A Review of Justia’s Web Design and Digital Marketing Services
If you’re in the market for digital marketing services for your law firm, it’s quite possible that you’ve come across Justia. Justia offers legal marketing services including web design, SEO, content marketing, and social media. These services supplement their lawyer directory on which they sell “Premium” listings.
In this article I’ve done by best to provide valuable insight into Justia’s marketing services. The goal is to help you make the most informed decision possible as you consider hiring Justia to handle your firm’s web design and digital marketing.
Disclaimer: Justia is a competitor of ours, and so we are hopelessly biased. That being said, what follows is my honest assessment based on what I know of their marketing services and results.
An Overview of Justia’s History
Before I examine Justia’s specific marketing services, I think it’ll be useful to have a look at the company’s history.
Justia was co-founded Tim Stanley (current CEO) and Stacy Stern (current President). The duo launched Justia.com not long after their previous company, FindLaw, was acquired by West Publishing (Thomson Reuters) in January 2001.Justia.com appears to have been launched in November of 2002. However, at that point the site was was little more than pre-LinkedIn LinkedIn profile for Tim Stanley. Check out what the site looked like on the WayBack Machine.
By late 2004, Justia.com was advertising law firm website design and SEO services on a “coming soon” page, and the full site appears to have been launched on December 13, 2004. So, at the time of writing this post, Justia has been providing legal marketing services, including website design and SEO, for 12 years and 9 months. Props to Justia!
Justia.com has evolved since this first version was launched back in 2004. Most law firms are familiar with Justia.com because of it’s comprehensive lawyer directory, legal Q&A, and legal research resources. For our purposes here, we’ll keep our focus on reviewing Justia’s web design, content marketing and blogging, and SEO services.
Reviews of Justia’s Core Marketing Services
Below is a breakdown of Justia’s primary marketing services:
Justia Website Design & Development Review
Justia Website Designs
One of Justia’s core services for law firms is website design and development. As I’ve said before, much of judging the quality of a given agency’s website design services comes down to preferential, subjective measures.
In the case of Justia’s contemporary websites, my personal opinion on their overall design is that it’s not particularly unique, diverse, or compelling, but it’s by no means bad or ineffective. Here are some examples:
My personal opinion of Justia’s website designs is that they leave much to be desired in terms of creativity and diversity. But that’s just one person’s opinion. There are clearly people who quite like the aesthetic of Justia’s websites given their success and longevity.
Justia Website PageSpeed
Besides design, we should also consider the technical qualities of Justia websites. For law firms who aspire to generate consistent leads from the web, website pagespeed is critical. At Juris Digital, we strive to ensure that our client’s site are not only elegant, unique, and highly functional, but also blazing fast.
Apparently, Justia values pagespeed too. I ran the four websites listed above through Google’s pagespeed tool, and the scores were impressive:
Kudos to Justia for prioritized pagespeed. This certainly puts their websites ahead of many of the other legal web design agencies in the field.
Justia Website Content Management System
On Justia’s marketing website, they differentiate between websites and blogs (I’ll explain my opposition to this approach from a strategic standpoint below). It appears that Justia also uses different content management systems for their websites vs. blogs.
The best we can tell, Justia builds their client’s “websites” on a proprietary content management system (CMS). As we’ve discussed on this blog before, we always advise our clients to have their website built on WordPress. WordPress is the most commonly used CMS in the world, it’s the best suited for SEO and content marketing, and its easily transferrable.
And therein lies my issue with Justia using their own proprietary CMS for client websites. If you decide to move on from Justia, your new website provider will not be able to simply take over management of the site. You’ll have to build a new site on a platform that you or your new provider can manage.
Alternatively, it appears that Justia’s “blogs” are indeed built on WordPress. This does make sense; WordPress is an excellent platform for frequent publishing of new content. What doesn’t make a ton of sense, in my opinion, is using separate websites, and content management systems, for your firm’s “website” and “blog”.
In addition to offering law firm websites, Justia also offer law firm blogs. At Juris Digital, we don’t really make this distinction, because we build all of our client’s sites on WordPress, which accommodates both traditional “website” pages, and blogging.
Furthermore, we believe that blogging (ie. content marketing) is an essential part of any law firm’s digital marketing strategy. We bake blogs right into our client’s websites. Maintaining two separate websites, on two separate domains, means inefficiency, both from a management standpoint and from an SEO standpoint.
For example, if your blog gets a bunch of social media shares and natural backlinks, that’s great! But that SEO authority isn’t being equally applied to your separate “law firm website”. That site will require its own content and links in order to generate rankings and traffic.
While we have no doubt that Justia has produced effective blogs for their clients over the years, we strongly disagree with the approach of separating the firm’s website from the blog.
