Monday, October 15, 2007

Lawyers Pay the Price on Google

Ever wonder how much attorneys are paying for their text ads on Google?

An article in today's New York Times entitled "Competing for Clients, and Paying by the Click," reports that plaintiff attorneys are paying $58.03 per click for "Oakland personal injury lawyer," $51.68 per click for "asbestos attorney," and $65.21 for "mesothelioma attorney texas." Click here to read the full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/15/us/15bar.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Other types of lawyers bid for web site traffic via Google as well. The term "tax lawyer" goes for $34.32 per click, "bankruptcy lawyer" for $8.46 per click, and "patent lawyer" for $5.08.

Does it make sense to pay this much for a potential legal client? It might, but first you have to evaluate the metrics. If the average case for the Oakland personal injury attorney is worth $5,000, and at least one of every 85 clicks (at a cost of $58.03 per click) each converts, then the attorney has simply broken even (not factoring in any other costs, like the expense of administering the ad campaign).

A click is just the beginning, like a response to a direct mail campaign. You may send out 100 letters and get 10 responses, but only one of the ten converts to a client. This gives you a 10% response rate and a 10% conversion rate, but on the overall campaign it is only a 1% result. Internet marketing web works in a similar fashion.

Before jumping into an expensive online ad campaign, law firms and lawyers should analyze their web site carefully. Be sure to have high keyword density on each web page, the proper metatags, and the ability to capture visitor information (address, name, email, phone or whatever is important to you). All of these factors (and more) are elements of search engine optimization, which will improve your law firm's web site ranking in the free search results.

Speaking of capturing visitor information, give strong consideration to storing visitor-supplied leads directly into a database that helps you measure and track your campaign results over time. Prospects require some level of conversion effort, which could take days, weeks or months.

A strong web site analytics program is also important to monitor your web site traffic and the conversion rate from visitor to prospect. Be aware of suspicious "click fraud," or the unscrupulous efforts of competing firms to deplete your click budget by clicking on your ads themselves.

Internet marketing is a wonderful tool, and one that many law firms do not take fully maximize. The caution here is to undertake an online marketing campaign that generates a measured return using the right set of marketing metrics. Like I say, you must be present to win on the Internet. Stake out your claim and monitor your results.

CyberWire (www.cwire.org) publishes lists of the most expensive search terms on its web site.