This is the next post in my series on website options for attorneys. My last discussion looked at whether Scorpion Web Design is a good option for law firms. I’ve also looked at things attorneys should look for in a web developer.
In this post, I’m going to look at whether Justia is a good option for managing a lawyer’s web presence. After trying to deal with Justia, talking to their clients, and evaluating some of their websites, all I can say is it’ll do as a low-cost solution, but lacks exclusivity.
I’ve concluded that the service may not be the best option for law firms because of the feedback I received from attorneys and several SEO “red flags” I found in examining various Justia built websites. I’ve found that it appears law firm websites powered by Justia suffer from similar issues.
During this review, I’ll evaluate Justia as it pertains to cost, the potential to do well in organic search through SEO, adaptability to the changing web environment, and some other considerations. First, let’s dive into my experience in trying to review Justia.
My experience in evaluating Justia as an attorney’s website option
Before discussing whether it is a good option for attorneys, I would like to discuss my experience attempting to reach out to the company for this review. When I first reviewed Justia in 2014 & 2015, I found the company’s lack of responsiveness to be alarming. I reached out to Justia multiple times to discuss their services and never received a message back.
Over time I have received feedback from many attorneys who are customers of Justia, and they shared some of their experiences with me. I also analyzed multiple Justia sites from a technical and SEO perspective and reviewed literature about the company.
Below is a pie chart that shows the feedback of 30+ attorneys who have hired Justia in a survey conducted by Chris Dreyer of Rankings.io.
I’ll be basing my review on an analysis I performed on multiple existing Justia sites and attorneys’ feedback I have received on the company.
Let’s jump right into costs.
EVALUATING THE COST OF JUSTIA’S WEBSITE SERVICES
The cost of Justia’s services appears to be variable. The variance in prices is based on the desired services and the number of attorneys in a law firm.
If, for example, the attorney wants Justia to write their content instead of the attorney writing it, there will be an extra charge.
Given my inability to speak with anyone at the company, I could not get a specific breakdown of Justia’s price structure. After digging online, Justia appears to cost anywhere around $1,700 for a couple of attorneys to less than $3,600 annually for a firm of ten attorneys.
This is what Chris Dreyer, a law firm marketing professional, has to say about lawyers using Justia and its value:
THE SEO POTENTIAL OF JUSTIA SITES
I looked at several factors on over seven different Justia websites. I base my opinion on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and other factors relevant to SEO. I found several problems across these sites, which leaves me with the conclusion that you get what you pay for with Justia. They’re not the worse choice for attorneys, but far from the best.
The first technical factor I examined with Justia’s websites is the loading speed. Google considers page speed a critical ranking factor in search. To assist webmasters with making sure that a site loads properly, Google has the “Page Speed Insights” tool, which I used to run my tests.
This is a free tool from Google, which assists webmasters in knowing:
1) Whether a site loads quickly enough
2) What steps should be taken to speed up a website
In other words — this tool is Google telling webmasters whether a site meets Google’s criteria and what needs to be done to fix any issues.
Of the 4 Justia sites I tested, all had passing desktop scores, except one was slower on mobile.
After all of the tests I ran, I was fairly impressed that Justia has improved their clients’ page speeds since this review’s original debut in 2014.
An issue I saw with certain pages on Justia’s clients’ sites is that they had a poor header element structure. Heading structure is essential for assisting Google in understanding the purpose of a page. For example, a common issue was they had a <1> element, were missing <2> and <3> and used several <4> elements. In attorney terms, think of this as writing a legal brief which is outlined like this:
A. The Case should be dismissed.
A(4) sub-point of why this case should be dismissed
See the point? It’s missing A(1)-(3). Search engines will undoubtedly take issue with improperly formatted heading structure.
One site I looked at had underscores in some URLs. This is also frowned upon by the search engines. But overall, I didn’t see this issue too prevalent throughout their sites.
A Caveat with Justia’s Content
The content I saw on the sites was problematic. I saw multiple instances where a large part of the content was devoted to blocking quoting statutes. This is a massive mistake as such is merely generating content for the sake of generating it. I talked about this more at length when I mentioned how attorneys can tell Google will view their website as spam. The extent to which I saw this practice on these sites was alarming.
Possible Malicious Backlinks
Another big problem I had, as with Scorpion, is the high number of backlinks reported for these sites. While I couldn’t discuss the issue with anyone at Justia, the high number of backlinks appear to be unnatural. In my opinion, if I had a Justia site, I would be concerned over the possibility of being an algorithm update away from losing my search ranking. Without input from Justia, I would be concerned about this point.
Given that ranking for search terms is competitive and Justia is more for the budget-minded, their results in organic search are usually okay — at best.
JUSTIA WEBSITES AND THE CHANGING WEB ENVIRONMENT
The sites I looked at did contain a responsive web design, which is good for mobile devices. I did note, however, that one of the sites was using flash in its desktop version. Given the extent that flash is being phased out of the web, including the desktop, I found this concerning.
All-in-all, though, the company does appear to be attempting to optimize for mobile. Most Justia sites that I tested, also had good Page Speed insight scores for mobile.
SHOULD ATTORNEYS UTILIZE JUSTIA FOR THEIR WEBSITE
I could only recommend Justia as a website provider for attorneys looking for a low-cost solution. I found their customer service to be very alarming, and the least-bit helpful during my first review. For firms looking to be competitive in the SERPs, I believe attorneys can find a much better option. And if lawyers do choose Justia, I’d suggest onboarding extra help for a more personalized marketing experience.
Have you used Justia for your firm’s web marketing needs? Please let us know about your experience in the comment section below.