SEO and SEM:
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As two of the most commonly used terms in digital marketing, SEO and SEM are key elements in a successful marketing campaign and can mean the difference between a regular boost to business, or languishing in obscurity on the third page of Google.
For law firms, these two concepts are particularly important: the law is a growing and evolving profession, and competition is fierce. In order to thrive, firms need to be embracing digital marketing, and making sure that their sites are primed and optimized. Ensuring top quality SEO and SEM practices are a large aspect of this.
What Are SEO and SEM?
SEO and SEM are both digital marketing techniques which are focused on driving traffic to your website.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) works by optimizing your website, in an effort to maximize traffic from organic search results – that is, driving visitors who are already searching for your business to your particular site. In the case of law firms, SEO makes sure that every aspect of your website is optimized to ensure that visitors looking for a specific attorney in your area discover your firm, rather than one of the hundreds of competitors on the market.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing), on the other hand, aims to drive traffic and visibility from both paid searches, such as PPC, as well as organic searches – in a sense, it is a blend of both techniques.
Why Do SEO and SEM Matter For Law Firms?
While legal professionals carry out an important role in offering legal advice, guidance and representation, firms are, at their core businesses. This means that you will always be on the lookout for potential new clients, and in a constant state of promotion as you attempt to drum up new interest and leads. While in many cases, word-by-mouth and a sterling reputation can help, firms are increasingly finding themselves competing with other legal professionals, and so a solid marketing strategy is essential for growth and evolution.
SEO and SEM techniques are both important factors here; they help to ensure that your website is selected out of the hundreds, if not thousands, available from a simple Google search. As an added bonus, these tools target visitors already on the lookout for your services, and this can make it easier to convert them into paying clients.
What Are The Types of SEO?
Not all SEO practices are created equal; there are a number of different types of SEO, and all of these can be used together to help maximize your success.
- On-Page SEO
One of the most commonly understood types of SEO is on-page SEO; as the name suggests, this optimizes your on-page content on the website, around specific keywords, which are used by your target customers to search – for example, “lawyers in Virginia.” Typically, good on-page SEO practice is to make sure that your main keyword is included in your title tag, webpage URL and meta description.
- Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO involves building a catalogue of high-quality backlinks to your site – this helps to boost your site as a trusted authority, and allows you to climb the rankings. Google in particular uses a number of off-page signals to help determine the authority of your site, such as social media sharing. Google also uses a concept known as E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness); these are the three features every page will be judged on with regards to authority and trust. For law firms, these attributes are even more crucial.
- Technical SEO
Technical SEO is useful for making sure that the architecture of your site is smooth and accessible, that your overall website is fast and smooth to load, and that the pages can be found and crawled by any search engine. Clients accessing legal advice are often under a lot of stress and pressure, and so a smooth, relaxing interaction helps set the perfect first impression for your firm.
How About SEM?
SEM includes SEO, and so all of the above practices are relevant to both. In addition, SEM uses PPC – Pay Per Click – which allows you to bid on a specific keyword. When someone searches for the keyword, your ad will show up, and this will (hopefully) direct them to your firm.
The rankings of the ad depends on the highest bidder – the more you bid, the more likely your ad will be shown above all others. When someone clicks the ad, you pay whatever you bid – known as Cost Per Click (CPC).
Ads on Google are ranked by ‘Quality Score’, and this is based on a combination of the quality of your landing page, the overall Quality Score of your Google Ads account, and the click through rate. The higher the Quality Score of your Google Ad account, the more likely you are to score a discount.
It doesn’t matter how great your law firm is – you need potential clients to be able to see it. Using SEO and SEM can help to boost your visibility, and increase the organic and paid traffic to your site. This, in turn, means a higher number of potential clients.