Let’s Make 2020 the Year of No Long Term Contracts

Here at Mockingbird, we have made our disdain for long-term contracts well-known. We have seen too many law firms fall victim to the predatory practices of FindLaw and other such agencies. Too many of our clients have come to us after being stripped down by contracts designed to empty their wallets. It’s because of this that we want to warn you of the dangers of signing onto a long term contract and how to avoid it.

 

The Dangers

Domain Ownership

Ownership of the website often sits in the fine print of these contracts, and it rarely benefits the law firm. This is one of the ways agencies trap their clients; they can’t leave without losing their website. 

 

Content Ownership

Right alongside domain ownership is content ownership; the agency owns all the content on the website. This means that even if the client manages to leave, they can’t keep anything from the website they might have been adding to for years.

 

Upselling Poor Service

When you’re trapped in a contract the agency has little motivation to provide you with the service you deserve. When you find them failing to deliver, they might even ask you to pay more for certain features that should be included or are completely irrelevant. Suddenly the contract is more expensive and the service is just as bad.

 

Our Experiences

We’ve been in the business for a while, and we’ve had more than a couple of firms come to us desperate and without a website:

Helping these firms get back on their feet has made us painfully aware of how damaging long term contracts can be. That’s why we’ve built a guide for escaping FindLaw

 

What to Look for When Signing a Contract

As a lawyer, you’re probably used to the implications of the fine print. The fine print for your marketing agency shouldn’t be given any less attention than what’s in your clients’ cases. Here are a few of the things you should keep an eye out for and flag:

  • Domain ownership
  • Content ownership
  • Termination penalties
  • End dates

If you see yourself about to sign a contract that will hold you for years, stop and think: is there a better way?

 

There is. Don’t make bad decisions in 2020 that will follow you for the next decade. Don’t sign the contract.

What Types of Traffic are Better?

I’ve been spending some time on Google Analytics. I’ve been looking at which of our pages are doing well, which are at the tail-end of their trend, and which are leading conversions. 

There are some obvious leaders in the conversions department, mainly our homepage and our Law Firm Advertising page, both of which we heavily advertise. They are also pages that tend to get pretty consistent organic traffic. What I was interested in was how their organic traffic related to their paid traffic in terms of conversions.

 

Referral Traffic

The page we’re looking at had a total of 3,243 sessions in the selected time period. Most of that traffic came from referrals, but referrals drove the smallest percentage of sessions to conversions of the metrics being investigated (referral traffic, organic traffic, and paid traffic).  Despite its 2,160 sessions, referrals only led to 6 leads: a measly 0.28% conversion rate. 

 

This seems to be reflective of the site as a whole, as organic traffic drives the highest percentage of sessions. Referrals hold a close second, showing their traffic-driving power, but they also convert the fewest number of users. With a 0.57% conversion-rate sitewide, referrals should probably be thought of more as visibility-assets than business-drivers. 

 

Paid Traffic

For this page, the second largest traffic driver was paid advertising. Paid traffic drove a total of 10 leads on that page, leading to a 4.61% conversion rate. Despite being about a tenth of referrals traffic-wise, paid traffic had a conversion rate that was over 16 times that of referred traffic. This is a good example of quality traffic over general traffic. 

 

Organic Traffic

Finally, organic traffic for the page was third as far as numbers of sessions but was second as far as conversions. As previously mentioned, organic traffic drove the highest percentage of sessions site-wide. What wasn’t previously mentioned was that organic traffic has the third-highest percentage (0.83%) of online conversions. Above it were paid CPC (4.22% conversion rate) and direct traffic (0.84% conversion rate). 

 

The Takeaways

The point of this research was to see the value in different types of traffic; a holistic approach to understanding Google Analytics. A quick glance at a number of Google Analytics accounts will show that while each website has its own quirks, organic and referral traffic are often high in the ranks as far as numbers of sessions, but referrals are often outpaced by paid and organic traffic when it comes to conversions. 

 

But conversions aren’t everything. Holistic, remember? Direct traffic also often ranks high for conversions, which implies that the clients who went directly to the site knew what they wanted and had already made their decision to convert. They probably made that decision during a prior search, which is why we shouldn’t discount referral traffic or any traffic that doesn’t seem to be driving leads quite yet. The one exception I’ll concede to is paid traffic. If your paid traffic isn’t resulting in leads you have a problem.

 

If you want to know more about what your law firm’s website’s traffic means, contact Mockingbird.

