You can have the best dot.com domain, and if it lacks good content and doesn’t follow Google’s recommended practices, it won’t work well. Regardless of whether you use a .law, .com, or any other domain extension, make sure of the following:
Create high-quality, original content for the site.
Create content that is relevant to your target audience, including potential clients and referral sources.
Do not engage in dubious SEO practices, such as purchasing links, stuffing keywords, or any of hundreds of other things that the cult of the internet persists in selling to lawyers despite the admonitions of Google.