This discussion in my Website Options for Law Firms series will take a look at FindLaw as a website services provider.
I’ve previously reviewed the services offered by other large companies that hold themselves out as specializing in law firm marketing. These discussions included a review of Scorpion Web Design and Justia. Let’s start by taking a look at my experience with FindLaw.
My experience in evaluating Findlaw as a website option for law firms
FindLaw is a common name in the attorney marketing world. FindLaw offers a variety of legal marketing products that include website services, online legal directories for attorneys (divided by practice area and location), and other products. Thomson Reuters currently owns the company after having been originally founded in 1995.
They’re now also offering assistance to attorneys with non-web-based forms of advertising.
My review will focus exclusively on the website services, as that’s the focus of this series.
I will start by saying that my experience reviewing Findlaw was a night and day difference compared to Scorpion Web Design, LexisNexis, or Justia. The lack of cooperation from each of those entities made me feel like I must have been inquiring about top-level government defense secrets.
During my review of Findlaw, I spoke with multiple representatives who helped answer my questions. After getting quite a bit of feedback and running a series of tests, I feel very comfortable discussing the service.
Evaluating Findlaw as a website platform for lawyers and law firms
As with all other posts in this series, I’m evaluating Findlaw according to cost, SEO potential, ease of use, and how well the company seems to be keeping up with the changing web environment.
Analyzing the cost of Findlaw websites
On the cost front, expect Findlaw to be as expensive, and probably more expensive, than other options you may be considering.
FindLaw offers pricing levels for attorney websites based on the number of pages the site contains. The more pages on the site then the higher the site’s price will be. This pricing structure was described as ranging from $250 to thousands per month.
The company does offer discounts if you buy additional products, such as directory listings, but doing so will still increase your overall monthly cost.
FindLaw sites, based on my research, are certainly on the “pricey” side of the options we’ve checked out.
Using FindLaw does mean locking oneself into a long-term commitment at the higher end of a price range. Multiple attorneys that I conversed with while preparing this review took issue because the company typically requires a 2-3 years contract.
The good thing is that Findlaw has a uniform pricing structure for its websites across the country. That’s right — the location of your law firm doesn’t even matter. This contrasts with Scorpion Web Design who appears to charge a different price for the same level of work, depending on an attorney’s geography.
Analyzing the SEO potential of Findlaw Websites
In terms of the services I’ve reviewed in this series, FindLaw’s overall wins on the SEO front. However, if you’re in a market or niche that’s competitive, you’re likely going to have a hard time competing if you’re using their cheaper products.
After I reviewed a collection of FindLaw websites, I was concerned about some red flags raised from an SEO perspective.
Every site I tested scored poorly in terms of their page speed loading score, which I tested with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool (Google is the Judge and Jury after all).
SEO Tip: Page speed is a big one in terms of SEO. Low page speed scores mean that Google sees these sites as potentially loading slowly, detracting from the user experience.
Other issues were found with the websites I analyzed. Some had incorrectly formatted page titles and meta descriptions, while others didn’t have problems in this area. I noticed they used Adobe Flash on one website even though Flash has fallen out of favor with most search engines. Google has attempted to improve its ability to index Flash files, but it’s best to avoid this dilemma altogether.
FindLaw employs content writers for each of their sites. The content (which is crucial to how your site performs in search) is written with the attorney’s input. The content I reviewed across various FindLaw websites contained a certain personalization level but wasn’t as personalized to each lawyer as I would recommend. It was more personalized, however, than the content I reviewed on websites by Scorpion Web Design.
Given that the technological issues I described above weren’t consistent across all sites, I’d suggest you ensure that those problems don’t exist on your Findlaw site.
How FindLaw Sites Perform in the SERPs
I analyzed multiple sites featured on Findlaw’s website gallery page. I also conducted a series of Google searches in these sites’ home markets (which were smaller markets) along with similar searches of broader markets.
I found that many FindLaw sites did well in search for their particular niches. But here’s the catch: These sites were markets with smaller populations.
For a more comprehensive test, I performed the same searches in two larger markets. Some of these searches yielded one FindLaw site in first page results, while some of these searches yielded none.
Evaluating a Findlaw website’s ease of use
Given that FindLaw is an all-encompassing service and not a do-it-yourself platform, I evaluated ease of use by looking at how painless it is to have a site constructed within a reasonable amount of time as well as the level of ongoing support received.
The process of having a site constructed appears to be relatively painless.
The company provides far more support than the other options I’ve looked at. FindLaw has roughly 150 representatives working in different parts of the US. These representatives make a point to try to visit with their attorneys on a semi-regular basis. This should provide an attorney an additional avenue to address concerns.
Since support from options such as Scorpion and Justia appears to be lacking, Findlaw gets the nod over those options regarding ease of use and support.
Analyzing whether Findlaw’s websites are well-suited to the changing web environment
The web is changing rapidly — making having an optimized and dynamic website for desktop and mobile more critical than ever. Law firms we assist with our marketing services currently see roughly forty percent of their traffic coming from mobile devices.
To keep up with this rapidly evolving marketing world, an attorney wanting long-term success must pick a web developer who is adapting to this changing environment.
Findlaw’s sites utilized a responsive design, which is the correct approach to mobile. This is different from Scorpion Web Design sites, which utilized an incorrect “.m” approach to mobile.
SHOULD ATTORNEYS USE FINDLAW FOR THEIR ONLINE MARKETING?
FindLaw is the better option for lawyers than the other non-DIY options I’ve reviewed. However, I cannot recommend FindLaw as the best option for law firms on the web marketing front. The biggest drawback to this company is cost, as it’s the more expensive option if you wish to be competitive.
As with all options in my series, I didn’t compare our company’s services, Rankings.io. The problems with doing so, from an objectivity standpoint, are apparent. It’s important to note that I’m analyzing FindLaw compared to its direct competitors, analyzed in this series, which cater explicitly to attorneys. Just because a company markets exclusively to law firms doesn’t mean that said service is the best option for a law firm.
Still not sure if you should use FindLaw for your firm? Check out FindLaw Reviews: We Asked 30 Attorneys What They Like Best and Least