One of the most common questions we get from clients and potential clients is: is SEO worth it?

Our answer back is, well, very lawyerly: it depends. What does it depend on?

First, it depends on your timescale. SEO takes a long time to see results — constant, sustained effort for (usually) at least six to eighteen months before you start seeing the very serious traction you want.

Second, it depends on your budget. High-quality content creation takes time and money. If you’re on a tiny marketing budget then it’s probably just not worth it.

Third, it needs commitment from your team to do it. Why? No outsider can write about the law as sophisticated as your team does. And even if an outsider does write it, they’ll need to pick your team’s brain to come up with the subtle legal insights to share. If you just tell some writer, “Go, write it!” – it will fail. We need to work hand-in-hand with your team to make it work.

If you’re willing to do all three — then let’s go for it. SEO time, baby!

But this leads to the follow-up questions everyone always asks when I give the above analysis: given those three, why would anyone at all want to play in that game? Why do SEO at all if it’s expensive, slow to see results, and you need serious team buy-in to make it happen?

Easy: because if you do achieve SEO success, the results can be spectacular. Look at it this way. If you can be in the top ~3 results for a keyword that attracts on-target potential clients, then, well, you are very likely to get the clicks to your site from, well, on-target potential clients — at no marginal cost per click.

In other words, online advertising clicks for high-quality targeted leads for legal clients tends to be expensive. But if with SEO you can get to the top of the results, without paying — then you save a fortune.

Is there a shortcut? A secret? Well! Here’s one of our favorite strategies that we always recommend: before embarking on SEO, let’s do a bunch of paid keyword advertising to determine which keywords are the best for us and, once we’ve proven that with data–then to run with SEO-ing out those keywords. Adwords, in other words, may not be profitable on its own — but it’s great for determining what keywords are good for you. Or not. So it’s a great place to start.

This speaks to one of the bigger aspects of our SEO & Adwords approach: keywords keywords keywords. Figuring out the right keywords to target is part art, part science. But it’s the heart of it, in every aspect: determining the right keywords. Tracking them. Incorporating them into every aspect of the content and the site. It’s a lot of work but, if we’re pursuing an SEO-first strategy, then it’s worth it.