SEO for Law Firms is the #1, Best Digital Marketing Tactic for Most Law Firms
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Background in SEO for Law Firms
I have been marketing law firms throughout my career. From the website design and development I provided Hedrick Eatman when I owned my first business after graduating from college, my parents’ law practice that I helped with throughout the years, to the websites I built as the lead web designer for a web development company in Asheville, TN for Arnette, Draper & Hagood & and the locally infamous Ward Whelchel, I have learned that simply having a website isn’t enough and that SEO for law firms is the best digital marketing tactic for many in the law industry.
– Jesse Olive, Owner, Olive Marketing Consulting
Why SEO for Law Firms is Better Than Branding Campaigns
While massive branding campaigns certainly help Law Firms stay top of mind, SEO for law firms is by far the best digital marketing, because it is about appearing in front of someone when the person is in need of legal representation. Gone are the days where most people make decisions based on an advertisement they hear over and over again. If anything, branding campaigns are simply a supporting tactic that can be effective. Still, most individuals go online and search for attorneys that practice in a specific area, before selecting their attorney of choice. If the company they heard all over radio and television is nowhere to be found, all of those branding dollars can go out of the door.
Your potential customers want you to rank at the very least on the first page of Google. I am not referring to Google Adwords, and there is no bias in that statement. We do a lot of Google Adwords and we are Google Ads Search certified. We simply want to do what’s best for our customers and we would begin with SEO for law firms because if you do not rank in the top 3 for the most popular keyword phrases for law firms in your market, not only will you lose clout, you will lose out on the opportunity to drive traffic to your website.
Don’t just take it from me, see the graph by http://www.backlinko.com below:
The research conducted by my team generally supports the above graph. They have found that you can count on receiving 65% of search traffic if you rank in the top 3 positions within Google’s organic search engine listings. Considering 1-to-1, IP targeting and other forms of online advertising see less than 1% of a click-through rate, that data alone should be compelling enough to drive law firms to search marketing before spending enormous amounts of money on branding campaigns.
SEO for Law Firms vs. SEM for Law Firms
Once you have made the decision to invest in search marketing for your law firm, you will then need to decide what the best strategy is. First of all, let us clarify that search engine optimization (SEO) is not a form of search engine marketing (SEM). SEO AND SEM are both forms of “search marketing”, but SEO has to do with positioning a website to rank within a search engine’s organic listings, whereas SEM is also known as PPC or Google Adwords to provide a specific example.
As previously stated, search engine marketing (SEM), aka Google Adwords, should be at best a complementary search marketing strategy to SEO for law firms. I will explain how that works in a minute, but if you do nothing else, SEO for law firms should be your chosen strategy. The reason we emphatically suggest that SEO is the better way to go is because you will be limited to your budget when it comes to Adwords.
Law Firm keyword phrases are expensive to bid on when it comes to Google Adwords. We will use our local search market for law firms in Asheville, Tennessee as an example.
The leading keyword phrase for the local search market for law firms in Asheville, Tennessee is “lawyer near me”. That keyword phrase is searched for 590 times per month on average and costs $16 to have an ad displayed at the top of Google’s SERPs.
If you take the figure mentioned below the graph above–65% of all searches on average will click on your organic search engine listing if it ranks within the top 3 results on Google’s SERPs–and apply that the figure of 590 searches conducted for “lawyer near me” in Asheville, NC, you get roughly 383. This is how many clicks you would receive each month on average to your website if you ranked within the top 3 positions for that keyword on Google’s SERPs.
We estimate it would take no more than $3,000.00 per month to get a law firm to those rankings using seo for law firms and quite possibly less per month to keep a law firm in that position once they are there. It should be noted that our customers almost always end up ranking for other relative keyword phrases when we target a specific keyword phrase. So, there would most likely be ancillary benefits to SEO for law firms as well.
Now let’s look at how much it might cost to acquire 65% of the 590 searches for “lawyer near me” in Asheville, TN. In our market, that keyword can cost up to $16 per click to appear at the top of the search engines. If you multiply that times the 383 searches (65% of 590), that would cost $6,136.00 per month, and it would require you to pay roughly that amount EVERY month in order to remain at the top. That is more than twice as much as the higher end estimate I would provide a law firm to rank for “lawyer near me” in the Asheville, TN market.