Low on Funds? Don’t Get a Custom Site

Custom-built websites are beautiful. They can be technological cathedrals of web-design and intricacy. And, sometimes, they are wholly unnecessary. Many firms don’t need a complicated site, just a functional one that the lawyers understand and the clients can navigate. 

 

This is where websites from templates come in. A well-designed template is fast to set up, cheap to launch, and easy to manage. 

 

We’ve all seen bad lawyer-websites. They aren’t intuitive, have outdated designs, and don’t function very well. Maybe you own one of those websites. It’s understandable; being a lawyer is busy work and you probably don’t have time to manage a website, especially not a complicated new website. Unfortunately, a bad website can scare away potential clients. If it’s especially outdated it might not even show up in searches. 

 

A well-designed website template is easy to update, add to, and navigate. 

 

This is why law firms should have the option not to pay for a brand-new custom website, especially since it’s a luxury that not every firm can or wants to afford. Any service that says a fully custom website is a necessity is a scam.

 

So what firms generally benefit from template-built websites?

 

Firms that generally benefit from template-built websites are those looking to save money. This might include immigration lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, and solo firms.

If you are interested in building your website from a template, contact Mockingbird. Our Echo websites are fast, easy, cost-effective, and beautiful.

The 3 Best Resources for Beginner Website Owners

Running a website for a business is complicated and sometimes frustrating, and when you add advertising on top of general up-keep it gets even more complicated. When an issue arises, you might not even notice until you check back through your ad results. There might be a sudden, unexplained drop in conversions or interactions, and you’ll be left wondering if the problem is with your website or the ad platform.

 

Lucky for you, there are plenty of good resources to help you figure out if the problem is on you or Google:

 

1. Google Webmaster Central Blog

From the horse’s mouth itself, Google’s webmaster blog is one of the best places to hear about news and updates that could impact your website. You’ll learn about new features available through Google Analytics and Search Console and how to access them.

 

2. Search Engine Journal

SEJ publishes multiple blog posts every day from various experts in the field of digital marketing. Even if you aren’t a digital marketer, many of the posts are useful in providing tips and tricks of the trade. If you think an update is screwing with your data, just glance at SEJ. If there was an update, they’ll be the first to know.

 

3. Google Webmasters Help Community

Any question you have has probably been asked before, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask it again. The Help community is made up of seasoned webmasters, experts, and Google employees. You can learn from other people’s misunderstandings and get answers for yourself.

 

Of course, there are hundreds of other resources you can use. Knowledge and helpful guides saturate the internet. Go out and learn! Find your own path! Running a business is hard, but it’s always an opportunity for personal growth.

If running a website and a law firm is more of a time commitment than you can make, we get it. Leave the website to us. Mockingbird runs websites and advertising for law firms and knows how to keep up with the constant changes. Contact us to learn more.

Why Optimizing for Mobile is Necessary for Law Firms

Mobile users are a growing segment of all internet traffic. Between 10-50% of traffic going to legal websites being from a mobile device, with some dependence on practice area. That’s a large audience that you don’t want to turn away with poor web design.

 

Why Law Firms

Law firm websites provide vital resources for people in crisis when they might not be able to reach their computer. This means that all aspects of the website need to be optimized, not just the home page. Blogs, FAQs, and any other resources need to be easy to access and fast-loading, and contact info should be on every page. You want to make it as easy as possible for a consumer to find your resources, get the info they need, and call you to schedule a consultation.

 

Why Optimize

There are a few different ways to set up your website, and not all of them work for mobile. Some websites are designed solely for desktop, so when a consumer visits the site from their phone it looks exactly the same as the desktop version. This doesn’t work because the differences between the dimensions and user interfaces of a desktop and phone are completely different. Navigating a desktop-designed website from a phone is difficult and slow, and users are just as likely to go find a different website and a different law firm.

 

Why Google Cares

One final, extremely important reason to optimize for mobile is Google’s Mobile-First Indexing (MFI). Beginning in 2016, Google started indexing mobile versions of websites as their primary version. That means that if a website’s mobile version is slow, it’s page rank will be affected. If the content isn’t the same, Google will take the content on the mobile version as the primary version. When a website has a terrible mobile user experience, it’s page rank will likely be affected.

 

What You Can Do

Make sure your website is optimized. Ensure the images are scalable and the text is legible. If you have an old website, you might want to consider getting a new one. If your website needs maintenance, invest in it. If you need help with any of that, contact Mockingbird.

Keeping Your Site Stable During Google Updates

2019 saw a series of Google updates big and small, impactful and unaffecting. Many sites saw drastic changes in their rankings, traffic, and leads during this time, not all of the bad and not all of them good. But as with anything, even the small changes caused unrest in the SEO community.

