How long will it take to see results from my law firm’s SEO strategy?
It’s one of the most common questions we get as a marketing agency. We understand why. You’re investing your law firm’s marketing dollars into the sometimes-nebulous world of search engine optimization (SEO), and you want to know when you’ll see a return on that investment.
“It depends.” While true, this answer often isn’t met with enthusiasm. There are very few other marketing strategies that function this way, so spending time and resources on something that isn’t going immediately show results can be difficult.
For most law firms, a comprehensive SEO strategy should take about 3-6 months to begin showing momentum, with the full results realized around nine months to a year. In year two, most law firm websites will be able to rely on SEO for a steady stream of new cases each month.
Although this is what we generally see, it’s not always guaranteed, and it’s impossible to predict at the onset. If you want to build a strong SEO for your law firm, you have to accept the fact that the results will not be immediate.
In fact, although we offer SEO services, this is why we sometimes recommend against it. If you need to generate more cases within the next three months to stay profitable, we generally recommend tactics like paid search that take less time to ramp up. SEO is a marathon, but in order to be successful you need to make the right level of investment, and you need a steady caseload from other marketing efforts while your SEO efforts are underway.
There are many variables that affect the speed at which your website will begin to rank in Google’s organic search results. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the major factors.
One of the biggest factors that will determine your website’s ability to rank well in search engines is your domain age and history. Google search results are returned based on a proprietary algorithm, and this algorithm is designed to reward trusted, authoritative websites with higher rankings.
For that reason, it takes a brand new website time to build authority. If your law firm has never had a website (or your website has never had any SEO work), this will take time. You are introducing your website into a mix of hundreds or even thousands of others that have a more established history. As you build your website and create more content, your authority and rankings should steadily increase.
If you already have a website domain for your law firms, one of the first decisions we often make at Postali is whether or not to keep your domain or move to a new one. This decision is largely dependent on your domain’s history. If your domain has any history of manual or algorithmic penalties from Google, it may be more difficult to recover rankings, even if the domain wasn’t owned by your law firm at the time of penalty.
Law firm SEO is competitive, and the time it takes your firm to establish rankings depends on what the competition is doing. Generally, larger metro areas tend to have higher competition, so it may take more time and more resources to establish an SEO presence.
It’s important to establish realistic goals for your SEO strategy relative to your competition. If you want to rank #1 for all of your practice areas in a highly competitive market, this could take over a year to accomplish. That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful before then, but you’ll want to ensure you have a short-term and long-term strategy.
For example, let’s say you practice personal injury law in a highly competitive market. Understanding the competition will help identify gaps and set your strategy accordingly. While ranking #1 for auto accident and general personal injury-related keywords may be your long-term goal, it may be more feasible to rank for medical malpractice queries within the first six months.
The loftier your goals, the longer they may take to achieve. It’s unrealistic for a brand new website to dominate search results in three months in a highly-competitive market. Before you set your goals, make sure you have a clear understanding of their feasibility and the resources needed to accomplish them.
Because of the complexity of Google’s algorithm, an effective SEO strategy will require a multi-faceted approach. A combination of local SEO optimization, content development, technical SEO, and linkbuilding will yield the best results.
Some agencies specialize in one area of SEO. For example, you may receive emails promising you higher rankings by linkbuilding or by writing content. While this may be more budget-friendly, a narrow approach to SEO will take longer to yield results. For example, your linkbuilding efforts will fail to be effective if your website developers are not following SEO best practices. Similarly, any content efforts will fall short if you’re not also focusing on strategies that help your law firm acquire backlinks.
Generally, higher budgets allow for your SEO strategists to diversify their tactics. Again, it’s important to be realistic about the work required to achieve your SEO goals, so it’s incredibly important for your SEO agency to be transparent and trustworthy.
If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Anyone who claims that they can drastically improve your law firm’s SEO presence within a month is most likely engaging in spammy tactics that put your website at risk for a penalty. SEO takes time, and anyone who tells you otherwise is not operating in the best interest of your law firm’s business.
While Google’s algorithm changes frequently, it’s highly unlikely that it will have significant effects on the length of time it takes for you to see results from your SEO efforts. There is, however, one exception.
If you or your SEO consultants are engaging in any activity that violates Google’s guidelines, an algorithm update can derail your results. Google’s algorithm is designed to ensure that websites that invest in quality content and avoid spammy, “black hat” techniques are rewarded with higher rankings. As long as you avoid these practices, such as buying links, algorithm updates should not have a major impact on your progress.
You are not going to wake up one morning and suddenly have an overwhelming number of calls to your firm from your SEO presence. While SEO may take time, you can expect that the progress will be steady. After you begin implementing your content strategy, linkbuilding, and addressing technical SEO, you will see rankings improve.
Once you gain first page rankings for a handful of keywords relevant to your business, you will see your website traffic begin to increase. SEO is never complete, and you should always be actively working on your website’s SEO strategy. As long as you invest the right resources and time in SEO, you should see continuous growth in traffic and new cases.
SEO is often referred to as a marathon, rather than a sprint. While we know it can cause anxiety in the first few months as you wait for your efforts to generate new cases, as long as you are investing in the right strategy, your SEO program has the potential to be one of your biggest business drivers.