Your Law Firm Website's 40 Yard Dash Time

Gyi Tsakalakis
February 14, 2014

What is a good 40 yard dash time for your law firm website?

A question was recently posed by a smart lawyer on a listserv:

Anyone have “industry standards” to compare our own numbers to ??

w/o knowing what a good time in the 40 yrd dash is, any numbers are gibberish to me….


Load time
Unique visitors
Bounce rate
Average page visits
Time on site
Organic page rank on keywords
By name search
By social media

Other benchmarks of importance ???

Great questions in here.

And one response:

Actually, the only three relevant benchmarks are

1. Contact initiate with firm (tracked by forms filled out, live chat engaged in or call from unique telephone number at website)
2. Client signed with firm
3. Money made from 1 and 2

All the rest is interesting and the stuff web developers try to sell you their services on.

You can compare #3 with your ROI with other ways you could have spent your time/money marketing the firm. So if you had the worst numbers (that you listed in the world) but got an acceptable ROI vs the other ways to spend you money then you keep at it

Actually there are more than only three relevant benchmarks...

And if it is not completely obvious, my company develops websites. So, if you think that makes my opinion worthless, well, just keep doing what you're doing friend, a different result is bound to happen...

But the point of the response is well-taken.

Web developers, SEOs and marketers do "hide the ball" by inundating their clients with metrics that don't matter.

And there is no doubt that the above-listed benchmarks are not only relevant, but among the most important to monitor.

However, they don't say much about how to get there. Keeping with the analogy, everyone wants to run a 4.2 forty yard dash. But to get there, you might want to monitor what you eat, amount of weight you squat, plyometric training, etc.

So let's discuss some of the factors that will increase your law firm website's 40 yard dash time.

Page Load Speed

The fact that page load speed impacts the rate at which clients initiate contact through your website should be intuitive.

The slower your pages are, the more people will click back without calling, emailing, live chatting, whatever.

But let's engage in some real talk here: Your pages need to load, on average, in about 1 second.

People's attention spans are short, growing shorter. No one is waiting for your web pages to load. They are clicking back and finding your competitor's website.

Does that mean that if your pages are slow, you're cooked. Not really. But if they don't load in about 1 second, you should investigate why and how to speed them up.

Furthermore, speed is a search engine ranking factor.

Google doesn't want to serve up slow sites that cause their users frustration.

Bottom line: Slow pages hurt your website's 40 yard dash time.

Unique Visitors

This is another one that really ought to be obvious. If more people don't come to your site, then more people won't initiate contact you, hire you and pay you.

To answer the question directly, there really isn't an "industry standard" for "uniques."

If you are trying to grow your practice, then you should work to grow the number of relevant unique visitors to your pages from a variety of sources.

Notice how I bolded relevant and from a variety of sources there?

Traffic for traffic's sake is meaningless. And yes, some web marketing folks point at top-line visitor traffic and say, "See, what we did is working."

If you are paying someone to "do SEO" you should be monitoring increases in relevant unbranded and branded organic search traffic in the locations you practice.

Is it growing? Great!

That's a sign you are moving in the right direction.


You should investigate why not and what you can do to turn things around.

Bottom line: While there isn't an "industry standard," increasing the number of meaningful unique visitors from a variety of sources will have a direct impact on your site's forty yard dash time.

Bounce Rate

One of my favorites. Lawyers and marketers tend to hyper-focus on this one. For those who don't know:

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

There are a number of factors that contribute to your bounce rate. For example, visitors might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues. Alternatively, visitors might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they've found the information they need on that one page, and had no need or interest in visiting other pages.

You can read some of the main reasons for high bounce rate at GA Help, so I'm not going to go through them all here.

Again, not really an industry standard here. But I will make two quick points:

  • Keeping visitors around longer and clicking more is generally a good thing in terms of SEO.
  • Obviously, some people will come to your page, "convert" (by calling, emailing, etc) and bounce. This is why bounce rate isn't something to freak out about.

Instead, freak out about SERP CTR and Dwell Time.

Bottom line: Bounce rate probably doesn't mean what you think it does. However, user engagement definitely matters to your site's 40 yard dash time.

Average Page Visits & Time on Site

See above. User engagement matters. Do things to improve user engagement metrics. But hyper-focus on these in a vacuum.

Bottom line: Motivate visitors to engage your pages (i.e. stay longer, click more, etc).




Rankings ≠ Traffic ≠ Inquiries ≠ Clients

How are you even checking rankings? Spot-checking? Third-party tool? How are you compensating for personalized browser and location?

Don't waste your time spot-checking rankings. If you really want to track rankings track:

Average position trends in Google Webmaster Tools.

I'm not totally against third-party rank tracking tools. Keep in mind, these tools just scrape search results from time to time. That means they take a snapshot of the SERP.

But SERPs fluctuate, a lot.

Nonetheless, rankings do play a role in visitor numbers, which in turn, play a role in inquiries. So, rankings matter to your site's 40 yard dash time, just not the way that you think of them.

Bottom line: Track average position trends. Don't waste your time spot-checking. Use Google Webmaster Tools to see what queries people are using to find your pages, whether they are clicking on those pages and otherwise engaging them.

Other Benchmarks of Importance?

4.2 seconds is to 40 yard dash times as meeting specific goals is to marketing.

Sure, perhaps the most important of those goals (at least for direct response marketing) is return on marketing investment.

Measure ROI. Track ROI. Obsess over improving ROI. Hold your marketing people accountable for improving ROI.

But don't lose site of the metrics that contribute to ROI. Don't forget about other marketing and business development goals that might not be as directly related to ROI (i.e. awareness, relationship quality, trust, etc).

Finally, stop obsessing over comparing yourself to others. Sure, competitive intelligence is, well, intelligent.

But you just might not be Bo Jackson.

Take stock of where you are today. Set specific goals. Focus on improvement against your exiting benchmarks.

(Photo by:

Gyi Tsakalakis
Co-Founder of AttorneySync
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