Whether you’re doing your own SEO or you have an agency doing it for you, there are certain metrics you should be watching closely. Granted there isn’t a one-size-fits-all measurement for all law firms and practice areas but in general there are some basic things you should be paying attention to.
Your performance in organic search
The first step in the process for leveraging search to grow your law firm is high rankings in search. A KPI of your SEO campaign is the ranking of pages in SERPs. Benchmarking is important here. After all, you can’t tell how far you’ve come if you don’t know where you began.
These simple steps will help you keep track of your progress:
- Identify priority keyword phrases (and their associated pages) that you would like to rank for
- Take note of the average position of each keyword/page combination (Hint: Excel and Google Search Console are a big help)
- Re-check the page metrics every 4-6 weeks (sooner or later depending on the aggressiveness of your SEO campaign)
Number of linking root domains
This metric should also be associated with some kind of link building campaign. For instance a common strategy is to make content that serves as link bait (extremely well-researched blog posts, infographics, embeddable videos, etc).
Use a program like ahrefs.com to periodically check and see if you are gaining links as a result of your efforts. If you notice an up-tick over time, your strategy could be working well. If not, perhaps the content isn’t resonating with your target audience.
You should also keep an eye on this metric in general. Learn about what domains are linking to you and why. It’s good to know just for peace of mind as well as to notice immediately if something fishy is going on.
Number of indexed URLs
This is a basic metric but an important one. Search engines index URLs and if a page has not been saved in the index, it is not appearing in search results.
A low number of indexed URLs could suggest an issue with accessibility on your site. It could also mean important pages are not showing to searchers.
You can see which of your URLs Google has indexed by using simple Google search operators to see what URLs exist in its index.
Example: by using site:esq.marketing, Google returns all URLs in its index for that website.
Traffic from organic search
Ranking on page one is great but if no one is visiting your site from search it doesn’t really matter where you’re showing up. Reports in tools like Google Analytics showing organic traffic can often be the first sign of any kind of issue with your site.
If organic traffic is falling, it could be a sign of a drastic position change in SERPs (search engine results pages). It could also be a sign that there are issues with indexing pages. Organic traffic reports can also give you a glimpse at whether or not you are successful at driving more traffic to your website.
New vs. returning visitors (visitor growth)
This another measurement that can show you how you’re doing with gaining more visibility in search. You can use new vs returning reports in analytics platforms to tell a story. For instance if you are seeing an uptick in new visitors you know that more people are finding your site.
Impressions from organic search
While this metric gives only a partial picture of your overall presence in search, it’s helpful to know both on an overall and keyword basis. Impressions are simply the number of times your site appeared in search results for a given keyword phrase. You will not be able to see this metric without configuring Google Webmaster tools or by using a third party software program.
The number of impressions for your site for certain keywords can tell you if Google (and searchers) find your pages relevant for a given query. If you’re getting a lot of impressions for a term you want to rank for but no clicks, chances are searchers aren’t finding that page relevant.
Click through rates
The CTR of your search results can indicate that users don’t find rich snippets related to your site relevant to their queries. Users tend to scan search results from left to right looking for the query language they used as well as information related to the query.
Rich snippets (i.e. typically drawn from title tags and meta descriptions) are your chance to grab a user and make them click through to your website. If your CTR is low, try changing up your meta description or titles. You can see meta descriptions as well as what your snippets look like in search by using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
The rate at which users complete the actions you want them to complete on your pages can be a good indication on the relevancy of your pages. A conversion could be a form fill, calling a phone number, downloading a white paper or any number of other actions.
If you can get your page to rank well, get people to click on it but they aren’t doing what you want them to do when they get to the landing page, that is a good indication that it needs to be changed.
Bounce rates on practice area pages
The rate at which users view a landing page from search and leave without viewing any other pages on your site can also give you a good idea of how relevant it is to them.
For search engines, links and copy and other optimization tasks can make a page relevant. For users, if the page doesn’t contain information that helps solve their problem (no matter how relevant), they will leave.
Anchor text distribution
The distribution of anchor text (which is the variety of type of anchor text used on hyperlinks to your site) is important to watch. You want to make sure abnormal patterns aren’t showing up along with spikes in data.
When people build links, their first thought generally isn’t to help a site they are linking to rank for a particular keyword phrase. When lots of links are built with anchor text that the target site is trying to rank for, that looks suspicious.