Legal Search Marketing – The value of your search rankings

By Ian M. Bardorf

Generally speaking, people who are in business are not inclined to give their company’s strategic assets away to the competition. However, many attorneys and law firms do exactly this and they don’t even realize it!

When it comes to online marketing, what many attorneys fail to realize is the actual value of their online presence.

All too often, “beach front property” in the form of a top website ranking on any search engine, is simply given away to a competitor because of what may be good, yet ill-conceived intentions. A typical scenario is when someone at the firm takes the initiative to update or re-write some content on the firm’s website. Without realizing it, their modifications have dropped the website from the search engines rankings, leaving the vacancy for Google to fill with a competitors website instead.

An even worse case scenario that happens quite a bit, is when a firm decides a sleek new website is in order and proceeds to simply replace the old site without consideration of how established that site has become with the search engines, losing every ranking they’ve ever achieved. Ouch!

To put things in perspective and to illustrate the value of a top search engine ranking, let’s take the following example. Imagine your firm’s website ranks among the first five results on Google for a very common search phrase like, “Boston divorce lawyers”. According to Google’s keyword search volume, this particular phrase is searched over 1,500 times per month. That averages more than 18,000 searches per year.

Statistically, the top 5 results will get more clicks than any other result on the page. So let’s conservatively assume 20% of the people searching this phrase click one of the top five results. This one search term drives 3,600 visitors to your website every year. This is not a ranking you want to lose!

So what’s the value of a good ranking?
1. New Clients: If you are a Boston area divorce lawyer, and you have 3,600 people visit your website who have searched specifically for “Boston divorce lawyers” then, arguably you’re attracting highly qualified potential clients. Even if only 1% of the 3,600 visitors decide to contact you, that’s 36 new inquiries for just that one search term. The question is, how many of those inquiries can you convert to clients?

2. Visibility: There is tremendous value in name recognition and branding. Dominating the search engine pages for specific geographic and practice area searches enhance your exposure and confirms credibility to prospective clients searching the web. If you fail to maintain your rankings or if you do something to ‘give it away’, Google will easily replace you with one of its 24,199,000 other possible results – most likely it will be your competition – and you can start over.

I often remind clients that the Internet is a marketplace and needs to be treated as such. If you plan to actively participate in this market to advance your business, then you really should understand the value of what you have and what you’re trying to obtain. Failing to realize the value of ranking on the first page of Google for “Massachusetts divorce lawyer” or, on the flip side, expecting that your new site will rank for “Boston real estate attorney” because that’s what you do, is simply navigating the marketplace blindly. And with any mismanaged investment it will eventually catch up with you.

Bardorf Legal Marketing is a Massachusetts Internet marketing and advertising firm working with lawyers and law firms on enhancing their online effectiveness in the areas of SEO, paid search, social media, affiliate marketing, blog and website development, and targeted local search marketing campaigns.

Ian M. Bardorf is an Internet marketing and social media advisor to attorneys and law firms seeking to grow and advance their business via the web. This article is copyrighted as original content by Ian M. Bardorf and Bardorf Legal Marketing. This article may be reproduced or republished with appropriate attribution and credit.