 

Change is inevitable, so fluctuations in traffic should be expected whether or not an update has happened. That being said, there are measures you can take to reduce the influence updates have on your site. You can’t stop an earthquake, but you can make sure your furniture won’t fall on your bed while you’re sleeping.

 

Follow Best Practices

This should be relatively intuitive. Keep producing content that users find useful and Google finds relevant. By following best practices, you are showing Google that you are respecting their guidelines. Google likes that.

 

Organize Your Website 

By properly organizing your title tags, meta descriptions, and headers you are telling Google exactly what is on each page on your website. This helps the search engine to properly categorize your content and provide it to the most relevant users. Simply keeping Google up to date with your website will help it maintain its traffic during updates.

 

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

Things shift, sometimes at a glacial pace, sometimes extremely quickly. Take keywords: not too long ago, SEOs would pile keywords onto every page, taking into account every synonym and potential phrase. With AIs designed to determine user intent, exact keyword matches are no longer a priority. By keeping up with current events in the industry you are ensuring that you won’t be blindsided when updates reflect where the industry is naturally going. 

No one knows what updates 2020 will bring, but the best way to be prepared for them is by keeping your website up to date and well maintained. If you think your law firm could use assistance in any of these areas, contact Mockingbird. We work hard to prepare for and manage changes from updates.

Finding the Secret Pages that Drive Conversions

A lot of value is given to landing pages and top converting pages, and a lot of value should be given to them. They’re what hook consumers in and eventually turn them into clients. 

 

But that isn’t always the whole story. Users tend to spend some time on the website before picking up the phone or filling out a form, so how can you know the full story? Which pages are consistently convincing clients halfway through their journey?

 

Luckily, Google Analytics can help show you exact user paths and accurate conversion assists.

 

What Won’t Help

Goal URLs

 

The Goal URLs tab in GA seems useful until you open it up and see that most of your conversions occurred on your “Thank You” page. Unless Ernest Hemmingway is writing your thank you page, it is unlikely that this is the place where consumers were truly convinced to become a client. 

 

 

Assisted Conversions

 

Assisted conversions are a step above goal URLs, but still fail to tell the whole story. I set up my assisted conversion page to show landing pages, but the default for GA is to show sources. This is great for knowing if your site is driving conversions through SEO and content or through ads (it should be some combination of both), but it isn’t great for knowing user paths once they’re on your site.

 

 

What Will Help

Reverse Goal Path

 

Your reverse goal path tab is your friend. It will show you the three pages the user visited prior to converting, giving you some idea of what pages visitors find intriguing without yet fully convincing them to convert. They gain trust, build interest, and lead the user towards the last-click pages. Remember how a good chunk of our Goal URLs were thank you pages? Check out how many of our goal completion locations are thank you pages, and how many different paths the users took to get there. 

 

 

Another benefit of looking at reverse goal paths is that you can see how well specific pages are doing. The page might not show that it assisted in any conversions, except it might show up in goal paths. If you’re curious, you can search for the page name and see how many conversions it actually assisted in:

 

 

Why You Should Know This

Knowing the path your users take is vital for designing your website. Think of the natural flow provided by internal linking, design, and access to contact info and forms when building your website and adding content. Your users’ goal paths, especially the successful ones, will tell you where to invest your time and energy.

If you feel as though you aren’t getting enough information from your Google Analytics setup or that your website could be improved, contact Mockingbird.

How Your Domain Authority Affects Your Firm

Let’s clarify one thing right off the bat: Domain Authority is not the same as PageRank. Domain Authority (DA) is a tool created by Moz used to estimate your page ranking. It uses link flows and trust metrics to come to its conclusion, but DA has no effect on how well your site actually does from a technical standpoint. 

 

This doesn’t mean that DA has no effect on your site whatsoever. It has more of a sociological impact in the way that owning a fancy suit doesn’t mean you’re rich, but it might help you get a higher paying job. Having a high DA will improve link-building opportunities, which will, in turn, improve your PageRank.

 

Your PageRank comes directly from Google and isn’t accessible. You can try to calculate it, but your DA is probably a better estimate than you’ll come up with. The main thing is that your PageRank actually does determine where your page sits in the search results. As you can probably assume, higher is better. You want your page to show up at the top of the organic search results. PageRank says whether or not it will.

 

Improving DA and PageRank

Google and Moz determine your metrics through a number of factors but largely focus on links and content. Lucky for you, you have some control over both of these.

 

Link building is your best method for improving authority. By having a more trusted site vouch for you by posting an article with a link to your site, they are improving your trustworthiness. You can build links through guest-writing articles, negotiating with authors of relevant pages, or adding links to directories in which your firm is listed.

