It’s hard to ignore the growing importance of online marketing for law firms. You hear about it at continuing legal education (CLE) events, you read about it on the legal blogs you follow, and your inbox is full of emails from marketing companies offering services to help your firm increase its online presence.
While there are countless ways to market your law practice to potential clients, being found in Google search results is arguably the most important. When someone has a need, Google is often the first place they go. If your law firm shows up for relevant search terms, it has the potential to bring significant new business to your firm.
At Postali, we see firsthand how search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search can be extremely effective ways to market legal services and grow a law firm’s bottom line. In this blog post, we’ll break down the different types of search marketing for attorneys, and how to evaluate what will work best for your firm.
When you perform a Google search, there are two types of results you will receive: paid and organic. A paid search ad, also referred to as pay-per-click (PPC), is a listing that appears at the top of the search results page, usually noted by the word “Ad” in a small box. Below the ads, the organic search results are listed.
While they occupy the same space, the truth is there are very different processes for each type of search result. The key difference is the cost model. As the name suggests, paid search results require you to pay Google and bid for keywords. Organic search requires no payment to Google, and the results are displayed based on a proprietary algorithm with over 200 factors. Increasing your presence in organic search results requires work to align your website strategy with Google’s best practices.
The other key difference is the time in which it takes to show results. With an effective attorney paid search campaign, your law firm will start seeing results very quickly. An SEO strategy will take longer to display results. For a brand new law firm website or a website that has not previously focused on SEO, it may take up to a year to have measurable results.
SEO and PPC advertising also require different skill sets and knowledge bases. While many marketers specialize in both, there are also many who don’t. If you’re considering using a marketing agency for your law firm, it’s important to understand their experience in both SEO and PPC. Don’t assume that every digital marketing company or consultant will be skilled in both.
At Postali, we work with many law firms that invest in both PPC and organic search. Other firms choose to focus on one area. It’s critical that you understand each channel, the associated costs, and expected outcomes before making a decision. More importantly, you must consider your firm’s unique goals and how best to achieve them.
When attorneys ask us where to focus their efforts, it often takes several conversations before we can recommend the right strategy. When it comes to paid search and attorney SEO, there is no universal solution.
What works for one law firm may not necessarily work for another. Your optimal marketing strategy is largely dependent on your goals, location, practice area(s), and market competitiveness.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that your marketing strategy can (and should) evolve. If you make wise marketing decisions at the onset, you will set your firm up to continually grow and improve your efforts as your revenues grow with it.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re weighing your search marketing options:
Your law firm’s digital marketing will be at its most effective if you employ a mix of PPC and organic search. This means your law firm will often be displayed twice in search results, increasing your real estate and the likelihood that someone searching Google will click through to your website or call your office.
At Postali, we see that client leads generated through paid search and organic search both improve when the two tactics work together. This is marketing at its best. If you increase the impressions your law firm has, your firm name becomes more memorable and recognizable.
If your marketing budget that allows for it, focusing on both PPC and SEO will bring the most new business to your law firm. However, if your budget simply does not allow for investing in both, you will need to carefully consider how to spend the marketing budget you do have.
Depending on your practice area and the competitive landscape, there will be a minimum investment that your law firm needs to make in each channel to see business results. While using paid search and organic search together typically is the most effective, one common mistake we see attorneys make is under-investing in both channels.
Be realistic about what you can spend. Rather than split your marketing budget in order to focus on both paid search and SEO, in most cases, it’s better to focus on one area first to ensure that you have the appropriate effort level behind it.
When evaluating between SEO and paid search for a law firm, we always ask attorneys how quickly they need to see results. If you cannot afford to wait several months for your digital marketing to bring new cases to your firm, paid search is a better investment than SEO, as it generates results quickly.
Legal services are one of the most expensive industries for paid search. If you invest in the channel, it takes careful planning and continuous analysis to ensure your money is being spent wisely. It’s extremely important that whoever is running your campaign is experienced in working with law firms and creating campaigns that maximize your visibility without overspending. A carefully crafted paid search campaign can be the difference-maker in creating a profitable strategy that sets your firm up for business growth.
Paid search will make your phone ring, but the most important component to generating new business is your firm’s intake process. Before beginning a PPC campaign, it’s critical that your intake process is effective to translate the calls into clients of your firm.
If your law firm has clients from other sources like word-of-mouth or direct mail marketing, SEO is often the best way to bring new cases to your firm at a cost that’s lower than most other marketing tactics. While it may take months for your website to begin appearing on page one of Google, the business benefit once it does is hard to match. This is great for law firms who can sustain their business while SEO efforts ramp up over several months.
It’s important for lawyers to have a traditional website SEO strategy as well as a local SEO strategy. Local SEO will increase your law firm’s presence in Google’s map pack, which is the list of about three local businesses that often appears when you search for terms that include your city or state.
While you don’t pay a fee to Google, it is important that you find a skilled SEO agency or consultant to perform the work. Attorney SEO is complex, and your strategy should include thorough competitive analysis, website content optimization, link building, technical SEO work, and reporting. With organic search, there are no quick and easy wins that will shoot you to the top of Google results. It takes time, effort, and expertise.
Optimizing your law firm’s website to appear in Google search results, whether it’s paid or organic, is extremely important to the growth of your firm. It allows you to put your business in front of people who are actively searching for the services you provide.