A talented marketing professional with a Midwest law firm dropped me an email this last week wanting to set up a time to talk about, among other things, increasing traffic from the firm’s blogs to the firm’s website.

Other than blatantly linking back to the firm’s website (with anchor text describing what a practice group or lawyer does), she also wants to discuss other ways to increase the search performance of the firm’s website through the use of their blogs.

We’ll talk this week. I hope she’s not disappointed when I ask why the firm would ever want to drive traffic from a lawyer’s blog to the firm’s website. Or why the search performance of the firm’s website would be a motivator for blogs.

I can think of 99 other ways to measure the success of a blog other than generating traffic to a website or a blog’s generating higher page rankings on Google. In fact, driving traffic to the website may be counter productive.

Websites and blogs are two entirely different creatures. One is a business development tool, while one is an advertisement. One is an engagement, networking, and relationship building tool, while the other is where you talk about yourself. One is used to generate more business by word of mouth, while one is used to generate business from an informercial ala a brochure.

Law firm administrators looking at the time a lawyer takes blogging want to measure the return on the investment. “Why are we having lawyers blog? Why are we paying LexBlog an annual subscription for their services?” With a blog being on the Internet, they can’t get their minds beyond anything the firm does on the Internet being other than to generate traffic to the firm’s website.

In the case of many law firms which have spent tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on websites, let alone the expenditure in human resources, I can understand the frustration in not getting work from their website. But driving traffic from blogs to the website is not the answer to client development success on the Internet.

Look at a recent report sponsored by marketing solutions provider Alterian making clear that consumers do not trust advertising and companies talking about themselves.

  • 95% of respondents indicated that they did not trust advertising.
  • Less than a tenth (8%) trust what companies say about themselves.
  • More than half (58%) agreed with the statement “companies are only interested in selling products and services to me, not necessarily the product or service that is right for me.”
  • Only 17% of respondents believe companies take what they say seriously.

Contrast that with the 33% of those actively engaged in the use of social media who believe that ‘companies are genuinely interested them.’

Alterian CEO, David Eldridge, is spot in his comments.

It is no longer adequate to adopt a strategy of mass broadcast and one-way conversations. Brands should be trying to understand communities rather than focusing on siloed communication channels……Traditional marketing is dead. To know and communicate to individuals, to a specific individual, should be the strategic and tactical goal of all brands and organizations.

Driving traffic to a law firm website is driving traffic to a message your clients and prospective clients don’t trust. If your blog is engaging your clients, prospective clients, and their influencers (bloggers, reporters, association leaders, publishers), you ought to be leveraging the networking and relationship building potential of your blog.

Your law firm, if it’s like most firms, has always generated its work from word of mouth via networking, engaging people, and relationships. Your website is not about engagement and relationships. Why would you play to your weakness when it comes to business development?

A successful rainmaker for your firm who generates work by participation on local civic boards is not going to get the third degree on why her activity isn’t generating more traffic to the firm’s website. She’s not going to be told to tell corporate executives, civic leaders, and reporters she’s building relationships with to ‘click through’ to the firm’s website. She’s not going to feel threatened to generate website traffic or else her rainmaking activity will need to cease.

Please don’t check your common sense at the door when it comes to networking and business development on the Internet. Sure, you’re all consumed in your website because that’s all you know when it comes to the Internet and where you’ve spent so much time and money. But be open to the fact that your lawyers are blogging to build relationships and generate work the old fashioned way. A way that your clients and prospective clients trust.

Driving traffic to your law firm website shouldn’t be the motivation for a blog nor a measure of a blog’s success – anymore than the success of lawyer’s offline networking should be measured by the traffic they drive to the firm’s website.

Measure the success of your firm’s blog by the success your lawyers are having in building relationships with the target audience you strategically identified when you began blogging.

If your lawyers are not developing the desired relationships examine their approach to blogging and your strategy. Don’t fall back on driving traffic to your website.