Lawyers are always hearing that they need to optimize their blogs, optimize their websites, and optimize just about every online marketing effort they’re putting out there. You could call up an SEO agency to evaluate your website for you, come up with some metrics, and tell you where your site is performing and what could be improved. This is certainly a preferred method because hiring a professional to analyze your website will provide better results than anything else. However, if you want to get a quick overview of how well your website is functioning, here’s a basic checklist of how to tell if your website is optimized.
The following points won’t require a lot of math, an expensive tool or program, or any sort of professional assistance. Most of these metrics you can check yourself without having any serious knowledge of SEO. All you need is some time to surf the Internet. After you’ve evaluated your website, you should research how to improve or talk to a professional SEO company about getting your law firm’s website optimized to the nines.
The first thing website visitors will notice when coming to your website is how quickly it loads. Since the Internet is now faster than ever before, it’s difficult for anyone to come to a slow website and to wait for it to load. This means potential clients might not stick around if they notice your website is taking too long to load.
Search engines, like Google, also take site speed into account when crawling, indexing, and ranking a website. They consider a slower website to be of lower quality and might assign a lower ranking because of it. All in all, a slow site is bad news for your visitors/potential clients and search engines. A slow site might as well be a dead site.
Measure the speed of your website by using a service like Pingdom or Google Page Insights. You’ll get a percentage of how your website compares to other sites out there. If you’re slower than most, it’s a sign things need to change. Unfortunately, many factors can affect the speed of your site. From high-resolution images to a bulky WordPress theme, you might need a developer to help you determine what is actually causing your website to lag. But once you do, your website will be up and running quickly and on its way to optimization success.
Your website should act as a portal for communication between you and potential clients, as well as hub for all the information your law firm offers. So imagine a visitor trying to learn more about your services or managing partner when a link is dead or broken. In other words, if they click on a page and either get the wrong information or no information at all, it’s an immediate red flag.
Search engines notice broken and dead links, as well. It makes them think you haven’t taken the time to clean up your website and ensure it’s properly functioning, therefore you don’t deserve a high ranking. Bad links can come from a website redesign, a rebranding, pages you’ve tried to delete, pages you’ve incorrectly added, and so on. The possibilities for broken links are endless, but there are ways to check for them.
If your website runs on WordPress, there are actually several plugins that can run a scan for broken links. Just take a search through the plugin library and find one that suits your needs. You can also utilize Google Webmaster Tools to check for bad links that are affecting your user experience and ranking.
Backlinks, or your website’s link profile, is a network of connections your site has made with others. Basically, the more connections you have with trustworthy, highly ranked websites, the better your website looks. Search engines like backlinks because it shows them that other websites trust you enough to link to you. It’s also good for web surfers because it means you have an increased audience and an authoritative presence that many people are willing to listen to. For lawyers, having a link profile with a lot of good backlinks and variety is a great way to optimize.
The best tools to check backlinks actually require some sort of paid membership. For instance, SEOmoz can tell you how many links your website has, what’s the quality of those links, and how they are representing your site to search engine. Luckily, SEOmoz just released a free and simple tool that can do a basic scan of your link profile. Open Site Explorer also has a paid and more robust version, which you might want to opt for after you have a general idea of how your website is faring.
We live in a world where consumers have a certain expectation of the companies they do business with. People in the market for legal counsel especially want to see a law firm that has put some effort into its marketing properties. And your website is usually the first place they check. Moreover, you’re website is also competing to win over the confidence of search engines, too. Therefore, you have no choice but to evaluate the optimization of your firm’s website and to improve from there. With a little time and basic understanding of the major SEO factors, you can analyze your own website and get a general idea of how well it’s performing.
[author ]Pete Wise is the SEO Manager for Network Affiliates; which has been an ad agency for lawyers and doctors since the dawn of the internet. We were the first full-service Denver legal marketing in Colorado. Check me out on Facebook[/author]