Tips for mastering the new dot-lawyer domain

 By Lauren Kirkwood

The Daily Record Newswire
 
Joining the likes of .gov, .com and .edu, the legal industry will soon be able to carve out its own space online.
Domain names ending in .lawyer and .attorney will open up for general purchase today — and legal marketing experts said firms that act quickly could see an increase in online visitors that could translate into more business.
“There’s now a custom domain name for the profession, so not only will that increase traffic, but it’ll also increase the kind of traffic that law firms are going to want to get,” said Larry Bodine, editor in chief of Lawyers.com and a former law firm marketing consultant. “Anybody visiting a .lawyer site is definitely looking for an attorney.”
The new domains will give lawyers the chance to match up their website address as closely as possible with what a potential client might search for, such as personalinjury.lawyer or mycitymalpractice.attorney.
“What law firms should do is think back to the keywords they’re trying to get ranked for in Google and try to claim those keywords,” he said.
However, for law firms with well-established sites that rank highly in search results, jumping immediately to a new domain name might not be the best choice, said Carolyn Elefant, an energy lawyer and author of the law blog My Shingle, which is geared toward solos and small firms.
A better option would be to register the firm’s name with .attorney or .lawyer at any popular naming site and then slowly build up the new site, she said.
“Definitely buy it, and maybe wait a couple months for it to evolve and take hold before forwarding everything from an already well-established site,” Elefant said. “If you’ve already built up really good SEO at your site, you’d want to keep it.”
It could take a while for the general public to become accustomed to new domain names, Elefant added, so anything that deviates from the .com ending might be met with confusion at first.
However, the .lawyer and .attorney domains have an advantage beyond their descriptiveness. Because only licensed attorneys will be able to register for domain names with those endings, credibility may play a role in driving traffic to the new sites, Elefant said.
Just as web searchers know that the .gov suffix will bring them to a legitimate government site, they will eventually associate .lawyer and .attorney with licensed attorneys, she said.
“I think that is a little bit of a game-changer,” Elefant said. “You know what you’re getting there is going to be accurate.”
Consumer-friendly
Not all legal marketers will be racing to scoop up domain names relevant to their firm. Laura Perry, director of marketing and business development at Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP, said the domain names are a logical marketing tool for a business-to-consumer firm, but aren’t as useful to firms that serve national or multinational companies.
“In five years, it may be the place everybody goes to look for a lawyer, but my guess is at this point right now, Exxon is not going to go looking for a .lawyer site” to find legal representation, she said.
For the average consumer, though, a .lawyer or .attorney address might be the first stop when legal trouble arises, which will make web addresses that incorporate key words relating to common types of lawsuits valuable, Bodine said.
“Consumers find lawyers on the Internet,” he said. “It’s the leading choice among consumers; it’s even ahead of asking friends and colleagues.”
During the trademark holder and priority registration periods, which started in late July and ended Oct. 7, prices for some domain names went into the thousands of dollars. Lawyers looking to snag their name at either .lawyer or .attorney will likely pay less than $50 during the general availability period that begins today.
Attorneys also had the option of preregistering on popular domain sites like GoDaddy to increase the likelihood of grabbing a desired address. (Other popular domain sites include DreamHost, Gandi.net, Hover, Name.com and Namecheap.)
The .lawyer and .attorney domain names are just a small portion of the hundreds of new domain names being rolled out by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, the nonprofit responsible for managing domain names and IP addresses.
“I think it’ll just, in general, generate a lot of excitement in the legal profession,” Bodine said. “I think it’ll make attorneys wake up and pay attention to Internet marketing.”

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