Web marketing

Clients rely on web searches, but some lawyers don’t prioritize SEO and social media marketing

Business Law

Clients rely on web searches, but some lawyers don’t prioritize SEO and social media marketing

Photo illustration by Sarah Wadford/Shutterstock.

Michelle Creeden, the practice administrator of the National Legal Center, a law firm in Candia, New Hampshire, has always relied on business referrals rather than advertisements.

It had never been a problem – until the pandemic arrived and wiped out those businesses, drying up the referrals seemingly overnight.

So two years ago, Creeden turned to search engine optimization and social media to market the law firm.

“It’s definitely a long game and a work in progress, but we’re starting to see success with this strategy,” Creeden said.

Before implementing the SEO strategy, in which the company improves its website so that it is more visible and better indexed by Internet search engines, the vast majority of visitors to their site were existing customers and offline references. Since focusing on SEO, they have seen their impressions increase by over 1,200%, and organic traffic now accounts for around 42% of visitors (it used to be around 7%).

“The unexpected short-term benefit that we didn’t anticipate is the B2B relationships we’ve been able to form through an improved online presence,” says Creeden.

Law firms are slowly but surely moving from email marketing to social media and SEO advertising, but they’re not all on the other side yet. According to a December 2021 survey from CallRail, a marketing analytics and business communications platform, nearly half of surveyed businesses polled businesses through social media and internet searches. But only 17% make SEO or social media advertising a priority. Survey finds email remains the most popular digital marketing channel for law firms, with 61% of respondents relying on mailing lists to stay in touch with prospects who haven’t converted into customers. Despite this, the survey found that respondents listed email marketing as their second worst performing channel.

This comes as more and more consumers rely on online searches to find lawyers. A March study from Martindale-Avvo found that 70% of participating legal consumers look to online content, such as profiles and reviews, to guide their decision-making when it comes to hiring a lawyer.

Why the disconnection?

Seth Price, a founding partner of Price Benowitz Accident Injury Lawyers in Washington, DC, says many law firms don’t use SEO or social media because they’re stuck in an older mindset in marketing, and they don’t believe this change is necessary.

“As a result, they think there’s no need for other forms of marketing because what they’re doing has worked pretty well so far,” Price says. “But new law firms are recognizing the gaps in digital marketing, allowing them to grow quickly and therefore secure a more competitive position within the industry.”

Price says if law firms put effort into SEO, potential clients will find them when searching online in their area. SEO also drives businesses to improve their websites, creating better experiences for site visitors, which impacts conversion rates, he says.

Needle in a haystack

Allison Mundy, owner and attorney-manager of Mundy Legal Services in Tomball, Texas, says understanding SEO is overwhelming and daunting at first, but the returns are worth the time invested. She relied on networking and paid phone ads for business, but she also hired a social media manager to optimize her SEO when she launched her law firm.

“Without good SEO, no one would even find my website,” says Mundy.

During the company’s early years, she also ran Facebook boosts. “Every time we launched a boost, the number of calls increased. Six years later, I’m #1 or #2 on Google’s list and over 60% of my customers come from Google reviews and searches,” she says.

Ryan Reiffert, the owner of Ryan Reiffert Law Offices in San Antonio, uses SEO and social media, depending on his needs at the time. For example, a Probate customer will be geared towards middle-aged and older people, so they’ll be less likely to be on TikTok; an LLC formation client will most likely be younger, so getting good brand exposure on social media will help, Reiffert says.

Some companies will outsource the task. Kia Roberts, founder and director of Triangle Investigations, a group of expert lawyers and investigators conducting malpractice investigations, says much of her firm’s success since its inception in 2019 is due to a focus on her SEO efforts, which she outsourced. Her SEO conversion rate is 50%, she says.

Roberts says the concept of successful SEO is difficult to articulate and explain, which may be why few lawyers are willing to invest in it. The practice of law, on the other hand, is a very concrete and methodical field of work, involving countless laws, statutes and regulations, many of which are applied in black or white fashion, she says.

Still, Roberts says she realized that as a brand new business, customers acquired through word of mouth would only go until they established themselves as a business. of confidence. This is where SEO was essential, accelerating the launch of the business and growing its client list quickly and methodically.

“We have countless clients who have found us through Google search because of our SEO rankings,” Roberts says. “I’ve become an SEO evangelist and I’m thrilled we’ve embarked on this as a growth strategy.”

This story originally appeared in the June/July 2022 issue of ABA Journal under the title: “Optimal advertising: Although consumers rely more on web searches, some lawyers do not prioritize SEO and social media marketing.”