Determining where your clients are coming from

Whether you keep a simple list attributing clients to advertising sources or have a complex system of call tracking and intense data collection, nailing down an exact number of where your clients are coming from can be difficult.  Marketing your practice doesn’t happen in perfect straight rows like a spreadsheet, and that makes tracking difficult.  If someone sees a TV ad and that leads them to the website, what source do you attribute that client to?  What if someone is referred to your firm even though they don’t really want to hire a lawyer, but then after learning something about their legal situation on your website, they decide to call you; is that a personal referral or website business?

Don’t worry.  We don’t have to actually answer these questions right now.  The thing that’s important for the purpose of this article is traffic.  I believe that because real tracking is so difficult, it forces FindLaw and other lawyer SEO companies to rely on traffic to tell a story about your website.  Grant it, there is some good data to be had in Google analytics or a similar tracking system, but do not fall into the trap of equating “Traffic” with “Results”.

But traffic is good, right?

It’s true; generally speaking, more traffic is better than less.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking that your website is doing well based on a total traffic number.  Learn to view and understand your traffic reports to ensure you’re not over-paying for a website that is not bringing you new clients.

While Google Analytics has been giving less and less information over time, it is still a very valuable resource in determining who is coming to your website and how they’re getting there.

First you need to make a determination as to what percentage of your total traffic is legitimately a part of your viable target market. For example, some of your traffic will come from other countries.  In most cases these are sales people or other offshore companies accessing your site for reasons other than potentially becoming clients.

Google Analytics Map
This is the map you’ll see when you go to “Audience – Geo – Location”.

Of course, this logic wouldn’t apply to an immigration lawyer or someone who deals in international business law.  And while it’s true that there may be very good reasons that people from other countries are accessing your site, unless you’re seeing an overwhelming amount of international clients, you can typically filter this traffic out.

To see the reports pictured on this page, log into your Google Analytics and click on “Audience – Geo – Location”.  The first report you will see will be of your worldwide traffic.  To filter down to just U.S. traffic, click on the US in the map image or on “United States” in the list of countries underneath the map.

Once you filtered out other countries you can drill down another level and do some additional filtering with states.  A lot of the times when you have traffic from other states it can be a result of having great content.  For example, you maybe are targeting “Changes in Child Custody Law in Minnesota” with a page.  However, it’s showing up for “Changes in Child Custody” in general, leading people from all over the country to your site.

This is the state level map. You’ll see this after you click on “United States”.

Now again, you may be actively marketing to potential clients in other states, so take this the appropriate size grain of salt for your situation.  However, even if you have a viable target out of state, that does NOT necessarily mean that your SEO campaign is targeting it.  So again, we probably can filter most of this traffic out, at least for the purposes of the conversion around what your SEO company is or is not achieving for you.

Once you filtered out traffic that is likely from too far away to convert into a client the next step is to determine what traffic you would likely receive regardless of your SEO.

I usually consider any traffic that includes your name or the name of your firm as traffic that you would receive no matter what. You also want to look for any keywords that appear frequently and determine if they are really part of your target market. For example I once had a site that had a “email now” icon and for whatever reason a Google image search happen to bring up that image very prominently when people search for “email”.  As a result we would see a spike in traffic but of obviously none of this traffic was from our target market so it wasn’t advancing the goal of the website in anyway.

Look for “Acquisitions Keywords Organic” to see this report.

Don’t fall for the trick of being impressed by any total traffic number.  We want to learn what we can about our traffic, but at the same time, conversion, or the results you’re seeing from your site is the only metric that really matters.  If the goal is to try to make an evaluation of what is being delivered by your current provider, then you need to start by filtering out traffic you would expect to receive regardless of how your site is optimized.

If you have questions about a law firm website, are looking to cancel your FindLaw website, or build a brand new site, don’t hesitate to contact me either by calling or texting me at 651.271.8845 or you can click here to email me.