Search Engine Optimization vs. Internet Marketing / Google Adwords for Law Firms

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The differences between search engine optimization (SEO) and internet marketing / PPC can be confusing since they both deal with how your law firm’s website shows up in search engine results. Also, the advantages to each can be deceptive. While you may think SEO is less expensive than PPC, it may not be the case.

What is SEO?

Andrew Cabasso
About the Author: Andrew Cabasso
Andrew Cabasso is an attorney and co-founder of JurisPage, an online marketing agency for law firms, now part of Uptime Legal. Andrew has given many lectures and CLEs on website design and Internet marketing to legal professionals. He is the author of Search Engine Optimization for Lawyers and The Complete Guide to Attorney PPC. Follow Andrew on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

One comment on “Search Engine Optimization vs. Internet Marketing / Google Adwords for Law Firms”

  • First, that was a very nice article Andrew!

    Technically SEOing your site and its content first has a whole host of benefits including raising the quality score for PPC which will decrease the spend on PPC and increase the impressions you get.

    As you cited in the post, if you top position organically then the need for PPC is minimal. For example, in a large city (and for highly competitive keyword phrases) this equates to thousands of dollars per month that YOU DONT HAVE TO SPEND on PPC. Minimal in this context means; you will only use PPC for branding your firm name, and staff attorneys instead of your practice areas. A good example of branding in this context is, as the firm owner I would want to use a PPC to brand my firm and attorneys’ names to control what people see when they do a search which has a negligible cost in PPC.

    I would almost always recommend having an in-depth technical SEO and content SEO audit performed before jumping into marketing.

    Putting real numbers to this will give an indication of ROI. Here is a real world example from a real firm; I will use a fictitious firm name, let’s call it “Joes Law Firm” and identify that this firm does the following:
    • Joes Law Firm spends around $10,000 per month on PPC mostly for auto wreck cases.
    • Joes Law Firm gains around 15 signed contracts per month from the PPC campaigns.
    • The average case value is close to $4000 cleared from each case (it is actually closer to $6000 in real life for this firm).

    This equates to around $120,000 per year spent on PPC with a ROI of nearly $400,000/yr (factoring the cost of labor).

    Now, if it cost say $10,000 to truly SEO your site but it decreases the PPC cost per month to around $1500 as well as having top positions in SERPs. At least three things happen here:

    1. Yearly budget for PPC decreased from $120,000/yr to around $18,000/yr. A savings of nearly $100,000 per year.

    2. With a perfectly SEOd site visitors will be more targeted which translates to better conversion rates. Many times a perfectly SEOd site will generate less traffic! However, the conversions go way up because the visitors are “ready to buy” so to speak (weeding out the junk leads). The end result is that it only takes ½ the visits to generate twice the signed contracts for the firm. Signed contracts go up so in quantity even though traffic may have decreased.

    3. When coupling a perfectly SEOd site with PPC the cost of PPC goes way down because quality score goes way up. This means to generate 15 signed contracts from PPC no longer costs $12,000/mnth but will be closer to $2000/mnth. This is due to higher quality scores. In this real life example they were able to cut cost of PPC down to right around $2000/mnth and still generate the same number of qualified leads.

    Ok, so the point to all that above is that, you should SEO your site before venturing into marketing because it will significantly decrease costs and have a huge impact on ROI. This is just based on my experience and I would be interested to see if anyone else in this industry can add to the great info you have provided.

    Keep up the great posts!


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