Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) professionals frequently disagree on which area of specialization is more important or beneficial to promote website visibility. Truthfully, this distinction depends largely on the industry of the business being marketed.
For law firms, PPC and SEO offer more benefits when used in conjunction than when used separately because they have complementary strengths and weaknesses.
Some of the benefits of utilizing both include a stronger marketing team, cross-learning opportunities, wider search visibility, timing of results and investment flexibility.
A More Complete Internet Marketing Team
Five years ago, your law firm Web marketing team could get by with one person if they had a lot of diverse skill sets. Today, the Internet is exponentially more competitive and complex. To be successful, at a minimum, you need an SEO Manager, link-building specialist, Social Media guru, public relations expert, content marketing specialist and a Web designer. Ideally, these Web professionals will have a team of people behind them.
Each of these positions required today is stronger when joined by a PPC specialist. These keyword-focused experts are used to working with Google, not against them. While the SEO Team thinks more in terms of the big picture and long-term campaign goals, a PPC specialist thinks in the now and near future. They also bring a depth to the SEO Team’s keyword optimization strategies and add value through many knowledge sharing opportunities.
A key component of conversion rate optimization is testing different strategies. There are always industry standards and suggested guidelines, but the only way you will know what works for your firm’s website is to test it.
With SEO, experimentation can be difficult. To test out the effectiveness of a certain keyword, you need to develop content around a linkable asset featuring information on the keyword, relationship build to acquire quality backlinks and continue until Google notices your superb relevancy.
With PPC, within a matter of hours you can create a campaign targeting the keywords you want to test. Then, after running it for a few weeks you will know whether it was effective or not. Obviously, PPC is a much better tool for testing. And once you’ve gained knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, you can apply it in your SEO campaign. While supporting your new SEO targets with PPC, you can build up to the point where you can switch your PPC to a different focus since you have top SEO rankings (if, that is, you don’t want double visibility which has been proven to achieve optimal results).
Wider Search Visibility
If your law firm ranks at the top of organic rankings, you may think PPC is not important. However, if you choose to invest in PPC as well as SEO, you can hold the top spots in both areas, increasing your visibility and showing yourself as the expert – after all, even Google will serve up multiple listings for your site!
SEO can’t be beat for long-tail searches, while PPC is ideal for targeting more specific niche searches. A recent report by McKinsey & Company on The Impact of Internet Technologies points out:
The benefit of paid search to advertisers tends to be inversely proportional to the size of the advertiser, as it gives the smallest of entities the ability to raise awareness of their offerings to a worldwide audience—an otherwise difficult proposition. But paid search advertising is not the only way in which search can raise awareness. Organizations and individuals benefit from natural searches—that is, when their names pop up in search results simply because of what was typed in the search field. The majority of advertisers still find that more visits to their Web sites arrive via natural searches than paid ones.
In fact, Search Engine Watch pointed out that “56% of Google queries show no paid ads at all…. [But] when a brand appears in both the organic and paid results, the searcher clicked on that brand 92% of the time, compared to 60% of clicks when the brand appeared in only one location.” If you choose to invest in only SEO or PPC, you could be missing out on a large chunk of potential website traffic.
Sometimes there are keyword phrases that, realistically, will never result in ranking for your firm. When that happens, PPC can be a great tool to help boost your visibility for those phrases.
One example where this can happen is with mass torts. When a new drug recall happens, you need to get visibility – and fast. In most cases, you don’t have time to build plentiful solid backlinks and create pages and pages of substantial content that are needed to rank organically. In this instance, PPC is an excellent tool to instantly boost your traffic for a hot search topic.
Being the first firm with keyword placement is critical for mass tort cases, and once you have gotten your PPC campaign up and running, you will also want to make sure you are building out substantial content to keep visitors on your site and help convert them into clients. That content will need on-and-off-site SEO to achieve optimal results. If you start from both angles straight away, you have a great chance of working toward top rankings and increasing your chances of being found by prospective clients by dominating both PPC and organic listings.
Timing of Results
Law firm PPC and SEO balance each other out in how quickly they produce results. And by this, I mean they are completely opposite!
PPC campaigns require in-depth research and planning. However, once the most successful conversion keywords are determined, the campaign can continue to run as long as you want. Some firms turn it on and off based on how many more cases they can take. We have had clients in the past who worried that they got too many leads!
If you need fast visibility, like with mass tort cases, or if you need a case – now – to keep the lights on, PPC can help you get that. SEO, however, will build a stronger reputation with search engines and is a longer-term strategy.
If you’re not paying what it takes to obtain top 1-3 ad positioning, you are likely wasting your dollars. The firms who spend the necessary money and manage properly are the ones who see a return from PPC.
Going after top phrases aggressively is expensive, but it can produce great results when properly managed. With some law firm campaigns, their goal is to get visibility for niche keywords that are not necessarily as competitive while their website’s SEO kicks in. This can be an effective PPC strategy for those firms unable to market aggressively at the start.
As with just about any service or product, there is a scale where you have to choose between time and money. Using PPC and SEO together help to balance this scale out and give your firm more flexibility. If your firm does not have a large budget, you can invest first in PPC to get a quick return, then gradually build up an SEO campaign for long-term marketing feasibility. That way, you can grow your campaign along with your budget as more leads come in and more cases close. A PPC professional can stop your law firm ad budget’s bleeding and help strengthen the firm’s prospects for the future.
The Benefits of Outsourcing your PPC and SEO Together
The harsh reality of PPC is that Google makes it easier to spend your money on PPC than to save it. If you don’t have a certified professional on your campaign, you could be in danger of wasting piles of money. A simple PPC audit to review your targeted keywords and their respective search volume, as well as identifying negative keywords, could reveal areas where you can dramatically improve your return from PPC.
Half of those surveyed in the 2012 SEMPO State of Search Marketing Report noticed improved ROI from PPC in 2012. Integrating PPC with your SEO campaign can increase your ROI while hiring a professional to help can get you the best results for your investment.
At Consultwebs, SEO and PPC team members work together to maximize cross-disciplinary learning opportunities. Our PPC campaigns are carefully tailored to our clients’ goals and budget and work alongside the clients’ SEO to optimize their visibility for practice areas important to the firm.
Ken Vandre, SEM Analyst Keyword Specialist, has undergone extensive training, including Google AdWords Fundamentals Certification and Google AdWords Advanced Search Certification. He works with our PPC clients to constantly monitor and adjust your PPC campaign to get you the most benefit.
For an audit of your firm’s current PPC campaign or for more information on how Consultwebs can connect you with more clients through SEO and PPC, contact us at (800) 971-6590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.