SEO for Law Firms & SEM for Law Firms in Tandem
Many law firms have hefty marketing budgets for many reasons. There can be a lot of money in certain areas of law. Obviously, the bigger the budget, the more that can be done when it comes to designing the best marketing strategy for your law firm. While SEO for law firms still takes the cake for most areas of practice, there are still some advantages to using search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) in tandem.
One of the upsides to SEM for firms is that the law firm will see an almost immediate return on their investment. That’s right. As soon as a Google Adwords campaign is launched, potential customers will begin seeing your ads and clicking on them.
SEO for law firms, and really any other industry, often takes anywhere from 2-4 months to start producing. Time to ROI often depends on how aggressive you are with your budget, but not always. Regardless, it will take AT LEAST two months to see any real results using SEO as a digital marketing tactic. That is why we often use SEM as a complementary tactic.
When we design our digital marketing strategies, we target keywords we want to rank for on Google’s organic search engine listings. We don’t always start with the keyword phrase related to the most searches in a given market however. We typically begin with identifying easy wins for our customers which consist of relative keywords that they already rank fairly high for and that only need a little bit of focus in order to position our customers in the top 3 for those keyword phrases.
This speeds up time to ROI. This still takes a couple of months at least, but it is the best strategy typically. Meanwhile, we target keywords phrases using ads–ensuring that our customers show up for searches using specific keyword phrases immediately. This speeds up their time to ROI even more.
We don’t always target the same keyword phrases on Google Adwords that we are target using SEO however. If we feel we can bid on keywords that cost less per click and achieve the same results, yet we know we are going after the more expensive keyword using SEO, we will often do that. It really just depends and takes knowledge and discretion in order to arrive at the best strategy.
The overarching theme when using SEO for Law Firms in tandem with SEM for Law Firms is really speeding up time to ROI. That said, once we have optimized the time to ROI for our clients, we often, will move customers’ Google Adwords budgets to new keywords if we find they are ranking in the top 3 for keywords we are bidding on.
We might even move their Adwords budgets to SEO and drop Google Adwords altogether. It really is a bridge we cross once we get there, as there is rarely any way to determine exactly how everything will go when it comes to a search marketing campaign. SEO for law firms and SEM for law firms is the same for every industry. It is not just a science, it is an art. No two campaigns will look alike.
What we can plan for and count on is the fact that we can drive a lot more business to your law firm using SEO, than we can with any other marketing tactic available. We know, because we have done it all.
What Types of Law Firms Might Benefit More from Other Digital Marketing Services Other Than SEO for Law Firms?
The answer to this question is a difficult one. It really depends. Relatively speaking, there are so many more traffic violations that require representation and the profit involved in traffic court generally and is so little, that the numbers game probably makes more sense here. So, outbound advertising is popular among lawyers and practices that specialize in this area–especially in larger cities. After that, there is a huge drop off, because the frequency of need decreases dramatically as you move into other areas of law–with the exception of general business litigation. There is a constant need for that when you consider all of the businesses that are out there.
Larger law firms might also benefit from generalized branding campaigns, because they often are able to accept a broad range of cases. So, all they need to do is stay top of mind as a law firm that can take care of their clients, regardless of their needs. I still think this approach to marketing a law firm is less desirable.
What is very common today is that smaller practices who are successful and who specialize in specific areas such as personal injury often run campaigns that establish them as experts in that specific area of law. Not only that, for the cost to run television and radio ads so often that a large law firm resonates in the brains of residents throughout a city, the law firm could own the search engines. Still, an aggressive branding campaign at the right time by a large law-firm in an average-sized city could prove to be very effective.
By no means is SEO for law firms the only way to take over a market. However, when you consider that most people research law firms online and most people do not need an attorney on a constant basis, it makes most sense on average for any business, not just law firms, to invest in appearing in front of those searching for law firms when they are ready to hire an attorney.