The internet and mobile devices are transforming the way people and organisations research and purchase all types of products and services, including legal services.
The 2012 Attorney Selection Research Study by The Research Intelligence Group revealed that 76% of adult consumers looking for legal services used online resources. Of those, 35% specifically used law firm websites in their search. In fact, law firm websites were used more often than online legal directories to find an attorney and more often than any other online source to validate and select a lawyer.
It is difficult to find comparable UK statistics, perhaps because many law firms are not tracking online enquiry data to the same degree of accuracy as their US counterparts.
Here at Exen, we are taking a keen interest in our website traffic and social media interactions, having recently added this blog to our website. We are not digital marketing experts, but we see website analytics and search engine optimisation (SEO) data as part of a range of sources of information that can help us to understand our customers and our performance.
As with operational data, it is important to understand what to collect and how to turn it into useful management information that can help you improve your business performance. This advice on choosing digital marketing KPIs and turning raw data into management information may help.
In this blog post, I will explain some of the things we have learned about improving website visibility, including six SEO tips to help legal practices improve their website search engine rankings.
(1) Measure appropriate metrics using a website analytics tool
There is no point investing in your website if you don’t then monitor the impacts of changes you have made. Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track visitor statistics and behavioural information, such as the length of time people spend on your website, where they enter and leave the site, and journeys round your website.
While Google Analytics does not have actionable data, as marketer Robert Algeri explains in this video interview for LXBN, it is a good starting point for law practices that want to begin collecting basic website data to benchmark against before they invest in a more advanced legal firm data solution for website analytics.
(2) Undertake an SEO audit
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a process of making your website more visible to search engines. This in turn enables them to return your website in relevant search results and direct more potential clients to you.
An SEO audit measures how well your website currently performs for organic search and checks the technical aspects of your website up so search engines can read it properly. It will also recommend keywords (search terms) that you should include in your website and blog content to attract more relevant visitors.
(3) Set up a blog
Our blog is a useful way for us to share answers to common questions asked by our clients, and explore topical issues and debates with a much wider audience. As a management information specialist, I’m interested to see not only the increase in website hits, but also the impact of this on our enquiries and conversion rate – and what this says about our content and our communications and sales messages.
Search engines give a high rank to websites with good quality, regularly updated content. As blogs provide regularly-updated keyword-rich content, a blog will have a big positive impact on your search engine rankings.
(4) Link up with social media
In my recent blog post on digital marketing KPIs, I quoted research by Managing Partner that showed most law firms are planning to increase their online marketing expenditure. The majority said their website was a “central component of their online marketing strategy” and almost two thirds now have integrated social media channels.
Share your good content through your social media channels to increase impact and drive traffic back to your website. Remember to monitor and track the performance of your social media campaigns. A variety of free online tools are available to do this.
The Blacks Solicitors blog is fully integrated with its social media platforms, and many of its lawyers have their own Twitter and LinkedIn profiles through which they share blog content.
As Google algorithms now attribute a high PageRank score to social sharing, all this additional social media activity has a big positive impact on your website’s search engine ranking.
(5) Multiple touch points for all campaigns
With any buying process, and especially longer ones, buyers require a number of touchpoints or reminders about your brand before they make their purchase decision. By ensuring all your campaigns incorporate a variety of multichannel touchpoints over time, you will increase both your website traffic and conversion rate.
If your website visitors are already engaged and actively seeking you out, they are likely to spend longer on your website and visit more pages. Both of these are things that search engines look for in a good website.
(6) Create links between your website and other high quality sites
Search engines like to see good natural links between your website and other high quality industry websites. This shows your website is reputable. Include internal links and external links, and build relationships with other sites through guest blogging and recommendations.
More SEO advice for legal practices is available on the Legal Support Network.
Search engines optimisation metrics for law firm websites should not be viewed in isolation, but as part of a comprehensive monitoring process that delivers timely and useful management information to help you run your law firm more efficiently and effectively.
Exen specialises in legal software for law firms. We deliver operational data management and information systems to help improve the management of law firms, including our SmartEye management information solution.
If you’d like to find out how management information could help your organisation to run more profitably, give me a call on 0845 6806 843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog post by Graham Moore, Managing Director, Exen Legal Solutions