Legal Marketing: How Can SEO and PPC Help?

online marketing strategies for attorneys

Come on, it’s 2014. If you have a business without an online presence, you basically don’t exist. And if your online presence is lacking because your site doesn’t rank very highly, then the real title of this blog should be “How Can SEO and PPC NOT Help?”

The Why

It’s like job credentials: having a Bachelor’s degree is not enough these days, and neither is a Master’s. Most employers want someone with a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, and prior workplace experience. To my point, having a business is not enough. Consumers expect businesses to have an engaging online presence, something that isn’t possible without a website that ranks highly within search engines. When a website ranks highly, it reduces the amount of time it takes consumers to access the information they need in order to pursue further interaction that is at the end of the day, profitable to you, the business owner. In this case, I’m referring specifically to attorneys, but most of the principles I’m about to discuss can (and should!) be applied to online marketing strategies across various industries.

The Who

Without getting too technical, I’ve already halfway answered the question “how can SEO and PPC help?” The next logical question is “who is going to make this happen?” The two most common answers are the business owner/attorney, or a consultant/agency. As a business owner/attorney, you’re probably strapped for time and probably aren’t experienced in SEO, so your best bet is to hire an expert to help take your firm to the next level with an engaging, highly ranking website.

…I didn’t even mention the fact that running successful PPC and SEO campaigns can be a full-time job in and of itself (cough, mine, cough). It is not something you can just “set and forget;” it takes lots of time and effort to dig deep, figure out what’s working and expand accordingly—especially if you enter this process wanting to maximize your ROI.

The What

Obviously, there are several factors involved when successfully running these types of campaigns, but none of them is as important as the initial strategy. Once that is in place, the ideal time to implement it is immediately after website launch. However, this doesn’t always happen due to time constraints and budgets, but it is important to keep in mind that it is never too late to take advantage of SEO and PPC. Regardless of when you’re ready to put a plan into action, there are some best practices to follow when doing so:

PPC Basics for the Legal Market

In terms of effectively allocating legal marketing budgets, PPC (pay per click) is a quick, short-term investment that has the ability to maximize profits the more particular an attorney is with the types of cases he or she takes. Monetary and audience waste is eliminated when these campaigns are extremely targeted, e.g., Houston rather than the entire state of Texas. From experience and research, these types of campaigns are most effective when there is an influx in new or niche areas of the law.

Many professionals still fail to realize the extent of PPC’s benefits:

  • For the most part, it involves less monetary risk since advertisers only pay when potential customers click on their ads.
  • PPC is completely trackable and transparent so advertisers and attorneys alike can see what keywords actually triggered phone calls or, even better, turned into paying clients.
  • Advertisers are able to quickly test whether or not certain niches of the law convert into profitable cases.
  • PPC helps SEO efforts by uncovering terms that generate leads to sales. These are the terms attorneys should focus all SEO efforts on so that they can start garnering new business organically, or for free.

SEO Basics for the Legal Market

Opposite of PPC, SEO (search engine optimization) is a valuable long-term investment since it involves showcasing quality content. Producing said content is also time consuming because it needs to be modeled after potential customer search behavior and demand. It is also important to note that implementing SEO best practices to your site can have very positive effects on your PPC campaign, i.e., providing advertisers with more long-tail, less competitive terms to bid on, thus saving money.

Basically, having one search marketing element without the other is like putting the cart before the horse. Attorneys—or any marketer for that matter—should lay the proper SEO groundwork on- and off-site before paying (oftentimes) big bucks to acquire additional traffic. Otherwise, SEO and PPC will rarely be a good investment and attorneys will end up paying more than necessary for a strategy that could have been highly profitable if implemented correctly.

Some SEO groundwork includes, but is not limited to:

  • Improving content on the site (even if your ideal customer clicks on your PPC ad, they will not stay on the site long if the content lacks substance and value)
  • Updating the site’s CMS (content management system)
  • Improving the navigation system, making it faster and easier for potential customers to find what they’re looking for
  • Using more images across the entire site and ensuring that image alt tags are properly included (these are descriptions that coincide with images on the site and provide Google with useful information about their subject matter)
  • Incorporating videos on the site

The main goal of SEO is to drive potential customers to interior pages of the site that best fit their needs, eventually resulting in qualified leads. It mustn’t go without saying, though, that it takes time to achieve first-page rankings with SEO alone, which is why most attorneys turn to a more immediate solution in PPC. Achieving actionable results by relying solely on SEO can take anywhere from 90-180 days—and that’s only if the SEO is good.

The How

In today’s increasingly competitive legal field, attorneys don’t have the time to wait and “see what happens” with a website alone. Speaking from experience with prominent attorneys in Texas, I recommend implementing a joint SEO and PPC strategy in order to get the cases you want to take and most importantly, maximize your law firm’s ROI.

Are you an attorney in need of a more effective online presence? Contact Signet Interactive today regarding any of our services, or see a few of our client results.

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