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Let's Talk Law Firm SEO vs. PPC

July 2017

When it comes to allocating your law firm’s online marketing budget, one of the big questions you will have to answer is how much time and money to spend on search engine optimization versus paid search (or pay-per-click). SEO is an organic approach to getting your firm to rank on the first page of Google results, while PPC is a paid method that uses Google’s AdWords platform to buy prominent search real estate. As you might expect, both options have pros and cons that you will want to consider before making any final budget decisions.

Related: Why Quality Matters in Law Firm SEO

Because SEO is more organic than PPC, it is often more trusted by customers searching the web. The average consumer is willing to put a lot of confidence in the top result on a Google search but might be a little more sceptical about the kinds of sponsored posts you can get through PPC. This fact alone is a huge benefit in favor of SEO.

The main drawback with SEO is that it takes a long time. Building up your Google rankings organically is difficult for any business, but it can be especially tough for law firms—both because legal services is a competitive area and because readers are searching for law firms expect nothing less than top-tier expert content.

If you don’t have a few months to develop a content strategy and put it into play, then PPC might appeal. With Google AdWords, you can feasibly get your firm to the top of a Google search results page in a matter of minutes. You can tweak the parameters of your campaign to target specific keywords, geographic groups, or other demographics. Plus, you can set a budget for your campaign, and you will only end up paying for the clicks that you receive. This setup makes it easier to predict and measure ROI for PPC campaigns, whereas SEO can sometimes feel like taking a shot in the dark.

With that said, PPC is almost always more expensive over time. If you need results right now to advertise a promotion or bring in a new influx of clients, then PPC is the way to go. For long-term marketing solutions, though, you will want to invest at least some capital in SEO. An established and sustained SEO campaign driven by quality content will yield visitors at a fraction of the cost of PPC. You just have to be willing to do the work to get there.

So, what’s the right choice? Should your firm focus its marketing budget on SEO or PPC? The smartest strategy is to use PPC for short-term marketing campaigns but to devote a larger percentage of your budget to growing your SEO campaign. Having both types of online marketing going at once will allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds, and could even give you benefits that simply choosing one or the other never would. For instance, if your firm appears twice on the first page of a Google search—once with an organic result and once with a paid result—that’s only going to build trust and branding.