Our clients, LawCloud, for which we provide social media consultancy services have recently blogged about setting SMART objectives for law firms in 2012. We thought it would be good to supplement this by explaining how lawyers, law firms and other professional services firms can set SMART objectives for their SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategies for 2012.
What are SMART objectives?
You may be familiar with the SMART acronym. At the law firm where I used to work, setting SMART objectives was a regular activity for all lawyers in the firm. SMART objectives are those which are “Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound”.
Why set SMART objectives?
SMART objectives can be particularly useful for businesses planning to achieve desired results. And, given that at Moore Legal Technology we focus on achieving the best results for our clients, we hope our insights into this subject will provide you with some useful inspiration when considering your New Year’s Resolutions and business plans for 2012.
Specific SEO Objectives
Making your SEO objectives specific, not vague, is important. Doing so will increase your chance of following through. For newer websites or for firms only just getting to grips with SEO a good specific objective might be ranking on the first page of Google for targeted keywords in targeted geographic locations e.g. ‘family lawyer edinburgh’ or ‘compromise agreements solicitors liverpool’. For firms with more advanced investment in SEO, a better specific objective may be ranking number 1 in Google or in the top 3 for targeted keywords.
Specific does not, however, mean you have to create a narrow objective only focusing on keywords; it could be broader, for instance:-
- you’d like to generate over a certain number of phone calls through your website per month; or
- you’d like to get over a certain number of monthly views on your website; or
- you’d like to increase your relevant Twitter followers or LinkedIn group connections to a certain number (social media is becoming more relevant to SEO than ever before); or
- you’d like to achieve over a certain percentage of business coming through online means in 2012.
Measurable SEO Objectives
Making your SEO objectives measurable is also important. You won’t be able to track SEO performance if you can’t measure it. SEO experts are able to report on more than you might think. Your SEO expert should, for instance, be able to provide monthly or weekly tailored Google Analytics reports, keyword analysis, keyword rankings not only for your homepage, but also for specific landing pages, over a certain period of time. And they should help you understand what the data means so that you can determine progress made.
Achievable SEO Objectives
Making your SEO objectives achievable is also important. This depends mainly on technical factors. For some geographically targeted keywords, for instance, you simply cannot rank in the number 1 spot in Google unless you have a solid Google Places strategy. And that cannot happen unless your firm has made a Google Places application, which requires several weeks before activation and then requires other work and time to rise up the rankings.
It’s also important to remember that Google’s focus is on making search results as relevant as possible to users and, in particular, for having websites that offer the most value to users ranking in the highest positions. It may not, therefore, be achievable for your firm’s website to rank in the number one spot in Google for certain keywords if your content or service is not ideally what visitors are looking for.
In a broader sense, it may be entirely achievable, for example, to gain a certain number of relevant enquiries through your website per month.
Realistic SEO Objectives
Making your SEO objectives realistic within the available resources is similarly important. This largely depends on the amount of investment in SEO in the first place.
To rank highly in Google and other search engines and, as a result, to generate business through your website, you must invest time and resources in certain things. This includes website content-drafting, content-optimisation, link-building, blog-writing and social media bookmarking to name a few key activities. If you don’t invest in these things, you will not rank as well as you could in search engines. If you do invest in these things (and we provide not only optimised content writing, link-building and blog-writing services for law firms and other professional services firms across the UK) you will be able to become much more ambitious with your objectives.
Time-bound SEO Objectives
Making your SEO objectives time-bound is the last key ingredient of good SMART goal setting. For this, you should specify a time period in which you wish to meet a certain target. SEO strategies generally tend to take longer than paid advertising to become fully effective. While we do manage pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns for clients for certain areas of practice, we encourage most investment to be placed in natural or organic search rankings, which can produce the best long-term results.
A good example of such a time-bound objective is “I’d like to rank on the first page of Google in organic search for certain keywords e.g. ‘solicitors Glasgow’ and ‘criminal lawyers Glasgow’ within 3 months”.
When planning ahead to 2012, you should consider setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) objectives. At Moore Legal Technology, we aim to achieve the best results for our clients and for best results with SEO, we recommend setting SMART objectives as above.
Remember, however, that it’s not just about SEO. Website design and focus on conversions is equally if not more important. For a no-obligation discussion about how we can work with your firm for best results in 2012 please telephone us on 0845 620 5664, complete our online enquiry form or email me or Stephen today.
We hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.