If you’re like the growing number of attorneys, your law firm’s website is increasingly becoming the centerpiece of your marketing efforts. Understanding the nature of the traffic your site receives has never been more important. FindLaw recently completed a large-scale study that provides an unprecedented window into law firm website traffic patterns.

In this, the first installment of a three-part series based on that study, let’s examine the “big picture” for law firm website traffic: What are the primary sources of the traffic to your website? How much do you receive from each? What are the characteristics of the traffic?

With the ascendance of Google, many law firms are focused on the traffic that comes from search engines, but, in fact, there are three primary sources that bring you visitors: direct (30 percent of overall traffic), referral (21 percent), and search (49 percent). Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Direct Traffic — Not to be Underestimated

This is traffic that primarily occurs when users either know your URL or navigate to your site from a bookmark. While this traffic is often taken for granted, it can be quite valuable. Direct traffic is often the result of a firm’s expanded marketing efforts in offline media, social media, referrals and networking and is heavily tied to the strength of a firm’s brand. Given that numerous studies indicate that consumers strongly prefer to work with law firms either they or their family or friends know, the importance of this category of traffic cannot be overstated.

Referral Traffic — High-Quality Traffic

This is traffic that clicks through to your website from other sites coming from locations like online advertisements, directory listings, lawyer rating services, and blogs. This category demonstrates the value of casting a wide net in your online marketing efforts. By strategically selecting the right vehicles for online advertising, content marketing through blogs, articles and high quality directories, firms can fully exploit this high-quality traffic source that often is much more likely to convert to contacts than types of traffic.

Search Traffic — Branded v. Non-Branded

This is traffic that comes directly from search engines. In the FindLaw study, there are two components of search traffic, branded and non-branded.

Branded traffic results from searches containing your firm’s name, URL, or names of firm attorneys. This is valuable traffic because the user is specifically searching for your firm and probably disposed toward hiring you. How valuable? This type of traffic converts to leads at a 60 percent higher rate than any other source.

Non-branded search comes from users searching for legal information and representation without having a particular firm in mind i.e., “military divorce lawyer in San Diego.” That means this traffic is up for grabs to the firm most capable of claiming it. Attracting this subcategory of traffic should be a strong focus of your SEO programs.

Now that you understand how consumers find your law firm’s website, in our next post we’ll take a deeper look at non-branded traffic and discuss the best strategy for attracting it.

For more legal marketing insights, follow @FindLawLab on Twitter.

– Mark Jacobsen, Senior Director, Strategic Development and Thought Leadership

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