 

On the content front, the main advice Google gives is to prioritize quality over quantity. Google determines quality through E.A.T.: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. If you want your blog articles to be used as resources, they have to be relevant to your firm and what people want to know regarding your expertise. You need to prove that you are a trusted expert, and your website needs to prove that you aren’t trying to steal anything from your clients. This means that anyone who visits the site needs to be comforted by the layout, so content extends beyond writing and into the design. 

 

What Comes with a Good DA

When you manage to improve your DA and your PageRank you will most likely see an increase in traffic relevant to your business, meaning an increase in leads and clients. You will have more opportunities for quality link building, the heavens will open up you will finally find inner peace. 

 

It’s never that simple. Maintaining good DA means maintaining your website, keeping up with search engine updates, and consistently producing quality content. It’s work, and not always work you have time for if you’re also running a law firm.

 

Mockingbird is here to help. We work in improving your website, content, and link building connections. If you would like to get more clients, contact Mockingbird today.

 

Tools We Love: CallRail

Call tracking has become a standard for anyone who’s focused on measuring the success of their website. There are plenty of tools out there that offer call tracking, but we’ve fallen in love with CallRail, and have stayed in love for many years now.

Over time, CallRail has added features and improved how effectively it tracks an individual’s call history.

What does it do?

Instead of showing your real business phone number, you can use a tracking number in places that a potential customer or client will see. If you choose to add tracking numbers to your website, CallRail will dynamically swap your real number with your chosen tracking number(s).

How does it work?

Within CallRail, you can either port (move) numbers you already own or create new numbers to use as your tracking numbers. These numbers can be displayed on your website, within ad copy, on billboards, or anywhere else you might want your number displayed.

When someone calls one of these tracking numbers, the information from that call is stored in your CallRail dashboard. The caller won’t notice that they’ve called a tracking number, and neither will the person answering your main line.

Implementation

For number swapping on your site, you’ll want to install CallRail’s script directly onto your website (we suggest using Google Tag Manager to do this).

You’ll also want to connect Google Analytics and Google Ads to CallRail in order to link your data together.

CallRail Integrations

Setting up Tracking Numbers

If you’re running Google Ads, you should have at least two tracking numbers, one for mobile, the other for desktop. You’ll use both of these as extensions for your ads.

A good rule of thumb is to place a tracking number on any marketing or advertising you’re paying for. If you have a TV commercial, make a tracking number specific to that. If you still advertise in a phonebook, have a tracking number for that as well.

This is the best way to figure out which campaigns are driving leads, and from those, clients.

Keyword Pools are the best way to track calls that happen on your website. A keyword pool is essentially a bunch of numbers that are available to show on your website at any given time. If you have 5 people viewing your site at the same time, each will see a different number and their visit will be tracked individually. It doesn’t matter where the user came from (Organic, Direct, etc.); each person will be tracked accordingly in your CallRail dashboard. This eliminates the need for individual tracking numbers by channel source.

CallRail Tracking

Form Captures

CallRail can also track the form submissions on your site. This is great for calculating ROI on forms, all in one easy place. You can easily search for a signed clients name, see their form submission, and see how they got to the site in that visit.

Call Recording

CallRail has an opt in feature to record calls on the tracking number level. If you wanted to only record calls from one of your numbers, you can do that. You can also customize the message that plays to the caller that alerts them they are being recorded.

If you suspect there’s an issue with your intake process, call recording is the best way to pinpoint the problem. It’s also a great way to track the quality of your leads. You might find that one of your advertising channels is only bringing in callers who can’t afford your services, who are outside of your service area, or the wrong kind of practice type.

Call Log

In the call log, you’ll be able to see all of the calls that have happened on all of your tracking numbers. You can switch to specific time periods, look at only specific tracking number, sources, and a number of other things.

You can also mark-up calls with notes about the call, or whether it was a good lead or a bad lead.

Callrail Call Log

Call Attribution

The call attribution tab has the best breakdown of how many calls you had by channel for a given time period, as well as how many were first-time calls. It’s important to know how many first-time calls you’ve had in comparison to your total call volume. At Mockingbird, we only report on first-time calls because we’re trying to track new business, not current clients or people who have contacted you previously.

CallRail Call Attribution

 

CallRail has a ton of amazing features that haven’t been covered here, and they’re constantly improving the tools they offer. As an official CallRail partner, feel free to contact Mockingbird if you have any questions. We’d love to help get you started with CallRail and improve your current tracking setup.