More Bang For Your Buck: PPC or SEO?

Typically, when speaking to potential clients, I am often asked what has a better ROI: PPC (search engine advertising) or SEO (organic search results). Ok, I have to be upfront and mention that I provide SEO services to my law firm clients so I might be a tad impartial (ok, massively impartial). However, I think PPC can be a great tool to drive new clients to your website. To answer this burning question, I usually offer up the stats below and then, allow the client come to his or her conclusion.

Both Are Great

First, with either method, it’s a smart marketing choice because just about all your potential clients are using search engines to find you. According to consumer research firm BIA/Kelsey, 97% of consumers use a search engine, mostly Google, to find local services. So it’s critical that your website has a strong presence in Search Engine listing results to maximize your firm’s exposure to your target clients.

PPC Is Faster & Provides a Wide Net

PPC advertising allows a firm to land quickly on the 1st page of Google search results for a wide variety of keywords of their choosing. Although, the prices aren’t inexpensive, especially for lawyers in the personal injury and drunk driving defense space. Local lawyer and attorney keywords can be some of the most expensive in all of the Google. They can routinely be in the triple digits with just one click. I have a DUI lawyer-client in Phoenix that has over ten keywords that are over $100/click.

Internet Users Prefer Organic Listings

According to SEOMoz, Internet users click on organic search results 8.5x more than a paid listing through PPC. When people are looking for your firm on Google, they will click on the natural listing results over the paid ones that sit above and to the right of the page. That’s good and bad for the advertiser. It’s good because you won’t have to pay more money for clicks to your site. But obviously, the bad news is that you’re missing out on a huge number of potential clients actively searching for your legal services.

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Businesses are Spending Substantially More on PPC than SEO

If you are using your marketing dollars heavily on PPC or planning to, you are not alone. In a study conducted by Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPRO), businesses are spending $10 billion a year on PPC versus only $1 billion on SEO. That means companies are paying 10x more money on a marketing strategy (PPC) that delivers 5x fewer results than another viable option (SEO).

As the old saying goes, “the numbers don’t lie!” so why aren’t more businesses using SEO as their marketing strategy if it’s cheaper and more efficient? I can think of a few reasons why companies might not roll the dice on SEO. First off, the strategy of SEO is an exact science, and it takes years of trial and error to understand the ever-changing search engine algorithms (aka what Google likes to rank your website higher). Unfortunately, many snake oil salesmen are preying on businesses with their junk SEO services. Typically these services are ineffective and at worse, could get your website penalized by Google. Finally, SEO is a long process, as you don’t get the instant gratification in seeing your listing on the first page of Google in one day like PPC.

In conclusion, SEO and PPC are both excellent marketing strategies for lawyers and law firms. Many of my clients use a hybrid approach of SEO and PPC in their marketing plan. I recommend clients using PPC for the short term until the SEO takes effect. SEO takes patience and conducted by an expert who has proven results. In my experience, it can take up to 6 months to get on the first page of Google for your keywords. However, once you get there, you will be 5x richer than using PPC.