How to Choose a URL for Your Law Firm
Marketing your law firm includes not only big, splashy advertising and compelling messaging to potential clients, but also techy, behind-the-scenes efforts like how to choose a URL for your law firm. Never overlook a chance to create a positive brand image for your firm, and this includes naming your URL. Too often, firms quickly overlook decisions about their URL and end up choosing domain names that are predictable and uninspired. Be sure you don’t make this mistake.
Search Engine Journal reminds practitioners to choose an SEO-friendly URL structure to improve your chances of ranking in Google search results. It recommends standardizing your URLs in lower case; use hyphens, not underscores in URLs; and keep years and dates out of URLs for blogs and pages with content that you intend to update in the future. Search Engine Land also offers an infographic that explains how to choose SEO-friendly URLs.
Forbes magazine offers these ‘8 Smart Tips for Choosing a Winning Domain Name.’ While some may be more relevant to your law firm than others, all are worth considering:
1. Be brandable
Think of your URL as the digital face of your company. Your URL needs to be simple, novel, and memorable — never complicated. Avoid inserting hyphens and numbers. This element is key when deciding how to choose a URL for your law firm.
2. Make it pronounceable
In this age of pop culture and oh-so-cool imaging, there’s a temptation to go way out on a limb when creating URLs and company names. Remember that function and usability always trump cleverness in these matters. Make sure potential clients can pronounce — and therefore remember — your URL. If you must spell your URL over the telephone for someone to understand it, then you’ve got a less-than-stellar URL. Potential web site traffic is lost if users misspell a complicated URL.
3. Keep it short, but not too short
You want brevity in your URL so it’s easy to remember. But don’t unnecessarily shorten your firm name or tagline to make it shorter still. By cutting off words or shortening them unnaturally, you may create confusion. Also, use acronyms only if they’re easily recognizable. For example, everyone knows that USPS is United States Postal Service.
4. Go after .com
Clever is not better when it comes to extensions. Always make .com your first choice. If at all possible, avoid other less-common extensions like .pro or .me or even .net. People’s first thoughts are always .com when they’re trying to remember a company’s URL.
5. Avoid trademark infringement & confusion
Save yourself a headache in the future and avoid potential trademark problems, which can cause your law firm to be confused with another firm. It’s just not worth the hassle, no matter how clever the URL or tag line. This is where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Check out guidelines at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office if you have any questions.
6. Make it instantly intuitive
Remember that your domain name does not have to be your law firm’s name. Sometimes that’s a good choice, but not always. You want your domain name to be instantly intuitive, which means a user quickly understands the nature of your product or practice areas just by reading your URL. For example, if your firm specializes in bankruptcy or personal injury, consider including that word or short phrase in your URL. This is a handy tip when deciding how to choose a URL for your law firm.
7. Use keywords sensibly
Keywords in domain names can help, but they don’t have the same SEO heft they once did. In ranking sites, Google’s algorithm now shies away from URLs that are too spammy with keywords, so don’t bend over backwards to try to include exact- match keywords.
8. Append or modify if necessary
It’s best not to fall in love with one URL, because it’s possible that URL is already taken by someone else. If this happens to you, consider adding a suffix or an additional word at the end to find a URL of your own. Or choose something entirely different.
Your law firm URL should be brandable, pronounceable, and short. Be strategic rather than clever when choosing a URL for your law firm.
Choosing a URL for Your Law Firm Website Can Be Fun
Don’t forget to include your trusted staff when brainstorming about potential URLs for your law firm. Paralegals and administrative support are frequently your client-facing employees, and they know what resonates with first-time callers and potential clients seeking additional information about your law firm. This boots-on-the-ground input can be useful when trying to figure out how to set your firm’s URL apart from the competition. Staff can also let you know if they frequently encounter questions from the public about confusion over your brand. Hosting a brainstorming session over a catered office lunch can be fun, and it will turn up new ideas. Any final decisions can be made by firm leadership.
There are several sites where you can buy a domain name once you’ve decided on one, including GoDaddy, Domain.com, SquareSpace, and others. If you need input from SEO professionals about how to choose a URL for your law firm, Gladiator Law Marketing would be glad to help. Call us at 1-888-683-3212.
Should a Law Firm URL Have the Law Firm Name?
This is the $64,000 question. Some people assume that a law firm’s name should always be included in their URL, but this isn’t necessarily the case. If you choose a URL that is different than your firm name, it is often best to create a URL that describes what you do. For example, something with “car accidents” or “lemon law” in the domain name works if these are the legal services you provide.
An article about this topic in Inc. magazine discusses the potential pitfalls of having a domain name that is different than your company name. Inc. suggests that if your business revolves primarily around online interactions or if your customers are everyday people, then an exact match URL with your firm name is more important. On the other hand, if you do significant B2B work, then Inc. says an exact match is less important. Other experts may agree or disagree.
Google also discusses the possibility of buying more than one domain name, especially if your firm name or tagline is easily misspelled. Google recommends buying domain names with similar spellings so that users who make minor typos when keying in your URL will still wind up at your website. This is especially true if one or more of the surnames in your firm name is either long or difficult to spell. Google also recommends more than one domain if your law firm used to have a different name. You can redirect those other domains to your current site so that, no matter which one is used, it will get the visitor where you want them to be. This is important to keep in mind when debating how to choose a URL for your law firm.
How Long Is Your Firm Name?
If your law firm has several partners and each surname is in your law firm’s name, a URL that reflects each surname would be far too long. For example, www.weisenheimerschlichtersmithpodrosky.com might pose a small challenge for someone to recall easily. Is your firm commonly known by the first two surnames in the firm name? Then consider using only those for your URL, or maybe even just one. Many law firms take this approach. Yet you never know what the future holds. It is possible one of the major partners will move on to start another firm and, just like that, your firm name, branding, and URL need to change. Don’t let this possibility deter you from using your firm name in your URL. The sky won’t fall if you make a change. You simply need to know the process to follow before you leap.
Is it a Bad Idea to Change Your URL After Your Website Is Established or Redesigned?
While the URL you settle upon doesn’t need to be carved in stone, it’s ideal to retain the same URL if possible. This is why it’s important to pick an appropriate URL from the start. If you have a robust SEO strategy and get a lot of traffic from Google searches, your current URL is a strong asset. It’s not the end of the world if you change your URL down the road, but it may create a temporary drop in the amount of site traffic. If you absolutely must make the change, consult with a knowledgeable SEO team that has significant experience in how to choose a URL for your law firm.
When possible, choose dot-com (.com) for your law firm URL. Extensions like dot-net (.net) and dot-us (.us) just don’t carry the same punch, and they’re harder to remember.
Here’s the Takeaway When Choosing a URL for Your Law Firm
There’s a lot to know when creating a URL for your law firm. Simply assuming that your domain name should be the same as your firm name could lead you to miss important branding and marketing opportunities. It’s important to remember that your URL should be short, intuitive, memorable, and easily pronounceable. You never want to have to spell out your URL over the phone. If you find yourself doing this a lot, then your URL is probably not optimal. Your URL is the “digital face” of your firm, and you want it to effortlessly convey the legal services you offer. If you need some coaching about how to choose a URL for your law firm, our award-winning Gladiator professionals would be glad to lend our expertise. We have many satisfied clients. Call us at 1-888-683-3212 and we’ll help you brainstorm!
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