Google Adwords LogoYou’ve probably noticed a recent change to Google’s search results. They’ve removed paid ads from the right hand column and pay-per-click ads now only show at the top and the bottom. This means that fewer total ads are showing and, as a result, the cost of shown ads is likely much higher. This raises an important point – you need to own your marketing assets and not rely on renting ad space from third parties. Attorneys who invest in their own websites can insulate themselves from events outside of their control and reduce the risk that their practice will go the way of the dinosaur. How ’bout we take a look at what this change to pay-per-click means for law firms as well as the larger issue it raises.

Google has implemented a change to Adwords which removes results from the right hand side of desktop search. This means that attorneys have largely built and maintained their practices through pay-per-click advertising may very well have just had their spot taken away. This has likely left many lawyers scrambling out of fear as to where their next client is going to come from, probably much like this guy:

man running

What these attorneys need to understand is that their problems didn’t start when their Adwords spot was taken away. Their issues started when they chose to rely on renting space from third parties rather than investing in assets which they would own and control. I’ve written at length as to why attorneys should avoid pay-per-click, and I won’t rehash those well-thought out and brilliant (if I do say so myself) arguments here. The big point of this article is why it’s a mistake to even start down the path of renting ad space, whether it’s paid placement in search results (such as Adwords), renting a billboard, putting your name on the Goodyear blimp, etc. There are two simple truths to growing and sustaining your law practice. First, you need to understand that relying on someone else can result in your practice ending quickly. Second, the fact that renting ad space yields instant gratification is not an excuse. Let’s look at each of these issues as well as an alternative for growing in a sustainable way.

Lawyers who rent ad space from third-parties run two risks. First is the risk of that third-party losing relevance. Second is the risk that the rules of the game will change. As to the first risk, just think of the guy who built up his practice through marketing in this thing:

Yellow pages phone directory

As the phone book has declined so has that guy’s practice. By renting ads in a place he didn’t own a bet was made that the ad space would remain relevant. It didn’t. As to the second risk, it’s important to understand that if you don’t own the resource then you don’t have future control. Adwords is a great example. In 2009 a Las Vegas family law attorney could run a good PPC campaign for around $7.50 per click. In 2015 that cost had increased to about $25-30 per click. Now that attorney might not even be able to get those clicks due to Google reducing the number of ad spots. Because that attorney didn’t own the asset they were relying on they had no control over the costs they were paying and now the rules of the game have changed. Want to avoid these risks? Make sure your money is going into a quality website, with quality content, which will do well in organic search. That’s the only which attorneys can build a sustainable marketing platform.

I speak with a lot of attorneys who pay for Adwords, directory listings, and things of the like because they want instant results. The interesting thing is that while these attorneys are paying for those rented ads they’re not doing anything to simultaneously build up a platform they’ll own. This leaves those lawyers, years down the line, still not owning anything which they can rely on. The approach of our attorney and website design service has, and will always be, investing in assets which you will own and control at the end of the day. Is it worth it to build something up that’s yours as opposed to always paying rent? Yep. Will most attorneys do so? Nope. Which attorneys will succeed as the world continues to change? The one’s who took the time to invest and build up their own assets. Which one will you be?