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Best Ways to Measure Law Firm SEO Success: And Why SEO Companies Don’t Provide It

The best ways to measure the success of a law firm SEO program are below, in order from least effective to most effective:

• Content Pages Added to Website
• Keyword Rankings
• Website Visitors (aka Traffic)
• Leads
• Qualified Leads
• Signed Cases
• Revenue

In other words, the number of signed cases is a much better measurement of success than the number of pages added to the website. Similarly, the number of qualified leads generated is a much better indicator of success than keyword rankings.

Notwithstanding, almost all SEO companies focus on rankings and visitor traffic. They send fancy reports to managing partners and firm administrators each month that show improvements in keyword rankings and increases in visitor traffic.

But why don’t they focus on the better indicators of success, such as signed cases and revenue generated? The answer is simple. They don’t have to.

Law firms are perfectly content to pay for rankings and website visitors. They spend millions on it each month, many with no curiosity as to whether those rankings or website visitors are converting into paying clients.

True story. I work with a solo attorney who was getting 5,000+ visitors to his website each month, courtesy of one of the large law firm marketing companies. Yet, he was getting almost no leads. In his estimation, that huge traffic number was generating at best 2-3 phone call or email inquiries per month. So just to review, 5,000 website visitors… 2-3 leads. When I told him he needs a new website – because his was bad – and a new strategy for driving online business, guess what he said?

“I don’t want to lose my rankings. They produce a lot of website visitors.”

The SEO industry had trained him well. He was the poster child for the lawyer who is willing to buy something with no real value (i.e. website traffic) because someone – at some point – convinced him that it’s a strong indicator of success.

Of course, these stories are incredibly common among law firms, especially small ones. And unfortunately, by the time most attorneys realize that it makes no sense to pay for search engine rankings and visitor traffic that doesn’t produce new clients, they’ve already spent $2,000-4,000 per month for more than a year. Some have spent it for more than a dozen years.

So what are the lessons here?

1. Know what you’re buying. Are you paying that SEO company to achieve Google rankings, or qualified leads?
2. Know how to measure success. If success is defined by new paying clients, don’t settle for traffic reports each month.
3. Don’t spend money on something that isn’t working. There are lots of options for spending law firm marketing dollars. There is no point in spending them ineffectively.

And last, get some professional – and independent – marketing advice… before making an investment in an online strategy. There aren’t many law firm marketing consultants in the industry… and even fewer good ones. But they do exist. And spending a little money with them to prevent you and your law firm from wasting much larger sums on SEO is an investment worth making.

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