Peter Boyd is an attorney and the Founder of PaperStreet. He has successfully helped 1,500 law firms with their websites and marketing.
Asking whether it’s better for your firm to focus advertising dollars on pay-per-click advertising or search engine optimization is a little like asking whether it’s better to spend your grocery money on apples or oranges.
PPC and SEO are both digital advertising techniques that can increase business, just like the grocery options are fruits with certain health benefits. The choice between them should be based on your goals and situation rather than a measurement of their relative merits.
What Are You Really Asking?
When you’re considering spending money on PPC advertising or investing in SEO efforts, what are you really deciding between? PPC advertising essentially allows you to buy your way to the top (or near the top) of the search results page. Putting your money into SEO amounts to trying various tactics to produce organic search results that also put you near the top, but it’s the top of a slightly different list. Which one should be your priority? Or should you invest equally in both?
To answer these questions, it is helpful to understand the benefits and drawbacks of PPC and SEO, as well as the ways they can be leveraged to work together to grow your firm’s business.
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Using PPC To Increase Business
PPC ads come in many formats. These include:
• Search ads that appear at the top of the search engine results page.
• Shopping ads that appear alongside search results.
• Gmail ads.
• Display ads.
• YouTube ads.
Every time a potential customer or client clicks on an ad, the firm has to pay. Depending on the campaign, your business could rack up substantial advertising bills with PPC ads. Surprisingly substantial bills.
However, one good thing about these hefty expenditures is that they produce results very quickly. Assuming your ad is designed properly, you should start to see an increase in traffic, clicks and conversions almost right away. You also gain valuable data about keywords of importance to your potential customers and clients.
Another benefit is that paid ad results appear above organic results when a potential client conducts a search. Your ad could be the very first thing a customer sees. That result is impossible to obtain through SEO alone. You can also ensure that information such as expanded site links and phone numbers appear prominently, and you can target specific types of customers. Finally, PPC advertising is less complex than SEO strategy, so you can create campaigns with fewer staff members or less reliance on your marketing firm. You won’t have to worry as much about updates to Google algorithms because you’ll be buying your way to the top.
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Using SEO To Increase Business
SEO focuses on strategies to increase your law firm’s performance in natural (organic) search results. Successful SEO includes a mix of operations to ensure that search engines understand your site’s content and treat the site as an authority. Your SEO team will need to pay attention to a wide variety of factors including:
• Link building.
• Technical SEO issues.
• Content marketing.
• User experience.
With the near-constant changes in search engine algorithms, it can be a daunting task. But the results can be more than worth the effort. Investments in organic SEO are widely considered to be one of the most economical ways to increase the visibility of a business’s website.
Successful SEO efforts place your firm right in front of potential customers and clients in a location where they are often considered more trustworthy than results visibly labeled as ads.
Although it can take considerably longer to see results from investment in SEO, especially when compared with PPC, the results are much longer-lasting. PPC ad placement goes away when you stop paying for it. SEO results, on the other hand, continue, and you do not pay each time a potential client wants to learn more about your firm. Another reason SEO is considered to be a solid investment is that your costs can remain stable as the strategy succeeds, whereas a successful PPC campaign will cost you much more than a lackluster one.
Should Your Firm Invest In SEO Or PPC?
So, does your firm need apples or oranges? Ideally, you should put both in your cart. Allocating portions of your advertising budget to PPC and SEO can help you gain the best of both. For instance, you can use the keyword knowledge gained from a PPC ad to develop content for your long-term SEO strategy.
Both PPC and SEO offer big benefits for businesses. When considering which one is the better option for your overall marketing strategy, you will likely need a healthy mix of tests, data and perhaps some trial and error. One thing is for sure though: Both are an investment that will show a return, and they are definitely marketing tactics worth your efforts.