If only I had a dime for every attorney who’s told me “My search rankings are awful! I Googled myself and/or our firm and we didn’t come up on the first page,” I would be writing this blog while sitting on my own private tropical island. While I do understand the desire, I can’t be emphatic enough in telling you to STOP DOING THAT! Googling yourself or your law firm will not only give you an inaccurate assessment of your rankings, but you may actually be harming your performance.
Search engines are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but their goal remains to deliver the best search results for each individual searcher. Search results are becoming more and more personalized, based on hundreds of factors, including the searcher’s location, other sites they’ve visited, previous searches they’ve conducted, and their social media activity. We could each search for “law firm marketing” at the same exact time and receive two completely different sets of search results. Thus, when you Google yourself, your firm, or your practice areas, you are not seeing the same thing that your prospects are seeing, so it’s not an accurate gauge of how you’re ranking.
Impact on Organic Rankings
Another factor that Google uses to determine which sites to rank well is the click-through rate (CTR). CTR is a measurement of how often people are clicking to your site versus how often your site appears in search engine results. For example, if your site has 10,000 impressions in a given period and gets 1,000 clicks, you have a 10% CTR. If your CTR is high, you’re more likely to appear higher in search results. A low CTR is an indication to Google that the site isn’t helpful and therefore doesn’t belong in search results.
Each time you conduct a search and find your law firm in the search results but don’t actually click through to your site, you’re signaling that the site isn’t helpful or relevant, thereby decreasing your CTR and negatively affecting your ranking. Doing the occasional search won’t have a significant impact, but I bet a few of you are in the habit of checking on a daily or weekly basis. That will certainly hurt your results.
Now before you start obsessively searching and clicking on your site in hopes of increasing your CTR, be warned that Google is excellent at detecting that type of unnatural behavior, so that won’t work.
Impact on Paid Search
If you’re currently running Google AdWords or Bing Ads campaigns, it’s especially important that you not continuously search for yourself. Click-through-rates are factored into the cost per click for each ad, as well as how often they appear, so obsessively searching for your ads may literally be costing you big bucks.
Instead of googling yourself to determine how you’re doing and looking at incomplete data that doesn’t give you the whole picture, you should be looking monthly at the metrics which actually do matter.
SEO Metrics That Matter
The first and most important thing you want to track when determining if your online marketing and search engine optimizations are effective or not is total site visits. Total site visits lets you see how well your marketing campaign is working because you can track visitors to your site over time. The number of total visitors to your site should grow steadily each month. If it doesn’t or if the number begins to drop, it’s a big red flag that it is time to take a look at your marketing channels to find out where there are problems.
Mobile traffic also matters, especially as more and more people are using tablets and telephones instead of traditional computer devices. If you’re missing out on tracking mobile visitors, you won’t know who your customers are and you’ll lose out on opportunities to increase conversions.
When looking at your site metrics for both mobile visitors and those who access your site on traditional computers, you should consider what percentage of your visitors come from which devices; what devices and browsers they are using; where they are coming from; and what content they are looking at.
You’ll also want to take a close look at where all of your traffic is coming from because assessing traffic by sources or channels also provides insight into what is– and isn’t– working in your marketing campaign. Primary sources of traffic include:
- Referrals – Visitors came from a link on another website
- Direct visits to your site– Visitors came from typing your site’s address into the URL.
- Organic traffic– Visitors did a search and came to your site after clicking on the search results.
- Social media– Visitors came from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sources.
You should look carefully at the number of visitors coming from all of these sources but focus especially on tracking social media interactions. Social traffic can be a good indicator of the level of engagement people have with your content, and can thus give you a good idea of the overall effectiveness of your content development strategy.
Finally, you should focus on how many people are new visitors versus the number of return visitors coming to your site. If your content is sticky, or people find it useful, they’ll keep coming back for more. If you have high rates of new visitors but low return visitors, this could be a sign that your content is driving traffic but that site overall isn’t meeting the needs of visitors when they arrive.
By looking at where your traffic comes from, and who your visitors are, you’ll learn much more than just a Google search will show you. Start measuring these metrics today to find what’s working and where you can improve when it comes to online content efforts.
Director, Web and Online Marketing Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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