Understanding Search Engine Optimization and Analytics for Law Firms


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The topics of SEO and Analytics can be daunting to legal marketers who have many jobs beyond their firm's presence on the web. This presentation aims to shed some light on the basics of each discipline to give legal marketers a fighting chance whether they decide to take on the task internally or look for some help outside the firm.

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Understanding Search Engine Optimization and Analytics for Law Firms

  1. 1. understanding analytics legal tech san francisco, ca october 15, 2013
  2. 2. your speaker today was a former… a.  opera singer? b.  taiji instructor? c.  ballerina?
  3. 3. Steve Hennigs, Siteimprove
  4. 4. Jeanette Nuzum, Orrick
  5. 5. Burkey Belser, Greenfield/Belser
  6. 6. the audience today           what’s your level of familiarity with SEO? what challenges have you found in your firm? do I distinguish SEO from social media? what do you hope to learn? what do you want to take back to your leadership?
  7. 7. understanding analytics you will learn   what search engine optimization is and why you should care   the basics of SEO on and off your site   how to evaluate SEO providers   understanding Google and navigating Analytics   advanced analytics tactics   the ideal report to management
  8. 8. what is search engine optimization (and why should I care?)
  9. 9. search engine optimization (SEO) defined: SEO is any activity an organization undertakes to improve their website’s visibility and ranking for organic search what does this include, really?
  10. 10. why should I care? the future of the law firm website
  11. 11. growth of search
  12. 12. growth of search
  13. 13. growth of search
  14. 14. growth of search
  15. 15. growth of search
  16. 16. why does Google care?
  17. 17. 70-90% of clicks
  18. 18. 73% never go to p.2
  19. 19. why should I care? the future of the law firm website   what do I want to achieve?   what do my partners say they want?
  20. 20. the basics of SEO on and off your site
  21. 21. onsite SEO deals with making sure Google can find your web pages in order to show them in their search results appropriately. This is accomplished through relevant, detailed and helpful content.
  22. 22. offsite SEO deals with trying to get other websites to tell Google what your website is about and (2) that’s in an authority in the industry, a website they can trust. This is done through linkbuilding.
  23. 23. onsite v. offsite challenges
  24. 24. onsite challenges             area of focus keyword research basic issues website content website design internal links
  25. 25. onsite challenges             area of focus keyword research basic issues website content website design internal links
  26. 26. area of focus what is the main purpose of the website? divide and conquer identify low hanging fruit
  27. 27. onsite challenges             area of focus keyword research basic issues website content website design internal links
  28. 28. three steps to keyword research 1.  get a base list a.  talk to “strangers” b.  read your users minds 2.  expand your base list with tools 3.  choose high volume/low cost keywords for optimizing!
  29. 29. talk to “strangers” firm employees ideas of keywords: legalese, legalese, legalese, legalese, legalese potential clients (strangers) ideas of keywords: layman terms, layman terms, layman terms, layman terms you need to optimize for the terms your potential clients are using! if you can’t find any corporate counsel or CEOs to talk to, ask your mom how she would look for a lawyer. She does not speak legalese
  30. 30. internal site search reading your users minds! searches used on www.sitemiprove.c om. gives us clues about what users are looking for.
  31. 31. stranger data + user data = base list of keywords
  32. 32. expand your base list with tools both of these tools are free!
  33. 33. choose your keywords best keywords will have a high number of monthly searches and a low estimated cost per click you are doing a cost/benefit analysis for your keywords to get the most bang for your buck (ok time not buck but you get the idea)
  34. 34. onsite challenges           keyword research basic issues website content website design internal links
  35. 35. basic issues Use good document structure and avoid errors   page titles   meta descriptions   H1 tags   avoid duplicates in your titles, meta descriptions and H1 tags   avoid misspellings
  36. 36. basic issues what is good for search robots…. is also good for website visitors!
