While it seems like a vestige of earlier times, the law firm obsession with finishing as the first result on Google still has legs. Never mind the fact that such a notion admits of lots of variables. It’s not like there are people out there Googling ‘law firm’ as an act of intellectual curiosity. Or, maybe there are . . . ?
Designing a modern law firm marketing campaign requires some sacrifice at the altar of Google, sure; but, you might also consider that search habits have changed over time. More searches take place on mobile platforms than ever before; and, a byproduct of that is that Google, while still the general default option for search, is not the default option for search for every individual, or for an individual at a specific point in time. The ever-increasing use of mobile phones and tablets means that individuals are doing more ‘in-app’ searching — which means that they never get to Google, but instead start searching for a product or service via an application that they open on their mobile device. This would mean, for example, that if I happen to be on Facebook looking at some pictures of cute kittens in fake distress, that I may just start searching for a lawyer, too. (Not that I would do either of those things.). So, if you’re a law firm thinking about where to spend your marketing dollars, it makes sense to seriously consider, even a limited investment, in popular social media services that are commonly used as apps on mobile devices. The good news is that paid advertising via social media can be highly targeted and cost-effective. The bad news is that it’s an additional marketing cost for your law firm — unless you’re thinking of borrowing from another marketing campaign, in order to pay for a new one.
But, it’s not just about where consumers are searching; this is also about the search terms they’re using. While most large law firms or Google-centric law firms focus on keywords or keyphrases (‘divorce law Boston’), most consumers don’t search that way. Instead, they’ll type in a question they’re seeking an answer for — something more like ‘if I get a divorce, will I lose my kids’. These consumers are looking for answers, not simple marketing phraseology or even traditional lawyer accolades. And, this opens the door for law firms that are not focused on keywords and dumping money into Google AdWords to shine. With a robust content marketing platform, you’re regularly dropping content that answers these types of questions, which means that you increase your chances of being found in Google searches based on relevancy, and not necessarily ad spend. But, here’s the Google adjacent part: apply that same search logic to any other search engine or social media service, and you’re liable to capture real estate big spenders can’t access, won’t or don’t.
And, that conversation belies the dirty little secret of SEM: not everybody who isn’t doing in-app search is searching in Google. So, consider a tidy little ad spend on alternative search engines, like Bing, as well.
Google is the white whale, sure. But, just as the whale is not the only animal in the ocean, so do other search services occupy space in the online marketing world.