FindLaw Website Review : Cost And Other Options

Findlaw Review : Website CostUnhappy with the cost of my website per month, a few years ago I ended my relationship (several years) with Findlaw as my law firm website hosting company. The 3 reasons that I believe Findlaw (and the other major law firm website developers) is not worth the recurring monthly payment are:

1. Price. I paid a little over $1,100 per month to have Findlaw host my website.  I believe this is overpriced.  For $2,000, I had my website redesigned using StudioPress Themes for WordPress for a one time fee of $80 plus the monthly cost ($8 or so per month) to host it with a web host (Godaddy, Hostgator, etc.).

Update 1/12/14. Today I hired fantasktic to migrate this site (for $99 plus a $69 dns optional package for each site) as well as my Spanish site to Synthesis Managed WordPress hosting for the primary purpose of increasing my page load time. My page load times with Hostgator are terrible. Special thanks to attorney Nick Ortiz, Chris Brogan and Chris Lema – all of which quickly responded to my tweets about leaving hostgator and moving to Synthesis. Hopefully my page load times will increase.

Update 5/29/14: According to Google Analytics, my page load times haven’t increased since I began using Synthesis.

You can hire a freelancer for a reasonable fee to build your site using Studiopress Themes or another WordPress framework. Now there are alternatives (which I won’t get into here) to WordPress, but I am biased in favor of WordPress because my experience has been so good.

Why use WordPress?

  • According to Alexa (“the website information company”) it is 119 most popular site in the world.
  • The New York times powers over 60 blog using WordPress. Many other huge companies use WordPress as well.

According to WordPress.org, it is used by over 60 million people. Findlaw and other web developers cannot simply keep up with the pace, research and development, and technology of the WordPress community (the core software is built by hundreds of volunteers). Do not use WordPress.com, use WordPress.org. You do not want your website/blog on the WordPress.com platform.

Since I’ve left Findlaw, I’ve saved about $1,080 every month. Maintenance on my website/blog currently only takes about 30 minutes a year. I am not currently sure whether Findlaw makes you purchase a separate blog and a website but I suggest having 1 web property that contains both your blog and website. I have this site set up like that. Less is more.  Personally I think that it is a fee generating tool by web marketing companies to require you to have a separate domain for your website and blog.

2. Lack of Long Term SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I feel that the long-term value, if any, of Findlaw SEO is negligible at best.  I do think that Findlaw provides better SEO than if you were to have you site designed using a template from a hosting company, such as Godaddy, and know nothing about SEO.

However, you can create your site using a content management system such as WordPress (and add an SEO plugin) which will give you just as good SEO (as Findlaw provides to their attorney clients) or better. When I hosted my website with Findlaw, according to Google Webmaster tools, I received 15,458 incoming links (to my website) from Findlaw.

I have checked Findlaw’s legal portal and these incoming links have been removed. Google Webmaster tools no longer this amount of incoming links. They were removed because I am no longer a paying client. I believe that, in the long run, the backlinks (given from a website such as Findlaw (or any other) which allows a disproportionate amount of links that pass page rank to be given only to their paying customers) will have little, if any, value. My belief is based on Google’s statement that:

Buying or selling links that pass Page Rank is in violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results. Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass Page Rank.

I believe that when Findlaw adds many links (in their main directory) that pass page rank only to their paying clients’ websites, Findlaw is effectively selling links. This is because the bulk of incoming links (that pass page rank) are only given to, paying Findlaw customers.

If Google adheres to their written policy above, I think that Findlaw’s clients’ websites’ ranking will be negatively impacted in the search results because Google will consider that Findlaw’s clients are buying links that pass page rank. Findlaw does provide 1 outgoing link which passes page rank in the attorney profile page of its directory.

3. Lack of Being Proactive. I don’t feel that Findlaw proactively suggested updates to the internet marketing aspect of my website. Therefore, it is my belief that I was not completely up to date with the fast-moving internet marketing movement. For $1,100 a month, I think Findlaw should have been much, much more proactive in taking the initiative and proactively making sure that my website was using the current internet marketing best practices.

