AmLaw Global 50 Aggregate Scores
|1||70.7||Domain Authority: Relative score compared to the other Global 50 firms, based on the measurements of multiple tools|
|2||68.3||Backlinks: Relative score compared to other Global 50 firms, based on the measurements of multiple tools|
|3||93.9||XML Sitemaps(s): Present, well organized and includes all pages for the website|
|4||66.0||HTML: Strong, properly structured HTML content. Includes correct use of Heading tags (H1, H2, H3...), ARIA labels, doctype, avoiding inline styles, etc.|
|5||20.9||Structured Data Markup: Schema and Open Graph tags are present and used effectively|
|6||54.9||Images have alt tags that provide alternative text when images can't be displayed|
|7||69.0||GZip + CDN: The site utilizes GZip Compression and serves static assets (images, stylesheets, scripts...) through a Content Delivery Network|
|8||46.6||Accessibility: Site content can be readily consumed by search engines crawlers and assistive technologies|
|9||76.5||SEO Hygiene: The site meets basic standards including having an SSL certificate, mobile viewports, Robots.txt file, meta titles and descriptions, no links to unsafe domains or mixed content, and other essentials that should be present on all sites|
|10||84.7||Site Speed Desktop: Google PageSpeed Insights score of 90+ on desktop|
|11||49.5||Site Speed Mobile: Google PageSpeed Insights score of 90+ on mobile|
Top Trends + Insights
We completely overhauled the attributes for FBP8 - Site Optimization + Online Awareness, significantly raising the standards of our best practices and what is “foundational.” No Global 50 firm received a total score of 100.0 – in fact, the highest score was 77.5 (“good”) attained by Winston & Strawn.
A word of caution to professional services firms of all sizes and reach: If your firm ranks low on these 11 foundational attributes for Site Optimization + Online Awareness, it means it will also rank low on accessibility and ADA compliance – and vice versa. The experience that human visitors and search-engine spiders, crawlers and bots have with your site will be unsatisfactory.
- The highest score on attribute #1 “Domain authority” was DLA Piper with a 79.0 (“good”). The lowest score was 63.0 (“fair”).
- For attribute #2 “Backlinks,” the highest score was Eversheds Sutherland US with its 100.0 (“excellent”). The lowest score was 25.0 (“unacceptable”).
- NOTE: Don’t make backlink-chasing a pure numbers game. Backlinks should be relevant to the content and from a diverse group of root domains. The best links have always come as by-products of simply doing good marketing and PR to promote your firm, website, and content.
- On attribute #3 “XML Sitemap(s)” firms either scored 100.0 or zero. 47 achieved 100.0 and three scored zero.
- “HTML,” attribute #4, saw 14 firms score 100.0 and one firm score zero.
- Attribute #5 “Structured Data Markup” was the lowest ranking of all the attributes with 37 of the Global 50 firms scoring zero. Four firms scored 100.0 – White & Case, Gibson Dunn, CMS, and Milbank. “Schema markup” was also the lowest-scoring attribute in the 2016 Study with the average of the 50 firms being 12. But this year we expanded it beyond just schema markup.
- Schema markup is code that you put on your website to help search engines return more instructive results for users. It tells search engines what your content means, not just what it says.
- Schema.org, the website for schema markup, was created by a wonderful inter-industry collaborative team, which now includes Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.
Especially surprising in 2019 is that only nine firms scored 100.0 on using alt-tags on their images – and three firms scored zero. When you have thousands of lawyers and likely hundreds (or thousands) of illustrated news items, we understand that adding alt-tags to each image is quite a task – but from an SEO and accessibility standpoint, it’s table stakes. Most content management systems have a field for “Alt-Description” or “Alt-Tag.” Our best practice is to complete this field for each image at the time that the web administrator is uploading the images.
Curious about what GZip Compression is and why it’s foundational? GiftofSpeed.com defines it this way: “Gzip compression makes it possible to compress your web files (mainly HTML, CSS, and JS files), sometimes up to 70%-80%. This much smaller compressed version of the file is then sent to the browser of the visitor instead of the larger original file. The browser of your visitor will then automatically decompress the compressed file and serve the uncompressed original file to your visitor.” In other words, it’s all about delivering your content as fast as possible to your visitors. 18 firms scored 100.0 on this attribute and two firms scored zero.
