Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process by which an attorney’s or law firm’s website is optimized for search engine results. Search Engine Management (SEM) is the process of implementing certain content specific tactics to influence search engine rankings (SEO is one of these tactics). These processes may sound simple but they are part of an incredibly complex and tedious task list that must be continually reviewed and revised.
Search engine optimization is a necessary expense for any size law firm or solo practitioner. A law firm can decide to either combine SEO and SEM with an existing marketing department or considered a stand-alone advertising expense. There are two ways that a legal business can undertake search engine optimization and allocate the resources that are necessary for both search engine optimization and search engine management. First, there is the in house option, and is a good fit for law firms or attorneys that have an employee dedicated to extensive set up and constant monitoring of their search rankings, social media interaction and online reputation. Second, the tasks can be out sourced to an SEO agency. This does not mean contacting an overseas company, but having an outside agency do the majority of the work. Both options have their benefits and regardless of how your SEO is done setting goals should be a priority at the beginning of the SEO journey.
The tendency is for attorneys and law firms to witness an event such as a drop in their search engine rankings, negative reviews or loss of revenue. Buzzwords like, conversion rate, impressions, ROI, clicks, PPC, etc. are discussed, sometimes by people who do not really know what they mean, and companies proceed blindly into the abyss of search engine optimization. The more prudent and efficient response would be to stop and set up search engine management goals and design your SEO plan to achieve certain metrics. However, it can be overwhelming when someone begins to research search engine optimization and discovers the multitude of opinions and plans available. It is also very difficult for a busy attorney to keep up with the changing tactics in search engine optimization, but by narrowing your focus through goal setting your path becomes clearer and your objectives more defined.
Designing an effective search engine optimization strategy is similar to a plan in traditional marketing, but the methods used to achieve them are very different. First, define a set of objectives you would like to accomplish before expending resources to implement a search engine optimization strategy. In some cases, tactics used without a clear plan may be harder to reverse than beginning from scratch and establishing goals. Next, design steps and ways to measure success or failure metrics along the way.
It is very important to consider the goals you would like to accomplish. Ask yourself, why do I have a company website and what would I like to do with it?
Some popular reasons are:
1. Increased Sales
2. Increased Site Traffic
3. Increase Brand Awareness
4. Increased Lead Generation
5. Increased Social Influence
Once the goals of your website have been clearly defined you are ready to move on to deciding on a strategy and which metrics to use to measure campaign performance. There are numerous metrics that can be tracked and once the goals are established you will have specific questions to ask your SEO regarding the steps they plan to take and the methods by which they will track success, or failure, of a search engine optimization or search engine management campaign. Also, regardless of whether you perform the search engine optimization or search engine management tasks in house or hire an outside agency you will be more knowledgeable and able to participate in the discussion surrounding you or your law firm’s strategy.
The list of possible objectives is endless, and will change over time. Rather than be constrained by thinking…. what is available to track…. think what do I want to track, and a good SEO will find a way to track the metrics. Listed below are some sample metrics that will be a good start for your attorney’s office or law firm.
1. Visits – The number of people who come to a law firms website. This number can be divided into new and returning visitors to determine the amount of new and return business a site is generating.
2. Pages Per Visit – The number of pages a visitor views while visiting a law firm’s website. A high number of page views indicate the user is interacting with the site and interested in the content.
3. Average Visit Duration – This number is the amount of time a user (new or returning) spends on a law firm’s site, and is another indicator of a quality user experience. A good user experience increases the odds users will convert into clients.
4. Bounce Rate – This number represents the number of times a user visits a website and immediately leaves from the page they entered. This indicates a bad user experience because they are not staying long enough to peruse a law firm’s website content.
5. Exit Rate – This number indicates the page from which the user exited, but it is not necessarily the page they entered. Exit rates for pages that are immediately before pages that you wish the potential client to read are problematic.