Two of the UK’s smallest firms, among the top 200 law firms, are leading the way in website performance, new research finds.
Stephensons, a 148th-ranked national company, was named as having the most effective pound-for-pound website, after adjusting for revenue. Municipal company Pinsent Masons, in the lead last year, fell to seventh place.
The second place was taken by the Scottish firm Lindsays, ranked 153rd, replacing DLA Piper, the largest law firm in the top 200. DLA Piper’s position in the ranking dropped to 20th.
However, Irwin Mitchell maintained his grip on third place. The company was also leading in terms of total score before adjusting for revenue.
Digital marketers Legmark studied the performance of the top 200 companies in terms of digital metrics and search engine ranking factors for the third year of its Legal Sector Website Performance Analysis 2021.
Small businesses have taken the lead when it comes to charging speed from mobile phones. The consultant-run company Gunnercooke – which achieved the biggest improvement in its overall score in the 200 – led the way, followed by BDB Pitmans, Lindsays and Stephensons.
This followed the pattern established last year, where the top positions were taken by companies outside the top 50.
The researchers said the “fluctuating results” for website speed demonstrated “how volatile mobile can be” and advised companies to “compress large images, change hosting providers, or look to implement a “lazy load”, and if none of these options were available, first on their transactional pages, such as services or contact “.
In terms of traffic value, Irwin Mitchell came out on top, as he did last year, followed by Slater & Gordon. However, DLA Piper lost third place to national company Blake Morgan.
Legmark said the Blake Morgan website team had “been very focused on link building – with more than 13,000 links coming from sites in business, industry, employment, education, law and government ”.
DLA Piper again won the battle for the number of referring domains or links to its website from third party sites, with Pinsent Masons remaining second. Hogan Lovells retains third place.
The researchers said that large companies tended to “take pole position” in this category, thanks to their wide range of reference areas.
“While you need to focus on getting multiple relevant links, you need to be careful not to get too many from one area. Target a wide variety of journalists and legal or business sites.
DLA Piper and Pinsent Masons have retained their grip on first and second place for “trust flow” – a way to measure the quality of links pointing to your site. Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy remained in third place.
The best companies for keyword value were personal injury specialists Winn Solicitors and Scottish company Digby Brown. They were followed by Slater & Gordon.
Rather than trying to rank for everything, the researchers said small businesses should “focus on and push their best conversion services, which will naturally increase keyword value.”
Legmark Founder Sam Borrett said: “The general trend in this year’s report seems to be that often one or two particular facets of SEO can hurt a site’s performance.
“Some businesses fail to link, many have poor quality content, while others are plagued by user experience issues.
“This year we have seen that almost all of the top 10 law firms have improved their performance over last year’s data, but many firms have yet to prepare their sites for the major update. Google’s algorithm that will penalize slow websites. “
He stressed that Google’s mission was to “provide the right content to the right searcher to best meet their query.”
This meant that companies capable of producing “the best content” on a particular topic had a good chance of getting to the first page.
“If you optimize your website within inches of its lifespan, but you don’t have great content, you’ll have a hard time making it to the top of Google search results. Content is always king.