Should A Law Firm Have Multiple Websites?

Should a firm invest in and build up their main website or supplement it with satellite sites? The answer depends on the firm’s campaign goals, resources and budget. Most firms are better off having only one site unless they are willing to make a financial commitment to satellite sites that will not pay dividends for several months to a year or two. One only has to look at the growth of the Internet and it future projections to determine that the investment will be worthwhile for firms that are able to make the commitment.

Satellite sites, sometimes called specialty sites, are typically sites that focus on a particular niche area and/or location. The main site serves as the hub. The main and satellite sites all link to each other. The satellite sites can be blogs or regular websites. Even though Google gives more priority to a large, active authoritative site, there are several reasons that many of our clients have added satellite sites. Reasons to have multiple sites include:

  • Be a leader, not a follower – Being a leader rather than a follower allows a firm to get into the Internet early, while it is more affordable, and become an acknowledged leader in an area. As the Internet continues to mature, competition and the investment required to have a presence, dramatically increases. One of our clients, Munley, Munley & Cartwright, a firm that focuses in truck accident cases, developed several websites. Their TruckInjuries.com website has ranked in the top three nationally for the phrase truck accident lawyer (and related phrases) for many years. Another client, Belluck & Fox, decided to develop an aggressive, information rich New York mesothelioma Web presence many years ago and currently has a strong presence for Google searches for New York mesothelioma phrases. Both firms made decisions years ago and several other of our clients have saved significant money as a result;
  • Reduce referral fees – Some of our clients have hired us because they were tired of paying referral fees of 25% to 40% to firms that simply found a lead in their market area. Forty percent of a serious injury case is significant. Obviously, car accident and e.g., workers compensation awards are far smaller, but our clients get more of these type of cases;
  • Localization and Rankings – Google is moving toward localization. People typically like to deal locally if they feel a local firm can perform as well as e.g., a “big city” firm. Properly done specialty sites will rank higher in the future than general sites. To get a peek into the future, take a look at how specialty sites outrank general sites in two very competitive queries – //www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGLL_enUS359US361&q=mesothelioma and //www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGLL_enUS359US361&q=new+york+mesothelioma. Note also that most of the top ranking sites have the word mesothelioma in them. Several years ago, one of our clients, Belluck Fox set up city sites for mesothelioma. The firms  ranks very well in several New York cities. If done properly, specialty sites also rank better because the anchor text for the incoming links will be e.g., Syracuse mesothelioma lawyer or New York gallbladder lawyer. Additionally, outside resource sites are more likely to link to a specialty site than a general site. An important point, specialty sites allow a firm to target additional niche phrases. One of our clients, Charles Ullman (Divorce Law NC) has sites for the Triangle, Johnston County and Cary, North Carolina. He also has sites for divorce, child custody, child support and a resource site //www.nc-family-resources.com. The family resources site often shows up when someone types the name of a counselor, psychologist and other divorce resources. Counselors notice that and become aware of Charles. Another consideration, domains with key words in them have higher potential to rank. Another big benefit is that potential incoming link will more likely include anchor text if a site is a keyword phrase is used, e.g., Mesothelioma Help rather than if the site name is Belluck Fox. They will hyperlink Mesothelioma Help rather than Belluck Fox. One of our Texas clients, Arnold & Itkin decided to develop keyword specific specialty sites for the Gulf Coast oil spill for potential Transocean lawsuit clients rather than simply adding content to their main site. Incoming link webmasters will typically link to a home page rather than an inner page. For these reasons, Consultwebs owns a few thousand good legal domain names and applies them to clients as appropriate;
  • Conversions – If you were looking for a NY gall bladder lawyer and did a Google search, would you choose someone who seemed to specialized or someone who did gallbladders, car wrecks, slip & falls, etc., etc. e.g., //www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4GGLL_enUS359US361&&sa=X&ei=OsVvTIbML8T_lgeSxLHhDg&ved=0CB8QBSgA&q=new+york+gallbladder+lawyer&spell=1  One of our clients, Schwartzapfel & Associates ranks #1) and their main site is #4. Note: The site is also #1 in the world for gall bladder lawyer //www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGLL_enUS359US361&q=gall+bladder+removal+lawyer. If you were looking for a gall bladder doctor, your logic would be the same. We want to choose someone who is an expert and has experience, not a generalist. Some of our clients have separate sites for cars, trucks, motorcycles, trains, etc. Another point – some of our clients have Spanish-speaking sites or portions of the site that have Spanish pages. Which firms do you think Spanish-speaking individuals choose?;
  • Branding – A firm can brand itself as the “mesothelioma firm”, “gallbladder firm”, etc. Articles, blog posts, etc., etc., can better enhance the brand;
  • Marketing – If a firm does plaintiff and defense, it can confuse a client or turn a client off if both are listed on the same site. It may be wise to develop a plaintiff site separate from the defense site can solve this problem. It is also easier and more practical to advertise a specialty site than a generalist site, e.g., “See our gallbladder site for further information”;
  • Social Networking – Social networking can be leveraged to refer to the satellite sites and vice versa in order to promote specialties;
  • Tracking – Results can be more easily tracked. Targeted pay-per-click (PPC) can be set up for the satellite sites. We and other vendors can provide a system that will track incoming telephone calls and forms’ inquiries. Different telephone numbers for the satellite sites can also track incoming calls. Google Analytics can provide a wealth of information about your inquirers’ origins, time on your site and more.

One legal website vendor we are aware of, always promotes developing multiple websites. Apparently, their ploy is to simply jack up the price by pushing out a large number of sites. Small satellite sites that are not done well will simply get lost among the millions of sites on the Web. As I mentioned above, small sites that are simply doorways developed to try to help search engine optimization (SEO) or pad the vendor’s wallet, will hurt rather than help. Search engines consider them spam and are likely to penalize the firm’s main and/or all of the websites.

Bear in mind that it takes considerably more budget to support multiple websites. The sites must be continually search engine optimized and this requires ongoing investment. The sites must all be updated frequently and managed. A plus is that satellite content can be leveraged by modifying it and putting it on the main site. The content must be modified, however. Duplicate content can hurt rather than help rankings.

Firms may wish to consider buying potential domain names for future marketing. That makes them available for the future and it keeps competitors from buying them. Domains are approximately $10 per year. We own a few thousand keyword rich legal domain names or you can look for options at our domain name site.

We hope this helps. To obtain more information or see examples of some of our clients who have multiple websites, please feel free to contact us at marketing@consultwebs.com or call us at 800-872-6590.

Thoughts on “Should A Law Firm Have Multiple Websites?“

  1. Thanks for the article, it was exactly what I was looking for. I am running the IT and SEO for a law firm in Lansing. I want to make additional sites but was worried this would be frowned upon by google. I think I’m going to make 2-3 quality targeted sites using wordpress and have them linking to each other. Anything I should watch out for?

    1. Paul, we are glad it was helpful. They will work fine. Just make sure you do not have duplicate content in each of them (http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359) and, if you do, follow Google’s guidelines – Good luck!

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