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Should Lawyers Buy .law Domains?

by | Aug 10, 2015 | Marketing

In the “.law” domain extension will soon be available for purchase by attorneys. This post examines whether lawyers should consider investing in this new product.

Should you buy a .law name for your law firm?

Rarely a week goes by where I don’t speak with a lawyer who has amassed a small army of hundreds of yet-to-be-deployed domain names. Every time a new top level domain (TLD) there is a flurry of hype. So the release of the .law TLD into a sea of available TLDs is certain to by on more than a few lawyers’ minds.

While there are some compelling reasons to open your wallet for this latest land-rush, make sure you do it for the right (and strategic reasons).

A brief history of domain names for lawyers.

Not long ago, there were three main choices for domain names that were available for lawyers to register.

  • .com
  • .net
  • .org

It was a land of scarcity, and the dot.com names were the prime real estate. There was a land-rush for dot.com domain names, and if you missed out, well, you were SOL. And if you made out, perhaps you were insightful enough to register law.com or dui.com, then you acquired an asset that would ultimately appreciate tens of thousands of times its original value.

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 1990’s, these domain names appreciated rapidly.

More domains were introduced. There was .info, .us, .me. When the mobile web started to appear on radars, people scrambled to buy .mobi domains.

Top level domains in 2015 and beyond.

Today there are more than 1,000 TLDs available for internet addresses. Why are there so many? Well, for one, because people are buying them.

There is no evidence that I’ve seen that a .law domain will provide an advantage in search engine ranking.

The question that many lawyers will be asking is whether there is an SEO benefit to using a .law domain.

There is no evidence that I 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 has said 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 came the release of .lawyer and .attorney domains. I 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.

Both .lawyer and .attorney domains make you go through an additional step when registering the domain name. You have to provide information (a phone number) for the licensing agency (your state bar).

The idea for the benefit behind the verification process 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 I have not seen practical evidence as of yet.

Why should I consider getting a .law domain for my law firm?

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.

Should I build a new law firm website on a .law domain, or transfer my old site to a .law domain?

While there is no reason not to consider using a .law domain if you are starting a new site, 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, in my opinion. Other authors, whom I respect, have taken a different position as to .attorney and .lawyer domains. And they may know, or may have observed something that I have not.

So 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 that you are:

  1. Creating high quality, original content for the site.
  2. That the content is relevant to your target audience, including potential clients and referral sources.
  3. That you don’t engage in dubious SEO practices like purchasing links, stuffing keywords or hundreds of other things that the cult of the internet persists in selling to lawyers despite the admonitions of Google.

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