Why is my law firm’s domain name important? This question may have crossed your mind as you’ve gone through the process of setting up your firm’s website. According to a recent study, a third of all clients start their search for a lawyer online. Meaning, your domain name is your first impression.
Your firm needs a clear, descriptive domain name that communicates the value of your services to these clients. If you intend to grow your practice, the importance of having a strong web presence cannot be understated, and a good domain name is your foundation.
If you’re looking to understand more about how to choose and purchase the right lawyer domain name, find everything you need to consider, below.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is what people type into your browser to visit your website. A few examples you might be familiar with are:
Second-Level Domains (SLDs)
From the list above, you’ll notice that there are two components to a domain name. The first is called a second-level domain name (SLD). In the example provided, this refers to Google, Youtube, and Amazon. The second portion is the “.com” the domain name ends with, also called the top-level domain name (TLD). Both of these components are customizable and you can choose any domain name you’d like.
The first portion of your law firm domain name, or the SLD, does not have to be a brand. It’s usually common for big companies (like Youtube and Amazon) to have their brand as the first component of their domain name, but this is not common for most law firms. For example:
- Davies & Associates: https://www.usimmigrationadvisor.com/
- James J. Sexton: https://www.nycdivorces.com/
- Melvin & Melvin: https://www.melvinlaw.com/
As a lawyer, you may want to include the firm’s name, the practice area, or even the location in the first portion of the domain name to help clients instantly understand what you do or where you’re located.
Top-Level Domains (TLDs)
The second portion of your law firm domain name, or the TLD, doesn’t have to be “.com”. While “.com” is commonly used for many websites, depending on where you’re located you may want to regionalize your domain name. As a lawyer, you also have the specialized option to choose “.law” as the second portion of your domain name. Below are examples of both the regional and occupational options:
- John Matkowsky: https://www.matkowsky.ca/
- Kingsley Napley Law: https://www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/
- RLR Lawyers: https://rlr.law/
While there is no localization for the United States, if you are in Canada or the United Kingdom, you have the option of choosing “.ca” or “.co.uk”.
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The importance of lawyer domain names
Having a good domain name for your firm is key to getting more clicks to your website, and in turn more clients. Think of your website as the online equivalent of a store. When clients walk by stores, they may decide to go in based on what the store is called (in this case, the domain name) and whether it meets their needs.
From this perspective, a domain name is not only a marketing investment but also a business investment. Like a store name is associated with the company, clients will associate your domain name with your law firm. Your domain name should entice clients to click on your website but also clearly communicate what you do and the value that you can provide.
How much does it cost to buy a domain name?
According to Bluehost, a commonly used website hosting platform, buying a new domain name for your law firm can typically cost you anywhere between $9 and $14.99. However, this will fluctuate depending on the availability of the domain name.
For example, the Spodek Law Group currently owns the domain name: https://www.nycdivorcelawyers.com/. If you want to purchase it from them, they have full power to sell it for whatever price they want, which means it may end up costing you hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars.
As an alternative, you can choose to keep the SLD, NYC Divorce Lawyers, and switch the TLD to .net or .law instead (at the time of writing, both nycdivorcelawyers.net and nycdivorcelawyers.law are both available for purchase). Depending on the website hosting provider you choose, your domain name may even be included for free.
How to pick a domain name
When you’re choosing a domain name for your law firm website, it’s important to pick one that’s relevant, easy to remember, and fits with your brand. As the first impression for clients searching for legal services online, we recommend you consider the following tips:
- Avoid puns, hobbies, or lifestyle content: While “TheDogLovingLawyer.com” may be a cute and quirky domain name, it doesn’t tell your clients anything about your law firm.
- Don’t try to fit everything into your domain name: If you practice different areas of law or have multiple firms in different states, we recommend sticking to your firm name. Otherwise, your domain name might turn out to be something long and confusing like: “ChicagoNewYorkVermontFamilyImmigrationEmploymentLaw.com”
- Keep it short and simple: You want to have a domain name that’s easy for people to remember and type into their browser. Try keeping your domain name to 25 characters and under.
- Avoid legalese: While specifying that you practice civil litigation law in your law firm domain name might be a good idea in theory, most clients likely don’t understand what that means. Stick to domain names that use plain language and are easy for non-lawyers to spell.
- Avoid dashes and punctuation: When choosing a domain name, avoid any punctuation that might lead to a typo or mispelled words. While a domain name like “NYC-Divorce-Lawyer.com” may seem cleaner to put on a business card, adding punctuation may make it more difficult to type out on a keyboard or mobile device.
It’s also good to keep in mind that your law firm domain name is not forever. It’s possible to change domain names down the road if you end up changing your firm name (due to partnership structure changes or otherwise). However, if you’re trying to build brand awareness for your firm, it’s important to avoid changing it too frequently otherwise clients may get confused.
3 steps to buying a lawyer domain name
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to set up your firm’s website and buy a domain name, here are the steps you should take:
1. Check your domain name availability
To start, you need to check if your domain name is currently available for purchase or if it’s owned by somebody else. We recommend using a domain name generator over manually typing in potential domains, as this tool will suggest similar domain name options if the one you want is already taken.
After you’ve confirmed that the domain name you want is available for purchase, you should use a trademark lookup tool to avoid any potential copyright infringement.
2. Pick a vendor
There are many websites dedicated to purchasing lawyer domain names, however we recommend that you purchase your firm’s domain name from a website hosting provider. This ensures that your domain name is registered properly with a trustworthy vendor and is usually free when you purchase their services. Here is a list of the most popular legal website hosting platforms:
- Reclaim Hosting
- InMotion Hosting
- Host Gator
- Dream Host
Read more about legal website hosting.
3. Complete the purchase and registration process
Depending on your website hosting provider, you typically need to renew your hosting package annually. This will include the renewal of your domain name unless you’ve purchased that separately.
Something to keep in mind is that once you purchase a domain name, you don’t have access to it for life. You only own the domain name for the duration that you pay for it. Some hosting providers offer the option to prepay for a certain number of years, but are typically required to renew annually.
When you complete the purchase and registration process for your lawyer domain, remember to note what the annual cost is and when the renewal date is—although most good hosting providers will send you email reminders for renewal.In addition, if your domain name is used improperly, there is a clause that allows hosting providers to revoke your access. Improper use includes scams, frauds, criminal activity, and so on—which may happen if a cybercriminal gets access to your website. For this reason, it’s important to keep your credentials safe and only share them with those you trust.
From both a marketing and a business perspective, your domain name is arguably one of the most important names you’ll choose, aside from your actual firm name. Your lawyer domain name is what current clients will associate with your online presence and how prospective clients will find and choose your firm.
While domain names themselves aren’t expensive nor difficult to purchase, putting thought and consideration into your domain name will help shape your marketing strategy and how you want to be perceived. As such, remember to choose a domain name that reflects your brand—one you’ll ultimately be proud to use today and in the near and far future.
We published this blog post in February 2022. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Marketing