Five Reasons Attorneys Need An SEO Expert


Ever wondered what the common factor is among the most successful personal injury (PI), bankruptcy, divorce/family law, and DUI lawyers in every major metro In the U.S.?


Every one of them have a long-running search engine optimization campaign for their law firms that has maximized their visibility in Google’s local search results.

Given that you happen to be reading this article at the moment, it’s probably safe to assume that you want your law firm to join the elite group of high-growth law firms that dominate online search in their market with high-level SEO campaigns.


image of a businessman walking towards a big city


I’m going to give you the five top reasons that you need an lawyer SEO expert to help you accomplish that.

If you’re looking for evidence that investing in a search engine optimization campaign is the best way to grow your practice, here are what I call the ‘BIG 5’…


#1: The competition among law firms for online leads (and new clients) is insane – and that’s putting it mildly.

There are over 1.35 MILLION lawyers in the United States.

170,000 attorneys in California alone.

91,000 in Texas.

New York has an astonishing 92 lawyers for every 10,000 residents.

Minnesota has 45 lawyers for every 10,000 residents.

image of a group of businesspeople representing the crowded legal market


The state of Illinois has more than 62,000 attorneys – and a total population of 12,700,000.


Which means there are nearly 50 lawyers (49.8 to be precise) in the state of Illinois for every 10,000 residents.

With 9.5 million people in the Chicago metro area, that works out to 47,500 lawyers in the Chicago area.


How are you supposed to stand out in such a massive crowd of attorneys?

How intense do you think the competition for new clients is with that many attorneys in the same market?

I’ll show you exactly how intense the competition is in Reason #4.

So please, read on…


#2: Nearly every potential client looking for an attorney in your legal specialty is searching on Google.

A few years back, The National Law Review published an article titled Legal Marketing Stats Lawyers Need To Know that included some (at the time) surprising statistics.

Here are 3 that were particularly interesting:


Did you know… 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine.


screenshot of Google search bar showing a search for the keyword car accident attorney los angeles

and… 74% of prospects beginning a search online end up contacting the office via phone.


And here’s a big one… 62% of legal searches are non-branded (i.e., generic: “Phoenix divorce attorney,” etc.).



Why is that last statistic such a huge deal?

Because it means that almost two-thirds of the people searching for an attorney online aren’t looking for a specific law firm by name.


So when they see your firm shows in the top spots of Google’s Maps 3-Pack, and see your great reviews – you have an excellent chance of landing them as a client.

And if they’re looking for answers to a few questions they may have before contacting an attorney… you become the trusted authority on the subject when they see your website at the top of Google’s organic listings.


#3 If you want online leads – your law firm MUST be in the Top 3 spots of Google Maps or the Top 5 in organic search results.

To get any phone calls or online leads from local search results (i.e., Google’s Maps 3-Pack), your Google My Business (GMB) listing has to rank in the top 3 spots.

Simple as that.

No one ever clicks the ‘More Places’ button that’s displayed below the top 3 listings in Maps when searching for an attorney.


image showing the More Places button on Google Maps 3-Pack search result

Maybe when they’re trying to find a restaurant for lunch, but not when their search for an attorney.


So unless you’re opening a restaurant, it’s the Top 3 or bust when it comes to Google Maps.

Click-through-rates (CTR’s) on SERP’s are VERY top-heavy.

The websites that rank in the top-5 positions on page 1 of search results get 2 out of every 3 clicks from a given search on average.

That’s 67% of the clicks going to the sites in the first five spots according to a study published by a respected industry – Advanced Web Ranking.

If your website ranks in the bottom half of Page 1 (the 6th – 10th positions), you’ll be fighting for scraps.

And not a generous portion of scraps either.

The sites that rank 6th through 10th get a combined share of less than 4% of the total clicks – even though they’re on the first page of Google!

image of chart showing CTR by average position in search results


Because if you rank in the 6th position, you have to hope that not a single one of the first five websites entices a searcher to click-through to visit their website.

Those are pretty long odds.

