SEO VS Google Ads: Which Is Better For Lawyers?

Oftentimes, when it comes to digital marketing for Law Firms, the question is asked: “What’s better, PPC or SEO?”.

Wondering which comes out on top? Well, comparing the two, and deeming one “better” is like comparing apples to oranges. They have differing unique features, and their value directly reflects the result you want them to achieve.

When looking at Google, the biggest thing the two have in common is the area that they appear in.

The example below is a screenshot of a search term (family lawyer vancouver) that triggers the “Google Local Pack” of Google My Business listings (the listings directly below the map).

Comparatively, below is a screenshot for a search query (project management software) that doesn’t trigger the “Google Local Pack”, since location is not relevant.

In both cases, the PPC results (ads) are positioned at the top of the page. SEO driven results can be seen in the main body of the results, although with the “local” search query (family lawyer Vancouver), the SEO website results are below the Google My Business listings in the “Google Local Pack”.

Sponsored PPC ads are delivered through Google Ads. Google Ads allows website owners to have their ads appear on the results page for specific search queries, and pay each time someone clicks on their ad. The rest of the search results are the regular search results. These appear due to a variety of factors that Google looks at to determine whether a page is relevant to the search query. Ensuring that your page is seen as highly relevant for a range of different keywords and search queries is the process of Search Engine Optimization.

Oftentimes, the idea that SEO is “better” is because you don’t have to pay money to get visitors to your site. Although it is true that you do not pay for each click to your website, those in more competitive areas of the law will need to invest hundreds or thousands of hours to rank highly for certain keywords & search queries. In the end, there is most definitely a cost to the results you will eventually achieve, whether you are investing this time on your own or having another member of your staff do it.

Additionally, in the example results screenshots shown above:

  • Through SEO, a new family law firm site would take typically 6 months to 2 years, plus hundreds of hours of work to earn first page Google rankings
  • A new project management software company would need to spend thousands of hours over many years to try and earn a first page ranking

On the other hand, these keywords can also be quite expensive to “buy” through PPC. Family law keywords can cost around $3-$8 per click (more in some markets), with some of the project management software keywords actually costing upwards of $35 per click.

There are, however, less expensive PPC keywords, as well as less competitive SEO keywords. These will just take you some time to discover.

One of my top methods is using PPC to inform your SEO strategy. By using PPC to “test” different keywords, you can spend a modest amount using certain keywords to drive clicks to your site (even if they are costly) in order to determine if searchers using those keywords will engage on your site and become leads and/or customers.

The above strategy is a great quick way of identifying your top keywords and search queries, even if PPC is not in your long-term plan. You can then confidently invest in targeting those keywords and search queries through SEO. For example, you can see which wills and estate-related queries attract people who are interested in assistance with will and estate administration, and use the top performing keyword in your page title for SEO purposes. Additionally, if you can identify keywords you can bid on profitably in PPC, then it makes sense to keep investing in those keywords in PPC.

In summary:

  • If you need visitors to your site immediately, PPC is a great strategy. You can literally have new traffic to your site tomorrow through PPC if you sign up for Google Ads today
  • Measuring ROI properly on your PPC campaigns in critical. In doing this, you can then identify the profitable keywords and confidently pay to get visitors who are using those terms in search
  • PPC does have a downside: it can be expensive, and you stop getting traffic from it the moment you stop paying for it.
  • SEO is often the highest ROI action you can take, although it can take months or years to be successful. Additionally, if you quit before you achieve first page results, all the effort and time invested up to that point would be wasted!
  • Once you’ve succeeded in getting results from SEO, the great thing is you can continue to get visits month after month without having to spend more money

Questions about SEO or PPC? Send us a note through our Contact form or visit our Legal Marketing page!

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