SEO and Paid Search are both very important marketing options for law firm marketing in 2024. Considering that over 90% of consumers use Google to conduct research when looking for an attorney, it’s where every law firm wants to have high visibility. But Google isn’t the only option you have when it comes to running paid ads. This includes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and even TikTok in some cases. Answering the question of SEO vs Paid Search will be different for every firm. Naturally, it depends on your law firm’s firm’s marketing goals, your budget, revenue targets, the time frame in which you are looking to generate new cases and which types of cases you are going after. To start, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of SEO and Paid Ads.
SEO for Law Firm Marketing
- Can provide the best value: SEO is usually more cost-effective in the long run because the cost per click is typically going to be far less expensive than paid search in the long run. Again, this depends on if you have a great law firm SEO company handling your search engine optimization. If you aren’t working with an agency capable of getting you first page results for a wide variety of search phrases, you are throwing money out the window.
- Improves your credibility and trust: Consumers have more trust in brands that rank high on search engines like Google, especially when that law firm has stellar reviews online. Consumers tend to trust companies that rank high in the organic results more than they do the businesses appearing in paid results.
- Quantifiable results: You can measure the performance of your SEO campaign by looking at Google analytics, reviewing Google Search Console, tracking the leads you get and the number of new cases you sign up. Our client dashboard will allow you to see which leads you get that come from organic vs paid, and what specific channels the leads are coming from. This is important so you can measure what is working best for you.
- Ability to target specific types of cases: Smart law firm SEO campaigns target traffic that is specific to the types of cases you are looking to generate. If you are just targeting “accidents”, that’s not good enough. We want to target very specific types of cases that you want so you can generate more revenue for your firm.
- Sustainability: Unlike PPC, your rankings won’t immediately drop if you stop SEO. Eventually, they will most likely drop if you stop SEO and your competitors are doing SEO, but you can still get plenty of traffic if the SEO company did a great job.
- Time: It takes time to see results from SEO efforts. The length of time it can take depend on the level of competition on Google for the types of keywords you are targeting. It may take a few months, or it make take over a year for very important keywords that are highly competitive.
- Competition is high: SEO for law firms is the most competitive vertical in all of SEO. For this reason, it’s crucial that you select a great SEO company that has the capability of getting you where you want. iLawyer has been able to get law firms ranking on the first page of Google even in the most competitive markets in the country. Ask us to share our results with you.
- Can be expensive: Good SEO in 2024 is not cheap. Especially in competitive geographic areas. Like most investments, you will most likely not see an immediate return. If you stick with it long enough however, your investment can pay off many times over.
- Google prioritizes ads in SERPs: Google Ads are the primary source of Google’s revenue, so they will continue to prioritize ads over organic results for most searches.
- Unknown algorithm updates: Sometimes an algorithm may hit and your site rankings may drop as a result. Google updates their organic ranking algorithm thousands of times per year. This is the reason why SEO usually requires work month in, month out. At iLawyerMarketing, we’ve built our own Google algorithm detection software to help us stay on top of all the algorithm updates that may impact your rankings.
Paid Search for Law Firm Marketing
- Immediate Visibility: Paid ads can lead to getting results very quickly, since you can have high visibility on Google, Facebook and other ad platforms.
- Highly Targeted: Depending on the ad platform, you can target specific demographics, geographic locations, interests, income levels, etc. With Google Ads, we can target the specific search phrases that we know will lead to more conversions and more new signed cases.
- Budget Control: You can control how much you spend on a daily or monthly basis.
- Measurable ROI: Paid search provides clear metrics to measure your return on investment. If you are reporting new signed cases to our team, we will be able to know exactly what the cost per signed case is.
- Cost: Depending on the competition for keywords, PPC can be expensive. Cost Per Click (CPC) in legal is the highest of any industry, with some specific keywords that can host hundreds of dollars just for one click. When it comes to Google Ads, you will need to have a healthy budget to compete. All the more reason why you need landing pages that convert at a high rate.
- Short-term: Once you stop paying, your visibility disappears instantly.
- Requires significant experience and expertise: Paid ad platforms are complex. Understanding which specific ads to run, which images to use, what headlines and ad copy to use, which ways to target, etc. requires someone that really knows that they are doing when it comes to law firm marketing. Although ultimately Google wants to automate everything, they are far from having law firm an automated solution that works right now. Successful PPC campaigns require constant monitoring and adjustments to maximize campaign efficiency.
Which is Best for Your Law Firm?
Hands down, the best approach is to do both organic SEO and paid ads. You never want to strictly rely on one single source for your leads, so diversifying your inbound lead sources is very important. This is why a multi-channel marketing plan is the smartest thing you can do.
The firms that are having the most success with their marketing right now are running both organic and paid ads. If you cannot afford to do both, and you are forced to choose one or the other, then you have to figure out what makes the most sense for your law firm. Things to consider include:
- How soon do you need new cases? If you need cases right away, PPC is the way to go. For building a long-term online presence and getting organic leads, SEO is more effective and can ultimately provide a much better CPL (Cost Per Lead) and CPSC (Cost Per Signed Case) than paid ads can.
- What kind of budget are you working with? In some markets for certain areas of law, you will need a good sized budget if you want to have success running ads. For example, if you are going after MVA cases in a competitive market, you are going to need t least a $10,000 budget to compete. If you really want to have success, you will need an even larger budge. There are lots of firms spending $50,000-$100,000+ per month on paid ads, but they spend that money because it’s working. If you don’t have a large marketing budget, SEO might offer more sustainable results. For SEO, we often see budgets of $5,000+ per month, depending on the types of cases being targeted and the market you are in.
- What types of cases are you trying to generate? The types of cases you are going after will often determine the types of marketing we recommend. If you are going after the same searches every other firm is going after, you will often need a more tailored strategy. Sometimes going after niches is the way to go since there is less competition.
- Can you invest in a multi-channel approach? In a perfect world, you have visibility on all major search engines and ad platforms. This might mean organic SEO for Google, as well as paid Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, and possibly streaming services. At the very least, you should be running retargeting ads on most of these platforms to try and get people back to your site so you can convert those visitors into paying clients.
We can provide you with a free marketing analysis and strategy session
It will help to speak to an experienced legal marketing consultant at our office, to help you decide what is most appropriate for your law firm. Each of our reps has significant legal marketing consulting experience, so you’d be talking to someone that truly understands how to help law firms become more profitable through marketing. If you are interested in learning how iLawyerMarketing is helping law firms all across the country through smarter marketing strategies, contact us today.