In this final chapter, you’ll learn how to measure the success of your SEO efforts. Including:
- How to ensure you get traction from your website optimization efforts
- How to analyze your link acquisition strategies
- How to track keyword rankings with actual search volume
- How to cut through the noise and review the most important traffic analytics
- How to measure conversions and be assured of your firm’s ROI
Measuring the Results of On-Page SEO
If you start a new exercise regimen, it’s probably with some specific goals or targets in mind (e.g., losing weight, reducing cholesterol, etc.). You may use leading indicators like how much weight you’re able to lift or how far you’re able to sprint in 30 seconds to see how you’re progressing.
However, it’s also important to measure the impact that each individual exercise is having on your long-term goals. You want to be sure that you’re doing the right routine in the right repetitions; otherwise, you’re not maximizing your energy and time.
Measuring your progress from on-page optimizations is a lot like that.
You can make thousands of tiny changes to your firm’s website, and all of them have some impact…but it’s crucial to assess if the things you’re doing are moving the needle in a significant way.
When it comes to measuring your law firm website’s performance, we recommend using Ahrefs’ Site Audit.
What is Ahrefs Site Audit?
Ahrefs’ Site Audit is a cloud-based diagnostic tool (so there’s no software to install). It provides detailed reports on the health of your site.
Those reports filter to display the most common SEO issues, but they’re also sortable and filterable. Giving you a large degree of customization and options to drill down to the fine details.
You can also schedule how often the tool crawls your site so you can get regular progress reports at your convenience.
Ahrefs is a paid tool, though. If you’re looking for a free diagnostic, check out Google Search Console.
Another robust and fairly affordable tool we often recommend is Screaming Frog.
How to Hold Your SEO Agency Accountable for Link Building
As the owner of an SEO agency, I frequently see law firms lacking on the link acquisition front.
Or worse—the acquisition of low-quality, spammy links.
As mentioned previously, backlinks are a key component of how Google determines which websites to rank higher in their search index. It’s imperative that this aspect of SEO be taken seriously, done properly, and invested in on a regular basis.
Link building in the legal vertical is difficult. There are effective tactics you can get great results from with a little time and effort, though. Learn how to build links for your law firm.
You can get pages to rank without links—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But it isn’t easy in the legal vertical. It’s so competitive that you’re better off doing everything you can if you want to hold your own against competing firms.
Don’t let parasitic agencies leech off of your hard-earned money. If they say they’re building links for you—go see for yourself.
Get an account with Ahrefs.
I don’t have an affiliate link to offer, and I get no compensation for making this recommendation. This is genuinely my professional opinion about the best tool for measuring link acquisition.
How to Use Ahrefs Site Explorer
I primarily use Ahrefs Site Explorer to evaluate the quality of backlinks and to measure link acquisition progress.
When evaluating the quality of a link, I look for:
- How much organic traffic the referring page receives per month.
- How many other external pages the referring page is linking to.
- How much organic traffic the referring domain receives per month.
- The number of keywords the page ranks for in the top 10.
- The total number of backlinks from websites that get more than 1000 traffic per month.
- The anchor text (and surrounding anchor text) used to link to our site.
- The overall look and feel of the page linking to me. If it looks like garbage, the link is probably garbage.
- The UR (URL Rating) of the referring page.
- The DR (Domain Rating) of the referring domain.
- I tend to look for the highest DR sites I can find and avoid sites with less than 30 DR.
Learn more about Ahrefs’s metrics.
Advice from Ahrefs CMO
The CMO of Ahrefs agrees.
One of the most effective tactics an attorney can do to gain higher rankings in the local results is to actively keep track of competitors and report listings that violate the Google My Business guidelines.
I’ve seen many cases where doing so resulted in an almost-instant ranking increase for the business that was following guidelines.
Here are the most common types of violations I see with attorneys:
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.
Tim Soulo, CMO @ Ahrefs
Track the Keywords You Actually Care About
Tracking keywords can be helpful. But I recommend you only track the top 10-12 high-value keywords you care the most about. And if they’re local keywords—get ready for a headache. You’ll need a tool like Local Viking Tracking to see how well you’re ranking in the local pack in a given geographic area.
Google Search Console is a nice free tool that can give you a granular look at keyword queries, their impressions, and total clicks. You’ll need to learn some Regex (regular expressions) if you want to get the most out of it, though.
We rely on two tools to track rankings:
- Agency Analytics
- A custom tool we built that gets real-time data from Google, clusters topics, then prioritizes them based on impact and effort.
Read our case study using Agency Analytics.
