Once you know that no one is looking at your law firm website, it’s time to get serious about turning that around. But, how?
First, you need to be sure that you are properly collecting and analyzing your web traffic data. Mike Ramsey does a great job of explaining how to tell how well your website is performing. In addition to installing Google Analytics, I recommend you verify your site with both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. These will come in handy later when we discuss driving organic search traffic to your site.
But before we get to generating search traffic, we need to talk about traffic from other sources. Let’s begin with direct traffic.
As you now know, direct traffic represents visitors who arrived at your pages by entering a URL in their browser or using a browser bookmark. This can be some of your very “best” traffic. They arrive at your site already wanting to see it.
If you haven’t yet launched your website, you’re in luck. You still have an opportunity to design it to maximize direct traffic. This starts by choosing a domain that’s creative and easy to remember — one that will motivate people to type your site’s domain directly into their browser.
Which do you think people are more likely to type into their browsers: “chicago-personal-injury-law-firm.biz” or “WindyCityJustice.com”? Too many lawyers abuse the general SEO guideline of using “keyword-rich” domains. When it comes to your firm’s primary domain, I suggest you favor creativity and memorability over exact or partial match domains.
If you already have a website URL but it’s neither creative nor memorable, you might consider registering an additional domain and directing it to your existing site. This can also be a useful way to track sources of direct traffic (like unique vanity domains/URLs/URL-shortening services for business cards, TV ads and so on).
Another way to increase direct traffic is to motivate people to bookmark. If you create pages that people find useful, it’s likely that some visitors will bookmark your pages for later reference. While the usefulness of your pages is probably the most important factor in getting them bookmarked, making bookmarking easy will also increase the number of visitors who choose to bookmark your pages. You may even want to gently prompt folks to bookmark with bookmark links or social bookmarking buttons. Don’t abuse these, however. These links and buttons should never detract from your content.
A Note on Tracking Direct Traffic
It’s important to remember that your direct traffic numbers can become polluted by poor tag and campaign tracking. As Avinash Kaushik explains:
“Most website tag and campaign tracking implementations are poor (to put it charitably). This is always disappointing but it is particularly harmful to direct traffic. You see if you don’t implement your links properly, the person shows up to your site without any tracking parameters and [you] thus fail to help your web analytics tool to put that visitor in the right source bucket.
If you use campaign tracking on your sites (and you should), double-check to make sure your campaign parameters have been properly implemented. If campaign tracking parameters aren’t in your wheelhouse, it might make sense to hire someone to give them the once-over.
Unfortunately, direct traffic is largely overlooked by lawyers. To me, it’s a huge missed opportunity. If you’re “doing it right,” though, one of your primary sources of business will be referrals. And one of the most common ways people who are referred to you will look for you is to simply enter your memorable website into their browser. If you properly track it, (and compare to results) you shouldn’t be surprised to see that, in comparison to other traffic sources, direct traffic visitors represent some of the most meaningful visitors in terms of new business.
Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers put their best foot forward online because clients are looking for them there. He is a co-founder of AttorneySync, a digital marketing agency for law firms. You can find more of Gyi’s writings in his “Optimize” column on Attorney at Work, on Lawyerist and on Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog. You can ask him a question (or just say hi) on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.