This is the next post in my series on how the newly available .attorney and .lawyer domains will impact law firm marketing. My last discussion looked at how these new domain extensions will assist Google by making search less ambiguous. In this article I’m going to deal with some of the flawed reasons I’ve seen people give in claiming that these domains won’t impact search.
I’ve read numerous articles, and I’ve heard multiple reasons given, as to why people think the newly available extensions won’t matter in search. A lot of the reasons may seem to initially make sense until you stop to think about them for a second. Arguments I’ve read include:
- Lawyers with an existing domain won’t want to move their website as they would lose the authority/rank of their current domain
- Many have argued that Google doesn’t consider the top-level domain in search
- Some have argued that since these domains aren’t currently ranking higher in search then there is no reason to purchase one
These arguments are about as reliable as this woman’s math skills:
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Lawyers can move their .com website to a .attorney or .lawyer domain without losing their ranking
Here’s where I’ll be blunt. If you’re webmaster is telling you that you can’t move your existing website to a .lawyer/.attorney domain without losing your ranking then they have no clue of what they’re talking about. It’s true that simply switching domains, without doing anything else, will kill your search ranking. Google, however, offers a “change of address” tool that allows webmasters to move a site from “Domain A” to “Domain B” without losing any search ranking. This is because all of the old site’s authority/reputation/age/etc. is transferred to the new URL as part of the process. This tool has actually been around for a while and we will be utilizing it when our clients migrate from their .com websites to their .lawyer domains in the coming months (we are having our clients do this because we consider it crucial for the future of search). Here’s brother Cutts’ video on the change of address tool:
Simply put, anyone who claims you’ll lose your authority by switching URL’s a) doesn’t know how to properly migrate a URL and b) isn’t worthy of whatever you’re paying them.
People who say Google doesn’t care about a site’s TLD don’t understand the nature of new .attorney or .lawyer domains
Many “experts” are hanging their hat on a video Matt Cutts did in 2012 regarding TLD’s (such as .com, .movie, etc.). In that video he stressed that Google’s goal is to return the best results and that if the best content/user experience is on a particular site then the TLD wouldn’t matter and that site would be returned. People relying on this argument are missing a huge point – they don’t understand that the new law firm domains are different from what was available in 2012 and they will, in fact, contribute to returning the “best results” that Google is looking for.
I talked at length in my previous article (which is linked to in the first paragraph of this discussion) as to how the new TLD’s will help Google better categorize websites and how they will also assist in the “identity verification” that Google has been stressing since 2011. I won’t re-hash those arguments here. The fact though, that one actually has to be an attorney to buy these domains is what makes all the difference (the reasons for which were discussed in the last article). Any comparisons to what was said in 2012 are apples to oranges. Search is fluid and the way in which the big G ranks sites changes constantly. Sorry to tell some people – but it’s now 2014 and not 2012. Which brings us to the next point.
Webmasters arguing against .attorney or .lawyer domains don’t understand the changing nature of search
OK. The third argument is that these domains aren’t currently ranking highly in search so they’re not worth the purchase (I’m shaking my head side to side as I’m typing this). First of all, these domains just became available about a month ago (as of the time of this article) so of course they’re not showing up in search yet – attorneys are just beginning to purchase them. Second, Google makes hundreds of changes to its algorithms a year so if one wants to think search is static and never changes then good for them – they’re simply making it easier for the people who understand these issues. People who think search is static are about as receptive as this guy:
My last discussion deals with why these domains will matter in the future and if one doesn’t have a webmaster who is forward thinking than that’s a big problem for their marketing.
Do I see the new .attorney & .lawyer domains being crucial to law firm search marketing? Yep. Do I think attorneys should purchase domains they reasonably think they’re going to use? Yep. Are most attorneys doing this? Nope. Is this your chance to get ahead of the curve? Yep.
Why do you think law firms are missing the boat and not buying domains they’ll need in the near future? Please chime in through the comment form below.