Chris Dreyer About the Author Chris Dreyer is the CEO & Founder of Rankings.io, a law firm search engine optimization agency that offers high-quality SEO services for lawyers. Chris contributes to the Rankings.io blog and also to many Internet marketing & legal marketing publications including but not limited to Moz, Ahrefs, Legal Ink Magazine, Attorney at Work, and more.
Search Engine Optimization Guide for Law Firms > Measuring SEO Success

How to Measure SEO Success

Measuring the Success of your SEO Campaign

Tracking your progress in search results pages is a key part of any SEO campaign. Attorneys can leverage a variety of free and paid tools to track how their efforts are working.

Matthew Laurin

From Matthew Laurin, Director of Marketing at Rankings.io
“There is not really one all-encompassing SEO tool for measuring your success in SEO. Instead, look to different platforms (even for the same data) to get a better idea of how your campaigns are working.”

There is no right or wrong tool for measuring your activity, but there are software platforms that have strengths in certain areas. We’ll share what we use and that can be your guide in choosing your own box of tools for tracking.

 

Google Analytics

Google provides a variety of free tools that website owners can use to measure activity on their sites.

Google Analytics78 is a free tracking software that allows you to see common types of website interactions including:

  • PageViews (the number of times pages were viewed by one or more visitors)
  • Time on page and time on site
  • Bounce rate (the rate at which visitors to a site view one page and then leave)
  • Referral source (other sites on the internet that are sending you traffic)
  • Social interactions
  • The types of devices visitors are using

In addition to those key metrics, Google Analytics has many more features site owners can use to segment information, learn about how visitors use their site, and see how much referral traffic is coming from search engines.

Here’s a sample source/medium report from Google Analytics showing the top 10 primary referring websites on Rankings.io.

Source Medium Report from google analytics

Google’s tools are a great place to start when measuring your SEO success, because they are free and allow you to get familiar with some of the information, metrics, and verbiage related to SEO.

There is also ample documentation and videos79 if you have questions about what reports mean or how to access certain information.

You can also link Google Search Console to Analytics80 and get richer SEO data into reporting like keyword rankings and average position in search results pages.

 

Google Search Console

Just like Analytics, Search Console81 is a free tool provided by Google. It is more focused on data about a website as it relates to search results, keyword rankings, links, and technical aspects of on-site SEO than anything else.

Here are some of the things lawyers can track with Search Console:

  • Keywords: These reports show the keywords for which the site is ranking, the page associated with the keyword in search results pages, and the position of the page in a search results page, as well as impression and click through data for those keywords.
  • Links:  Google shows site owners the inbound links pointing at their site. In comparison to other tools, Google’s is pretty good (especially considering it’s free), but you don’t get the robust, multi-dimensional metrics that come from some of the paid tools out there.
  • Structured data: Google will show you how your website information is appearing in their search results pages. You can also use the Data Highlighter82 within Search Console to let Google know what the relationship among different pieces of information is. This helps Google better display your information in search.
  • Manual actions and search health: Google can alert you to suspicious behavior on your site or manual actions that have been applied by their quality assurance team.
  • Mobile usability and technical errors: Search Console allows site owners to see a variety of technical and HTML errors that could be causing obstacles for ranking well in search.

Here’s a sample performance report pulled from Search Console:
Overview report from search console

Using Google Analytics and Search Console together is a great way to see a comprehensive picture of how your SEO campaigns are impacting your sites performance in search.

 

CallRail

Phone calls are an important conversion for attorneys. Getting a potential client on the phone is often more valuable than a form fill or download of content.

When your primary channel for lead generation is organic search, tracking that type of conversion can be challenging.

Fortunately, platforms like CallRail83 allow attorneys to show specific phone numbers to users who have found them through Google organic (unpaid) search.

How it works:
When you set up a campaign in CallRail, you can choose local phone numbers that are only shown to visitors when they arrive at a site from a specific referral source.

Basically, you can say, “If a visitor comes from Google organic search, show this phone number.”

This configuration allows lawyers to track and record phone calls that come from specific campaign channels and provides a mechanism for measuring ROI.

Below is a typical report showing lead source by phone number, total calls, and call duration, all charted for easy digestion.

Call Rail call tracking dashboard

The data is also segmented by repeat and first-time callers, so you get an accurate read-out on whether or not your SEO campaign is attracting new visitors to your site.

It’s important to use multiple phone numbers on your various lead channels, so you can see where your money is best being spent.

For example, in the report above, we can see that organic search is by far generating the most phone calls; however, other lead sources in the graph may also be worth maintaining.

