12 min read
Updated: September 27, 2022

SEO versus PPC: The Legal Marketing Battle Royale

74% of consumers who search for an attorney online end up calling them on the phone according to FindLaw. If you know that three out of every four prospects will call you after visiting your page, the only question left is what is the best strategy to get these prospects to your website. To help you, we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using both SEO and PPC to market your law firm. It is a legal marketing battle royale between two stalwart traffic generating strategies. Understanding how SEO and PPC work is the first step in creating an effective traffic strategy for your legal website.

Three factors for comparing SEO and PPC

1. Practice Specialty, Budget, and Location Affect Your Law Firm Marketing Strategy

Before you create an organic or paid search strategy, you need to understand the state of your market. Despite reciprocity laws, most attorneys practice locally. Therefore, you need to know what competitors you have in the area as well as which competitors are in your specific field of law(niche).

When comparing SEO vs PPC you discover a number of advantages and disadvantages. To help you explore which strategy works best for you start by examining how other practices in your niche use SEO, PPC, or a combination of the two.

Search Engine Optimization benefits and drawbacks of niche, budget, and location

Does your firm serve an area with a population between 50,000 – 500,000 people? If your competitors are not working with SEO gurus, most likely they are not, then SEO is a great marketing channel for you if you have time to grow your firm.

Does your law firm have a plan for growth in 2022?
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The drawback for SEO is when you have to compete against the whales in your industry. You can spend $5,000 or more per month to drive a constant amount of leads in a competitive market.

Pey-Per-Click benefits and drawbacks of niche, budget, and location

If you are in a larger city or a more competitive market, you might want to turn to PPC to generate leads right away.

The challenge is law firms have the largest CPC averages across all industries. Understanding whether you should use paid ads is complicated.

The challenge with PPC for attorneys is the high costs. For example, if you practice personal injury law in Chicago the average CPC, according to SEMRush is $61.01 for the keyword personal injury Chicago. At the same time, personal injury lawyer Chicago is $93.12 per click. On the flip side, car accident Chicago has a CPC of $7.21.

Google PPC personal injury lawyer Chicago

The question becomes: how many clicks before you get one lead? Assuming you have a fantastic website and reviews, you might need about 4-6 clicks before you get a lead.

That means you could spend between $372.48-$558.72 on a qualified lead for personal injury lawyer Chicago. To be clear, this is not a paying client, it is a prospective client.

The question is whether it is feasible for an attorney with a $1000 budget to use paid search for 2-3 prospects per month? The answer depends on your niche.

If you are a real estate attorney who earns $1500 on residential closings then probably not. However, a personal injury attorney might find paid ads profitable.

Let’s run the numbers to explore how a PPC campaign could help a personal injury attorney. According to Lawyers.com, the average personal injury case in the United States is $52,900. To be conservative, let’s say your contingency fee is 33%. Your portion of the settlement would be $17,457.

Assuming you close 1 out of every 10 prospects, by the end of the year you could have 2-3 new clients. With two closed cases in a year, you would gross $34,914 on a $12,000 investment. That is a 290% return on your investment. A real estate attorney would only make $3000 in the same period with paid ads.

It is a stark reminder that without knowing more about your niche, local market, or budget, it is impossible to tell you whether you should use SEO or PPC for your marketing strategy.

If you need help analyzing your competitors and niche, we offer a free competitive analysis audit that reviews the pros and cons of using SEO vs PPC for your strategy.

2. Local Marketing For Lawyers Is Key

Unless you have licenses from multiple bar associations, you need customers in your state. The best search strategy is Google Local (Google Map) search.

The results in Google Local used to be all organic. Over the last few months, the search engine launch paid local search ads. While ad results are a little premature, they should work similarly to the other ad programs on Google AdWords.

SEO local marketing

For the past few years, one of the best ways to get local organic traffic was through Google Maps. The process requires setting up a Google My Business account. Over time as you collect citations for your law firm and build up reviews, it can be a powerful long-term revenue driver for your firm.

However, like other areas of Google, it takes time. The benefit of Google local is you do not have to compete against the whales in your industry as you do with traditional search. Instead, you face off against local law firms.

PPC local marketing

As we mentioned, paid ads on Google Maps started a month or two ago. It is too early to analyze the results. However, it benefits small to medium firms who can create ads that don’t compete against larger law firms who pay large sums of money for keywords. Even in huge metropolitan areas like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, your competition for these ads is less.

The new ad space could also relieve some of the costs in the industry by matching the supply to the demand.

Google local ads and organic search

3. Short-term versus Long-term Results For Lawyer Marketing

Before we go into this section, we know that most attorneys never want to lift a marketing finger ever again as you get your first lead two seconds after your site goes live. In this scenario, your site continues to pump out leads until you retire. Now, if you have unlimited funds to do this, then we can make this happen.

However, if you are a small to a medium-sized law firm with between 3-25 attorneys and additional support staff let’s explore options between the long-term SEO benefits versus the short-term PPC gains.

SEO long-term results

If you want to build established brand customers can trust, search engine traffic can help you with this goal. Furthermore, using SEO strategies like content creation, link-building, and user experience means you can grow your firms’ traffic for years without having to work as hard or pay as much as you would with PPC campaigns.

Often it takes 6-12 months to generate enough traffic from SEO to drive quality leads. However, when you do rank for the right keywords, you can sustain your company on those leads. All it takes is the right strategy and team.

PPC short-term results

Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer stated, “traffic is a commodity.” Any firm can drive traffic to their website as long as they have a large enough budget. The key to this commodity is to get the right traffic.

If your law firm needs to grow today because you do not have enough cases, then PPC is a quick strategy to build your caseload. The downside is when you paid for traffic it becomes a never-ending cycle.

4. Why not use SEO and PPC together?

If you are a newcomer in the business and don’t have a lot of money for investing in a digital marketing strategy then yes, you should choose one of these channels. But the reality is that almost all big business has to use both search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertisement. Honestly, this is the best way not only because you get more ground to cover, but they also work together pretty well.

  • Data gained from keywords in PPC ads can feed into organic search
  • You fully control all ad channels and your own brand bidding
  • A lot of underperforming but still important keywords can be moved from PPC to organic SEO
  • You are on top of remarketing and stay in view of your visitors after they leave
  • PPC can be used as a testing ground before committing to a long-term SEO strategy
  • You have more presence online, appear in more search results, have greater integration with search engines, which as a result will drive more traffic to your website

Final Thoughts on SEO vs PPC For Law Firms

If you want to gain an advantage over your competitors, then you need to explore how SEO and PPC for lawyers can help you grow. If you want to know how you compare to other law firms then request to schedule a free consultation with our team today, so we can produce a complimentary audit to determine whether you should use SEO vs PPC.

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In what cities your digital marketing business work?

Comrade originates in Chicago, but we worked all around the United States. We can help your business grow and increase revenue whenever you are. We have offices across most major cities in the US. For example, we can offer digital marketing services in San Francisco or Dallas. You can even find our internet marketing experts in Madison! If you want to know more about our Portland digital marketing agency or find out how exactly we can help you, contact us via the phone or email.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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