In today’s legal environment, establishing and maintaining connections with clients is more important than ever. However, finding ways to effectively reach clients, particularly in highly-saturated media markets and with a decline in word-of-mouth as an effective tool for generating business, has increasingly become an extremely difficult task for many attorneys.
Advertising, for this reason, has become essential to the strategies employed by many firms to attract new clientele. However, traditional advertising platforms, such as radio, television, print, and outdoor, have their own limitations: their reach is increasingly limited, they can be prohibitively expensive, and many lawyers’ practice areas do not naturally lend themselves to this type of advertising. Worse, a poorly constructed advertising campaign can, in some circumstances, actively harm a firm’s practice by seeming to cheapen its image.
One effective strategy that many lawyers are coming to embrace, however, is the use of search engine optimization, or SEO, to increase their exposure. Search engine optimization works by improving a lawyer or law firm’s ranking on search engines such as Google and Bing, thereby ensuring that individuals who are searching for an attorney in their area are more likely to come across that attorney or firm’s website and, therefore, are more likely to contact that attorney or firm for a consultation.
While older advertising platforms relied on reaching as wide an audience as possible to ensure that at least some of those exposed to the advertisement might be prospective clients of the service being promoted, SEO is a highly targeted, unobtrusive marketing strategy. This is beneficial both because it connects attorneys only with those most likely to require their services (those who are actively searching for an attorney within a given practice area) and because it does not negatively influence perceptions of the firm or attorney.
Additionally, SEO services can often be combined with pay-per-click advertising campaigns, a service that is more along the lines of traditional advertising but which can nonetheless render substantial results. Pay-per-click ads appear at the very top of a search result page for terms which relate to the advertisement’s subject, and clients only pay on the basis of how many times the ad was accessed by users.
SEO has dramatically increased in popularity within the legal community in the past few years, and in many media markets, the competition among lawyers within the same specialty can be considerable. For this reason, it’s critical that, going forward, those looking to remain at the vanguard of legal marketing gain a foothold in the search industry as soon as possible. Supplanting attorneys whose own SEO efforts have led to a high ranking is considerably more difficult than maintaining a ranking that is earned before others have reached that point.
Additionally, the considerable differences in effort necessary to rank well in a large media market, as opposed to a medium-sized or small locale, may affect the desirability of SEO as a marketing strategy for attorneys in different areas. Nevertheless, as search engines continue to play an increasingly central role in how clients connect with professional services, it is critical that those engaged in the legal profession continue to examine whether this strategy may be right for their business.