▷ Referencing a law firm: SEO vs SEA

As of 2014, lawyers have access to the full advertising spectrum of most other companies. If they have permission to do so, they are rare to display their services in a bus shelter or on television: they very quickly fall into advertisements typed Saul Goodman…

On the other hand, lawyers threw themselves on Google Ads. Is right. CPC (cost per click) payments, ease of access for independent and local firms and campaign discretion make it a formidable ally.

However, some questions arise. Does the lawyer simply want to win clients or develop a clientele? Are Google Ads still the El Dorado we were promised? Do lawyers still have an interest in practicing paid referencing? Shouldn’t they rather favor natural and organic referencing, based on a solid editorial line, closer to their ancestral habits as experts?


SEA simply stands for Search Engine Advertising: advertisements on search engines. Popular with local businesses, Google Adwords allow you to easily deploy an effective campaign and many agencies will offer you their services at low cost.

Why is the SEA interesting for the lawyer?

This marketing action offers you multiple targeting and visibility advantages. You present your legal services to people who are looking for them and target your prospect’s interest in your legal matter according to your location.

  • Immediate customer acquisition: Keyword buying is immediate. You prepare your ads, link your bank account and win new files.
  • Very precise targeting : you can target your prospects very precisely according to the keyword they type in the search engine and their place of residence.
  • Easy to create budget : This point will depend on the firm and its size, but for independent and local firms, it is very simple. If you’re only targeting your specialization for your bar, you don’t even need an agency. To understand Ads, you can watch Bruno Guyot’s videos.
  • Contact ads Site link, telephone number, hours, address, price, call-to-action: Google Ads allow you to integrate a set of marketing tools facilitating contact with your practice.

What are the limits of the SEA for the lawyer?

The lawyers present in the Google Ads links are clones: the sponsored links present on the same city present the same specialization, similar websites and services, all put forward by slaughter webmarketing agencies.

The competition is tough. Ads will get you customers for a while, but the CPCs are increasing every day. In Montpellier, for example, we find a price almost doubled in two years for certain legal subjects. Each file obtained becomes less and less profitable.

SEO or natural referencing

The lawyer is a legal professional: he is an authority on his market and has a monopoly on litigation. He’s an expert. If in 2014, the only acquisition of traffic counted, today differentiation is required. You are an expert and need to demonstrate your expertise.

Your prospects ask themselves a question, look for a solution to a problem and discover your web page. SEO is a modernization of the lawyer’s old customer acquisition. Participation in conferences, teaching, participation in legal journals: all this editorial and educational work is now accessible for each lawyer and directly from his website.

What are the benefits of SEO for the lawyer?

SEO is like building a customer base, it is seen over the long term and gives you more flexibility in targeting than Google Ads.

You can win customers on commercial keywords, called “short tail” such as “Lyon law firm”. This strategy is ideal for creating an automatic “file machine”.

In addition, you have the opportunity to go further and work on a so-called “long tail” keyword strategy on your website. In such a strategy, you will target keywords such as this: “what procedure to engage for an inheritance concealment?” “. In this case, and unlike Google Ads, you are looking for specific topics and customers:

  • Legal professionals;
  • Professionals in a specific sector;
  • Socio-professional category of a prospect.

A solid SEO strategy uses both types of strategies: short and long tail. You associate the acquisition of many varied files and create the base of a future clientele, professional and specialized, ready to call on you for specific needs. By the way, I wrote an article about it.

  • Demonstration of your expertise: By working an SEO strategy on certain customer segments, you can create a real expert editorial line. You answer all your customers’ questions on an extremely specific topic. Thanks to Google, you are identified as THE specialist on the subject.
  • Maximum profitability : If the initial costs are higher than in Ads, each position obtained costs you nothing more for several years: you automatically reduce the cost per file acquired every day.
  • Sustainability : Positions gained in SEO are volatile until Google sees you as their champion. From then on, you stay in the first position for several years.
  • Reinforcement of your brand image : By positioning yourself on the commercial keywords of your city, you establish your authority on your bar in the eyes of your customers. Google transfers its own authority to you.
  • Gain of notoriety : In SEO, you create a network of articles external to your site and benefit from an increase in your notoriety.
  • Precision in targeting : By working on certain keywords, you can target certain types of customers thanks to the induced intention of the request as well as its semantic field. Read this article to learn more.

What are the limits of SEO for the lawyer?

SEO can also be complicated to implement. It takes time, at least 3-4 months to get first results and only if you have applied all the right actions: optimized content, backlinks, technical seo, keyword strategy. It is much more demanding than Google Ads.

Even if the increase in CPCs in SEA increasingly falsifies this argument, SEO is generally more expensive at launch. On the other hand, each passing day increases the profitability of the position obtained in Google search results. SEO is one of the most profitable marketing channels out there.

I recommend that lawyers understand how referencing works, an integral part of the new practice of the profession: legal advice now begins free of charge on the internet.

Can you combine the two?

Both stocks have their strengths and weaknesses. If I gladly recommend the SEA to some of my clients, particularly in real estate development, I would recommend that lawyers combine the two.

Google Ads allow you to test keywords, measure their benefits for a few days or even a few weeks. Depending on your feedback, you may decide to start a longer SEO strategy.

By combining the two, you occupy more space in the SERP and increase your chances of converting your prospects into customers. You combine the speed of execution of Google Ads with the profitability as well as the wave of traffic inherent in the snowball effect of SEO.

The best of both worlds

Neither solution is perfect. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. However, I see too many independent firms ignoring SEO. A paradoxical situation when we know that it represents the lawyer’s demonstration of expertise at its peak: legal expertise is associated with mass distribution. The circle is complete.

The next time you’re thinking about growing your customer base, joining a business network, having yet another lunch, or launching a Google Ads campaign, take a moment to work on an article.

About the Author

Guilhem Delachapelle (SEO Consultant): I am a natural referencing consultant for lawyers. I support national firms with multiple partners and even individual independent firms.


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