Legal practitioners are now investing in their online arsenal like never before. According to a 2019 survey report, 86% of law firms owned a website to showcase their legal expertise and services. While content takes and deserves much attention on the website, your domain name is equally important.
That brings us to .law domains for legal professionals and corporations—the official top-level domain will brand you as a professional in the legal space. With law pretenders everywhere, having proof that you're legit makes you recognizable. That boosts your prospects' trust online, enhancing conversions and publicity, just like it's the case with the .org, .gov, .edu, among other domains.
But should you really register the .law domains? Will your firm enjoy client trust? Again, will the domain boost your SERPs rankings? If you're starting a law firm or thinking of an additional domain to exploit, such questions deserve an honest and immediate answer.
Now, relax and hold on there. We're going to comprehensively expound on whether lawyer domain names are worth it, where to acquire your .law domain and everything in between to help you distinguish between proven facts and hyped information on .law domains and invest wisely.
But to ensure that we go along together, especially if you're hearing about the lawyer domain names or top-level domains for the first time, let's start with elaborating these terms.
.Law domain is an address through which visitors can access your law firm or personal website. Once a person types your website address in the URL bar of the particular browser, they gain access to your site.
A URL leads you to the respective website page. You can call it a Uniform Resource Locator if you intend to impress your client in the incoming meeting.
Simply put, you can't have a law firm website without a domain, and visitors can use your website address to access your site. Think of it as an address (your .law domain) and your house (your website).
Here is a straight explanation: If your website URL reads https://www.example.law, example.law is the .law domain. If we were to get into the domain anatomy further, then www is the subdomain, example is your root domain name, and .law is your top-level domain extension.
You've probably come across .com in most cases due to its high popularity. As of June 2020, 50.9 % of global websites embraced a .com extension. While dominance is evident, many people still prefer other top-level domains (TLDs) like .io, .info, .net, .org, .law, and many more. Talking about the top-level domain, what does it mean?
A TLD or top-level domain is a segment with a few letters at the end of your domain address. Like we've seen in the https://www.example.law example above. Lawyers acquire the .law endings from registries, whose primary focus is to reserve domain names and assign IP addresses to respective websites.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization accredits domain registrars to ensure the internet is usable by all, enabling an equal, productive and safe domain environment.
Other categories of top-level domains include the sponsored top-level domains like .edu and .gov. to show website objective or country code top-level domains with country code at the end, like .uk and .in for the UK and India respectively to showcase website location.
Since I985, when domain names on dot.com were the talk of the town, a lot has changed. There were limited top-level domains that focused on objectives, and you could hardly differentiate a lawyer from a plumber website domain name without browsing their content.
Fast forward to 2013, ICANN started pushing for industry-specific domains. ICANN promised over 1300 new names and later accomplished its goal, with the last approval happening in 2019.
Lawyers now had an option to choose other website addresses like .org or .net other than depending solely on .com. With the increased demand for domain names, more domains like .me, .info, .us, and much more, came up.
In 2015, the ABA Journal article "domain name gold rush" caught the attention of lawyers and marketers due to many front end promises put across. It revealed that .law domain extension would be available from October 2015, which came to pass. Since then, legal TLDs have been available for legal practitioners to buy.
Before the highly touted .law domains that John Morgan, the domain chairman, described as an incredible lifetime opportunity for lawyers .attorney and .lawyer domains were already in the market.
Considering that anybody could own .attorney or .lawyer domain extensions, many lawyers had mixed reactions about them, with some viewing such a loophole as a red flag. With some restrictions, procedural verification, and much talked about SEO benefits .law domains proved convincing, gaining traction pretty fast.
We'll see if the hype was worth it and what transpired later on in this masterpiece. Keep reading!
In a nutshell: The four (4) main TLDs available for legal minds and institutions include the following.
Whenever a new TLD comes out, we all expect hullabaloos in the public domain. You'll hear all sorts of information from the positive to the negative side. The same thing happened to .law domains.
Every lawyer wants to know whether the domain is worth it. The good thing is that with research and statistics, facts will always tell us the truth. For instance, As of August 6, 2020, there are 1572 top-level domains on the internet.
The number is not static, and it changes with the addition of new TLDs or with the retirement of the existing ones. That tells you that people are always investing in top-level domains as others exit. It's two-way traffic.
Having said that, let's look at proven strengths and weaknesses so that as you spend your hard-earned money, you do it for appropriate reasons.
Here are some of the compelling reasons why you might consider .law domain extension for your firm.
The .law domains are exclusive to the legal community. However, you need proof of qualification in a particular category for acceptance. The domain restrictions only allow the following:
Since the domain doesn't hide all the users' information, people get to see your law firm licensing number, name, contact details, and address. Such details also bring about trust because clients are convinced that they're dealing with a qualified, credible, and legally certified practitioner.
TLDs allow everyone to know what you practice from the word go. The memorable and robust experience captured makes your brand stand out. People will also find it easy to remember. Make sure you choose the right domain name to enjoy the branding advantage. Consider your name, target market, or location.
The .law domain represents you in the online space as a professional giving you a strategic advantage. The TLD already sounds professional. That passes a message across that you know what you're doing and you're accredited for it. With many issues online, everybody wants to have an assurance that they're dealing with a professional.
Before you get your legal domain extension, there is a procedural verification process that every member of the legal community must follow. The domain registrars embrace a quality process to ensure that members have required supporting documents per the ICANN domain policy requirements through the in-house team or third-party verification agents.
