Web Analytics Lies

Gyi Tsakalakis
January 20, 2017

Here's a conversation I regularly have with lawyers:

Me: How does your website traffic look?

Lawyer: It's great, goes up every month.

Me: Excellent! So you're getting a lot of inquiries from potential clients?

Lawyer: Wait, you can track that?

Website traffic is only valuable if it achieves an objective. Obviously, there are a variety reasons lawyers might want to earn traffic to a website. For most lawyers, one of the most important objectives is to earn traffic that converts into a client.

I see a lot of law firm Google Analytics reports that show impressive gains in top-level traffic. The problem is that these reports are often too vague, and sometimes, downright misleading.

First, web analytics spam is a huge problem. Put simply, a lot of the traffic you're seeing in your analytics reports is probably fake. Further, the people tasked with growing your traffic don't have a lot of incentive to filter out the fake traffic.

Unfortunately, there's no 100% effective way to completely eliminate analytics spam. Fortunately, there are guides like this one. Make sure your web vendor has configured Google Analytics on your site to address spam. If you admin your own site, and find this confusing, don't hesitate to drop us line.

Second, in the very least, you ought to measure traffic by channel, source, and medium. Not all traffic sources are created equal, even if the traffic is real. For example, if you serve clients at the local level (i.e. city / state), it's unlikely that global, or even country-wide, traffic will likely convert into a paying client. I usually recommend lawyers drill-down into state-specific, or even city-specific traffic reports.

In addition to location reporting, you should also look at traffic by source. In other words, how people found your site. People who find your site by searching for information in a search engine are generally much more likely to convert into clients than those who arrived from a social media post. The main reason for this is that searchers have intent. Social media visitors may have just wanted to see more about the picture you shared on Facebook.

That's not to say that social media traffic will never convert, it's just much different than search traffic.

Third, don't hyper-focus solely on traffic. There are other metrics you should be measuring and improving. Things like:

  1. Goal Conversions
  2. Phone Calls
  3. Form Submissions
  4. Chat Requests
  5. Subscribes

If you're receiving traffic reports that show steady growth over time, but aren't experiencing growth in potential client inquiries, and ultimately clients, it's time to have a talk with your web marketing vendor about how to better track traffic to actual fees.

Traffic, for traffic's sake, isn't valuable to your practice. On the other hand, traffic that converts into paying clients, can be extremely valuable. The key is to distinguish the investments of time and money that are generating valuable traffic, from those that are generating noise.

This is the only way to understand the value of the time and money you are spending online to grow your firm. While it takes a little work and discipline to get these systems in place, without them, your analytics data will continue to lie to you.

Gyi Tsakalakis
Co-Founder of AttorneySync
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