My rating of Justia’s web design and development services
While I’m not a huge fan of their designs, or the fact that they use a proprietary CMS and domains for blogs vs. websites, I’d score Justia’s website’s a solid 4.5 our of 5 based on their strong calls-to-action, responsive coding, and fast page load times.
Justia Content Marketing Services Review
On the Content page on their marketing website, Justia says:
At Justia, we help our clients develop a sound content strategy that combines SEO best practices with each firm’s unique voice and approach to legal issues. We also offer custom content services for clients who prefer that their content be drafted by an experienced legal marketing professional.
Justia then goes on to list out the various attributes of their content services that makes them valuable. These include:
- Practice Areas
- Geographical Focus
- Format and Structure
- Keyword Density
I am wholly unimpressed by Justia’s ability to describe the value of their content marketing services. This gives me pause and makes me wonder whether Justia has given any consideration to what’s required to succeed at legal content marketing in 2017 vs. 2004.
I invite you to compare Justia’s information on content marketing vs. our approach here at Juris Digital, by checking out our content marketing service page and our guide to evergreen content marketing.
In fairness, just because the person who wrote Justia’s content marketing services pages failed to convey much value, doesn’t mean that Justia isn’t capable of producing effective content for their clients. But it certainly doesn’t bode well. If Justia’s content capabilities are limited to producing content that addresses your practice areas and geographic market, that is properly formatted, that is unique, and that has “keyword density”, then you’re better off looking elsewhere for these services.
My rating of Justia’s content marketing services
I gave Justia a 4.5 out of 5 for the quality of their websites. I can’t say the same for their content marketing services. Based on browsing through their client’s sites, and the information they have on their website, I’d give their content marketing services a 3 out of 5.
Justia SEO Services Review
Effective SEO depends greatly on being proficient in a variety of areas of digital marketing. For example, effective SEO cannot be achieved in the absence of a technically sound website, or a thoughtful content and keyword strategy, or link building initiatives that deliver quality links.
In other words, providing effective SEO services is difficult because it requires that you have capabilities beyond a basic knowledge of how search engines work.
Justia’s SEO services page contains the same vague description of how they provide value with their SEO services as they used on the content marketing page. The various headings on the page cover:
- Quality Content
- Practice Areas
- Geographical Focus
- HTML Tags
- Website Organization and Structure
- Keyword Density
- Social Media Integration
It’s not that I necessarily object to the validity of any of these areas of focus, but I am again struck by the lack of value communicated. These are basic concepts that any qualified SEO understands. I encourage you to compare Justia’s explanation of their SEO services with ours.
What also strikes me here is the absence of a mention of link building. Justia does mention Distribution, which they define as:
Submitting your website to directories and databases may help your placement in search engine results pages.
While this is technically link building, it’s the absolute most basic form of link building, and it will not be enough to get your site ranked in competitive markets. At Juris Digital we are obsessed with link building because we understand that the ability to gain valuable backlinks is essential to achieving keyword rankings that generate new cases for our clients.
Again, just because the person who wrote Justia’s SEO services page failed to convey particularly compelling value, doesn’t mean that Justia isn’t capable of achieving SEO success, but it’s not a great sign.
We were recently approached by a Justia client who explained that he had been investing in marketing with Justia for nearly a decade. I was shocked when I analyze the site’s performance using AHrefs.com, and this is what I saw in terms of organic traffic:
AHrefs estimates that the site gets roughly 41 organic search visits per month. This is incredibly low for such an old site, and one that’s been “SEO’d” for nearly a decade. Compare that to Juris Digital’s oldest client:
The Justia client also has a blog with Justia, so I checked the performance of it as well, but the stats were far worse:
I realize that this example is anecdotal, and it certainly is not representative of all of Justia’s clients. But the fact that this client has been with them for so long, and still the site’s traffic is not more robust, is troubling.
My rating of Justia’s SEO services
I gave Justia a 4.5 out of 5 for the quality of their websites. But, like with their content marketing services, I have major doubts about their ability to provide aggressive and effective SEO services to their clients. I’d rate Justia’s SEO services the same as I do their content marketing: 3 out of 5.
Summing it up…
Justia is a well established name in the online legal world, not only for their website and marketing services, but also for their lawyer directory and legal resources.
Based on my recent discussions with Justia clients, and my own examination of the site’s that they’re producing I can confidently say that law firms could do much worse in terms of digital marketing than Justia.
However, I sense that Justia’s history as one of the original online marketing companies for law firms has made them comfortable. I don’t see any special effort to keep up with what’s required for law firms to compete online in 2018, which is highlighted by issues like their lack of link building acumen and their vanilla content marketing services.
If you're considering hiring Justia, we hope you'll talk to us first to discuss our vision for generating new cases for your law firm online.