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The Truth About Directory Listings

A winter picture of a UB Directory of North Ca...

A winter picture of a UB Directory of North Campus with Baird Point in the background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lawyers and directories seem to go together like macaroni and cheese, or at least they used to. Recently, directories seem to have faded from the Internet, especially after Google deleted their very own directory site. Nonetheless, several directories have survived, and for many lawyers it can be appealing to get their name listed on another website that receives a decent amount of traffic. But before you sign off, make a payment, or advertise on any sort of directory, you have to make sure that the traffic is indeed coming through. Getting listed on a directory full of spam and irrelevant content will only hurt your ranking and your reputation.

They’ve Piqued

If you want an honest answer, you’re going to get one. Directories have piqued. They were a big hit about a decade ago, maybe even more, but who can say for sure since they’ve almost entirely become outdated. However, directories are still around. And if you’re like most lawyers, you’ve probably come across, been approached by, or perhaps even agreed to be promoted on a directory. But just because directories are no longer “a thing,” it doesn’t mean that they’re all inherently bad. Yes, you can still get featured on a directory. And yes, it might be worthwhile.

But clearly, not all directories were created equal. Going forward, you have to be cautious about which directories you allow your law firm to be featured on. While not every directory can help your firm’s website rankings, many can certainly hurt them. That’s why you should consider several of the following points before you pay up, submit, or advertise on a directory.

Relevance

Relevance has always mattered a great deal when talking about directories, and will always matter a great deal. In fact, relevance plays such a huge part in SEO that you should just engrain that into your brain right now. So why is relevance so important? There are two things to think about.

First, search engines read content to determine what a website, or in this case, a directory is about. Without those words, Google would have no way of knowing how to index, let alone rank a website. So if Google reads that a website is a directory for lawyers, great! That’s how it will index it. But what if that directory also had articles about home décor and cupcakes. All of a sudden, Google is confused about the purpose of this directory and will consider it something of a link farm. Which isn’t good.

Second, think about how confused visitors will be when they see lawyers next to cupcakes next to reupholstered chairs. How reputable can these lawyers be if they have to advertise next to random, irrelevant content? Without relevance, both search engines and users have written off the directory without a moment of hesitation.

Before you sign up for a directory, take a look around the website. Is it just for lawyers? Or better yet, is it just for criminal lawyers? If it gets even more specific, such as a directory only for DUI lawyers, then it might actually be a directory worth using…if you’re a DUI lawyer. Also, take a look at the blog and any other content they have posted. If it all fits, then they might be onto something good.

Traffic

Okay, so you’ve found a website that has a pretty decent directory: they have lawyers in your field, a clean layout, and a pretty competent blog going on. But in reality, none of those thing matter if there’s no traffic coming to the directory.

If you’re searching for a directory to be listed on by your own volition, you might not be able to find these statistics. However, you can always try emailing the company or Webmaster to get a peek at their analytics. If you’re being approached by a directory to pay a fee and then have your very own submission, it will be incredibly important for you to find out what kind of traffic this directory receives before you even pay a cent.

Don’t just look into straightforward traffic numbers, either. Find out about bounce rates, conversion rates, and where most of the traffic is coming from. You’ll want to get a clear picture of the kinds of people these directories are bringing in because the may or may not end up being your clients.

Directory submissions are mostly a thing of the past, but lawyers still remember when they were vital and profitable. And while several directories are still around, they can’t all be trusted to promote your law firm. Before you sign up, research a directory’s blogs, content, traffic, and analytics to understand what kinds of benefits you can enjoy or learn about what kinds of spam you might become associated with. The name of your law firm is part of your reputation; don’t stain your good name by submitting to directories that can only bring your website penalties and shame.

Pete Wise is a copywriter working for the Eshelman Legal Group. When I’m not helping the intake department field new cases, I’m posting to my Facebook Page.

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