If your firm has a website, you probably already know that depending on how high your website shows up on search engine result pages (SERPs), more or less visitors will make their way to your site. But how important are SERPs to law firms? Understanding how search engines work can immensely improve your ability to sign new clients from your firm’s online traffic .
How do SERPs work?
Let’s start with the basics. A SERP is a list of results that a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) believes are the most relevant for whatever keyword or phrase a consumer searches. For most keywords or phrases, SERPs also include advertisements.
For example, a search of “Social Security disability attorney” will result in a myriad of links. The first results will be paid advertisements likely from firms hoping to attract new clients.
Below these, you’ll often see local listings of firms in your area. This is because Google and other search engines have found that local results are often more valuable to consumers. Our example search phrase will often return a map of law firms in the area:
Our office is located in Boston, so we see multiple law offices in Boston listed.
Finally, below ads and any local results, you’ll see organic search results. These are the web pages that Google, Bing, or Yahoo! best believe will help you find what you’re looking for online -- in our case, a Social Security disability attorney. Organic results are determined through a mixture of keywords used in a piece of content, as well as the overall helpfulness of the website on which it is hosted.
Why is appearing higher on a SERP important?
If consumers cannot find your firm’s website, you’ll have difficulty signing as many clients as your competitors will. “Social security disability attorney” yields nearly 750,000 results, meaning that in each search your website battles with thousands of other Social Security disability firms across the country for visits.
Of these 750,000 results, consumers will likely only click on a result on the first page. A study performed by AOL showed that 90% of online traffic went to results listed the first page. Results on the second page received just 4.8% of visits, and just 1.1% for results on the third page.
On top of this, your firm needs to be one of the first results on the first page to see a lot of traffic. The same study reported that the first organic result usually gets 29.6% of CTRs, the second result gets 13.1% of CTRs, and the third organic result only receives 9.2% of organic traffic.
How can my law firm perform well?
There are many ways to improve the ways in which your firm does well in SERPs. The first step is to invest time and manpower into search engine optimization (SEO). You optimize your firm's site for search engines by adding new and informative content, getting links pointing to your firm from other websites, and having active social media pages.
Another way to show up high on SERPs is to buy pay per click (PPC) ads for your firm. PPC is where your firm bids on keywords in the hope of getting traffic to your website. Depending on how much you bid for keyword combinations, a link to your law firm could be the very first result on a Google search.
Both SEO and PPC have caveats: SEO takes a long time to see any fruits of your labor, and PPC can become incredibly expensive depending on what area of law your firm practices. For example, competitive bids on mesothelioma keywords can exceed $100 per click.
Simple ways to increase your CTRs in result pages are by improving your local search rankings. Go to sites like Whitepages, Yellowbook, and Google Places for Business to list your firm. When your business is listed locally, it will be prominently featured on SERPs.
Finally, make sure that your firm has good content! Scant pages (less than 300 words) will typically not be listed high on SERPs. If your firm puts an effort into showing up higher on SERPs, you will almost certainly see an increase in cases signed.