FindLaw Reviews: The Good, Bad & Ugly
Founder, Constellation Marketing
Why Our Clients Left FindLaw and Never Looked Back
Website & SEO services that fall short
You know it’s important, but you don’t have time to become a web marketing guru. FindLaw banks on this need/knowledge gap. The problem is their website and SEO services are the least valuable part of their offering.
Mixed lead quality and frequency
“It’s definitely working, sometimes.” The leads you’re getting from FindLaw come from their website, not your own. Your lead volume (and success) is tied to how they choose to showcase your firm against their other clients.
They sell competitors the exact same service
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Our client’s organic search traffic improved almost immediately
After we wrote brand new content, performed updated keyword research, overhauled the site organization, and cleaned up technical issues, organic search traffic from Google increased almost immediately and continued to grow.
The days of setting up a website, leaving it, and expecting results are over. We work hard each and every month to add new content, continue optimizing, and stay ahead of the curve.
Lead frequency and quality continues to improve
Prior to working with us, our client Manji Law had relied on the FindLaw website to provide leads for his law firm, but these were unpredictable and generally low-quality. Over the past year, his monthly lead volume has skyrocketed to the tune of a 568% increase, and this number just keeps climbing.
The best part is that these leads are not the ‘tire-kickers’ often coming from directory websites like FindLaw, Avvo, and Lawyers.com. We outlined the most profitable and sought-after cases for the firm and proceeded to build a successful plan to capture that market.
We’ve made huge gains against the competition
When FindLaw ran the show, the firm’s competitors dominated Google for their key search terms. The only terms their FindLaw website ranked for was their name. This is no longer the case, and the firm now ranks on the first page for over 250 highly-coveted keywords.
In a mid-size market like where our client is located, there are only so many good leads to go around. As more prospects do their homework online, it’s imperative that your firm has a plan of action if you want to stay competitive.
Simply put, hiring Constellation Marketing was the BEST business decision I have made since opening my law firm. Patrick and his team have helped build our online presence to where our phones are constantly ringing, and we have lots of emails from our website. The team working on my SEO are constantly tweaking our deliverables to adapt to what is happening in my field and bringing us lots of leads. I have recommended their services to multiple colleagues who all have seen their business pick up and are all VERY happy they use Constellation. 100% recommended.
How To Get The Most Out Of FindLaw
If you’re not happy with FindLaw, there are still some ways to recoup value out of your investment.
Promote yourself on ALL attorney directories
If you search for a key term that is applicable to your practice such as ‘bankruptcy lawyer Atlanta GA,’ you will find the results littered with all the big marketing companies for law firms.
That is because they spend millions of dollars to improve their own websites in order to compete for market share, get visitors, and sell you leads. Although they try to seem like they have your best interest at heart, they are actually your competition for the same spots they’re supposed to be helping you attain.
We’ve received thousands of search results and found that which big legal marketing company is winning will vary depending on the type of case and city. We strongly advise signing up for free accounts on all of the major and minor law firm directory sites to leverage your marketing opportunities.
Search for legal marketing terms that are most relevant to your practice and make a note of the companies that dominate the listings. Fill out profiles on those sites completely. In our experience, you’ll occasionally get a free lead, but more importantly, you’ll earn links from high-authority, relevant sites. We have a list of over 50 free law firm directories – email us for a copy.
Keep them Honest
FindLaw will give you a shiny report to review each month, but they’re pretty quiet about what it is they are actually doing to optimize the websites of law firms. As a marketing client, you deserve to know exactly what types of services and strategies are being implemented to expand your online presence.
Generally, this would include tasks like acquiring links for your website, adding content or optimizing existing legal information material, fixing technical issues like broken links and redirects, and discussing trends in your organic search traffic.
Hold them accountable
Your account salesperson will almost certainly deflect this to the account manager, who is in charge of managing many websites of law firms. If FindLaw comes back with something like “we run checks to every month to make sure it’s optimized,” that’s simply not good enough. That’s not optimizing your site – that is running a tool once a month. Hold them accountable by asking for a 15-minute task report each month.
We also strongly recommend that you take some time to learn about the mechanics of SEO, search engines, and the FindLaw business model in general, as well as read up on review. We are happy to point you to some excellent articles that help demystify SEO and will give you a stronger position when working with marketers in the future.
If you have a tech-savvy friend, see if they would be willing to give you a lesson on the various marketing strategies and terms you hear being kicked around. It never hurts to ask.
Make your content epic
A study of 1 million Google search results found that longer content tends to rank higher. The average first-page result now contains 1,890 words.
The pages FindLaw created for our clients were in the 300-500 word range. This is simply not good enough to compete. Ranking your website generally comes down to two things: quality of content and recognition of that quality, which comes from links from other websites. Although acquiring links is hard and requires lots of work, writing content on legal information is something every law firm can control.
Send us an email and we will provide examples of perfectly optimized pages that you can create on your own.
A common misconception that has been perpetuated by FindLaw is that having the ‘right keywords’ is the holy grail of a successful site. There are only so many keywords that lead to clients, however, and with multiple lawyers trying to get a piece of the pie, not everyone can be on the first page.
Success online for law firms is more about creating long, authoritative content that includes the terms you target. Simply adding them alone will not suffice if you wish to be competitive. Send us an email and we’ll show you a working example.
