Law Firm SEO
Organic Search & Paid Search Explained

Table of Contents

On this page we unpack the key differences between Organic Search and Paid Search, in the context of law firm SEO.

What is Paid Search?

Paid search is the exercise of paying for placements on the first page of search results. Either at the very top or the bottom of the page, or in the Maps listings.

Paid Search is also known as paid ads or paid digital advertising. In Australia, it is often more generally referred to as Google Ads. However, Paid Search is not exclusive to Google. Paid ad placements are available across all search engines. What is important though is that 94% of online searches in Australia are made using Google Search over other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. Source:

The ad placements are achieved by creating campaigns that target specific groups of words or phrases, known as keywords, that relate to the services you offer. The goal for paid search is for your business name to appear in the top area of the search results. 

Unlike organic search results, viewers can see that the placement is an ad. You will see the word ‘Sponsored’ included alongside the listing.

image of sponsored ads in search results to illustrate law firm seo

There are a number of search terms that people use to find support for their problems that you solve or assist them with.

When specifically seeking a lawyer they might type into search phrases like, ‘Wills Lawyer Brisbane,’ ‘Estate lawyer Brisbane,’ or ‘Estate Planning lawyer Brisbane.’

Outside of lawyer specific queries, there is a whole range of queries and  questions that people type into Google when they’re looking for answers or solutions. 

Both paid search and organic search have their value. Paid search is a strategy that means that potentially you can be caught in a cycle of always paying for placement in the search results.

And, perhaps most importantly, people searching can easily identify which results are paid for, and which have organic ranking.

Google Maps image. Mobile phone on map with pins indicating locations relating to Local SEO and Law Firm SEO

Organic Search | Law Firm SEO

Organic search is how lawyers and law firms can be found online without paying for search result placements. When a firm is towards the top of the list in Google Maps or the organic list below that, and they have not paid to be there, this is just one example of what an organic search strategy can achieve.

Importantly, there are a number of phrases people may type in when they need the help of a lawyer. It’s not always as direct as, for example, ‘wills lawyer’ or ‘estate planning law firm’. There are many different phrases that people search for that can drive leads to your practice.

To illustrate the power of an organic SEO strategy, for our  clients who have stayed with us for one or more years, they appear in the top search results for tens and hundreds of queries/keywords.

In the legal industry, an organic SEO strategy is still an incredibly underutilised area. It is also an area that most don’t fully comprehend as it is not as simple as targeting keywords within a website’s pages. 

In order to achieve higher organic rankings, it takes investigation, analysis and a clear strategic plan for how to get found by your ideal clients. While not all SEOs are equal, when done well, it is no doubt a cost-effective and comprehensive activity. Because, unlike paid ads, it can work for you for years to come. Not just at one point in time. 

Wooden blocks with stars atop each block. Progressively increasing in height to indicate higher ranking and symbolic of the topic about law firm SEO

How To Decide Between Paid Search Or Organic Law Firm SEO

The answer to this depends on three things:

  1. Your budget;
  2. Where you are in your business life cycle; and
  3. Your short- and long-term business objectives.

If you are in your first few years of business, you won’t likely have the budget for a full SEO strategy and rollout but you can get a start. Begin by getting yourself familiar with it and how it works. You can also start applying some of the more simplistic elements to get some runs on the board (we often offer SEO programs and other training opportunities on this page). Then, when you are in a position to do it more comprehensively, and are confident about the investment, you can engage a team like ours to do the heavy lifting, while ensuring it all works in with your brand voice. If you are an already established firm, that has the  resources to invest in an organic search strategy, speak to a few different SEOs and be  discerning about who you partner with to do it as there are varying degrees of specialisation.

Importantly, organic search (organic SEO) is an ongoing process that takes time. It’s not going to meet your expectations if you needed clients yesterday.

Of the firms we work with, while they work with us for a minimum of 12 months, typically it’s ongoing in some capacity. Why? Because search engines also like to know that your ‘old’ content is being revisited and updated to be relevant to new audiences. 

During the first year we get to showcase the changes in ranking and get fantastic results because we can take them from not being found by particular phrases to being found and to being towards the top (if not the very top) of the search results for numerous search terms (keywords). 

Paid ads can be a great strategy when you are looking to have an injection of traffic to your site. However, a carefully constructed strategy is required to ensure you get quality traffic, not just volumes of traffic (that you pay for) that have a lower  chance of converting into being a paid client.

If you are unable to, or do not have the the time to execute an organic SEO plan, and you cannot do without the leads coming in, paid ads can be a good way to get in front of the market. However, know that you will pay for the traffic regardless of whether your leads become a client or not. 

It is proven time and time again that a combination of both paid search and organic SEO can be very powerful. After all, search engines like Google are not only in the business of serving up the best and most relevant content, but they are also in the market of revenue generation, as any good business should be.

Organic Search and Paid Ads is a speciality area and while many will tell you all about their great results, not many will have the depth of insight into the work that lawyers and law firms do, to replicate those great outcomes.

Give yourself a little time to do you research, ask questions to learn about their depth of knowledge in your practice area, not just with law firms generally. See our recommendation questions to ask resources at the bottom of this page.

SEO is both a science and an art. It is complex and deep work when done well. The results, while not as quick as paid search ads, are for those who value and understand the power of the long-game.

There is a solid strategy piece that is involved in getting a good return on investment.

At LawUE, we start with an analysis of where a firm currently stands in the market through a variety of data sources, as well as take a good look at where your competitors sit currently in terms of search ranking (amongst other elements). 

We gain deep insights into your direct competitors that we share with you, take into account your objectives and create a strategy that not only helps you rise in the rankings but also has you prominent across the networks and platforms that count. 

What is fascinating about the law space is that organic SEO and organic search marketing is incredibly underutilised.

Coupled with our deep work, we get incredible results for our clients because so few care for the long game and avoid investing in the organic search marketing approach.

Those that solely pay for ads like it because it can offer quick wins. But it is an organic search strategy that can have them far more prominent in the market as well as their referral network and peers. 

We see that it is the discerning practice owners and already leading lawyers  who value the deep work we do to get them appearing in more organic search results and higher up the rankings.

The trust they put in us, and the curiosity they have in the early strategy piece is what helps them truly understand the long-term benefits of an  organic search strategy. And, it’s the firms that are investing in this now that are reaping the rewards. Especially when they have a focus on high quality clients.

Importantly, law firm SEO is not a fad. It is here to stay (while always evolving) is entirely measurable and responsible for the most significant rises in market prominence that no-one can see coming. Partially because it is progressive work and most people don’t understand it’s power. 

That being said, each business’ goals are different and not everyone wants to grow their firm profile in the same way. 

That is why we have a confidential discussion with business owners before we work together to ensure we find a match between the firms objectives and any marketing strategy or initiative. 

Learn about the four core areas of SEO, relevant to law firms here.

What to look for when choosing the right support for your firm starts with asking the right questions. Click on the titles below to access our one page question guides.

[Download 1] Organic SEO Agency Selection | Questions To Ask

[Download 2] Digital Ads Management Selection | Questions To Ask