The Importance of Digital Marketing for Law Firms
Legal marketing has evolved in the last two decades. Traditional advertising methods like TV, billboards, and mail are becoming less effective due to changing consumer behavior. In today's digital age, clients seek convenience and expect to find legal services online. Digital marketing allows your law firm to reach potential clients where and when it suits them.
As client preferences continue to shift online, traditional marketing tactics become less relevant. National law firms are already adapting by investing in digital marketing, leveraging PPC campaigns, SEO, and cutting-edge technology.
To stay competitive, your law firm should invest in digital marketing and establish a strong online presence. It's crucial to partner with an agency that aligns with your strategic goals and helps refine your marketing strategy.
Discover Digital Marketing Tailored for Your Law Firm
Basic Digital Marketing Terminology
This guide will cover essential concepts and definitions your law firm should understand. Whether you want to try your hand at digital marketing in-house or shop around for an agency for your law firm, knowing these definitions and concepts is crucial to success and not being taken advantage of by marketers or agencies who don't deliver on their promises.
Understanding the Environment
- SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. This is the page that pops up when you search for something on Google, and there is a list of websites under the search bar.
- Meta tags are a snippet of code that provides information to a search engine. This information gives the search engine a better idea about what your website or a page on your website is about. In turn, the search engine will use this information to more accurately serve your webpage on Google for searches that it deems as relevant to your webpage.
While there are a handful of meta tags that search engine optimization (SEO) marketers use, there are two common meta tag references you are likely to encounter and are worth knowing about.
Title Tag: The sizable blue text (see below) is called the “title tag”.
MetaDescription: This is the smaller text below the title tag.
- A SERP feature that appears on the first page of results for search queries with local intent. For example, “personal injury lawyer near me” or “car accident attorney dallas, tx” are searches with clear local intent. The local pack (see “Google SERP Map” below) typically features a map of business locations and listings for businesses relevant to a particular search. Information presented in this feature comes from your Google Business Profile.
Google SERP Map:
Digital Marketing Channels
What is a digital marketing channel? A digital marketing channel refers to how users find their way to your website. A user’s path to your site could be…
- Finding you through the SERP
- Receiving a marketing email
- Directly entering your URL into the search bar
- Clicking a link on another website
- Engaging with a social media post
Below is a list of the most essential digital marketing channels that will drive more traffic to your website:
- Organic: Organic website traffic describes traffic that comes to your site through unpaid search results on a search engine results page. That SERP could be through Google, Bing, or any other search engine. Organic traffic is increased and improved upon through SEO marketing.
- Pay Per Click (PPC): This is traffic that comes to your site when you pay to advertise your website on the internet. PPC traffic is typically associated with advertising your site on tier-one search engines such as Google or Bing. You must continually pay the search engine to drive PPC traffic to your site.
- Email: According to Google, email traffic refers to any traffic directly from an email newsletter or other email marketing you have sent out.
- Social: Social traffic is traffic to your website from social media networks and platforms. For example, when you create a post on Facebook with a link to your website, and someone clicks on the link and goes to your website, that is considered social traffic.
- Direct: This refers to someone directly entering your website URL into their browser and going to your website. If a user has your website bookmarked and clicks on the bookmark from their computer, this will also count as direct traffic.
- Referral: Referral traffic comes to your website from a referring site that is not social media or a search engine such as Google or Bing. For example, if your law firm’s website is posted in a news article, on a blog, or a listing website (e.g., Legal Zoom), and a user clicks on that link from the referring site and goes onto your website, that is considered referral traffic.
- Sessions: a period of time during which a user interacts with your website. Google sessions end after 30 minutes of inactivity. A single user can have multiple sessions within one day.
- Users: an individual who enters your and interacts with your website. One user can have multiple sessions. Users are grouped by new and returning users.
- Bounce Rate: the percentage of all sessions on your site where users viewed only a single page and then left your website. You want to see your bounce rate decrease, not increase. [Bounce rate = sessions with only one page viewed/total sessions]
- Cost Per Click (CPC): the amount you spent (often referred to as “ad spend”) to generate a single click to your website. (CPC = Total ad spend/total clicks.)
- Google Ads Campaign: a set of one or more ad groups (ads, keywords, and bids) that share a budget, location targeting, and other settings. Campaigns are typically used to organize the categories of products or services an advertiser offers.
Digital Marketing Concepts Explained
How does SEO work?
SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization. The core concept of SEO marketing is to make changes to your website so that it is optimized to show up at the top of Google when users search for relevant topics for your firm.
Think of Google as a massive whitepage directory book with thousands of listings—but in this case, the listings are websites. Google’s main priority is to make it as easy as possible for users to search those thousands of websites and find what they’re looking for. To do that, Google needs to understand the content that is on your website.
SEO marketers make changes to your website so that Google can understand and associate your website with more topics relevant to your business.
Google will comb through your website, identify those changes made, and associate your website with the topics and keywords that have been added to your website. When SEO work is done correctly, Google then naturally, or organically, ranks your website higher on its search engine results page for the keywords and topics your site is optimized for.