Ask for detailed analysis of your reports
When we were first asked to review the monthly FindLaw marketing reports as a favor, what stuck out most was that there was a lot of smoke but not much fire.
There is a HUGE difference between ‘views’ and ‘leads’ or ‘contacts.’ Page/profile views give the illusion of real activity (or firm interest) when in actuality, you have no idea how they got there.
We estimate that FindLaw spends around $500,000 per month to generate leads. To make the cost per click tenable, they have to be broad and generic, which often leads to poor quality prospects or ‘tire kickers.’ We’re sure you can relate and have had quality issues with the leads you’ve received via FindLaw’s directory service.
After considerable back and forth from FindLaw, who likes to keep all the real data to themselves, we were finally able to get Google Analytics installed for our client.
The results were quite shocking. The only leads being generated from the FindLaw website came as a result of someone searching the attorney’s name directly. Over the course of a year, not one lead could be attributed to an organic search traffic lead from a non-brand keyword.
See What You're Missing
Here, we answer many of the common questions around FindLaw. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, email us and we’d be happy to chat.
Can you offer any insights into FindLaw services and results?
Yes. It’s a mixed bag, to be honest. The single-best service they offer is preferred directory listings. Depending on your firm’s practice and the relative cost to acquire new customers, this may be a good option.
This might surprise you, but we actually encourage some attorneys to use paid directory listings – with certain caveats. The conditions are that the listings must bring in more real cases in revenue than they cost and not detract from their own website strategy. We are strong proponents of owning your own real estate and investing in your own website with great content, outreach, and technical SEO. Not only is this more cost-effective than paying for leads from FindLaw, but it actually works better.
Does FindLaw actually sell websites or do they just “rent” them?
They kind of do both. This article goes into great detail about FindLaw’s one-sided contracts and the fact that your site is essentially their property. Not good! That technically includes anything you write as well, which is quite sneaky.
There are also examples of FindLaw ‘renting’ existing websites that rank for popular search terms to the highest bidder like seen here.
Either way, from personal experience, we have seen that their month-to-month management of websites is basically nonexistent, even while spending over $1k per month on SEO services! You are much better off owning your own online real estate and developing it over time. If you rely on FindLaw as your website provider and choose to leave at some point without proper planning, you’re at risk for losing a substantial amount (or all) of your content.
Isn’t FindLaw’s content optimized and extra special?
Honestly, it’s not good. You are better off doing a little bit of homework and writing it yourself. The days of stuffing a bunch of the same keyword into a page and ranking for the term are over.
From a technical standpoint, they don’t practice many industry-standard guidelines. The reason for this is that they are not a custom shop. They have a packaged service offering with little time for deviation and personal attention.
Our tip? Write long, detailed content that completely covers the topic of your page. Don’t write it like an article on legal information for fellow lawyers – put it in terms that anyone coming off the street can understand. More and more, Google’s search algorithm demands good quality if it is to reward it with a high position in the rankings. With such a high volume of content being added to the web every day, all around the world, you have to do something to stand out.
If you want to get ahead, doing the same ‘stuff’ that FindLaw is doing for your direct competitors is not the answer.
We’ve included a couple of resources below that you will likely find useful for review. If you have any questions about them, email us.
If I quit FindLaw, won’t my site rank poorly?
Not really. In fact, we’ve seen quite the opposite – they’ve dramatically improved.
Additionally, we’ve started to rank for lots more keywords than before as a byproduct of developing longer, better content. You see, people search for the same thing in a variety of ways with different words and subsequently receive different search results. By creating well-developed content, you win more ‘long-tail keywords’, traffic, and ultimately leads for your firm.
The biggest thing you want to be aware of when thinking about leaving FindLaw is the value of the directory listing. The most important assets for you as a lawyer are the links that get pointed back to your website. Since FindLaw is a highly-trafficked site with lots of visitors and thousands of inbound links, it possesses a high domain authority score.
Receiving links from sites with high domain authority boosts yours. If you cease to have a directory listing, they will quickly take down these links, which will temporarily reduce your ability to rank. That being said, there are thousands of websites with high domain authority where you can work to earn links.
How much money will it cost to have FindLaw build me a custom website?
It depends. The first thing to understand is that you’re likely unable to simply purchase a website and be on your way. Typically, FindLaw wraps these sites into service packages that include directory listings, preferential treatment within the directory, and other items.
Our personal experience was with a firm that paid around $1,300 every month and the website was included, with an update available after a couple of years.
We also have seen accounts of subscriptions costing anywhere from $250 per month to nearly $10,000. Without better visibility into their pricing, we can’t say definitively what an engagement would cost.
How can I stop paying for bad performance without eliminating the leads they do provide?
If you can afford it, we recommend continuing a directory relationship with FindLaw but leaving to have someone else manage your website. It’s true that their website can be a source of leads, so it never hurts to take advantage of it.
Where they fail is being able to simultaneously build your site with the purpose of attracting organic search traffic. When anticipating a move, start creating the content in Word or Google Docs over time so you’re prepared in advance.
If you’ve had it with FindLaw altogether and want to jump camps, do some homework first. The most important thing to look at is the type of searches your ideal client would make. Who is dominating the results for those queries? Lawyers.com? Justia? Avvo? We suggest developing a relationship with the group that has the best position for your specific niche.