Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Lawyer Marketing Score
By Dan Weeks
Lawyers will expect that familiar directories like FindLaw, Avvo and Lawyers.com are among the top lawyer directories, ranked by Google traffic, for personal injury lawyers. What comes as a surprise is that changing consumer behavior has put Yelp and Thumbtack among the top directories.
Recent updates in Google search algorithms have made “find a lawyer” directories much more important for personal injury lawyers to consider as a source of traffic to their websites.
My research identifies the top five personal injury directory services in the largest five metro areas for personal injury lawyers — Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Houston and Dallas Ft. Worth — ranked by website traffic.
- Top directories vary from market to market, which may surprise law firms with a focus on personal injury.
- Personal injury law firms appearing on the first page of the top online directories often get similar results to being ranked on the first page of Google for their website.
- Lawyers should avoid leaving out hidden performers like Thumbtack and Yelp which are broad and general services that serve multiple vertical markets.
There is a wide array of directory services available for lawyers, some of which have free directories and optional advertising, and others that offer only paid advertising. More traffic doesn’t always equate to high-value traffic, so these differences are important to consider.
Top Five PI Directories in Top Cities
The results are filled with valuable insights. Note that only the top 20 personal injury keywords for search volume within each metro area were used for this analysis. Click to see the four-step process that was used to generate the top five lists.
The top five directory services based on estimated traffic for the highest value keywords regardless of metro area in this analysis are:
Drilling into each market uncovers compelling trends and surprises that may cause you to change which directories you choose to be listed in. Below is the detailed list of every directory service in each of the five metro areas that made the list.
What we know
- This analysis is based on the “estimated traffic value,” which is equivalent to the cost to generate organic visitors, using the cost of the same number of visitors generated by online advertising. A visit to a website from a user tied to a keyword with a high Google AdWords bid price is more valuable than a visit from a lower-priced keyword.
- Across all five top markets, FindLaw is the consistent top performer market earning the #1 ranking in 4 out five markets and a #2 ranking in LA.
- The number of personal injury law firms listed in the directory services can be extensive (Avvo has 1,304 listed for “Los Angeles, CA Personal Injury Lawyers”). Advertising with the directories to ensure your law firm is on the first page of directory service page results won’t be cheap, so it’s essential to have an understanding of how valuable your directory service traffic is in your particular metro area.
- The most expensive keyword in this analysis was “car accident lawyer Houston” with a $271.04 suggested bid from Google. At the other end of the AdWords cost spectrum there were seven keywords tied to medical malpractice all below $25, but high enough in search volume to make the top 20 keywords in their metro area.
- Yelp is the directory that produced the highest-value traffic from Google (estimated clicks from Google multiplied by the Google suggested bid for an AdWords click from the keyword) in the largest market, Los Angeles. Yelp is a consumer-focused review site that consumers favored in Los Angeles and to some degree in New York. Lawyers should consider its significance in other markets where early adopters review many professional services on Yelp.
- Thumbtack is a matchmaking service that sends price quotes to consumers from vendors across many industries. It was active in three of the five metro areas, but generated enough high value traffic to make the top five list. In fact it beat out Avvo for the #2 position in Chicago.
- The data clearly demonstrates that consumer preference for directory services varies regionally. Law firm spending and attention should be based on regional market-based behavioral data, not just templated checklists.
- Directory services often result in high ranking positions for high value keywords for personal injury law firms. However, this result comes with a strong caveat — advertising in the leading directory services to ensure a first page listing could be a valid strategy but only if the price is right for that region versus the other directory service.
The click-through rate percentages presented here are based on high quality research presented in the FindLaw white paper, The Futility of Chasing Silver Bullets. If you would like access to the detailed keyword click analysis for each of the five metro areas please email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to provide the spreadsheet. I welcome any feedback on the calculations or how they were derived.
Dan Weeks is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lawyer Marketing Score in San Luis Obispo, California, which is currently accepting qualified personal injury firms for its private beta.
Providing a FICO© Score for online marketing, Lawyer Marketing Score at www.LawyerMarketingScore.com, currently in private beta, provides small personal injury law firms with a neutral benchmark for measuring the efficacy of their online marketing efforts in context with their local competitors. Products specific to criminal defense and DUI practices will follow in the near horizon.
LMS provides a welcome source of accountability and transparency. Many law firms find their current vendor is doing a great job but others may find the opposite. LMS accounts for traffic data from both Google and “Find a Lawyer” directory services – data unavailable anywhere else.
LMS is a free service powered by Internet Marketing Fiduciaries, a digital marketing information company that brings transparency and accountability to online marketing efforts through big data benchmarking with a vision to disrupt and transform other verticals in the professional services sector.