Perhaps it’s a result of our early educations, but people love grades, ratings, and scales. And in the world of organic search, for a long time, the benchmark grade for success in Google was PageRank. Which has led many webmasters to obsess over PageRank. But our access to PageRank updates and the skepticism surrounding the PageRank tool can lead to strange fluctuations in reported PageRank that aren’t really tied to performance in search results. So how do we avoid having a PageRank freak out? Find new metrics to obsess over.
As we discussed in Actionable Metrics, PageRank should really be understood for what it is, a “stand-in for what we really want: for our websites to make more money, attract more readers, generate more leads, more newsletter sign-ups, etc.”
Make More Money
If you have any experience marketing your firm on the Internet, you probably recognize that while this is may be the most important metric in terms of “what you really want” from your website, it’s probably the final question you want to ask in terms of analyzing whether your online marketing campaigns are healthy.
Said another way, making more money means getting a return on your marketing investments. And in order to measure ROI, you need to understand the key performance indicators for your firm. How much revenue does a new client generate for your firm? How much profit? What is the cost of acquiring a new client?
Attract More Readers
Attracting more targeted readers to your website should probably be one of the top goals of any internet marketing campaign (although some might argue that traffic isn’t as good a key-performance indicator for local search marketing or online advertising efforts). For the most part, getting new visitors to your web properties is the first step in getting to generating return on investment. You should be closely monitoring visitor traffic to your website and understanding how visitors are using your website. Where are your visitors located? What pages of content are they consuming? How long are they viewing pages? How many pages are they viewing? How long before they are bouncing off your site? Are they taking some form of action?
Generate More Leads
As important as traffic is, it’s not nearly as important as generating more leads. You could have literally thousands of visitors to your site, but if they don’t “do something” they’re just passive watchers that are less likely to lead to return on investment (although there is no question that even increasing the number of passive visitors to your site will probably have a positive impact on your overall professional reputation).
Give your visitors “things to do” on your website and closely monitor what percentage of visitors are taking action. What options do visitors have to interact with your website (comments, contact forms, phone numbers, tools, calculators, videos, downloads, etc)? How are your visitors responding to these options? What feedback are your visitors giving you about your content and calls to action?
It might seem obvious that the primary goal of your website is to get people to contact you to discuss their legal issues. And while this is one of the most direct ways that your website can produce ROI, it’s certainly not the only one. “Sign-Ups” should not be limited only to requests for a consultation or a phone call. A “sign-up” might consist of a new blog subscriber. It might consist of a whitepaper or other informational download. It might refer to a newsletter registration.
It’s very important to define your purposes and goals prior to executing your internet marketing campaign. Developing your strategy around specific goals leads to much more cohesive and effective web strategy. Be purposeful with your online marketing. Who are the visitors that you are trying to attract? What are you trying to get your visitors to do? What value does getting specific visitors to perform a certain action have for your law firm?
See, there are a lot more important things to obsess over than PageRank.
(Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/barkbud/4257136773/)