This is the next post in my series which is meant to provide a practical guide on the subject of attorney SEO. My last article served as an overview of this series and stressed the need for lawyers to know what they’re looking for in a web company. Too often, legal professionals wind up falling for the pitch of a shady salesperson because they don’t know what to be looking for in a web company. By being able to distinguish fact from fiction you can avoid falling for the pitch of this guy:

Dishonest salesperson

and you can make sure that you get a developer who looks like this:

Computer coding

In this article I’m going to discuss why search engine optimization is important to law firms and, the fact of the matter is, that it is more important than most attorneys realize. The remainder of this series will focus on the “nuts and bolts” of making your site do better in search.

Law Firms with good SEO are better able to establish and defend their market position

I see many common mistakes from law firms which lack good search placement. Firms without good organic traffic often spend large amounts of money on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, online directory listings, and online “lead services.” It’s understandable why attorneys do this – they’re not getting organic traffic and they feel they need get online business through some other medium. While this approach may seem to make sense at first, the fact of the matter is that proceeding in such a manner simply makes it harder to meaningfully establish yourself on the web and, at the end of the day, it is not sustainable. Let’s look at why the approach of paying for online advertising is a poor choice when compared to building up your organic search presence.

Relying on third-party ads is not a good way to market your law firm online. This is true whether those ads are in the form of PPC, directories, or any other platform you don’t actually own. There’s a few reasons for this. First, when you rely on third-party platforms such as directories then it is harder to get the dedicated attention of a potential client. If you pay to list yourself in a directory, and someone clicks on your profile, then the chances are that your profile listing will still contain a search box which allows them to easily view your competition. Second, just because you have the ad placement today does not mean that you’ll have it tomorrow. Pay-per-click, for example, is based on a bidding system. How high you rank in search ads depends on how much you are willing to bid for a phrase. This means someone else can always come along and outbid you. You may, therefore, get a few cases today out of such advertising and think you’re on the path to a growing practice. You’ll then find the rug pulled out from under you when someone else comes along who is willing to bid more for a phrase (which reduces their profit margins). So, in short, relying on online advertising avenues other than SEO will create a situation where a) it’s harder to get the dedicated attention of a potential new client and b) there’s no guarantee that you’ll still have your ad placement tomorrow.

Attorneys can better and establish their market position by establishing themselves in organic search. They will also be better able to maintain their market position after establishing themselves. Let’s look at why. First, when someone lands on your website, rather than a directory listing, they are exposed to only your firm. This makes people much more likely to pick up the phone and to call your office. Potential clients will not be subjected to ads for other attorneys while viewing your website as they would be when viewing a directory profile. Second, quality SEO, as I’ll explain in my upcoming articles, keeps you from getting the rug pulled out from under you. Legitimate search engine optimization, not the sleazy tactics used by those who cold call law firms all the time, takes time and work. This means someone can’t just come along and quickly steal your position as they would with pay-per-click ads or other such advertising. Once you establish yourself in search, through legitimate means, then you have a good chance of staying there. So, a legitimate approach to optimizing your website will a) help you to more easily attract clients and b) help you maintain your position in the market. We’re proud of the fact that clients of our attorney web design and SEO service rely primarily on organic search results and not third-party ads.

Now let’s look at the fact that legitimate search optimization allows you to invest in marketing assets which you will outright own and control.

Search engine optimization allows attorneys and law firms to own their marketing assets outright

If you follow our blog then you know I tend to go on, and on, and on, and…….on about why attorneys should avoid pay-per-click advertising. As the legal profession continues to struggle, the need to avoid PPC will increase dramatically. This is for a few reasons. First, as I’ve previously written, pay-per-click is going to become decreasingly effective for law firms. Second, and most importantly, it’s going to be crucial that attorneys focus on the best returns on investment. That pesky thing called “math” shows that focusing on building up your own search-optimized content is a far better approach then relying on third-party ads of any type.

Let’s look at why your own optimized content is better for your law firm than third-party ads. Most of our clients have us handle their blogging for them at a cost of $125 per post. Let’s take the following three examples and compare them to third-party advertising.

  • In January of 2015, we wrote a post for a criminal defense attorney. That post has received 3,885 clicks, in organic search, to date. This means that each click so far has cost the client roughly three cents ($125 per post/3885 clicks)
  • In August of 2014, we wrote a post for a criminal law attorney which has received 3,266 organic clicks to date. That works out to an average cost of roughly four cents per click.
  • A family law post we wrote in October of 2014 has received 2,437 clicks to date. That’s an average cost of five cents per click.

You get the point.

Most attorneys who rely on PPC pay anywhere from $10 to $50 per click depending on their practice area and geography. Compare that cost per click to those of the blog posts discussed above. Determining whether you should invest your money in pay-per-click, other third-party ads, or optimized content/blog posts should be an easy decision.

At the end of the day it should be easy to see the value that search engine optimization offers to attorneys and law firms. You can more easily attract clients and attain market share, it’s easier to keep that market share, and it provides a far better return on investment.

If you have questions about this article then contact us online or at (800) 445-8302.