 

Ahrefs

Links are Google’s top ranking factor, so having good software for tracking link activity is a wise investment to make.

Ahrefs84 is one of the best for link analytics on the internet. They have a lot of other great tools, such as their Keywords Explorer, but analyzing links is where they shine.

They maintain a huge data set85 and crawl the web constantly much like search engines.  That means site owners have access to some of the most accurate link information available on the web.

Tim Soulo

From Tim Soulo, Head of Marketing & Product Strategy at Ahrefs
“When evaluating link quality, the basic rule is to ask yourself a very simple question: ‘Is this website legit?’

And by “legit” I mean that the website should be actually valuable for its visitors, and not exist for the sole purpose of selling links to other people.

Now if that’s a legit quality website, the metrics I would look at are of course Ahrefs’ DR and RD, which stand for Domain Rating and Referring Domains respectively.

By looking at these two metrics, you can get a very rough idea of this website’s “link popularity” compared to the rest of the internet. Because as a general rule you want to get links from “popular” websites.

One other thing I highly recommend you factor in is how fast is this website acquiring new backlinks. In Ahrefs there’s a graph that shows you how many referring domains this website is acquiring over time. If that graph is plateauing – then the “value” of your link won’t really grow over time. Moreover, there’s a good chance that this website will be eventually abandoned, and your link will simply vanish in a few years.

But if the graph of new referring domains is going up – it means that this website is gaining more and more popularity over time, so the value that you get from your link will only grow over time.

These are the very basics that you can check in about 15 seconds.

And if you want to go deeper in assessing the link quality of a website, there’s nothing better than actually digging into the websites that link to it.

I mean Domain Rating and Referring Domains may seem high, but these metrics can surely be manipulated. So, if something seems sketchy – always dig deeper.”

 

Here’s a few things you can do with Ahrefs when it comes to links:

  • View referring domains pointing at your site
  • See the total number of backlinks (in total or by domain) pointing at your site
  • Use proprietary metrics like Domain Rating to evaluate link opportunities on other sites
  • Track link building campaigns by seeing which links are still live to your site and which ones have been lost
  • See exactly which pages on an external site where your links are

When you scan a domain, here’s the overview page you’ll see:
Ahrefs overview

Pretty much all of the data is link-related, such as the quantity, quality, TLD type, and Ahrefs rank of the referring domains pointed at the site.

You also get some metrics on the estimated value that your site may be receiving (if it should be converting visitors through organic search) as well as an overview of keyword metrics. By clicking into any of these metrics, users can delve further down into the information and use it to make decisions.

For many attorneys, Ahrefs is going to be overkill for measuring success in link building campaigns.

It’s great software, but if all you’re doing is tracking the links that are leading to your site, there are some free tools (like Google Search Console) that will show you that.

 

SEMRush

Just like Ahrefs, SEMRush can be used to track backlink and keyword metrics. They’re a direct competitor of Ahrefs, providing much of the same kinds of data on domain authoritativeness and rankings in search results pages.

The most noticeable difference between SEMRush and Ahrefs is the user interface. One is not really better than the other, but there are noticeable differences in usability and organization of data.

Here’s a snapshot of their dashboard:
SEMRush Dashboard

SEMRush is a great tool for those practicing SEO, such as freelancers and agencies, because multiple clients can be set up in the dashboard.

Auditing Tools in SEMRush
One of the things that sets this platform apart from competitors is its ability to quickly gather and display information in an easy-to-understand snapshot report.

For example, at a glance, their site auditing tool shows you all of the issues, errors, and warnings related to the SEO on your site.

SEM Rush site audit

Chris Dreyer

Chapter ROI by Chris Dreyer, CEO of Rankings.io

Properly measuring the success of a campaign is critical, so it’s important to consider multiple metrics/KPIs. Contact form submissions, calls, live chats, rankings, and organic traffic are just some of the leading indicators of a successful SEO campaign.


Conclusion & Acknowledgements

I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to the following professionals for their contribution to this guide.

Gareth Daine

Content Promotion Strategy Expert

Brian Dean

Founder at Backlinko

Joy Hawkins

Owner/Founder at Sterlingsky.ca

Robbie Richards

Marketing Director at Virayo

Nathan Gotch

Founder at Gotch SEO

Steve Pockross

CEO at BlogMutt

Steven Kang

Founder of SEO Signals Lab

Sujan Patel

Founder of Mailshake

Josh Fechter

Co-Founder at BAMF Media

Tim Soulo

Head of Marketing & Product Strategy at Ahrefs


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