While the .law domains may be an ideal alternative, don't expect unique value, strategic positioning, or any other advantage beyond what other TLDs offer to you while doing nothing. Here is why you must think twice about your decision.
There are less than 0.1% of websites that use .law or other lawyer domain extensions. That's evident that the top-level domain doesn't attract the majority of users. The public is yet to know and appreciate them like the .com, .org, .uk, .info, or .net, which appear on the top 10 list. For .law, you'll not find it even at the top 250 of all the TLDs list.
When compared to other TLDs, .law domain names are yet to claim a top performance position. Only a few perform best. Maybe it's because many who buy them expect to benefit without investing in other strategies, which is unfortunate. Days are gone when websites performed better because of the virtue of having authoritative or keyword-rich names.
There have been claims that lawyers do not strictly own the .law domains despite the comprehensive verification that those interested have to endure. Currently, a lawyer can purchase a domain name and transfer it to a non-lawyer. Well, there are bad actors everywhere, and it's good to be extra cautious.
Is the .law domain going to boost your search rankings?
A resounding no!
After news broke that keyword-rich domains were available for legal fraternities, with SEO blogs and webmasters focusing so much on the subject, the main question was whether the domain could boost the SEO ranking. There was so much controversy that followed.
Google came out to crush some misconceptions after some lawyers claimed to have witnessed a considerable traffic boost in their websites. Through the Webmaster Central Blog, Google insisted that generic top-level domains (gTLDs) like .law, and others, receive the same treatment.
In the statement, you'll also not be penalized for having the domain extension. More so, Google was transparent that there is no change in the algorithm to favor new TLDs despite being regionally and objective-oriented.
For those unaware, the exact match and keyword-rich domains don't guarantee any advantage or disadvantage over others like .com gTLDs. Google was clear on its position about exact match domains on that excerpt and even back in its 2012 update.
The article by John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst, opened the eyes of the general public. It was a clear indication that there are no exclusive SEO benefits whatsoever for owning .law domains or other gTLDs.
The CEO of the .law domain, Lou Andreozzi, announced back in 2015 that Minds + Machines, a California-based company specializing in new generic top-level domains, will take over the sales.
Minds + Machines has a reseller network with many registrars. However, prospective registrars don't just join the team; you must comply before becoming an accredited registrar and later enjoy the benefits.
In case the registrar has the ICANN accreditation and desire to partner and sell the .law domains among other MMX TLDs, they're subjected to a three-step process with extensive inspection before approval. Without accreditation but with interest to be part of the MMX network, you must comply with ICANN's 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement.
Registrars benefit by selling the domain names to the end-user and making money out of it. It happens through the first sale and the subsequent subscriptions. In case you want to look at the popular accredited registries for .law domains, here is the list.
The cost of .law domains is higher when you compare with the .com TLDs. If you closely examine the registries in the list above, you'll notice that the majority go beyond the $200 plus registration fees, while .com domains are even available at $20.
The prices depend on where you acquire your domain. During inception, prices skyrocketed and lawyers with the best bids would carry the day. These days, .law domain prices range from $70 to $300, with highly competitive domains requiring you to spend even thousands of dollars.
You've probably heard enough of the internet buzz about .lawyer domain names. Who hasn't anyway? The reality is that .lawyer domains are generic top-level domains just like .law, and they don't have magical benefits as the initial sellers claimed. The same applies to other lawyer domain names like .attorney and .legal.
The main difference between .law and .lawyer domain extension is that .lawyer doesn't enforce strict acquisition criteria. Remember that we earlier indicated that you have to be a member of the legal community to register .law domains. There are no restrictions with the .lawyer, and everybody posing as a legal enthusiast can have it.
Do you have a budget in place for the .lawyer domain? A good domain is going to cost you. If you're not ready to spend an extra amount, then the expensive domains are not an option.
With no special benefits as alluded, crazy initial costs and added registration fees, and scary public perception of the .lawyer domains, you've already guessed it right. Popular domains like .com can still serve your law firm desires.
However, some considerations need to come into play. We'll expound more on this in the next part. Stay on board!
Are you planning to get .law domains? Here are some of the things you'll have to know.
If you intend to move your other domain to the .law domain, there are no benefits that await you. You even risk losing some of your vital details if you're not an expert. You probably think your search rankings will go high after shifting, but instead, you might lose traffic and clients' reach.
Excited about the .law domains and planning to acquire them in multiples? For what reasons? Link-building? Hoarding for profitable selling? You don't need to do that. It will even cost you more. Hmmm, you’re probably the reason many people don't have the fine .com domain names they've wanted for years.
You've probably heard people suggest that you can buy the .law domain so that your competitor doesn't register it. It's okay and applicable but not useful. Most of your competitor's focus is on getting better ideas than you; a similar domain name doesn't make them par with you.
Starting your New Law Firm?
Building a new .law or .lawyer domain is highly advisable when coming up with your new law website. It's because you start from the bottom, set up your website improvement strategy, and keep growing with time, without expecting magical goodies out of nowhere.
That's where quality content comes in; to help you grow your .law domain website and position your firm at the top while competing with other TLD domains.
Whether you settle on .law, .lawyer, io, or .com, what matters most is your plans with the TLD domain. Having the best .law domain is not beneficial without following Google's recommended practices and having proper content.
Have a content management plan for your website and invest in original quality content. If it's credible, well-optimized, and communicates what your target audience wants to know, you'll rank high on SERPs and convert many legal prospects.
That's a wrap! Have you tried .law domains before? What has been your experience with the lawyer domain names?
Please do share your experiences in the comments. Thank you!