It’s sort of like being the 6th-fastest guy at the Olympics.

No podium.

No medal.

No one even knows who you are.

There is one aspect of legal-related searches that creates somewhat of an exception to this rule.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE: Quite a few authority sites in the legal space (think now rank on the 1st page of Google for just about every search you can think of related to finding a local attorney.

There’s a certain percentage of searchers who want to get their information, and do their research – specifically on the website of an actual local law firm.

So making sure your website ranks among the first three local attorneys on page 1 (regardless of your position when including the authority sites) is often a solid goal… even if that means you’re showing up somewhere in positions 6-10.


#4: The click costs for legal-related searches on Adwords (pay-per-click) are unbelievably expensive.

You need at least two things to make Adwords (pay-per-click) a successful part of your firm’s marketing strategy:

  1. a BIG budget
  2. lots of patience


Oh, and by the way, you’re also going to need a top-notch web designer, AND a killer conversion optimization expert.

Neither of which come cheap.


Remember reason #1 at the beginning of this article?

Where we talked about how many lawyers there were competing for clients?

All that competition has driven up the CPC’s (cost-per-click) for legal-related searches to insane levels.


Clicks for legal keywords are among the most expensive of any vertical on the Adwords platform.


image of the average cost of lawyer-related keyword on Adwords platform is $54.86


Can law firms generate a decent return-on-investment (ROI) from from pay-per-click advertising?

Yes, if you’re willing to commit the resources (time, effort, etc), find the right specialists to manage your campaign… and show a great deal of patience as they optimize your campaign.


#5: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a zero-sum game.

Let me give you a couple more eye-opening statistics from that same National Law Review article mentioned above:


1. Out of every 100 people that contact an attorney, 87 of those folks will actually hire a law firm.

2. 72% of the people who actually do hire a law firm will do so having only contacted one attorney.

What does that 2nd statistic tell us?

It means that if a prospective client finds you first, the odds are extremely good that they will hire you – without ever speaking to another attorney.


image showing statistics from National law review article

Your SEO campaign doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Let’s say you decide to partner with a top law firm SEO specialist.

Six to nine months from now your GMB listing breaks into the top 3 positions in Google’s Maps 3-Pack.

You didn’t ‘grow the pie’ of available leads with your SEO campaign.

You’re now eating the slices of pie someone else had been getting every month… before you came along and knocked them out of the 3-Pack.


That law firm is going to see an abrupt, and substantial decrease in the number of leads coming into their office every week.

The traffic to their website is going to ‘fall off a cliff.’

Do you think they’re going to just sit back and watch you take all those clients that they’ve come to believe ‘belong to them?’

Not likely.


The first thing your competitors are going to do when they see their revenue from new cases collapse, is call their SEO company and ask “WTH is going on?”

Then they will either ramp up their search engine optimization budget, or find a new SEO agency they think can help them ‘take back what is theirs.’



One caveat to the five reasons listed above is that you really only need SEO… if you want to grow your law firm.

If you don’t care about bringing in more phone calls, leads from your website, and new clients – then feel free to ignore the reasons above.


To Recap:

  • There are over 1.35 million attorneys in the U.S. – so the competition for new clients is incredibly intense.
  • 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine.
  • If you want phone calls, and leads from online searches for a local attorney – your firm has to rank in the Top 3 of Maps, and the Top 5 organic listings.
  • Pay-per-click advertising (clicks) for law firms is one of the most expensive verticals on Google’s Adwords platform.
  • When you win at SEO, your competitors lose (i.e., zero-sum). So the fight for online rankings in local search is fierce.


To be sure, an effective SEO campaign is an investment in the long-term growth of your firm. One that will pay off by generating impressive return-on-investment for years to come when maintained.

However, the hyper-competitive nature of the legal business (and online search rankings) means working with a ‘we do SEO for all types of businesses’ agency is going to leave you with little or nothing to show for your investment.

Next up in our Law Firm SEO FAQ series: How Long Does Law Firm SEO Take To Start Producing Results?

(add this link when the next article goes live)





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