Picking a Domain Name

A domain name is the hardest thing to change about your website. Not only will it be on your business cards and in your email address, but it will be in all the links you build as you develop your website. If you change it, Google will punish you, and your clients will have to update their address books.

Choose carefully! You will need to consider two things: what top-level domain will you use, and what host name will you choose?

Top-level domain

The top-level domain (TLD) is the bit that comes last in a domain name. For example, in lawfirmseoguide.com, the TLD is .com.

There are some new-fangled TLDs, like .law, .lawyer, .attorney, .biz, .pro, and .site. The numbers show that most lawyers don’t use them, and neither should you.

88% of American law firms use a .com.

52% of Canadian law firms use a .com, 44% use a .ca.

Stick with .com or .ca. At $10-15/year, they are both priced affordably. Verisign, who administers .com, and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, who administers .ca, are also each dedicated to the principles of a free Internet.

Host name

The host is the portion before the top-level domain. For this site, it’s lawfirmseoguide.

You need to choose whether you use a name that describes your services (chicagolawyer.com, chicagoduilawyer.com) or one that decribes the composition of your firm (joeybloggslawyer.com, bloggsandcollp.com). There are pros and cons to both approaches.

Surveying 100 random American law firms’ domain names in 2019, we note that:

  • 79 used a word or phrase that indicated they were lawyers with law, lawyer, attorney, and defense being most popular
  • 17 indicated their practice area, for example duvalcriminaldefense.com, chicagovisalawyers.com and trafficticketattorneytexas.com
  • 13 included their geographic location in the domain name, either city or state

Exact match domains and partial match domains

Google previously rewarded websites whose domain name was an exact or partial match to the user’s search query. For example, chicagoduilawyers.com could expect to punch above its weight for drunken Chicagoans looking to beat a traffic ticket. Google has since decreased the weighting of this signal, but Bing continues to give it tremendous weight.

Keep in mind that including your practice area in your domain name may limit your ability to expand into other areas in the future.

Firm name domains

Common patterns that we see here are:

  • YOURNAME.com
  • YOURNAMEattorneys.com
  • YOURNAMEattorney.com
  • YOURNAMElaw.com
  • YOURNAMElawfirm.com
  • YOURNAMElawoffice.com
  • YOURNAMEllp.com
  • YOURNAMEpc.com

Keep in mind that unlike your firm’s letterhead, your domain name is hard to change without negatively impacting your search engine rankings. If you expect to bring on partners, they may want the name to change. Either be prepared to stand firm, or consider selecting a domain name that isn’t based on your firm name.

Hyphens

Used in only 11% of law firm domain names, but should probably be used in fewer. Avoid them. They’re slightly harder for people to type and have a high correlation to being used by spammy sites.

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