Organic Search and Paid Search: What’s the difference? And why should lawyers care
It may be difficult to imagine that once upon a time, Google started off as a little search engine that was only really proficient at, well, search. Now, the company has expanded beyond their humble beginnings and has its hands in a number of diverse technologies ranging from mobile operating systems, to driverless cars, and everything else in-between. Although Google are innovating at a rapid rate, the company is still most associated with their powerful search engine, and lawyers should be making the most out of the reach and free marketing the technology giant offers through, search. Obviously, utilising Google's search engine is very much dependent on obtaining a relatively high position in the page rankings, therefore, implementing a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy becomes important when trying to achieve an attractive organic search ranking. The other alternative for lawyers who wish to have a prominent position in the search results, is to look into pay-per-click (PPC) advertising which will give your firm a plum search position - for a price.
So where should lawyers concentrate their efforts in relation to search? Well, we'll break down how organic search and PPC advertising works, which will hopefully assist you in deciding whether an organic search, or a PPC advertising strategy will best suit the needs of your practice.
What is organic search? And how does it work?
The primary aim for search engines such as Google and Bing (let's not forget about them!) is to provide the most relevant search results for their users. Therefore, both Google and Microsoft (the owners of Bing) have developed complex - and highly secretive - algorithms to ensure that the content of a site from their search results has practical value for users. When determining the most relevant search results to display to a user, factors such as geography, the quality of the content, the relevancy of links to the site, and social media are just some of the many factors that the search algorithm will take into account.
For lawyers who wish to improve their organic search results, a number of strategic initiatives can be undertaken that may assist, such as:
- fresh content: content that is unique, current, and relevant, will be rewarded - especially if authoritative sites agree, and link back to the page;
- site design: how your site is laid out and appears to users should not be overlooked. The design should be intuitive, easy to navigate with visitor usability at the forefront of the design consideration;
- make sure links work: dead links may be a dead end for any site.
By implementing some of the aforementioned initiatives, may assist with improving your organic search results. However, it should be re-emphasised that obtaining a better search ranking requires a consistent and regular effort on your part.
Another caveat we should note, is that search algorithms are mysterious in nature, so there is no way to accurately predict when your efforts will be rewarded, or how long your site will stay in its premium position if the various SEO strategies you employ, prove to be a success.
Paid search: getting bang for your buck (hopefully)
Obtaining a high position via organic search does require some effort, therefore, some lawyers may instead consider engaging in paid search, which will quickly put their practice in a visible position when a specific term or keyword is searched for by a user. For law firms who are considering PPC advertising, the fee is generally based on the number of clicks or views that the advertisement receives.
It should be pointed out that any PPC ad will be clearly highlighted as a paid search result. For lawyers who wish to engage in a PPC advertising strategy, will require that they focus on the appropriate keywords that will accordingly correspond with the term searched for by a user. Additionally, other law firms may also want to undertake in paid advertising themselves, so competition for popular legal search terms can be subject to a cutthroat bidding process.
Paid search can have some benefits but the aim with this strategy is to use keywords that will be high in visibility, but low in cost per click.
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