SEO or Google Ads for Your Law Firm?

It goes without saying that the marketing spend for law firms has significantly risen over the last five years. 

Acquiring leads for the majority of firms principally derives from Google search and those that win the lead either rank well in Google search organically or through ads.  Now, for clarity when we talk organically we mean those law firms who rank well for search terms people enter into Google and aren’t paying for those top 3 ad results. 

Which One Should Law Firms Do?

Both is the simple answer.  But let’s pull that response apart for a second.  SEO is a long term play. It’s an arduous task that takes hundreds of hours.

Before doing SEO of course, there needs to be an internal assessment by the firm itself to determine whether or not they have the resources, financial and otherwise to pull off great search results in competitive areas. That said there is always a caveat in SEO and that is that you might not ever achieve your objective of being positioned #1 for “Sydney Business Lawyers” or “Chicago Family Lawyers.” We do SEO and achieve great results for our clients but there can be fluxes in Google’s algorithm, increases in SEO tactics and strategies by other competing firms that can see positions move. We don’t see this play out in major drops of search position, but you may be position #2 for a keyword you’re chasing and be relegated to position #4 or #5 for a period that might be hours to weeks until your SEO agency recalibrates. 

In contrast with Google Ads, you can to a great extent, if you’re working with any Ads agency with a great record of working with law firms, and have a healthy budget, dominate keyword positions. Does that mean that your firm will be inundated with clicks, conversions and file opens, no! But if you have done your homework on what a file open is worth to your law firm you’re able to work backwards. 

Google Ads is a numbers game. If the file opens you derive from a Google ad monthly campaign is $20,000 and your family law practice is spending $10,000 on ads, you’re in front. In it’s simplest form that’s it! Where most law firms go wrong is that they expect too much or don’t wait around long enough for the campaign to mature. Now, that’s not to say you won’t have exceptional months where your $10,000 has given you $120,000 but you can have slow month as well. As much as an ad agency tells you that it’s predictable, it’s really not in our experience working with law firms over the last 10 years. 

So, What’s the Answer!

As said at the outset, ideally your firm does both. One dominant reason is simply that it’s expected that more and more law firms in the future will have no other option in driving leads other than through Google Ads.  Coinciding with this will likely be an increase in ad spend given the competition and the bids that those firms will make for great keywords. In the context of SEO, if you’re working methodically for organic search rankings, you’ll achieve great results that will minimise your reliance on Google Ads.  Sure, you’ll likely still run them if they’re working for your firm, but you can lessen your dependence upon them because of your search rank for the keywords you’re targeting. 

Here’s a recent example! A larger personal injury law firm who we have dialled in their SEO for all major keywords run Google Ads as well with a budget of $40,000 per month.  As fate would have it, in June, a number of the lawyers were away on holiday leave and the firm was concerned about handling the lead volume in their absence. Consequently, we clawed back the ad spend massively, the SEO positions held, and we got through a 30 day spell exceptionally well. That’s the benefit when you have great organic search results and great Google Ad traction.

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