5 Reasons You Need SEO To Reach Your Goals

Have you ever wondered what the most successful personal injury, DUI, and criminal defense law firms in every major metro in the U.S. have in common?

With very few exceptions, they’ve all built a dominant presence in online search results by partnering with a lawyer SEO company on an effective local SEO campaign.

Since you’re reading this article, I assume you want to join the ranks of the most successful attorneys in your market.

So I’m going to lay out why lawyers who want to build more profitable firms need SEO – and why working with a typical ‘jack-of-all-trades’ SEO agency isn’t going to deliver the results you need.


REASON #1: Almost all of your potential clients are using a search engine to find legal representation.

Referrals from previous clients are awesome, but you can’t build a high-growth law firm by relying on word-of-mouth. If you want to generate a steady stream of leads that turn into new cases, you have to be visible at the top of online search results – because that is where people are looking when they need an attorney.

96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine.

Google still has roughly 90% share of the mobile search market.


Screenshot of statistics showing Google 94% market share of mobile search market


If you had to go fishing to catch your dinner, you’d want to cast your net in the pond with the most fish, right? Google has almost all the fish.

Let’s look at an example of how much potential this adds up to for a typical local attorney.

If you were a DUI attorney in Denver, just the top three keywords you’d want to rank for get over 1,000 searches a month.

You can see in the screenshot below that the term ‘DUI attorney Denver’ alone has a search volume of 720 searches per month.


Screenshot showing search volume of 720/month for DUI attorney denver.

That’s an average of 30 opportunities a day for a prospective client to contact you.

If we add in just the top three keywords for criminal defense attorneys in Denver, we now have almost 60 local searches for your services being performed every day.

Remember, that’s only the top 6 keywords for DUI and criminal defense attorneys in Denver.

The total number of searches per day related to that one practice area in Denver climbs to well over 100 when we add in more of the keywords you’d want to rank for.


REASON #2: You have a TON of competition for new cases.

There are over 179,000 lawyers in the state of New York.

That’s almost 92 attorneys for every 10,000 people.


Let’s use a little high-level math to break this down to the number of lawyers in major metro areas…

New York City has a population of over 8 million people.

8 million divided by 10,000 = 800

800 x 92 attorneys = 73,600 lawyers in New York City

There are 47,310 attorneys in the Chicago metro area.

Minneapolis has 16,200 attorneys.

The Denver metro area has at least 10,730 lawyers.

So what does the competition among all these lawyers mean…


REASON #3: The cost of PPC (Adwords) clicks for legal searches is outrageously expensive.

Running an Adwords campaign essentially makes Google a partner in your law firm.

In exchange for clicks, you can be certain the search engine is going to take a healthy share of the profits – regardless of how many new cases your campaign produces.

That’s because the cost-per-click (CPC) for legal-related searches on Google’s Adwords platform are among the most expensive of any vertical online.


Check out this list of the 20 most expensive PPC keywords for legal-related searches…


bar chart depicting the 20 most expensive legal related keywords on Google Adwords


There are several components to a successful pay-per-click campaign:

  • keyword research
  • your bids on those keywords
  • your quality score
  • your ad copy
  • landing pages (yes, you need these!)
  • conversion optimization for those landing pages
  • call tracking
  • patience
  • a big budget

First, you have to find a really good PPC specialist to setup and manage your campaign, then find a different specialist to design your keyword targeted landing pages.

Then you need someone who is an expert at conversion optimization to analyze, and tweak those landing pages so you can maximize your ROI from your campaign.

Why do attorneys have to go to such great lengths to develop a successful pay-per-click campaign?


Even when you consider the average cost-per-click (CPC) across a broader range of keywords, lawyer-related clicks are still the 4th most expensive category on Adwords.


graphic depicting the top 4 most expensive categories on Google's Adwords platfor with lawyer related keywords being the 4th most expensive category



While you can certainly produce a return-on-investment (ROI) from pay-per-click, it requires an enormous commitment of time, effort, and resources (money) to get any Adwords campaign to the point that you’re making money from it.


#4 SEO is a zero-sum game.

For every 100 people that contact an law firm, 87 of them will in fact go on to hire an attorney.


Here’s the important part of the statistic above…

72% of the people who go on to hire a lawyer only contact only one attorney.

There is no ‘growing the pie’ in online search.

If there are 2,900 Google searches a month for ‘personal injury lawyer los angeles,’ the lawyers who rank in the top three spots of search results have already won the battle for those online leads.



Screenshot showing there are 2,900 searches per month for personal injury lawyer los angeles.


If your SEO campaign allows you to knock one of those lawyers out of the top three spots, you’re going to take those leads from them.

And they’ll be left fighting for scraps.

The fact that SEO is a zero-sum endeavor is exactly why law firms should avoid hiring a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ SEO company.

If you want to compete for online leads for legal searches, you need to work with someone who is a top search engine optimization expert for lawyers.


#5 If you aren’t in the Top 5 search results – you might as well be invisible.

The first 5 websites in the organic results (the listings below the local Maps 3-pack) capture 67% of all the clicks from the 1st page of Google search results.

The websites in positions 6 through 10 (combined) garner less than 4% of the clicks.


chart representing the percentage of clicks received by position in Google search results

NOTE: There is a caveat to ranking in the top five spots when it comes to the organic listings (below the local Maps 3-Pack)…

Google Gives Preference To Brands And Authority Sites

Since authority sites like Avvo, Findlaw, SuperLawyers.com, and Justia have essentially taken over so many spots on the 1st page for lawyer-related searches, your goal should be to rank as one of the top 3 local law firms in the organic listings.

When it comes to ranking in the Maps 3-Pack, you must rank in the top three spots to get any phone calls or website traffic from the local search results in Maps.

That’s why it’s called the 3-Pack.

Very few people ever click the ‘More Results’ button to look beyond the top three law firms in Maps.



So let’s recap the five reasons attorneys need search engine optimization… if they want to bring in new cases from online leads, and grow their law firms.

  1. Most people search for an attorney online when they need legal services.
  2. With over 1.3 million lawyers in the U.S., the competition for new clients is intense.
  3. The competition for online leads among attorneys makes the cost pf pay-per-click (Adwords) campaigns outrageously expensive.
  4. SEO is a zero-sum game.
  5. Just ranking on the 1st page of Google isn’t enough – your law firm needs to  in the Top 5 results to generate leads from online searches.

I hope this article helped make a clear-cut case for why SEO is so critical to growing your law firm.

If you want to develop (and maintain) a steady flow of online leads, and new cases, search engine optimization is the best way – in fact, it’s the only way to do that.

Next up in our Lawyer SEO FAQ series: How Long Does SEO For Lawyers Take To Show Results?