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SEO vs. PPC for Law Firms

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From bankruptcy to divorce, people all over the world seek legal representation for various reasons. A study by the National Law Review revealed that 69% of people seeking legal representation conduct their searches online via desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Of that 69%, 78% feel that finding a local attorney is of the greatest importance. So what does that mean for you as an attorney? It means that your approach to acquiring new clients may need to be revisited.

SEO and PPC are going to be your top contenders in client acquisition, but “Which is better for your law firm? SEO or PPC?

The answer here will depend on what you’re looking to achieve with your firm. With law firm SEO, your monthly investment will organically produce more leads from month to month. With PPC, the only way you’re going to increase your number of leads is by increasing your ad spend.

The top three ranking sites on Google get 75.1% of all clicks on average, meaning if you are not in one of those top spots, you are all but invisible to potential clients.

SEO is an extremely powerful marketing channel, but it does take a while to work – making PPC a common addition.

Today, we are going to take a look at how and when they should be used to complement each other – starting with a quick overview of each.


SEO, or search engine optimization, is a strategy that naturally improves organic traffic and search ranking by raising traffic to your website. It focuses on providing high-quality content that will help you appear at the top of search results.

In general, clients are more likely to click on organic search traffic than they are to click on paid ads–and organic SEO offers a higher degree of credibility. Paid search ads, however, also offer key advantages.


PPC, or pay-per-click, campaigns offer highly targeted results that can instantly position your law firm in a highly visible location. Using this ad style, you will pay for each click on your link, and potential clients can see that you have paid for that visibility.

Paid ads have about an 11% click-through rate on Google and some law firm keywords are very expensive, with some costing more than $500 per click.

So Which Is Better For Your Law Firm?

As with all things digital marketing – it depends… Do you have the “Rome wasn’t built in a day” mentality and understanding of SEO? Or do you seek the instant gratification that PPC brings? Both can yield great results for your firm, but there are some important factors to consider about both methods first.

Here is why.

PPC Can Give You Immediate Results

Organic SEO often takes time. Raising your organic search ranking generally takes at least three months–and more often, it will take between six months and a year of consistent work to reach the top 3 positions for valuable keywords.

PPC, on the other hand, can give you much faster results. When you purchase PPC ads, you will start appearing on the first page of search results as soon as your campaign goes live. As a result, you can often start seeing more traffic very quickly.

Focus on SEO Can Provide Longer-Term Results

While SEO isn’t fast, it does have many long-term benefits for your website. When you focus on organic SEO, you’re focusing on building authority & credibility for your website. As your search ranking rises, it shows that you’re providing high-quality content that is genuinely beneficial to your target audience. 

Google’s algorithm changes regularly, but it continues to focus on content that offers value. The algorithm includes more than 200 different factors, many of which focus on the quality of the content on your website. Here are some ways that SEO will give your firm long-term results.

  • Backlinks. Links that point back to your site establish that you have provided valuable and shareable information that other people have used. This will gain your firm new referral traffic.
  • Content-Length. Your law firm intends to offer legal services, of course, but you want to also establish your firm as a trusted resource to users simply wanting information as well. Longer-form content often provides the valuable information users are looking for. 
  • Searcher Intent. When users search the internet, they’re looking for something in particular, whether it be a product, service, or useful information. The relevance of your content will determine whether or not it meets their query adequately. This is all part of the buyer’s journey.

This long-term SEO strategy won’t produce results overnight, however, steadily working on this strategy will produce long-term results. You’ll feel good knowing your firm landed its ranking from organic traffic from being a trusted and reliable source of information, and no one can take that away from you.

You Can Scale PPC Campaigns Quickly

With a PPC campaign, it’s simple to change the scale of your campaign: simply increase your ad spend. With SEO, on the other hand, it can be hard to effectively scale your content production to see the same level of results.

PPC Helps Increase Brand Awareness

Finding your corner of the market can be incredibly challenging, especially as a law firm. Through PPC ads, however, you can increase awareness of your brand by as much as 80%. Even better, as a law firm, you can raise awareness of your brand at that critical moment: when searching clients need to connect with a lawyer who can help handle their case.

Which is More Effective: PPC or SEO?

You understand the benefits. Is one strategy more effective than the other? Often, marketing agencies recommend starting with a quality PPC campaign to help drive initial traffic and build awareness. Over time, as your organic search traffic grows, you may want to decrease your spending–but you may not want to eliminate it. Pausing a PPC ad campaign can lead to as much as an 89% drop in traffic to your website, even if you otherwise have high search rankings.

If you need to focus your advertising efforts, consider these key elements and how they may impact your campaign needs.

Do you need short-term or long-term advertising? SEO is a long-term strategy, while PPC campaigns are designed to help quickly boost traffic.

How much time do you want to invest in your marketing efforts? Do you have the commitment necessary to build your SEO over time?

How long has your firm been in business?

In the first year of business, only around 5.7% of businesses–including law firms–will reach the first page of Google search results organically, but you can bring more attention to your business through PPC ads. 

You have the option to do one or the other, or both. But you also have to look at your law firm from a long and short-term perspective as well. Do you plan on your firm being around for a few years or years to come? For a long-term firm, you’re going to need a strategy that will be around as long as your firm will be

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