  37. 37. basic issues
  38. 38. basic issues
  39. 39. basic issues
  40. 40. basic issues
  41. 41. basic issues “Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It's often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it's important to use highquality titles on your web pages.” – Google Support http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py? hl=en&answer=35624
  42. 42. basic issues
  43. 43. basic issues
  44. 44. basic issues siteimprove.com 1-855-SITEIMPROVE info@siteimprove.com
  45. 45. basic issues search for “sequestration government construction contract”
  46. 46. “The description attribute within the <meta> tag is a good way to provide a concise, human-readable summary of each page’s content. Google will sometimes use the meta description of a page in search results snippets, if we think it gives users a more accurate description than would be possible purely from the on-page content. Accurate meta descriptions can help improve your clickthrough.” – Google Support, http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35624
  47. 47. basic issues benefits of good document structure •  first place on google? not guaranteed, but certainly helps •  makes pages more readable to both people and search engines •  highlights keywords in a way that search engines understand
  48. 48. basic issues am law 100 first 1,000 pages of AM Law 100 websites average           342 pages with duplicate page titles 625 pages missing meta descriptions 186 pages missing H1 tags 524 pages with duplicate H1 tags 11 misspellings (also not good for SEO)
  49. 49. onsite challenges           keyword research basic issues website content website design internal links
  50. 50. website content   make it relevant   make it readable, little legalese   make it timely   give it a x-factor: funny, provocative, thoughtful, etc.
  51. 51. website content semantic markup – www.schema.org Use micro data like Authorship to help search engines identify key areas of your content Why do this? •  Attorney visibility •  Easy links to other articles of the same author •  Does not impact SEO yet but Moz recommends using it in their 2013 ranking factors report
  52. 52. onsite challenges           keyword research basic issues website content website design internal links
  53. 53. website design: relevance
  54. 54. website design: call to action
  55. 55. website design: forms
  56. 56. onsite challenges           keyword research basic issues website content website design internal links
  57. 57. internal links •  link in context •  make links relevant and necessary (use common sense) •  have the link text match the destination
  58. 58. internal links avoid broken links both to your own pages, known as internal links and to external resources, known as external links. google (and more importantly people) can’t follow broken links! am law 100 sites average 19 internal broken links and 39 external broken links on their first 1,000 indexed pages
  59. 59. onsite v. offsite challenges
  60. 60. offsite challenges   Link building
  61. 61. link building link building is defined as creating content that people will link to and then encouraging people to do so
  62. 62. link building when someone links to you (on their website, through social media, etc.) they are indicating two things: 1.  they trust you and are showing that they have some sort of relationship with you 2.  they find your content valuable search engines recognize this trust as credibility for your site. if enough relevant and authoritative people (and websites) link to you, your rank will go up!
  63. 63. link building but my content is boring….. –  be inspiring –  be provoking –  be fun –  do the unexpected –  bring zombies
  64. 64. link building what not to do •  do not pay for links •  do not participate in too many link directories •  avoid having irrelevant websites linking to you
  65. 65. A couple notes on algorithm changes
  66. 66. 337 SEO changes by Google every year
  67. 67. panda could be great for law firms
  68. 68. quick panda rundown   algorithm update between February and April in 2011   focused on getting rid of low quality content   added human review as part of ranking methodology   added engagement metrics as part of ranking methodology —pogosticking is bad
  69. 69. what can you do? •  start measuring engagement (time on site, number of returning visitors vs. new visitors, bounce rate) •  review and improve what is being indexed for your site –  do a google search for site:www.myfirm.com –  remove unnecessary pages from the index with robots.txt file or by using canonical urls •  increase social media shares •  produce quality content
  70. 70. penguin
  71. 71. quick penguin rundown announced on April 24, 2012 with a refresh on May 25 aimed at the cheaters •  •  •  •  link spammers keyword stuffing cloaking participants in link schemes •  deliberate creators of duplicate content •  over optimizers
  72. 72. what can you do? periodically read the google webmaster guidelines (with a grain of salt)
  73. 73. and if that wasn’t enough, hummingbird
  74. 74. how to evaluate SEO providers
  75. 75. a provider checklist •  Is keyword research part of their strategy? How do they determine the benefit of ranking for a particular keyword vs. the cost of pursuing that ranking? •  Will they share an overview of their tactics with you? If not, move on. •  How have they adjusted their strategies to accommodate the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates? •  What is their approach to link building? How do they feel about buying links? •  What are their thoughts on using Content Marketing as a SEO strategy?