As mentioned in our discussion of accessibility in FBP10 - Site Hygiene + Usability, we used Siteimprove’s Accessibility Checker to test the Global 50 firms on a pass-fail standard – they were either compliant or they weren’t. All 50 firms failed. In FBP8 - Site Optimization + Online Awareness we analyzed whether “site content can be readily consumed by search engine crawlers and assistive technologies” (attribute #8). Three firms scored 70.0 (“fair”), which was the highest score – Skadden, Winston & Strawn, and Milbank – but most firms scored in the 40-50 range, which is “poor.” The average of the Global 50 firms was 49.6 (“poor”).
The average score of the Global 50 was 76.5 for the most basic SEO elements “SEO Hygiene,” attribute #9 in this FBP. Only two firms scored above 90.0 on this attribute – Linklaters with a 92.0 and WilmerHale with a 94.0. Seven additional firms scored “excellent” with an 85.0, 87.0, or 88.0 on attribute #9: Kirkland & Ellis, White & Case, Greenberg Traurig, Mayer Brown, Morrison & Foerster, Winston & Strawn, and McDermott Will & Emery.
For attributes #10 and #11, we tested site speed on both desktop and mobile, testing for a Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) score of 90.0 or higher. 22 firms scored “excellent” on desktop speed, but only two firms scored “excellent” on mobile speed. The average score for the Global 50 on desktop speed was 76.5 and mobile speed was 49.5. According to Google, “PSI reports on the performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.” There is a lot of room for improvement here among the world’s largest law firms.
This firm ranked first on FBP8 - Site Optimization + Online Awareness with a 77.5 ("good"). It had among the highest scores for desktop site speed and SEO Hygiene, as well as scoring 100s on GZip Compression, properly structured HTML content, and XML sitemap.
Came in second and received a 76.0 (“good”) on this FBP. The firm’s site scored 100.0 on three of the eleven attributes.
The firm received four 100s, plus a 99.0 on desktop site speed.
Is a standout because it received the highest score on mobile site speed – a 94.0 out of 100.0. The lowest score for mobile site speed in the Global 50 pack was 4.0 with two firms pulling up the rear. This firm was also one of the highest scorers for the number of quality back-links.
|Do keep your content current and keyword rich throughout your website – especially professionals’ bios. Focus on the first 140 characters of the bio – ensure that it features the most relevant keywords of that person’s practice today. Better yet, if your site’s CMS enables you to include a custom meta description, take advantage of this feature. This will allow you t o better tailor your message for the search results page as well as search engines.|
|Do include current, relevant, properly structured HTML content on your home page and other pages: use H1, H2, H3, etc. for headings/subheadings and no image-based navigation.|
|Do implement structured data markup (schema and open graph tags).|
|Do ensure you have a correct and up-to-date XML sitemap and that it has been submitted to the proper search engines.|
|Do utilize HTTPS over HTTP. It has been the standard for some time and all new sites must use HTTPS.|
|Do ensure that your site scores 100.0 on the use of alt-tags on every image on your website. Yes, it’s a big task on large sites, but you are hurting your SEO and accessibility rankings if you don’t.|
|Do keep SEO in mind from the beginning of your site design and build. Ensure that you are adhering to the basics (such as the attributes listed above) and then grow your reach and campaigns from there.|
|Do inventory your backlinks and ensure that they are growing in number and strength, and that you are maintaining a diverse link profile. This is especially important for smaller B2B and B2C firms as they don’t get the amount or variety of exposure and the links that come with it.|
|Do focus on PageSpeed on both desktop and mobile – it should have a Google PSI score of 90.0 or higher. As the percentage of mobile users continues to rise, ignoring this discerning and easily distracted audience is deadly to your online reputation. They’ll simply not wait for your site if it’s slow.|
|Do utilize schema markup to give your firm more control over what is displayed in SERPs and help you stand out.|
|Don’t forget to add alt-tags for every image on the website – start with the photos of your lawyers and other professionals. With an average score of 54.9 out of 100.0, the Global 50 firms have a lot of work to do.|
|Don’t use outdated URL structures. For example, the URL for the Our Firm section of a site could be lawfirm.com/sitecontent.cfm?contentID=3000. A more intuitive and SEO-friendly structure would be lawfirm.com/Our-Firm. Subsequent pages, to use Diversity as our example, would be lawfirm.com/Our-Firm/Diversity. Another tip that’s good for humans and robots.|
|Don’t use HTTP. Use HTTPS. The difference is security and the presence of an SSL certificate. This is one of the first clues to a visitor that your site is begging for a redesign.|
|Don’t rely on black-hat SEO practices and don’t write content for the purpose of attracting search engines. Keyword stuffing (e.g., “Our international real estate lawyers are knowledgeable about international real estate law. Contact our international real estate attorneys today to discuss your international real estate issue.”) is not only annoying for human visitors to read and digest, but Google WILL penalize you for it.|