Thursday, December 26, 2013

Click Through Rate (CTR) and Rankings For Attorney Search

A recent study by Catalyst Search Marketing has followed-up years of Click-Through-Rate (CTR) data to better reflect the recent changes in Google and how rankings compare to CTR. As you can see from the blue chart to the right from 2011, The average CTR for the #1 position in Google was disproportionately higher (36%) than the #2 position (12.5%), the #3 position (9.5%) and so forth. The basic message back in 2011 was it is great to be #1, ok to be #2, and then everything else.

Long Tail Search Improves Click-Through-Rates and Conversions for Attorneys

Attorney search has become VERY competitive over the past 5 years with a growing number of attorneys coming online meaning greater competition and higher costs per lead. The recent explosion in attorney PPC spending is a perfect illustration of this.

In response to the explosion in PPC costs for common attorney terms, more attorneys have turned to an active content strategy by building up a larger content net to be found through long-tail search. Since we know that client conversion rates are higher for long-tail searches and Google rewards this action through their recent Panda release, this only seemed logical. But now, the data may better support this…

The most recent study on CTR by Catalyst provides a new twist to this data since it now shows a trend of most distributed CTR to long-tail search results (unbranded) over branded search. What is interesting when comparing the red chart (2013) to the blue chart (2011), you will notice how being #1 in Google, although still important, is less important now than in 2011. Moreover, showing up in any of the top 3 spots for long-tail attorney search could strongly beneficial.

So What Does All This Mean?

Long-tail search, as an alternative to branded search may have much better Return On Investment (ROI) implications than it did two years ago. In short, if you still adhere to a strategy for narrow term results, you have a much higher cliff to fall from absent the #1 position than you do with a long-tail search strategy. What about the impacts on mobile search? What is absent from this data is the further analysis provided by mobile search which has a far narrower search results footprint. One could argue that the typical one-organic result typically displayed above the smart phone fold could help reverse this trend? Possibly. But right now, we have no further data to support or deny that.What we do have however is the increasing importance of the long-tail and attorney search results.

Monday, December 9, 2013

What Happened To Martindale-Hubbell /

It is commonly said that a jack of all trades is a master of none. 

On August 30th, LexisNexis (which owns the Martindale-Hubbell & brands) announced a “joint venture” with Internet Brands to operate their internet marketing solutions together. Along with the announcement came Lexis’s elimination of 205 “roles”, including their CEO and head of marketing and business solutions, indicating that these roles will be carried out by Internet Brands. Naturally this creates a lot of questions for their attorney website clients who originally bought something more than directory listings with LexisNexis – especially since many/most/all? of the brand websites listed with Internet Brands are directories and blogs.  
So Who Is Internet Brands?

According to their website, Internet Brands was founded in 1998 as In 2005, they decided to diversify (expand) their industry vertical niches and in 2006 changed their name to Internet Brands. The vertical brands listed by category on their website currently includes: Automotive, Careers, Health, Home, Legal, Licensing, Money, Shopping & Travel. Does expanding verticals outside of the legal space work for directories? AVVO tried it once expanding to lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. – now they are back to just legal. So does Internet Brands want to be a master of directories or a master of a business vertical?

What Does This Mean For Attorneys?

For a number of years now, I have had numerous attorneys ask me if they should continue to pay for and/or promote their AV ratings online. My question back to them was simple: “What is the quantifiable value it is providing you and what is your Return On Investment with it?” This is a simple measurement for all marketing and brand management – not just for them. In most cases, the attorneys couldn’t answer the question thereby answering it for themselves. In essence, this simply illustrates who much brand value may be left with these brands and as has been written by others recently in the legal marketing space, does their value even exist anymore?

I am not going to pretend to know what the future holds for the Martindale-Hubbell & brands but I cannot deny the trends I have witnessed recently. Attorneys have questioned the value of their AV ratings, I rarely ever see a TV commercial anymore and LexisNexis has decided to give-up sole management/ownership of these two brands to a company that runs many brands in many verticals. Does this mean nobody wanted to buy them first?

Looking forward, this could be welcome news for attorneys who rely solely on web portals like to generate leads but it leaves a lot more questions about the other brands and services previously provided.  More importantly, it also draws to question if this new industry-ubiquitous entity provides all of the value needed to successfully market as an attorney. Internet Brands currently lists around 238 total brands (websites) on their website – 6 of which are legal brands (2.52%). Even a jack of all trades can do the math…