  76. 76. a provider checklist •  How does Social Media figure into their plans for your firm’s SEO? •  Will they ensure that everyone agrees on expectations for the SEO project before signing a contract? •  Does the company make an effort to understand your firm? Do they provide a site audit? •  What data will the company provide to you in order to keep you updated on the progress of the project and the ROI? •  How will the company ensure each of your offices performs well in local search? •  Do they have references that you can call?
  77. 77. the balance you want traditional SEO keyword research on-page SEO link building modern SEO where social media you content marketing want todetailed ROI be! local and mobile
  78. 78. a trustworthy company will…           share their tactics agree on expectations up front be empathetic to your needs provide references new art on home page
  79. 79. let’s take a tour
  80. 80. details of the dashboard overview can be found in standard reports on other browsers, this is still “traffic sources”
  81. 81. Where to start? What’s the overall view of my website’s traffic?
  82. 82. OK, I see how many visitors I have, but I want to know where the traffic is coming from (“sources” is now “channels”)
  83. 83. A good percentage of my website’s traffic is from search engines – what kinds of keywords are users searching for that bring them here?
  84. 84. I know search engines are a source, but how can I tell which visitors are coming through paid search (AdWords) as opposed to organic SEO?
  85. 85. I’m curious if the locations of my website’s visitors are the same as where our firm offers services?
  86. 86. Now that I know where the traffic is coming from, I want to know the pages they’re going to once they get to my site. Top 10 are color coded and the rest are lumped together
  87. 87. Ok, I see what the most popular landing pages are, but what are the behavioral patterns of visitors once they’re in my website?
  88. 88. are we still alive?
  89. 89. advanced web analytics tactics
  90. 90. 1.  investigate your data 2.  identify your Key Performance Indicators and Micro Conversions 3.  segment your audience
  91. 91. 1.  investigate your data 2.  identify your Key Performance Indicators and Micro Conversions 3.  segment your audience
  92. 92. investigating your data what information is missing in the standard deployment of web analytics tools?
  93. 93. missing the following data: ●  Clicks to documents; PDF and all Microsoft Office documents - $ ●  Clicks to Vcards - $ missing the following data: ●  Visible clicks of visitors who arrived to your website via email ●  Clicks to items that do not load new pages (videos, sharing icons, mailto links, many tab based pages) - $ missing the following data: Can be fixed ●  Clicks to cached pages (up to ⅓ of all page views!) $ - Costs money and/or time Can’t be fixed
  94. 94. investigating your data what are events and how are they tracked?
  95. 95. tracking events an event in web analytics is a user interaction on a website that does not load a new page. Clicks to play video/ audio Clicks to tabs that do no load new pages Clicks to sharing icons
  96. 96. why is it important? 1.  organizations are adding more video and audio (like podcasts) to their websites 2.  sharing functionality is now standard on most websites 3.  utilizing tabs and expandable menus is becoming commonplace because it enhances the user experience 4.  other functionality will continue to be introduced that will not load pages how do you know what is working if you cannot measure it!!!
  97. 97. Orrick can now understand over time what videos are being played on their Careers page. This can help determine the content for future videos as well as helping them understand which videos to keep on the page and which to remove.
  98. 98. can’t we just pick these things up with our standard web analytics javascript? no! javascripts for web analytics tools require a page to load in order for the javascript to execute and then collect data. events do not require a page to load no page load = no data additional coding is needed in all analytics tools to pick up events. talk with your analytics provider to determine setup.
  99. 99. investigating your data why campaign tracking is critical to law firm web analytics
  100. 100. tracking campaigns clicks from email, paid advertisements and offline cannot be tracked without campaign tracking
  101. 101. here is the problem…
  102. 102. This is better
  103. 103. how do you get there? •  determine what marketing channels you use –  email, social media, etc. •  add tracking parameters to your urls that you send out in those channels •  analyze your new campaign data!
