Understanding SEO and online lead generation for Lawyers, Attorneys and Law Firms
Before we get started down this road, let’s make one thing perfectly clear; we are not picking on attorneys or law firms and we are certainly not singling out Chicago lawyers. The title of this article is merely a play on words to get your attention about a very important subject: SEO, Online Marketing and Online Lead Generation for Lawyers, Attorneys and Law Firms. While we will be discussing some of the challenges of online marketing for attorneys and law firms, the basic ideas, suggestions and strategies hold true for any type of business in any business vertical.
How Attorney and Law Firm Lead Generation has Changed
Years ago, when someone needed an attorney they would have asked for a referral from a business associate, their accountant, banker, financial planner, neighbor or friend. This type of referral is called a “warm market” lead.
Warm market leads can be people you already know, individuals that already know you or people that have been referred to you by someone that you know. Making a sale to or doing business with a warm market lead is much easier than selling to a cold market lead. Warm market leads are the people with whom you have already established some level of trust, either directly or indirectly via referral.
Warm market leads are great, but there is a downside. In the case of most businesses, warm market leads eventually diminish over time and, if you are looking to grow your business, you must expand your lead generation strategies to include cold markets. One way to do this is with Digital Marketing.
Digital marketing is a broad term that refers to various strategies and techniques deployed to reach customers via digital technologies. It includes a variety services and marketing tactics that use the Internet as its main promotional medium.
Digital marketing is often times used synonymously with the terms “Internet Marketing” or “Online Marketing”, but in actuality the processes differ in the fact that digital marketing is considered to be more targeted, measurable and interactive.
Internet marketing encompasses digital marketing services such as organic search engine optimization, local SEO, inbound marketing, social media, lead generation, content marketing and email marketing.
Employing digital marketing strategies for your law firm is one way of driving targeted traffic to your website and dramatically increasing your cold market lead generation.
Some Legal Marketing Statistics that Lawyers and Law Firms Need to Know
Recent studies show that approximately 75% of consumers of legal services researched an attorney or law firm online before making a decision to hire them. This percentage is an average of a variety of different practice areas and specialties. And while so many attorneys and law firms continue to be skeptical about or hesitant to employ online marketing and SEO strategies, this type of data is significant and simply cannot be ignored.
Below is a summary of aggregated research that provides a startling look at marketing data that should be considered by any law firm as they develop their online marketing initiatives:
- 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine.
- 87% of people who contact an attorney go on to hire an attorney and 72% of them only contact one attorney.
- 85% use online maps to find legal service locations.
- 75% of prospects beginning a search online end up contacting the law firm via telephone.
- 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website before taking action.
- 71% of people looking for a lawyer feel it is important to hire a local attorney.
- 69% use both a smartphone and a PC for research.
- 62% of legal searches are non-branded (i.e. “Best Chicago Divorce Lawyer”)
- 38% of people use the Internet to find an attorney.
- 31% of all law firm related website traffic comes through mobile search
- 25% of people researching legal topics visit YouTube during the process.
These numbers don’t lie, but if you’re still skeptical and are not convinced that other firms (your competitors) are devoting marketing resources to enhance their online exposure and get their website in front of prospective clients, here’s a little test. Google your practice area in the city where your office is located (i.e. “Elder Law Attorney Barrington IL or Best Divorce Lawyer in Chicago”) and look at the search results. Do you see your website or the websites of your competitors?
Now, we understand that the simple fact that your competitors are “doing something” to outrank you is not necessarily a good enough reason for you open your checkbook and jump in head first into the online marketing arena. But what you do have to realize is the fact that you are not only missing out on new client leads in the short term; in fact, you are setting yourself up for long term failure online by ignoring an entire generation of individuals, business owners and young executives (all prospective clients) who are potentially in the market for legal services that are intelligent, knowledgeable and savvy enough to use the Internet as their primary source of information. These individuals conduct a majority of their research online, from locating the best Home Care Agency in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs to finding a Custom Plastic Extrusion company for their next point-of-purchase display project. It’s this generation that is and will be your target market in the future and it’s naive to think that they are not devoting the same amount of time researching an attorney or law firm prior to hiring them.
Is Bigger Better When It Comes to Law Firm SEO?
Here’s the simple truth: Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are among the most over-hyped marketing “tactics” in the legal industry. There are tons of “mega providers” that will have you believe that they can provide you with the best web presence and successfully market your law firm online. We won’t mention any names, but you all know the companies we are talking about. You probably get bombarded with phone calls and emails from these companies every week until they “hook” you. They all have the same MO, they develop “template” style websites for thousands of law firms and attorneys and claim that they can get your practice ranked on “The First Page of Google”.
Really? Let’s think about this for a minute…
While some of these mega providers may be marginally successful in achieving some level of organic ranking for a select group of their clients (i.e. generally premium users that pay big $$$) and for non-competitive search phrases in small markets, a vast majority of their clients fail to reach their online potential for the simple fact that there are only 10 organic ranking spots on the first page of Google for any singular search query. If you have 20 family law clients in Metro Chicago that you are providing online marketing and SEO services for, how can you achieve page one ranking for all of them for the targeted search phrase “Best Divorce Lawyer Chicago”? Answer: You can’t! And chances are they aren’t even getting one of their clients on page one of Google for competitive keywords and phrases in a competitive geographic market.
A Better Approach to Internet Marketing and SEO for Law Firms
A better approach to online marketing and SEO for your law firm would be to find a highly respected, experienced SEO firm that can provide you with client references and current data that displays and supports their SEO abilities in action. We are not talking about non-competitive keywords in small markets – anyone can do that. We mean national campaign ranking and competitive geographic search prominence over an extended period of time.
Another consideration would be to ask the SEO organization if they accept more than one client from within the same business vertical in the same targeted geographic area. Our firm does not. If you are a Divorce Lawyer in Chicago and we manage your online marketing and SEO, we will not accept another family law firm in your geographic territory. We know that this is bad for our business, but extremely good for our clients. For us it’s is a matter of integrity and principal. If you hire us to provide best-in-class SEO for your law firm, wouldn’t you be disappointed, even angry, if you found out that we are providing the same service for 5, 10 or 20 of your competitors? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many other law firm SEO service providers do.
For most law firms today, SEO is the marketing expenditure that has the highest potential ROI. The benefits it can provide far exceed the value of other marketing approaches – direct mail, broadcast advertising, print advertising, online ads, etc.
No longer do businesses decide whether they need SEO services. Instead, they decide how much they’re going to spend. As long as they choose a quality SEO agency, their decision should result in more targeted website traffic, increases in revenue, enhanced brand awareness, improved client retention and more lead generation than ever before.
You can decide how much that’s worth to you.