The largest law firms are closing the gap with their smaller rivals on website performance but still falling behind on speed, according to the latest research.
Top 20 firm Pinsent Masons was named having the most effective website pound for pound, when adjusted to take revenue into account, according to the Legmark Legal Sector Performance Analysis 2020.
Pinsent Masons “performed strongly across all areas” apart from speed of loading, doing well particularly well for the number and quality of links to its site from third-party websites.
DLA Piper came second, with a high traffic value and the highest number of websites linking to its site. Irwin Mitchell, “top of the tree” for traffic value, was ranked third in terms of the overall performance of its website.
However, when it came to speed of loading from mobile phones, which Google uses to rank websites in search results, seven out of the top 10 firms came from outside the top 100.
Dickson Minto, a law firm ranked 72nd in terms of size, came top, followed by Lee & Thompson (ranked 187nd) and Clarion (ranked 143rd).
The best performances by top 20 firms were from Clyde & Co, which came sixth, and Gowling WLG (11th).
Legmark said “slower pages reduce conversion rates, affecting your bottom line, and they also contribute to higher bounce rates and lower time on site”, which could influence rankings.
The digital marketing and communications agency used six key ranking and user experience factors to analyse website performance. Last year’s report showed smaller firms, like Stowe Family Law, punching above their weight.
Traffic value was based on how much law firms would have to pay to generate the same level of traffic through paid Google ads that they managed without advertising. Researchers said the results favoured consumer law firms, where the cost of advertising is much higher.
Irwin Mitchell came top, with a value of £731,600 per month, but Stephensons, a firm ranked 135th in terms of size, came in fifth place with £148,600, and Bott & Co, ranked 152nd, came sixth with £118,200. Slater & Gordon came second with £604,100 and DLA Piper third with £199,300.
DLA Piper won the battle for the number of referring domains, or links to its website from third-party sites, with Pinsent Masons the runner-up, followed by Norton Rose Fulbright and Hogan Lovells.
Legmark said it was not surprising to see the big firms at the top, given the reach they have internationally, but any firm could build links “through creating great content and assets of your website that other sites want to talk about and link to”.
DLA Piper came top again for ‘trust flow’, a way of measuring the quality of links pointing to your site, followed again by Pinsent Masons and then by Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy.
A new feature of the survey was ‘value per keyword’, which divided traffic value by the number of keywords the website appears in.
Minster Law came top of this table with £39.54, followed by Scottish firm Digby Brown (£20.79), Irwin Mitchell (£18.46), Winn Solicitors and Bott & Co.
Legmark founder Sam Borrett said: “This year we’ve seen some of the larger firms close the gap in terms of pound-for-pound performance but the smaller firms are still winning this battle on the whole.”
He said there were “huge opportunities being missed by all sizes of law firms through a lack of a properly optimised and marketed website.”