It’s unfair to say, “A typical law firm will expect these results…”
Nevertheless, how can we demonstrate the value of SEO if we can’t talk as an industry about realistic milestones for our client-base?
Maybe it’s hard to define typical because of the wide spectrum of variables at play in each situation. As you can imagine, clients begin SEO services with a consultant like Core Values Consulting at various states of their online presence.
Where Are You Starting Your SEO Journey?
Some firms have very minimal exposure online. Perhaps a Wix website and a small amount of content. A bio of the principal attorney, and a short description of their work. Nothing remarkable – nor search worthy.
Other firms have been at the game a while and are looking to get a bit more focused on delivering results to their existing website. So, let’s take a look at sample firms and their timelines.
Sample 1: Law Firm with Minimal Online Exposure and Recent, Entry Level, SEO
This firm had a little bit of traffic sometime around December 2016-August 2017. Given an educated guess, this traffic was incidental. Traffic value* is still very minimal, but growing as website traffic increases.
Starting with very little investment in SEO in ~July 2019, the website is growing – and it is doing so in a relatively predictable fashion.
For background, this website began its SEO audit and overall in June 2019. And starting in July 2019, they started posting a regular series of niche-specific blog posts.
While the value of the traffic certainly does not yet offset the outlay – the growth pattern has been established. The website traffic is increasing, and the law firm is getting inquiries that it would not have received absent a focus on SEO and search engine marketing.
The results timeline on this law firm:
- Month 1: Establishment of Consulting Support
- Month 2: Development & Deployment of Blog & Keyword Strategy
- Month 3+: Traffic
- Month 4: Measurable increase in website traffic and calls for inquiry
* We measure traffic by the keyword searches used * value of keywords if bought in pay-per-click advertising
Sample 2: Law Firm with Long Term Online Exposure and Mid-Term, Entry Level, SEO
This firm had been blogging since ~July 2017 but had very little success. To expand on that a bit, see the mistakes #1,2,3,12, & 13 in our article: 13 Critical Blog Writing & SEO Errors Law Firms Unintentionally Make in Their Law Blog.
Starting in July 2018, the firm began a dedicated SEO strategy, which included an SEO audit, keyword analysis, website renovation, and a new blog strategy.
After about six months, the traffic was noticeably improving. At around the nine-month mark, ~March 2019, traffic started to climb much more rapidly than it had the previous several years.
The value of the traffic (not including the value of new clients) eclipsed the cost of SEO services within one year (~10 months).
Sample 3: Law Firm with Long Term Online Exposure, Entry Level SEO & Full-Service SEO
You can see in this firm, the power of continued investment in a law firm SEO strategy over time.
The law firm had been doing very little to bring traffic to their website, as far back as January 2016. Beginning in August 2016, the firm started implementing basic SEO strategies, including blogging, inconsistently.
Around December 2016, the firm established a blog/keyword strategy and engaged a third party website design. By January 2018, traffic had increased dramatically to the website, and an SEO audit revealed a website renovation and additional keywords strategy were in order.
By Feb 2018, the website traffic was equal to the equivalent traffic that Pay-per-click would deliver. In July 2018, the law firm began more advanced SEO strategies including, backlink building (white hat), citation building, reputation management, and further renovations to their website, among other activities.
The trajectory of the law firm’s SEO results is both predictable and expected.
Decompressing from the Analysis
Having shown you three different scenarios, we need to bring the conversation back to the topic in the title.
What to Expect from One Year of SEO for Your Law Firm
Within one year, if you are starting from zero SEO, you will see a notable traffic increase to your website. You will also receive more direct communication (email, telephone, et al.). At some point around the one-year mark, you will see an inversion between what you would expect to pay for similar results using pay-per-click and SEO. Of course, this answer is very speculative; your results will vary. Your results will also depend on your law niche and your marketing investment strategy.
Here are trends you should be seeing at this point:
- Blogging is critical to building your law firm’s website presence.
- Content creation results in more traffic
- Within four months results will start becoming very noticeable
- Around one year, results will be evident
- Beyond one year, results will continue to compound
Here’s what you can’t see in the tables we shared above:
- The quality of the traffic (good leads, bad leads, etc.)
