There are so many companies and freelancers today, legit and otherwise trying to sell SEO services and we see a range of prices being thrown around. Many lawyers see value in pursuing SEO and search as a way to seriously step up their law firm’s marketing and growth. However, with so much noise and confusion in the market, it can be difficult to know how much to pay and what you’re paying for.
How much should SEO cost for lawyers and law firms? Generally, it will range between $2,000 and $10,000 per month in most cases. Smaller markets with less competitive areas of practice may pay less than $2,000 for results while large cities and competitive areas of law can cost far north of $10k per month.
There are a number of factors that go into determining how much you should pay in order to see results and not all search engine optimization service providers and agencies are the same. So, in the rest of this article, we’ll discuss more how much you should expect to pay, why it’s so expensive and what you should get from a solid SEO provider to get your desired rankings and money’s worth.
How much Should my law firm pay for SEO?
The area of law makes a huge difference when it comes to how valuable SEO is as a marketing strategy. All of the areas of law have been run through the organic search mill and it’s clear how the market values certain keywords more than others.
#1 – Area of Practice
The screenshot taken from our search engine keyword research tool shows us keywords like “personal injury lawyer” and “dui lawyer” along with their respective “keyword difficulty” scores and other attributes. The Keyword Difficulty is a way of measuring how competitive a keyword is and how difficult it is to rank on page 1 organically whenever people search for that keyword.
So the area of law has the most impact on the competitiveness and potential value of optimizing your site for organic search traffic. Here’s a more comprehensive list to see how difficult it is to rank organically for your area of practice:
#2 – Size of your Law Firm’s Market
The size of your market is going to contribute approximately the same amount of input to the final price you pay for search optimization. The bigger the city or state you’re targeting, the more lawyers there are. Bigger markets don’t just mean more law firms, but bigger firms with deeper pockets.
By ranking for a highly valued keyword (regardless of area of practice) on the first page of Google or Bing search results, you’ll see a serious uptick in business. However, when you rank on page 1, you’ve knocked someone else off and they’re certainly going to fight to take that search real estate back. So getting the search traffic is only the first part, of the struggle. Then you have to fight to maintain and defend your increased exposure.
#3 – The Details
Then, there are a lot of finer details that are going to depend on what you want to accomplish with search and organic traffic.
Law Firm Location in Regards to Target Area
We’ve worked with law offices that were located up to an hour away from the main city or region they were trying to target. We recommended to them that they should seriously consider having at least a by-appointment or virtual office with an address in the city.
Because legal SEO is so localized (clients search for a lawyer nearby), that search engines like Google are going to put a heavy emphasis on only return a list of lawyers IN the target city. After all, there are more than enough of them to fill the first 10 pages of search results.
So… Why would Google show a law firm that’s an hour outside of that city?
It can be done, but it’s going to tack on a hefty additional fee to your monthly SEO services if you won’t even set up a virtual office because it is less genuine. I get it and I’m typically with our clients on the issues from a philosophical perspective, but we don’t get paid to ponder. We’re paid to get the result.
Scope of the contract and collaboration
The best SEO money can buy is known as “white-hat” or legitimate practices. Typically this works best when your law firm and attorneys are engaged in activities, sponsorships and notable events that spark a lot of buzz about your practice. That requires your firm’s time and attention.
Many lawyers don’t like this as it is counterproductive to how they think marketing and SEO should work. They pay a lot of money and in return, they see more clients from their investments and search visibility. In reality, the more involved your firm is, the easier it is to earn links and build authority for your firm and your website.
These activities are things like:
writing blog posts
contributing to other publications
sponsoring events, local groups, etc.
However, lawyers want to spend their time billing and working on files and matters – not marketing. The more resistant a law firm is to doing the proper reinforcement marketing, the more difficult and hence more expensive your SEO will become.
Quality of Work
This one can’t be understated, especially for more competitive markets and areas of practice.
SEO has a long and interesting history. You used to be able to spam and trick search engine algorithms into ranking your site by simply injecting your target keywords into your website a bunch of times and using spammy links to rank.
Search engines have caught onto that and applied numerous updates to their algorithm and they continue to update them more frequently than ever before. Many of the SEO “experts” from this era have simply moved on to using modern versions of those same old shady tricks. They can do the job cheaper, but are constantly running on the hamster wheel and putting their clients at serious risk of penalization.
A black or grey hat SEO provider may quote a personal injury lawyer $6,000 per month while a white-hat agency may quote closer to $15,000 per month. In this hypothetical scenario, you’re paying more than double, but the difference in the quality of work between a black hat and white hat SEO is night and day.
Good and clean search engine optimization takes work both in terms of planning and execution. It follows the old mantra “you get what you pay for.”
How many clients are you looking for?
Next, you have to look at what you’re looking to accomplish with your search engine ambitions. Are you looking to grow your practice at a promising, steady rate or simply dominate your market?
Some lawyers want to sign up 10 more clients per month than they currently are, whereas others rather sign up 50 more per month.
