I spoke with a number of lawyers over the last several weeks that came to our agency in search of law firm SEO services........at least that's what they thought they wanted.
Really what they were looking for was more business through the internet. The particulars of which strategy they should use in order to make that happen was the reason they were talking to me in the first place. However, there is enough hype around SEO these days that most law firms assume this is route they need to take.
If a law firm has the appropriate budget, time, and resources available they should be involved in SEO, paid search, email marketing, social media, content creation, and every other type of online marketing avenue But in many cases, time and money are finite resources. As a result, a law firm must prioritize which strategies make the most sense depending on the needs, goals, and resources available.
While there are many online marketing strategies one might consider, I want to focus this post on 2 strategies specifically related to search marketing. Law firm SEO and paid search.
When Would A Law Firm SEO Campaign Make Sense?
An important point to understand is that SEO is a long-term strategy. You are investing in a strategy that will build equity in your online properties. The benefits are that you don't have to pay the search engines directly to be listed in the "organic results". By and large, the natural results are the most clicked listings on a search results page so they attract the most attention and traffic. In addition, once you've reached a tipping point, your traffic and leads should continue to increase while your monthly investment remains the same. The result is that your cost per lead should go down over time.
Something to consider is that the process takes time. It isn't an advertising strategy where you pay money month 1 and the leads are rolling in by month 2. As I wrote in another post explaining why SEO isn't an advertising strategy:
SEO is a marathon not a sprint. I like to think about executing SEO in the context of gaining or losing weight. If you want to lose weight you need to put together a plan that includes eating properly, exercising, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, etc. It isn't something that happens overnight, in a week, or even in one month. It's a series of small activities and best practices that build on each other over time. No one, outside of scam artists, would promise you healthy weight loss, overnight, by paying some money and taking a pill.
SEO isn't so different from this. There is no quick fix or magic pill. It is the art of building your online reputation to increase awareness and lead flow to your firm. SEO in 2012 is not just about manipulation of Google results in an attempt to rank #1 for a given term. In fact, with personalized results and Google, Search Plus Your World, you can see that the results are increasingly different for each user depending on a variety of factors. SEO needs to be a component of a larger inbound marketing strategy in order to be truly successful and long-lasting.
Understanding the monetary investment as well as the time investment required to perform successful SEO is critical.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if a law firm SEO campaign makes sense:
- Do you need new leads today or can you afford to wait?
- Do you have the budget in place to stick with an SEO campaign for at least 8-12 months with minimal return at the start of the campaign?
- Do you have the time to participate in some aspects of the campaign?
- Are you a good writer? Do you have people at your firm that are available to write articles? If not, can you afford to pay professional writers to help with content production?
- Do you have a foundational understanding of SEO and the activities that are important for its success?
- Are you looking to build a sustainable online presence that will generate leads consistently or are you looking to pick up a few clients in the short term?
When Might a Paid Search Campaign Make Sense?Paid search is an advertising strategy. In a nutshell, you bid on keywords and pay Google when someone clicks on your ad. It's more like traditional advertising in that your ads go live as soon as you create your account. This is contrary to organic and local results discussed above, which will take longer to develop.
You also have more control of your offer, URLs, address, and links you choose to display in your ads. It is a great choice for law firms that are looking for more immediate results.
Some drawbacks to consider are that paid search can be expensive. It's extremely competitive, especially if your competition has hired paid search managers to optimize their accounts. Also, once you stop paying for ads you are no longer showing up in the results.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if a paid search campaign makes sense:
- Do you need leads immediately?
- Do you need a solution that doesn't necessarily require a large time commitment from the firm?
- Are you just looking to pick up a some clients in the short-term?
- Do you want a solution that provides for more flexibility in your monthly investment?
Hopefully this gives you a little more insight into deciding which search strategies make the most sense for your firm.
Photo by Danard Vincente