Which Is Better For Law Firms: Paid Advertising Or SEO?

Some law firms are unsure of the differences between paid advertising and search engine optimization (SEO). This can be very puzzling because they are both effective ways to help your site show up higher in the search results. In addition, the returns for each can be misleading. You might think that SEO is not as effective as PPC, but that is not always the case.

What is this SEO that I hear so much about?

Well, if someone does a Google search, where will you appear in the results?

If someone is searching for the name of your firm or your name, will your firm’s site come up as the first result? (Hint: If it doesn’t, you’re doing law firm search engine optimization wrong and should get help right away.)

What’s more important though is when someone searches Google in your practice area, do you show up first? For example, if you are a Chicago personal injury firm, where do you turn up when someone searches for “personal injury lawyer chicago”? Remember, hardly anybody looks beyond page 1 in the search results, so it’s critical to be on the first page.

SEO is concerned with improving the ranking of your site in what are known as the organic search engine results. See the picture below.

Organic Search Results

What Are The Benefits Of Doing SEO?

When you have an effective search engine optmization expert work on your site, over time you will rank higher in the search engines. The reason this is good is that you don’t pay for each click of traffic when you’re on page one. It comes to your website organically.

Some practice areas are less competitive than others, but SEO can still be a huge benefit for your business, especially if you go mobile. All in all, once you’re on page one you’re not paying the potentially exorbitant prices of paid advertising.

What are the Drawbacks of Doing SEO?

First of all, you can’t think that once you’re on the first page of Google, you’re done. It doesn’t work that way. It is an ongoing battle because, in order to get to page 1, you would have had to displace someone else. So who do you think will be working harder than before to get that spot back from you? Yep, its true, especially if you’re in a highly-competitive region or practice area, #1 is not guaranteed and firms are always vying for the top spot.

In addition, SEO doesn’t work instantly. It is going to take time to get to that first page of the results for any particular keyword. We have found that with our law firm clients it can take up to 4 months for SEO to bring any appreciable results.

Exactly What Is Paid Advertising?

Paid advertising (PPC) is when you use Bing Ads, Yahoo Advertising or Google Adwords. To do this, you will create targeted advertisements that will be displayed in certain, designated areas of advertisements that surround the search engine results. You can see it in the image above. In this case, you will choose the keywords to which you will direct your ads. When using Adwords, you can also choose all the keywords, for example, “maritime attorney” or “personal injury attorney”, and then you will choose a bid price that you will pay for every click on that keyword. Next, you will create advertisements that use those keywords. When a searcher is looking for a maritime lawyer, they may come across your ad and click on it. That will take them to your website. You pay for the ad every time you receive a click.

What Are The Benefits Of PPC?

The great news is that, unlike SEO, PPC often does work overnight. Sometimes I pay $10 per click on Google Adwords to ensure that, when someone is searching for Los Angeles maritime lawyer, I will be on the top spot and the traffic will go to my site right away.

When using PPC, you can run a highly-targeted campaign and reach exactly the people you want to reach. Do you want qualified leads? Then create ads and landing pages that will qualify the lead. When using PPC, you will be able to control which keywords you are targeting. You will be able to control which ads your prospects will see. You will be able to control which pages the visitors are sent to when they click your ad. As a result, you will control the sales pipeline.

What Are The Drawbacks Of PPC?

Without a doubt, the greatest negative to PPC is that you are paying per click and each click can be very expensive. I have worked with law firms who spend tens of thousands of dollars every month. But I am sure that the qualified leads that come from PPC are worth the advertising money you spend.

As long as you continue to pay for PPC, it will continue to work for you. The problem is that if you decide tomorrow that it’s too expensive and you are not getting the results you want, you can always stop the campaign. Unfortunately, you will disappear from the search results immediately. Your firm will not be visible to anyone conducting a Google search. Incidentally, if you are not getting the results you want, you may be making some mistakes and HyperTraffic SEO might be able to help you.

Which Is better? SEO or PPC?

When you’re doing PPC, you will pay for every click. Whereas with SEO whenever someone picks your website out of the search results and clicks on it, you don’t pay anything. You got that visitor for free because the Google algorithm has decided that your website was the most closely related to the search query and so it suggests your site first.

Because you pay for each click when you are using PPC, you can literally spend many thousands of dollars every month for Google Adwords (or Yahoo or Bing ads). With that, you can often get as many as several hundred new, unique visitors to your site per month.

Hearing this, you might think “Why would I do PPC and pay for traffic when I can do SEO for free?”

Well, that’s a very good question.

The answer is that you are probably also spending money when you do SEO.

Okay, so should I spend my budget and my time on PPC or SEO?

Again, there will be positives and negatives no matter which you use. They can both add new clients for your firm. SEO can be very cost-effective in the long run even though it takes longer to make an impact. Therefore, your return on investment will be harder to see because it is taking longer for your new business to show up. However, over the long term, SEO will keep you in people’s minds if you do decide to do less PPC.