- Leads that made a call without visiting the website (from google maps or equivalent)
What Will Throw You Off Your ROI on Law Firm SEO?
Again, results will vary. Though, you need to know what factors will impact your return on your investment.
- Sudden changes to SEO strategy and ignoring good SEO hygiene: For instance, abruptly stopping content development and removing old content for some reason. Often you might see this with a website renovation. If the old content isn’t correctly mapped to the new website, the value of that content can falter, or altogether disappear. Website renovations are especially critical times to retain an SEO consultant. You can save a lot of frustration, heartache, and cold hard cash by integrating a solid SEO plan into your marketing strategy as you get ready to deploy a new website.
- Internal processes creating roadblocks for content deployment: Occasionally, law firm clients will want to review every word that gets posted to their website. This requirement is both their prerogative and their right. However, if the timelines drag out, the expectations of return on investment will drag out proportionally. In the end, the best way to support your website as a law firm is to agree on broad strokes direction and work with your SEO consultant to lay out a solid plan. The most important part of your law firm SEO is consistency in content deployment. Second to this is the content itself conforming to keyword strategy, voice, grammar, and business requirements.
- Let’s be frank, an SEO agency or company that is not developing content. You can tune up your website as much as you want, but if there’s no content for search engines to grab onto, there’s no reason your law firm’s website should get to the top of search results. Many SEO agencies are website development or website management companies offering SEO as an up-sell with very little actual content marketing work involved. At a minimum, you should be looking at 2000 words per month of fresh, SEO optimized, relevant, unique, keyword strategized copy on your website. Ostensibly this copy would be placed in your blog. As you begin to see results, your word count should grow to >4500 words per month of new copy.
- Faltering commitment. If you change your mind with the weather, SEO isn’t for you. Over time, as shown above, and discussed below, there is no better marketing investment for your law firm than good SEO and content marketing. However, expecting results in 1 month, then slowing or stopping, then re-engaging services, then doing it all over again will result in poor performance and an almost guaranteed lack of return on investment.
So, How Much Should I Be Paying for SEO my First Year?
It’s hard to pin down a good number – there are SEO specialists on Fiverr that claim to do pretty substantial work for <$100. And as mentioned earlier, often, law firms will pay their web developer a fee of ~$200/month for “SEO support,” receiving very little actual benefit. The good agencies, or SEO consultants, will be more reserved on sharing their prices because each case is unique. But, general ballpark numbers can be gleaned from several sources.
Year 1 SEO:
- SEO Audit, Competitor Analysis, Keyword Strategy, SEO work plan: $1k-$4k. If you want to see what this looks like, take a look at our free e-book (below). We go through the info you need to create your own audit, analysis, strategy, & work plan. You can often get this number reduced by committing to a particular timeline of work. No SEO professional likes to see someone get three months into great SEO work then walk away before any of the results can reasonably be delivered.
- Monthly content creation (~2000 words), Delivery of SEO work plan: $400-$1500/month ($4,800~$14,400/year)
Is It Worth It to Engage in SEO for My Law Firm?
Like with so many business decisions you have to make as a law firm owner, you do have to take these numbers and do your own calculus as to their value.
To help, we wrote an article a while back that might help you decide what your time is worth. It will help you to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of doing this type of work in-house vs. working with a dedicated SEO consultant.
It’s our goal to give you as many details as we can about the process and to step in at whatever level you need support. Some law-firms do fantastic SEO by keeping this kind of work in-house. However, in our experience, working with the right SEO specialist is both cheaper and more effective in the long-run.
How to Get Started
A good SEO plan should take a couple of weeks to complete. The plan should dig into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It should also identify these factors for your competition (current or future). Most importantly, a good law firm SEO plan should give you a schedule of activities to be accomplished on your behalf.
Once you have the Law Firm SEO plan in place, you can get started completing the plan. In most cases, your SEO agency or consultant will be the one doing the majority of the SEO work.
We build custom SEO plans for Law Firms, and we help law firms grow. If you need to get started today, contact us – here. Or simply fill out the contact form below.
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