Every firm has different goals and that will dictate how you advertise and how much you have to spend. Ranking higher in search and building up authority for your law firm’s website becomes increasingly more difficult. The law of marginal returns begins to kick in. So don’t expect a BOGO discount for stepping up from a 10 client per month plan to 50. Instead, you should budget linearly (more or less).
So, if we quoted you approximately $2,000 per month as a target to generate 10 more family law clients per month, then you should expect to pay around $8,000 to $12,000 for 50 per month.
Paying a Premium
Let’s be honest, sometimes you’re just going to pay a premium for the brand or agency you hire. It happens and you wonder why SEO is so expensive.
One marketing agency gave away a $100,000 BMW sports car last year to “one lucky client” of theirs. So it doesn’t surprise us that people wonder why SEO is so expensive.
What Should Be Included in the Price?
It’s going to be difficult to tell you to pay A for B, C and D services. However, here are what we recommend looking for in a solid SEO package.
Common Components of an SEO Agency’s Service Packages
Local SEO – This includes things like optimizing your:
Google My Business and Bing Places listings
Local directory listings and citations – These are the Yelp and Yellowpages websites that already rank on Google for your target search terms
NAP optimization (Business Name, Address and Phone number)
Location and service area pages on your website
Ranking your target keywords: These will be the keywords like we saw at the beginning of the post. Generally, when you see a CPC, it’s a good indicator that the keyword will generate new leads and clients.
Daily or Weekly Rank Tracking and reporting
Speed and performance optimizations
HTML best practices and markup optimization
Technical & Content Quality Auditing
Blogging & Evergreen content (usually an additional option)
Authority and Link building
The components that agencies list will vary in the depth of describing their services, but all good SEO providers should cover these fundamental aspects of your search engine marketing.
It Depends on the Complexity and Competition of SEO for your Market
One of the reasons that SEO generally scales linearly in cost is that the work required doesn’t get any easier or more efficient at scale. It’s just a bigger operation and marketing campaign with increased complexity.
Here are a couple principles to keep in mind for most white-hat, law firm SEO providers worth their salt will provide. Typically, the more you pay monthly, the more:
Links and web authority is being built by your agency for your practice
Content is being published (blog posts, evergreen articles, general website copy, etc.)
One good 1,000-word article designed to attract new clients could set you back $150 – $350. If you multiply that by 4 articles per month, then you’re already looking at $600 to $1,400 more tacked onto your bill each month.
4 articles per month isn’t out of the norm, either. There are so many great articles that can boost your visibility in organic search for questions related to people’s legal matters that can generate new leads and intakes far before those people would have reached out to a lawyer later on.
Articles aren’t necessarily the most expensive component of SEO, either. Leave that to high-quality and relevant backlinks that are pretty difficult to get in a quiet industry (and relatively uninteresting to most) like legal services.
The best backlinks come from what are known as “earned” sources. It’s a legitimate, but costly process to earning these links that boost your site’s trust, authority and credibility. The more authoritative and trustworthy your site is, the more confident Google and Bing will be about displaying it in the search results. Links are very expensive but worth it the more competitive the market is.
Understand the Scope with your service provider
Finally, it’s critical to understand the scope of your arrangement with your marketing agency. There are 2 similar models that most marketing consultants and agencies operate by:
Done for You (DFY)
Done with You (DWI)
Done for you literally means that all of the work is done for you. You simply need to review it when requested and approve significant changes.
Done with you is where the agency will do most of the work, but some work is expected of you. The tasks that a good SEO agency will have you do are really worth your time and troubles too. These are things that are either difficult, expensive or both for the agency to replicate on their own.
This could be forming relationships with local bloggers and businesses, local events sponsorships or other marketing activities that require close participation. Sometimes this is due to an attorney’s knowledge of the law that a copywriter or marketer simply couldn’t match. In other areas, it’s better to have an in-house name and face represent your law firm rather than a marketing agency reaching out on your behalf.
Make sure to have a clear understanding with your provider. Many lawyers don’t want to do the heavy lifting marketing. They think that’s what they’re paying an agency for. So make sure that you’re not responsible for any tasks or projects that you don’t know of or don’t want to be. You’ll certainly pay more for DFY – all else being equal, but you’ll know who’s entirely responsible for your SEO results and if you choose a provider who knows what they’re doing, your investment is probably in good hands.
Law firm marketing is one of the most expensive industries to do proper, results-driven search engine optimization.
If you’re wondering how much you should pay for SEO per month, generally:
$2000 and $10,000 per month for an average city/market, depending on the area of law
Personal injury and DUI are the most competitive and can cost much more than $10k
Some markets $1,000 or so per month can work well for a law firm looking for a 3 – 5 more family law clients per month
We suggest you shop around for different quotes and see the range in which different agencies pitch you. You’ll find an average and be able to gauge the potential value of SEO when done properly. Don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment if your firm needs several more clients per month or wants to build a pipeline of new files every day.
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