I just got done speaking with a client about website statistics and we made a startling discovery about lawyers.com. This client, like many law firms, is paying to have a prominent and complete directory listing on the Martindale Hubble website lawyers.com. The reason we were looking at statistics was to figure out how much traffic these listings had generated for their website. It's a logical question because the listing is expensive. It should also be an easy question to answer because we have a statistics program that can tell how a visitor gets to one of our client's websites, especially when they come from a search engine or another website that has a link on it. It's called referrer data, it's automatically created and it's very valuable data to use in evaluating the effectiveness of website marketing.
Much to our surprise, when we looked at the annualized website statistics, not a single visitor to the website came from a lawyers.com. Since they had thousands of visitors this seemed very odd so we did some more digging. Turns out, on their big expensive lawyers.com listing their website address it typed out, but it is NOT A LINK you can click! This means that if someone found their firm in lawyers.com and then made the logical decision to visit their website they'd have to cut and paste the address or type it in manually thereby making it impossible for any statistics program to trace the source of the visitor.
In the case of lawyers.com, I searched around some profiles had working links and some did not, which means that they probably charge even more money to actually get a working link, which is dumb, but that just may be how they do it. In any event, this brings up an important point. When promoting your firm's website online with directory listings, bar association profiles, banner ads, classified ads or whatever, make sure that there is a working link between that ad and your website. Not only will it make it easier on the visitor, but it will make it possible to gather the data necessary to tell you what works and what doesn't.