  104. 104. current url: http://www.orrick.com/Events-and-Publications/Pages/Class-Action-SettlementsRule-68-Offers-of-Judgment.aspx
  105. 105. http://goo.gl/67bzw
  106. 106. Event Tracking URL: http://www.orrick.com/Events-and-Publications/Pages/Class-Action-SettlementsRule-68-Offers-of-Judgment.aspx? utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=class+action +event&utm_campaign=october2013
  107. 107. Orrick could now see what links within their enewsletters are driving traffic. This can help them understand what to do in future mailings. Email marketing tools provide great data on “open rate” and “click through rate” but not enough information about what people do once on your website. Campaign tracking helps complete the picture.
  108. 108. guidelines for campaign tracking ●  ●  ●  be consistent with how you name them ○  all newsletters have the source “newsletter” be aware of case sensitivity ○  “Email” and “email” will show up differently in your report request a free white paper on tracking campaigns at the siteimprove booth
  109. 109. when to use campaign tracking • email blasts • client alerts • linkedin posting • twitter campaigns • online advertising (sponsoring events, ads in publications, etc.)
  110. 110. 2. Identify key performance indicators and micro conversions
  111. 111. what is a key performance indicator (kpi)? wikipedia: key performance indicators are financial and non-financial metrics used to help an organization progress towards organizational goals identify siteimprove: numbers you can use to measure whether or not your website is performing in line with your objectives
  112. 112. identifying your kpis 1.  talk with leaders in the firm to determine how the website contributes to overall business objectives 2.  identify what you are currently doing and plan on doing in the future on the website to achieve those goals 3.  select metrics in your analytics tool that help you measure that progress (these metrics are now your kpis!)
  113. 113. what makes a great kpi? ●  ●  ●  ●  simple relevant timely instantly useful good rule: have no more than 4 kpis per business objective
  114. 114. getting beyond KPIs
  115. 115. micro conversions definition: micro conversions are metrics that indicate the website is performing to its desired intent but are not strong enough to be kpis on your website. potential examples of micro conversions ●  signing up for a client alert ●  subscribing to a newsletter ●  vcard downloads
  116. 116. setting targets is key targets - numerical values you have predetermined as indicators of success or failure. must have yearly targets, better to have quarterly or monthly.
  117. 117. 3. segment our audience
  118. 118. there is too much data out there!!!
  119. 119. what is a segment in web analytics? looking at sections of data rather than all the data at once. what makes a good segment? ●  ●  it makes a metric or kpi more relevant it gives you the clarity necessary to recommend action three buckets: acquisition, behavior, outcomes
  120. 120. why do this stuff? •  events and campaign tracking –  completes the data picture •  kpis and micro conversions –  ensures you are measuring what is important •  segmentation –  allows you to focus your efforts
  121. 121. why do this stuff? all of this leads to the generation of a great report with recommendations you can present to management and then improve the website!
  122. 122. reporting to management
  123. 123. or: get busy executives to listen today… so they will fund your efforts tomorrow
  124. 124. define your goals, do your homework
  125. 125. define the purpose of your site firm brand awareness recognition client information source a way to validate Orrick’s expertise (via legal news, articles/blogs/webinars, bios, legal experience, service descriptions)   find attorneys (who are understandably focused on their own practice)        
  126. 126. as a client information source, tabulate   visitors that visit at least four pages related to the IP practice (news items, attorney biographies, practice pages, etc.)   total email subscriptions for IP news, etc.   total subscriptions to Trade Secrets Watch blog   visit duration over four minutes on Trade Secrets Watch blog (knowing that the average person takes one minute to read 300 words)
  127. 127. brand awareness/recognition   review Orrick’s overall traffic against three competing firms (Jones Day, Mofo, Covington) to understand its relative market position   tabulate total organic searches for IP attorneys by name plus searches containing “Orrick” with some form of “IP” in the keyword. Measure month over month to evaluate Orrick’s growth as IP brand.   tabulate number of visits to Orrick website from award-granting organizations’ websites
  128. 128. share your takeaways; questions?
  129. 129. fin