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Organic Search vs. Paid Advertising: What’s the Difference?

Organic Search vs. Paid Advertising: What’s the Difference?

It’s a given that a prime search engine ranking is crucial if you want potential clients to find you on the Web. What’s not always so apparent, however, is how to actually achieve first-page visibility.
Delve into search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, and you’ll quickly discover a host of issues to consider, industry lingo to decipher and pitfalls to avoid. The upshot: finding your way to the top of a search engine results page can be challenging and time consuming.

While there are numerous ways to maximize your law firm’s website presence, two of the most common are:

  1. Organic SEO
  2. Paid advertising or pay-per-click (PPC), as it’s often known.

Let’s take a look at them.

Organic search

An organic search strategy is based on using “natural” SEO practices to boost a website’s ranking. Because Google, Bing and the like are in the business of providing relevant results for their users, they employ algorithms that weigh such factors as a website’s geographical location, its content, related social media news and buzz, and how many other sites link to it. The algorithms are complex, but the underlying logic is simple: provide users with results that meet their needs.

That’s where organic/natural SEO comes into play. You can optimize your site by following search engine guidelines, including:

  • regularly adding unique, fresh content (which will compel other sites to link to it)
  • ensuring that it loads quickly
  • creating a user-friendly design and site architecture
  • regularly checking that all links work properly.

Follow these practices, and you’ll be rewarded with a prime page ranking. The catch: All demand regular (and time-consuming) attention. There’s also no way to predict how long it will take to boost your site’s visibility or how long you’ll stay at a top position.

Paid search

In contrast, paid search can quickly boost visibility and connect you with highly qualified leads. It’s a form of advertising in which you pay to have your site appear on a search engine’s results page when someone types in a precise phrase or key word. Your ad fee is based on the number of clicks or views that your ad receives. The more people who click on your ad, the more effective your campaign will be.

Done correctly, PPC campaigns have numerous benefits. They can deliver targeted results. You can coordinate an ad’s timing with breaking news that matches one of your practice areas. And you can see results in as little as a week.

On the flip side, they’re not always easy to implement. You have to find key words that will put your ad on the appropriate search result pages. You need clear, concise text with a vigorous call to action. And you typically purchase them through a competitive bidding process. The formula: Find keywords that provide the highest possible visibility at the lowest possible cost per click.

Paid search can also be a demanding affair. The potential payoff, however, is often worth the risk.

If you would like to learn more about how FindLaw can help your law firm with search engine marketing solutions, please contact us for a free consultation.


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