I just saw an interesting article at Law.com asking whether pay-per-click advertising is worth it for small law firms. The article interviewed Miles Cooper, Managing Attorney of the Veen Firm in San Francisco. He said their firm had always relied on a steady diet of attorney referrals and what Cooper refers to as “cold calls.” I suppose Cooper was referring to potential clients calling the firm, even though I always thought of (and Wikipedia defines) cold calling as the process of approaching prospective customers or clients. Anyway, about a year ago the firm noticed a drop-off in “cold calls,” leading the firm to begin a pay-per-click ad campaign this January. “It was a philosophical jump for us,” Cooper said. “We thought of ourselves as one of the more prominent firms in the city, not a 1-800 ambulance firm. … But we need to make sure that our names are out there.”
When the “more prominent firms” begin pay-per-click marketing, can the small firms be far behind (or perhaps, far ahead)? The article went on to estimate that pay-per-click campaigns can cost $10,000 per month. Typical bids for terms of interest to lawyers include “trucking accident” at $17 per click, “San Francisco personal injury attorney” at $21 per click, and “mesothelioma attorney” at up to $100 per click. That’s a lot of money to pay just to get somebody (possibly even a competitor of yours) to click on an ad to visit your website.
Many of the law firms that engage in pay-per-click marketing also use search engine optimization (SEO) to try to rank high in results on search engines. Good SEO can often get your website to show up at or near the top when someone searches for a certain keyword (say, “mesothelioma”). There are a host of companys that offer SEO services to law firms, and they can be quite expensive.Â One of the advantages of pay-per-click ads over search engine optimization is that you can instantly get your ad in front of consumers if there is an FDA recall of a drug, or if some other event creates a big pool of potential clients searching for a particular term. Another advantage of pay-per-click advertising: if you are willing to bid high enough, you can guarantee that you will be on the first page of Google. Sometimes, even the best SEO experts aren’t able to get your website ranked on the first page because there are hundreds of thousands of pages all competing for a particular search term. For example, I just ran a Google search for “mesothelioma attorney” and there were 764,000 pages competing for first place.
Often the best approach is good SEO, with judicious use of pay-per-click.