The benefit of SEO is that once Google associates your website with the keywords and searches that you want to show up for, you don’t have to pay Google to show your website for those relevant searches. Because Google wants to provide the best results to its users—and because it has identified that your website is an excellent resource for certain searches—it will show your website higher up on the search results page.
It takes Google time to understand and trust your website, which is why results for SEO can take months to take effect after the work has been done to your website. The good news is that by taking the time to do this work, your website essentially "owns” specific keywords or searches because Google permanently associates your website with the topics it has been optimized for.
It’s important to note that Google often checks websites to make sure that they are still providing the best experience for the end user. Frequent content updates, as well as making sure that your website is still up to date with Google best practices, are crucial to maintaining SEO success.
How does PPC work?*
With Google PPC ads, every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay for that click regardless of whether they interact with your website.
Like SEO, the purpose of PPC is to have your website show up on Google for keywords or searches that you want your website to be found for. However, with PPC, you need to pay Google or the platform you advertise on every time your website is clicked.
With PPC marketing, your marketer will identify keywords and search queries for which you want to appear at the top of Google. These keywords ought to be relevant to your business and website. Once you know which keywords you want to show up for, the PPC marketer will create a campaign. In essence, a digital marketing campaign is how you organize the ads that you create.
For example, you can have one campaign for keywords related to vehicle collision accident cases and a different campaign for keywords related to medical malpractice cases.
These campaigns may have different budgets, location targets, and a variety of other settings. After setup, PPC marketers provide value as they adjust these settings to improve performance and drive high-quality traffic to your website more efficiently.
You should ask your PPC marketer how frequently they are changing your Google Ad campaigns and what those changes are. Although PPC strategies vary significantly, if you have a campaign that is not performing how you want it to, your PPC marketer ought to be making changes on at least a monthly basis.
PPC advertisements can appear on a variety of Google products. However, the most common and traditional place for these advertisements is at the very top of the Google search engine results page .
* Please note that many strategies and tactics encompass PPC marketing; this is a simple explanation of the general process.
A Note about Local Service Ads for Lawyers:
With a Local Service Ad (LSA), you pay for each conversion or lead the LSA brings to your business. This means that a user has to both click and contact your business through the LSA for you to get charged, unlike PPC advertising where you pay whenever someone clicks on your ad.
The difference between SEO and PPC
“Renting” Keywords vs. “Owning” Keywords
When you run PPC marketing, you are effectively “renting” the keywords, or search terms, that your website shows up for on Google because you have to pay for each click. Once you stop paying, your website stops showing up for those keywords.
Even for those not wanting to pay for clicks long term, there are benefits to using limited PPC when a law firm adds significant organic content to their web site. A short campaign of PPC can help your organic content perform much better over time
With organic SEO, you don’t have to pay when your website is clicked on. Instead, you make changes to your website and work with Google to have the search engine associate your website with specific keywords. In doing so, Google will naturally or organically show your website on the search engine results page when those keywords are searched for. In essence, you “own” or are ranking for those keywords until a competitor provides better content.
PPC generates results significantly faster than SEO, but SEO results last longer than PPC results do.
PPC marketing will bring traffic to your website much faster than SEO. PPC will increase traffic to your website within 2–3 days, and the quality and amount of traffic to your site should continue to improve over the first 2 weeks.
When a PPC campaign is turned on in Google, it will go through a learning period of 5 days to 2 weeks. During that time, Google will learn how to serve your ads on its search engine to generate the best possible results for your campaign and its users.
Results for SEO marketing take time. You can expect to see the impact of SEO work on your website, generally, in 3–4 months from when the work was implemented. However, depending on factors involved with yur website, results can take a longer to show.
Why is this? Google wants to provide the best possible experience to its end users. This means that Google needs to understand the content on your website, trust your website as an authoritative source, and see that users are engaged with your site (meaning they stay on your website and click through it).
That said, successful SEO requires more than just strong content; it requires a robust and healthy online presence, which takes time.
The benefit of SEO is that the traffic it generates to your website is much more permanent than PPC. Moreover, good SEO work will compound itself as Google views your site as a more authoritative source on the topics you are optimizing for.
With PPC, traffic is primarily based on the daily budget that you set and the keywords that you target. So, when you change either of those components, you will see significant movement in PPC website traffic to your law firm’s website. This can make PPC traffic more volatile than organic traffic.
There are benefits to the ability to rapidly change your traffic for a particular type of case though - such as a mass tort or mass casualty events. There may be a short period of time to obtain these cases and so increasing your traffic for those cases immediately is critical to securing as many of the cases as possible. While your law firm's specialization in a particular area of law may help you in terms of web site authority for a particular field of law tied to these cases, PPC is the most likely way of getting highly desirable cases quickly
SEO traffic is slow and steady. When done correctly, targeted SEO traffic will have a steadily increasing trendline. Since SEO takes time, is more permanent, and compounds on itself, a slow and steady increase indicates a healthy SEO strategy. Seasonality may impact traffic month-to-month, but over a year, you will see a steady improvement.