The importance of domain names for SEO – an introduction for law firms

If you’re creating a domain name for SEO it should reflect the service you offer and the personality of your brand – while also considering user intent. 

That’s why creating a domain name for SEO isn’t easy. You need to think creatively while helping search engines understand what you do.

A firm of solicitors should therefore incorporate ‘legal’ or ‘law’ into their domain name to capture customer interest and achieve better rankings,

Read on to find out:

  • What the term domain name means
  • How to set one up for your business
  • Why SEO matters when choosing

SEO ranking factors

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

SEO describes a range of methods used to improve a website’s visibility. Optimising content using specific key terms, ensuring load times are fast, and including links to trusted sites are just some of the tactics available.

The three main types of SEO are:

  • On-page SEO – relating to anything on your website
  • Off-page SEO – relating to anything not on your site
  • Technical SEO – optimising websites for web crawlers

In other words, other factors influence a site’s rankings too. And it’s important to know this before we deep dive into the benefits of domain names for SEO.

What is a domain name?

Before discussing the importance of domain names for SEO let’s go back a step. What does domain name mean? It refers to the web address visitors use to access your website. 

Below is a result displayed in response to a search for ‘law firms in Hampshire.’ As you can see, the domain name includes the phrase law firms – and the page is entitled Hampshire.

This clearly shows why domain name for SEO is important. Google cross-referenced our search with the text in the web address – which appeared on the first page and in position six.

Including sector-specific keywords won’t guarantee your law firm position one in the online rankings. That’s because Google uses a range of other factors to determine rankings.

These factors include:

  1. How much content is on your website
  2. The keywords used and their frequency
  3. The range of media – i.e. video or images
  4. How many outbound links your site has
  5. Whether or not your site is mobile-friendly

In short, choosing domain names for SEO will help your law firm rank – but only if you pay close attention to Google’s algorithm (which incidentally uses 200 factors to organise search results for users).

How to register a domain name

Having settled on a name it’s time to find out whether your preferred choice is available. Finding out couldn’t be easier. Simply visit a domain name registrar and type in the name you want to purchase.

The following screenshot reveals that our first choice (law.com) is already taken. This means we’ll need to search GoDaddy for alternatives.

When choosing domain names for SEO it’s important to come up with variations – as it’s likely your number one choice will be taken. With that in mind, what steps should you take when creating your domain?

Choosing the best domain name for SEO – five factors to consider

#1 Include your brand name

Perhaps your law firm is at the start-up stage. In which case prospects won’t be searching for you. At least, not yet. But over time – and provided your marketing strategy is sound – you’ll develop a strong reputation in your field. 

This means people will search for you by name – as opposed to running a cursory search for law firms that specialise in ‘X’ or are based in location ‘Y.’ And if they can’t find you…that’s right, they’ll go to the next result in their list.

#2 Do you work in a specific location? 

If your firm is based in London, and only wants to target people living in that area, including ‘London’ in your domain name for SEO purposes will make sense. 

Else…

If you cover multiple regions:

  • Create location-specific pages instead – so you can direct traffic. For example, you might want to create a page called www.law-for-families/berkshire and variations on that format for other regions covered.
  • Include the names of locations in blog posts to capture interest from local customers. Perhaps you could write a blog entitled ‘Choosing a law firm in Berkshire – five questions to ask your solicitor.’
  • Weaving regional terms into meta titles can work wonders too. What’s a meta title? It’s the blue link that appears above a website’s description in the search engine results.

Don’t be ambiguous – be direct:

  • www.familylawexperts.co.uk/solihull works because it (a) highlights this is a (fictional) law firm and (b) reveals the location – so local customers know to enquire.
  • www.familyadviceexperts.co.uk/solihull is less effective because ‘family experts’ isn’t specific enough. Does the firm offer legal advice or counselling support?

domain SEO strategies

#3 Domain names for SEO can’t be spammy

Imagine encountering a  legal firm with the domain name www.cheaplawyers4u.com. Most likely you’d avoid their website like a plague – assuming their service was cheap for a reason.

www.affordablesolicitors.co.uk is much more appealing. That’s because ‘affordable’ means different things to different people (while suggesting the service is cheap at the same time).

#4 Use hyphens are your peril

Using hyphens to make your domain name more readable makes sense. Unfortunately, when using domains for SEO purposes, this practice is frowned upon by search engines.

Why do Google, et al, mistrust hyphens in domain names? Spammers often use them to copy well-known brands and lure unsuspecting visitors in with the aim of emptying their wallets.

#5 Keep it short and simple

Consider the following fictional domain name:

  • www.specialistfamilysolicitorsinaberdeen.co.uk

It explains the company is a law firm, its specialism, and the region covered. But people are unlikely to recall the name – reducing the chance of them typing in the URL later on. 

If you want to deploy domain names for SEO keep things short and memorable. ‘Aberdeensolicitors’ or ‘Familysolicitors’ are shorter, clearer, and far easier examples for people to remember.

The benefits of using domain names for SEO:

Choose wisely and your domain will yield:

  • More traffic – because search engines will be able to better match user intent with the keywords or phrases in your web address
  • Better brand credibility – because your spam-free on-brand name will build trust with your prospective audience
  • Competitive advantages – compared to law firms that aren’t as tech-savvy, relying instead on more antiquated methods

Conclusion

Optimising your domain name for SEO is important. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution you can use to achieve page-one rankings on Google, Bing, or Safari. Web content, meta titles and on-site media affect SEO too – so it’s important to harmonise these elements if you want to reach more customers.

Does your law firm have the in-house resources and expertise (not to mention the time) to do all this? Probably not, in which case handing responsibility to experts who know how to use domain names for SEO purposes makes more sense.


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