It's essentially impossible to tell if your website is achieving anything for you if you don't track anything that's going on.
And yet, although many firms are geared up with the necessary tools, their lawyers don't have a good appreciate of what data they should be capturing, or what it means.
Here I'm going to suggest a few simple metrics that you can easily track on your site to have a basic idea of what's working and what isn't.
First – Set up Google Analytics on your Site
If you haven't done it already, you will need a free Google Analytics account. It's pretty simple – head over to analytics.google.com and set up a free account using your Google Account details.
You'll have to complete some simple information about your site, but it's fairly straightforward.
Next you need to connect Google Analytics to your site. This can be done a couple of ways:
- Cut and paste the code Google gives you into your “site header” or, depending on your system, a place where it will load on every page. Many themes or setups offer dedicated places where you can cut and paste this code to make it do the right things.
- Alternatively, if you're using WordPress, you can install the free plugin – MonsterInsights – which will then connect you the right way.
MonsterInsights has the added bonus that it automatically removes Admin and Editor page views from your analytics data, so you don't get all excited by tracking your own many visits to your site. It looks like this:
Decide What your Firm Wants to Track
Much like SEO, you could go a little balmy with all of the options for tracking on your site.
I'm going to assume that you're starting a position of tracking nothing, and would just like to have a little bit of information that might be helpful, rather than turning into a data gremlin who spends their days pouring over stats and figures.
I'm also going to assume that you've bought in to the (correct) suggestion that a generating a consistent stream of high quality content is likely to be a good idea, and that your firm blogs on a consistent basis.
Here are the absolute basics that I think any law firm can, and should, be tracking consistently on their website:
- How much “traffic” are you getting (it's in quotes because the term can mean a few different things);
- What posts and pages are the most popular;
- How much time are people spending on the site;
- How many pages are people visiting on your site;
- Are people new visitors or returning visitors;
- Where is your traffic coming from; and
- Are people doing what you want them to be doing.
I've chosen these 7 metrics for a reason – these are some of the best indicators about whether you overall content strategy is working. They will tell you whether your copywriting skills are up to scratch, your topic selection is on the money, your site design is aligned with your site strategy.
Thankfully – these aren't even that hard to measure. So, log in to the Google Analytics account you just set up and let's take a look.
#1 – How Much Traffic are you Getting?
Google Analytics splits traffic into two main pieces:
- Users; and
Think of Users as the actual person who has visited your site. These used to be called “Unique Visitors” because each user only gets counted once within the duration that you set.
Sessions, on the other hand, is the number of times people have visited your site and stayed there for a particular length of time.
For example, your firm's client Jane might visit your site once in July to read a particular article. Your analytics will show 1 user, and 1 session for Jane (although not by name – that would be creepy).
Bob, on the other hand, might visit your site 6 times in the course of July. Assuming Bob's on the same device, Bob's going to count as 1 user, but 6 sessions.
Why do we Care about Measuring Traffic?
A large part of your web strategy should be bringing traffic to your site. SEO, social media, email marketing – these are all designed to get people to your site, and have them decide to do the things that you have chosen are important.
The number 1 measure of whether that's working and, over time, getting better is a measure of traffic. More traffic on a regularly increasing basis means that your other tools are doing their job.
#2 – Popular Posts and Pages
This one is simple – in fact, Google Analytics will pretty much show you this right on the dashboard when you load it up.
Posts and Pages are treated exactly the same for the purposes of Google – there is no difference between them at all for SEO purposes. The only functional difference is at the WordPress end, as “posts” go into your sites RSS feed and “pages” don't. If that didn't make sense, think of it this way: posts go into your blog automatically, but pages don't.
Why do we Care about Measuring Popular Pages and Posts?
Aside from the fact that this is really easy to keep an eye on, it also gives some good insight into your audience.
Firstly – it can tell you what kinds of headlines are working for you. Articles with good headlines are going to capture more traffic as a general rule, and if you're not sure what “good” is, then this can help you figure it out.
Next, it will assist with topic selection. If you can see that your readers are all raving mad about Tax Deduction articles, then you can use that to your advantage by:
- writing more articles on those topics; and
- potentially producing a lead magnet on those topics to get more email subscribers.
Finally it helps you know who your audience is. If you're attempting to build your website's content targeted at small to medium enterprise, but all of your readers are on topics that are relevant to individuals, then you can see indications of this in your popular posts.
#3 – Time on Site
This is worth looking at in two different ways:
- total time on site; and
- time on the particular article.
The total time on your site is going to give you an idea of how well your article keeps people reading, and how well your site is designed to keep people on it. When you first start seeing these numbers, you're going to be disappointed. In your own head you've probably told yourself that your articles are engaging and wonderful and people will click all around your site. In reality they'll probably spend on average less than a minute on your site.
Time on a particular article is going to tell you three main things:
- is your headline misleading people? if you've gone “full clickbait” with your headlines, then you'll see this in the numbers – people will click your article and leave almost immediately (say, within a few seconds).
