Having a memorable name for your legal practice can give a marketing boost. Having a memorable address for your law firm’s website can be just as important. Traditionally law firms use the names of the main partners in the practice as the name over the door. However, if you are starting up your practice you might like to think about giving it a name that relates to your area of expertise – particularly if you have an unpronounceable name. This week we look at the address of your website and how the different elements of the Web address should be handled to make access to your important pages easier and to enhance your ranking in Google. Search Engine Roundtable has some interesting tips on the addresses of Web pages this week. You will also read an older post from the Moz Blog about URLs and we have some advice on URL selection from marketing expert, Hanif Sipai.
We start off with a rundown of URL advice, written at the end of last year. There is some good solid advice in here, so if you are starting up a new law firm, or just creating a website for an existing firm, this is a good place to start when deciding on what address you should buy for your company.
One of Sipai’s tips on URL choice was to get an address that includes your keywords. He also recommends addresses that have the most important keyword for a site as close to the beginning as possible. The Search Engine Roundtable article weighs in with the ranking value of keywords in addresses. It seems they don’t give you much of a ranking boost. However, if you are starting a new site, a little boost is better than none. Also, getting your practice specialty in the name of your site as prominently as possible cannot harm the visibility of the site and it will help to make the address more memorable for those who hear about your site by word of mouth.
Here is Rand Fishkin of Moz explaining his take on URLs. He does rate putting keywords in there and doing everything to make the site name and the names of pages memorable. He explains that some links show the URL rather than an anchor text with the URL embedded behind it. In these instances, having a descriptive URL acts as an advert for your firm’s purpose and the points of interest in the page that should attract visitors. Fishkin covers a lot of the same advice that Sipai prioritized. However, reading the same tips twice from two different sources isn’t a waste of time – it confirms the veracity of the advice.
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Fishkin mentioned redirects in his list of advice on addressing. This is a field that a lot of Web designers try to avoid, because there is a lot of conflicting advice on whether Google likes or dislikes them. As a rule, you should try to avoid them. However, the main purpose of a redirect is to forward people on to a different address when a page moves. If you have several directories to hold the pages of your law firm’s site, you may one day change the name of one of them. As the directory name is the path in the address, it is actually part of the address. Changing the name of directory, therefore, will make all the links out in the world pointing to pages in that directory result in a “Not Found” message being displayed. To avoid this you have to put in a redirect. This will seamlessly move the visitor over to the new address. A 301 redirect is classified as a “permanent” move. A 302 is “temporary.” According to this advice, even if you have permanently moved a page, use a 302 redirect code, because that will pass ranking points over to your moved page, whereas a 301 will not.
Another important decision you need to make when setting up a new website for your law firm is what protocol to use. This is the bit that goes before the “://” in the address and the default is HTTP, which will give your URL an “http://” on the front of it. Google wants everyone to be on the encrypted version of HTTP, which is called HTTPS (HTTP Secured) and will show as “https://” at the beginning of your URL. If you are already running a site over HTTP, you might consider switching to HTTPS. If you are working on that move, this article should answer some questions. Follow the links in the article to read Search Engine Roundtable’s advice on the topic and an explanation of their experience when they made the move from HTTP to HTTPS.