SEO and PPC For Lawyers: Stop Losing Money and Clients Posted on January 27, 2017 by Dan Jaffe We’re lawyers. We seek justice for those who can’t fight for themselves. And yet, most lawyers are poorly prepared to protect themselves when it comes to their online legal marketing. If you purchase Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) for your law firm, you may be losing money and clients. In my criminal defense practice, I got badly burned by an online marketing company. It was a setback that could have been worse. I was lucky to escape with my practice and my reputation intact. The experience compelled me to learn how SEO and PPC work. That decision has generated many millions of dollars in earned revenue for me in the past 15 years. What I know about SEO and PPC is readily available to every lawyer, for free. And it’s not rocket science. It’s perplexing and frustrating that lawyers bury their heads in the sand while they are being failed by (and in some cases robbed blind by) legal marketers. During the past six years, my team and I have spoken with thousands of attorneys who were burned by legal marketers, but who still believe they need to double down on the things that were either not working, or hurting their practices. The two biggest points of misinformation and waste in online legal marketing are search engine optimization (“SEO”) and pay-per-click marketing (“PPC”). While these lawyers typically don’t remain loyal to the individual providers or companies, they often cling to the flawed or obsolete practices. This results in lawyers having the same experiences with several vendors, and getting the same predictably mediocre results. It’s an easy trap to fall into while, as lawyers, we’re busy advocating for our clients. When lawyers take the time to educate themselves about how the internet works, it becomes easy to spot and avoid the traps and tricks. This typically results in the law firm shedding useless services and middlemen, which in turn creates stability and predictability in their marketing, lowers their cost per client acquired, and increases their return on investment for dollars or hours spent on marketing. The two biggest points of misinformation (and therefore, waste) in online legal marketing are search engine optimization (“SEO”) and pay-per-click marketing (“PPC”). Here are some of the biggest blocks to marketing success for law firms in each area: PPC Facts and Realities Pay-per-click marketing has become low-hanging-fruit for marketers who have given up on achieving more efficient results to sell. From the business perspective of the marketer, this makes sense. It’s profitable. It’s clean. It’s transactional. But, unfortunately, it’s far from efficient for the budget-conscious law firm. Here are some facts about PPC advertising: Anybody can purchase PPC ads themselves directly through Google. Google will give anybody who needs assistance help in getting things set up. PPC is very easy to manage and is well within the technical abilities and time constraints of most law firms. PPC resellers are typically middlemen who take an unnecessary cut of your ad spend to “manage” your account. In most cases, using a middleman does not save you money. PPC middlemen often have conflicts of interest because they bid competing law firms against each other, resulting in more expensive advertising for the law firms, and more fees for the middleman. Most PPC middlemen don’t create optimized landing pages or other simple things that would save their clients money by lowering the cost-per-click. The more you spend on ads, the more the middleman typically makes. On February 8, 2017, my team and I will present a comprehensive webinar for lawyers that will show them how and when to use PPC marketing, what to avoid, and how to prevent your firm from bleeding money in the process. We’ll look under the hood at the economics of the industry. By following the money trail, we’ll show you how to come out a winner if you choose to engage in the PPC game. Reserve your spot for the webinar. The truth about SEO I have written extensively on the topic of SEO. I believe there is no greater potential for success when it’s done right and no greater recipe for disappointment when it’s done according to the playbooks of most SEO “experts.” My team recently published a comprehensive guide to law firm SEO, which reveals many of the common tricks and traps that marketers set for lawyers in the guise of marketing. Here’s the truth about SEO marketers: “The world of SEO providers is filled with skilled and ethical professionals as well as criminals, con artists, incompetent hacks, useless middlemen, and unemployable refugees of dead or dying trades. And it’s very difficult to tell them apart. SEO providers are subject to no regulatory or ethical constraints, and there are no prerequisites to entering the business or calling themselves SEO experts.” Here’s why I think so many lawyers fall for SEO-related hogwash: “There’s a persistent lie that marketers tell. They want you to believe that SEO is difficult. They try to elevate the complexity of what they sell by claiming that every aspect of SEO is challenging.” But once you understand the basics and you’re empowered by the right system, you’ll understand that: It’s easy. Keeping up with Google’s algorithm updates is easy and requires very little time or expense, unless you’re trying to take dangerous shortcuts or use tricks that will end up backfiring on you. It’s about the fundamentals. Creating cost-efficient and easy-to-manage SEO strategies is simply a matter of understanding the fundamentals and not buying into the hogwash that the opportunists are selling. It requires the right technology. Tracking your progress and understanding what’s working (and what’s not) is easy when you aren’t falling for useless gimmicks and when you’re using the right SEO technology. It’s about avoiding pitfalls. Once you stop falling for the double-speak used by marketers, it’s easy to understand what drives your competitors’ successes, to create a plan to beat them without exposing yourself to risk, and to keep your expenses low. You can do it! Executing a successful plan is easy, and any attorney can do it concurrently with practicing law full-time when they have the right tools, training, and support. The more you know, the better able you’ll be to recognize value, avoid paying for things that damage your law firm’s marketing, and become and remain highly competitive.