- if your copy engaging? if you have written a 5 thousand word article and people leave inside 30 seconds, then people probably aren't very engaged by your copy; alternatively…
- is your page layout baffling? your content may be fantastic, but if you're writing long form content then it needs to be scannable and readable in order to engage people. A wall of text will scare people away immediately.
Why do we Care about Time on Site?
Beyond those things I've mentioned, the time on site is a clear indication of how well your site strategy is working.
Are people hanging around, reading your content, signing up?
The amount of time people are spending on your website is a good figure to know, and a helpful way to target your lead generation strategies.
#4 – Bounce Rate
I want to be careful here, because I don't want to overstate the importance of bounce rate.
The analogy is probably obvious: do people hit your site then “bounce” straight off it.
Firstly – check what bounce rate really means in the analytics program you're using. In Google Analytics, it means that they left your site without visiting more than 1 page.
And there lies the trick: that might be just fine.
If somebody came, read the article, enjoyed it, and left – that might be good.
But more likely, you want them to:
- visit other articles
- sign up to your newsletter
- check out more materials
And these things often require visiting another page, so if your bounce rate is monumentally high, then you could tweak your design to try and get more people to stay around.
It's harder than it sounds. Don't freak out about a high bounce rate, just consider this: how could you keep people on your site longer?
Why do we Care about Bounce Rate?
Generally a high bounce rate might point to:
- poor site design; or
- irrelevant traffic reaching your site.
#5 – New Visitors Vs Returning Visitors
Again, this is an extremely easy statistic to track, and shows right on your analytics. Just go to “Audience –> Overview” and you'll see a nifty little pie chart:
Why do we Care about New Visitors?
This is one area you can see what's working and what's not.
- lots of new visitors indicates that your cold traffic strategies are going well, and the opposite is true
- lots of returning visitors indicates that you have some good “fans” who are regularly visiting your site and consuming your content. This shows that your social media and email marketing strategies are probably going well.
#6 – What are the Sources of your Traffic?
Identifying where your traffic is coming from will help you to:
- figure out which of your traffic strategies are working
- find unexpected sources of traffic
- determine which social media channels are doing well, or not
- thank people for referring to you in their posts/articles
To find it, you want to log in to your analytics and go to “Audience –> Overview” at first. This will give you a snapshot of your traffic sources.
In this example, you start to see the power of a decent SEO strategy.
Beyond that, you can see that organic, direct, social and email constitute the vast majority of the traffic here.
You'll also notice that if we combine this with a 75% new visitor ratio, then perhaps a lot of the new visitors come via organic search, but often returning visitors are via direct/email/social sources. This helps to inform you how you not just get traffic, but hold on to it.
#7 – What are People Doing on Your Site?
Any good website strategy that lawyers might choose to employ needs to involve a specific goal: what do you want people to do on your site?
And this is where you can see how people are moving around your site (at least, those that don't bounce).
First – head to Behaviour –> Behaviour Flow in your analytics:
There you'll see a pretty map of:
- where people land on your site
- where they go after that; and
- where they go after that.
Now, while this is cool, probably what you want to do is set up some goals.
There are a bunch of different goals you can set up, but for most law firms I suggest starting with a:
- contact us goal; and
- newsletter signup goal.
In both cases the process is the same.
First – Get to the Right Spot
First, head to your Admin tab in Analytics and click goals – like this:
Once you're there, click “New Goal”.
Set Up your Goal Template
After you do that, you'll have a screen like the one below. Select one of the two options I've highlighted (it actually doesn't matter much – the process is very similar):
Fill In your Details
Generally speaking I go with a “destination” style goal. That is, once someone lands on page X, your goal will be triggered. I just find this the easiest to be honest.
Finally, set the destination page as your “thank you” or confirmation page. That is:
- for a “contact” goal, set this as the “thanks for your message we'll be in touch with you soon” page that you have hooked up as the notification after your contact us form is completed
- for a “newsletter” goal, set it to the page that people land on after they confirmed their email address.
And that's it.
Why Care about Goals?
The whole point of a website for lawyers is that people do what you're hoping they will do.
Goals is how you track whether that's happening, and whether it's happening enough for your liking. If not, site design, focus points and other methods might be needed to fix up the problem.
For now though you can simply see at a glance what percentage of people who visit your site do the thing that you've set in your goals, but heading to your analytics and taking a people.
Getting Lost in the Data
I'm a bit of a data junkie sometimes – I love the numbers, graphs and metrics.
But while I encourage you to poke around your analytics for fun, I don't encourage you to go bonkers. The things I've suggested you track here will give you a huge amount of information to be getting on with, and while you could monitor far more along the way you might also go mad in the process.
Since I don't like readers of mine going mad – stick to the plan, unless you've a good reason for doing something different.
If you need help setting up your analytics feel free to touch base – we'll get you sorted out.
In the meantime – enjoy your new found world of information.