To give you a brief overview of why we prefer Agency Analytics:
- You can segment your rankings by organic, local, mobile, etc.
- Rankings are updated every 24 hours.
- They have a clean, customizable dashboard.
- Their UI features numerous integrations (Google Analytics, CallRail, etc.).
Don’t Let an SEO Send a Report with All Traffic Voodoo
When it comes to measuring traffic for an SEO campaign, you’ll want to focus on organic traffic. Though, with recent changes to privacy laws and cookie consent requirements, a decent amount of organic traffic is registering as direct or not registering at all.
Welcome to the present world we live in.
If an SEO sends you an “all traffic report,” just remember they aren’t segmenting organic traffic from everything else.
If your report contains referral, direct, and social traffic, it’s possible the agency you’ve hired is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Unless they’re providing full-service digital marketing services for you.
SEO strategies are geared towards generating leads and cases from organic results, so the reporting should reflect that.
Our tool of choice in this area is Google Analytics (free). Here are the main views you should use:
- Lifecycle → Acquisition → Traffic Acquisition
- Lifecycle → Engagement → Landing Page → Filtered by Session Medium = Organic
- Lifecycle → Engagement → Conversions → Add Secondary Dimension for First User Source / Medium
The first report will look at total traffic and give you a breakdown by medium (e.g., Organic Search, Direct, Organic Social, Referral, Paid Search, Paid Social, Email, etc.).
The second report will show you the pages people visiting from an organic search are landing on.
The third report will show you what really matters: conversions. If you have your events and goals properly configured in GA4, you can use this report to see how many conversions you’re getting across various sources & mediums.
Getting a Return on Your Investment from SEO Conversions
Everything that we’ve mentioned above is a leading indicator for what’s most important to you: conversions (or new case acquisitions).
It doesn’t matter how optimized your site is, how many backlinks you acquire, etc.
If you aren’t getting new cases, who cares?
The real question is, how do you know if your SEO efforts are affecting your conversions?
There are three primary methods that we recommend: tracking your contact form submissions (using Google Analytics Goal Tracking), your live chat conversions (using a service like Ngage), and your phone call conversions (using call tracking, such as CallRail).
Google Analytics 4 Goal Tracking
While useful and accurate, Goal Tracking through Google Analytics does require a bit of fine-tuning in the setup phase.
Here’s a video that shows in more detail how to set up conversion events and goal tracking in GA4.
Live Chat Conversion Tracking
Live chat is an additional tool for capturing conversions.
You’re probably familiar with live chat already, but in the legal vertical, there are two primary providers: Ngage and Apex.
Learn more about live chat software for lawyers.
You can set up goals for live chat similar to how we’ve mentioned above (each provider has a different method for connecting with Google Analytics).
Many of the popular tools will also integrate with your case management system.
Phone Call Conversion Tracking
In principle, tracking conversions from phone calls is a fairly simple task. The goal is to take different phone numbers that you own and task them to different purposes, allowing you to track the success rate of calls coming into each.
There are two ways to set up call tracking: static and dynamic.
Static call tracking involves using a single number for all website interactions.
Dynamic call tracking takes a pool of numbers and assigns them individually to each referral source.
We recommend dynamic call tracking because it allows for a detailed breakdown of the referral source data so you know which sources are driving you the most cases.
The caveat to this recommendation is that the wealth of data generated by dynamic call tracking can be overwhelming if it isn’t managed properly. Ensure you filter out repeat callers and referral sources to get an accurate look at your conversions.
The Attribution Mirage
This is something we covered in our Introduction to SEO for Lawyers, but if you missed it or skipped to this chapter before reading it, I recommend you go read it now.
Read how software-based attribution is only half the story.
Here’s a quick summary:
- Marketing attribution predominantly uses software tracking, potentially neglecting insights from qualitative customer research.
- Software tracking measures marketing aimed at capturing demand but struggles with initiatives for creating demand.
- “Damming demand” involves directing a consumer’s existing solution search towards your own product or service through education.
- Demand creation channels, despite unclear attribution data, are valuable when combined with SEO and paid search programs.
- Effective conversion tracking merges software-based attribution metrics with qualitative customer feedback measurements.
The Best Advice to Get Started & Get Growing
You’ve made it through every chapter in our SEO for Lawyers Guide. By now, you should have a good grasp of:
But it doesn’t have to stop there. We have more in-depth content diving into nearly every facet of law firm marketing you might want.
Visit our Law Firm Marketing Learning Center.
The Results the Best Law Firm Marketing Agency Gets Firms Like Yours
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