The law firms at the lower end the top 200 are punching well above their weight online, with large firms not using the natural advantage their strong brands offer to make the best of their websites, according to new research
The Legmark Website Performance Index  names national practice Stowe Family Law as having the most effective website pound for pound when adjusted for the firm’s revenue.
The firm ranked for a large number of keywords given its size. It also did well on traffic value – how much it would have to spend on ‘pay per click’ adverts to generate the same level of traffic as it does through digital marketing techniques – in addition to the quality of links from third-party websites.
It was followed by Cheshire firm Bott and Co, which was second only to Irwin Mitchell on traffic value for a much smaller set of keywords, and has a very fast website.
Third was Cheltenham firm BPE Solicitors, which scored well across most metrics given its size, and also benefited from a quick website.
The calculation by digital marketing and communications agency Legmark took into account six key ranking and user experience factors to show how effective law firms’ digital marketing activity is – the highest-ranking top-10 firm was CMS, down in 89th place in the Index. Allen & Overy was the worst performing top-tier practice, ranked at 144th.
Among the other findings were that Irwin Mitchell had a traffic value of nearly £1m, City firm Clyde & Co and Bott & Co have the fastest websites (speed is a factor in Google rankings), and the big City firms dominate when it comes the quality of links from third-party websites.
These are important as Google values expertise, authority and trust signals.
However, the report found that only 50 of the 200 were above average in building quality links from other sides.
It said these backlinks were one of the most important metrics for search rankings: “Building good-quality links legitimately is not easy but it’s vital if firms want to improve website performance.”
Legmark founder Sam Borrett said: “Law firms have historically been poor at digital marketing and struggled to embrace the opportunities that are available online. But with constant pressure to do more work for less money, generating clients cost effectively becomes even more important.
“Having a strong online performance provides a cheaper source of work, allows firms to reach more people, and gives a measurable return on investment.
“The success of smaller firms may in part be due to necessity, but the findings also reflect that many larger firms are not taking advantage of opportunities to improve their performance and really take control of the rankings for their target search terms.”
Full details can be found on the Legmark website . Legmark is offering all firms in the top 200 a free backlink analysis, website audit and site speed report, along with a 30-minute phone consultation, to drill down into tactics for improving their online marketing.