Thursday, December 8, 2011

Timing the High Jump.* How many "hits" should a website get?

We often get asked "how many hits" or "how many visitors" a law firm's website should get.  
Unfortunately, those are the wrong questions. 
Law firms like to compare their results against industry practices, and evaluate the return on their website or search-engine-marketing efforts with metrics you can measure like traffic, inbound links, rankings, indexed pages, page rank, etc
Although those seem logical, none of these is very helpful when seeking to assess the real value or performance of a firm's website or SEO efforts.


As 21-century law firm marketers, we'd like to focus on more ... nuanced benchmarks.
As we tell our clients, the objective should not be the number of "hits" or "views" or "visitors," but:
   (1) the quality of your visitors, and
   (2) their propensity to convert into paying clients. 
Remember, your online-marketing efforts should be aimed directly toward generating qualified leads and converting them into clients, i.e. increasing revenue.  


Here are a few questions we put to our clients when undertaking an SEO assignment:
1. Who, where, and how big is your target audience?
2. How long does your typical attorney/client relationship last?  
For example, a divorce lawyer may have a client for a few months, where a trust and estates attorney should have the client for decades. How many clients do you need to support your business?
3. Where on your site do you want the traffic to land? 
(This applies to all your digital platforms, i.e. blogs, social pages, microsites.) Remember that if it's developed correctly and optimized with a lot of useful information on the interior pages, 60% of your traffic can flow directly to the interior pages of your site, and by-pass the home page altogether.  

Note - you want this to happen; it shows that you have a lot of specific and useful content deeper inside your website that people who are searching for that information can find.

If Google only cares about your home page, you are losing a lot of potentially valuable leads.

Most law firms are so obsessed with their home pages they neglect to optimize the content of the interior pages, which is a huge mistake.
4. How much traffic is acceptable?
This is relative: for instance, if you want to draw traffic to your aircraft-finance practice group, you may be quite pleased with a small number of visitors -- if they represent a significant portion of the universe of potential clients.  So the number of hits remains relative to your objectives.
However, firms that focus on e.g. personal injury typically expect and require a larger number.  In these situations they should ascertain the number of searches being conducted on Google for the primary PI keywords.  We would multiply that number roughly by four to give us a sense of the universe of digital traffic that you can draw from.
5. What is your conversion rate once visitors get to your site?
If you do not engage your visitors, entice them to dig deeper into your site or connect with you, unfortunately you will never have "enough" traffic...
A final comment that comes from the experience we gleaned in the last decade while working with both B2C and B2B clients as well as our law firm clients:  Leaders in digital-marketing are not focusing on the amount of "hits," but on how to engage. 
While we understand that you still need to be found (which requires effective SEO structures and strategies), before you can "connect," asking yourself the right question should get you where you want to be, faster and with better financial results.
That is the only metric that matters.

* "Timing the high jump" is the expression my old friend Bill Flannery uses when discussing how law firms tend to measure the wrong things.

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