PPC, SEO, or Both? Legal Marketing Strategy Demystified

So, your law firm is looking to develop more business.

More matters means more growth and revenue, but how are you going to get there?

The two main strategies you have probably heard about for building a law firm’s business online include online advertising (also called PPC or referred to as “Adwords”) and SEO (short for search engine optimization).

Each strategy is completely unique and independent, with their own challenges and best practices.

Though SEO may be appropriate for your law firm, PPC might not.

And vice-versa.

So, when your firm has a budget to invest, what is the wisest use of your marketing dollars?

Here is our breakdown and recommendations.

SEO for Lawyers

What exactly is SEO? SEO traffic is traffic where you don’t have to pay Google for each visitor that comes to your site. It’s when someone searches for a law firm in Google and clicks on a link that is not an advertisement.

This is the opposite of PPC / advertising, where you do have to pay Google (or Bing if you’re advertising in Bing) every time someone clicks on the search engine link to your website.

The beauty of SEO is, if you are showing up at the top of search results, you can get a ton of traffic without having to pay for it.

But, the first thing you need to know is: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.

SEO takes time.

Getting to the top of Google doesn’t happen overnight.

If you start an SEO campaign to build traffic for your firm today, you won’t typically see an immediate jump in traffic right away.

It takes months before Google will start giving your firm’s website better result placement for relevant practice area-related search terms.

So if you want to start showing up for “Cleveland car accident lawyer”, it won’t happen tomorrow just because you add a bunch of practice area pages, optimize your site perfectly, and add blog posts all in one day.

And if your practice area and location are competitive (e.g. you’re a Houston personal injury firm), it can be a never-ending battle to breach the first page of Google search results.

Why is that?

Because you have to take down the king.

Because every law firm that is already on the first page of Google search results is definitely using SEO to get and retain their top positions, and they won’t want you to take their spot and kick them off the first page.

If your firm gets onto Page 1 of Google, you’re dethroning someone else already on Page 1.

So, depending on your location and practice area, it can take time – months to over a year – to see a big increase in traffic via SEO for your firm.

If you are patient and can play the long game, SEO is a great long-term strategy.

But if you put it off, and you don’t start working on your firm’s SEO now, you’ll just be falling further behind your competitors when you do decide to start.

PPC for Lawyers

If you want to start getting traffic to your website and inquiries from potential clients immediately, PPC / pay-per-click advertising is the strategy for you.

The caveat with PPC is, it requires a budget.

Unlike SEO, where, if you are an expert in search optimization, you might spend “relatively” little in terms of hard costs to get more SEO-oriented traffic, PPC is all about $.

PPC is pay-to-play.

The second you start spending (provided you built your campaigns well), you’ll start seeing traffic and leads.

The second you stop spending, the traffic goes away completely.

For law firms doing PPC, on average we generally recommend a budget of $2,000 – $2,500 per month to start. If you’re in personal injury, class actions, or mesothelioma, you should consider a higher budget because those keywords are among the most expensive in Google.

Not just the most expensive legal industry keywords. The most expensive keywords in all of Google Adwords.

In this regard, some law firms are cautious.

SEO may “feel” more like an investment into a firm’s web presence than PPC, whereas PPC just feels like an “expense”.

But, it’s not the case.

Though PPC requires you to be spending consistently to get traffic, that traffic can equate to more business.

Not only that, but the business it generates can be fairly predictable and consistent.

It’s why many successful firms that have navigated PPC are continuing to spend in online advertising, and increase their budgets as more money comes available.

Should You Do Both PPC and SEO?

If your firm is looking for both short-term and long-term traffic, you should consider both PPC and SEO.

You will need a budget for PPC, and time and patience with SEO.

Both can be a danger though if you do not know what you are doing.

We’ve taken over PPC campaigns that had a lot of spend with little to show for it.

And we’ve taken over SEO campaigns that spent months engaging in ineffective strategy.

So, if you are looking to do SEO and/or PPC for your firm, talk with an expert in the area. A good legal marketing agency will more than save you the cost of their services as compared to if you built and ran the campaigns on your own.

Ultimately, successful PPC and SEO campaigns can drive new clients to your firm every month. It just takes the right strategy for your practice.

If you have any questions about SEO or PPC, and whether your practice is right for SEO or PPC, feel free to reach out or ask in the comments below.

Andrew Cabasso
About the Author: Andrew Cabasso
Andrew Cabasso is a practicing attorney and VP of Web Services at Uptime Legal where he runs JurisPage, an Internet Marketing firm specializing in online presence solutions for law firms including website design, SEO, and search marketing. He 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.

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