4. Solution

  • Go to Hostgator.com or a similar web host that has a WordPress 1-click install, or host your site with WP Engine, Synthesis or a similar provider.
  • Install WordPress in seconds.
  • Go to StudioPress Themes for WordPress or another one of the popular WordPress framework/theme developers (Woothemes, etc.) and buy a responsive (mobile friendly) HTML5 child theme (design) that you like.
  • Find a WordPress freelancer or company to build or migrate your site.
  • You can also choose one of the developers that Studiopress recommends who specialize – at least to a certain extent – in the Genesis framework. So far, Studiopress has not steered me wrong.

Ask you contractor to install the following plugin:

  • SEO by yoast plugin.
  • Install the Akismet (spam comment filter) plugin.

Purchase and ask your freelancer to install the following plugins:

  • Buy the Yoast Video SEO Plugin so that videos on your site appear in Google’s organic (natural) search results.
  • Buy the Gravity forms (contact forms) plugin. This allows you to add easy to create customizable contact forms on your website.
  • Get livechatinc.com or another instant chat plugin that will allow you to instantly chat on your website with prospective clients.

Go to yoast.com and read his articles about SEO and the importance of user experience.  Good luck.

Do you think Findlaw provides fair value?

I will not become your attorney by you leaving a comment. There is a time limit to file a lawsuit. All comments are posted anonymously but will be public.   I only can represent you if your injury happened in Florida or on a cruise ship; or if the injured person lives in Florida or a family member (in the case of a death) lives in Florida. This is because I am only licensed in Florida.

Comments

  1. Fair points Justin. My gripe with these directories is that they don’t provide a sustainable competitive advantage unless they provide some kind of rating system, which they don’t because that annoys the attorneys. If they accept all takers and add them to their link network then where is the differentiation? This is what google are getting at more and more; directories do not equate necessarily with value for the customer.

    And while I’m at it Google is tilting towards what real (read verified in Google) people are saying about service providers; notice how difficult it has become to get a client review these days!

    Competitive (online) marketing is about keeping your pipeline loaded, protecting your reputation and future proofing your web presence. It is not about buying your way to the top. Marketing done right is about creating marketing concepts that are of interest and use to the public. For example: list designated driving services, list defensive driving schools, create an interactive accident map (search google for ‘Houston Interactive Accident Map’) then build relationships.

    Hope this helps.

    (disclosure – yes I am a marketing consultant)

    • Justin Ziegler, Miami Injury Lawyer says:

      Thanks for your comment John. I agree that the rating system probably produces a higher ROI. Avvo does provide a rating system. There is value in directories though. I just believe that hosting a website with Findlaw is overpriced. If I were to advertise in a directory, it would be in a directory with a rating system. I don’t currently advertise on Avvo because the Florida bar doesn’t allow attorneys to have paid ads that have an associated review. That rule is set to change in beginning May 1, 2013, where reviews can be associated with a sponsored (paid) so long as some requirements are met. Some of these requirements are:

      1) There is a disclaimer that states, “The prospective client may not obtain the same or similar results.” I think many attorneys will not include this disclaimer, due in part to limited space in most paid ads such as Google adwords; and

      2) The testimonial doesn’t violate other Florida bar rules.

      Good luck with your marketing business John.

  2. Thank you for the post. It helped.

  3. Am considering Findlaw and this was extremely helpful in making my decision. Thanks for posting this, Justin.

    • Justin Ziegler, Injury Lawyer says:

      My pleasure Seth. I wish you good luck. I pay referral fees to attorneys who refer me cases in accordance with the Florida bar rules. I accept cases throughout the entire state of Florida and on cruise ships involving:

      • personal injury
      • wrongful death
      • admiralty and maritime
      • medical malpractice
      • product liability
      • slip and falls
      • property damage to homes or condominiums
      • wage and hour violations

      You can reach me 24/7 at (888) 594-3577 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  4. This entire article is on-point. My company (Firm Flip) charges $195/mo for a high quality service with monthly updates. Charging $1,000+/mo for sparse updates is highway robbery. Many of my clients come from FindLaw and similar competitors after their website was killed by a Google penalty. We do recovery, but it unfortunately takes time.

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