Understanding Law Firm SEO Pricing
Date: March 7, 2023
For many law firms, investing in effective search engine optimization services is essential to enable potential new clients (PNCs) to find and engage the firm for what they do best. According to Clio, over 33% (one third) of people find their lawyer online, which is an astounding percentage of the legal service consumer market. With 65% of law firms reporting spending most of their marketing budget on digital marketing, it’s important for law firms to know what to expect when investing in legal marketing services.
Law firm SEO pricing can be confusing and can tend to feel fragmented. The following information aims to help law firms to come to the table armed and ready with knowledge when picking their SEO vendor.
How Much Does SEO for Law Firms Cost?
As with any worthwhile professional service, you’ll find that experience, proven results, and specialization in the SEO space typically correlate with higher costs. Monthly SEO services can range anywhere from $500 for the most basic services to $10,000+ per month for national and global campaigns.
SEO has the potential to show a great return on investment, or ROI, with the right spend. Determining budget should depend on several factors, none of which are a “gut feeling” of what a service should cost. We recommend law firms consider the following:
- Which practice area(s) are you looking to grow in the next 18 months?
- What is the average client worth for that practice area?
- Start with the initial retainer fee, then consider the lifetime value of the client
- What does it cost the firm to service that client?
- How much ROI would you consider a success? (Tip: for a firm that has never invested in SEO, the year-one ROI will look different than that of a firm that has been investing in SEO for years.)
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can determine how much your firm can afford to spend on SEO and what results you are hoping to see from it. Now, let’s talk about scope of work.
What Does an SEO Plan Entail?
SEO pricing depends heavily on the scope of work (SOW) and desired results. Expectations must be realistic for the spend. If a firm is looking to spend $1,000 a month to make $100,000 a month, for example, the math doesn’t quite work out for the amount of time that $1,000 a month pays for. The right investment can help increase traffic to your site, convert more visitors, and ultimately result in more new clients signing. SEO is a process that takes time to build and grow.
Here are the different types of SEO:
- Hyper-Local SEO – When a firm is looking to target a specific town or surrounding towns, or a specific city, this is considered hyper-local SEO.
- Local/Regional SEO – When a firm is looking to target specific counties around where their office is located or the part of the state their office sits in (for example, Northern New Jersey or Southern New Jersey), this would be considered Local/Regional SEO.
The following three SEO plans target larger areas and progressively get broader and larger in scope of work. A significant amount of time and resources are needed for these types of SEO over local SEO. These types of SEO are:
- State-Wide SEO
- National SEO
- Global SEO
Breaking Down SEO Services
We touched above on some of the SEO services that SEO companies typically offer, but we want to further arm you with what each price point should entitle you to.
Automated Hyper-Local SEO
Automated hyper-local SEO is the least expensive option, and uses online tools to make sure that your law firm’s business information is accurate and up to date in online directories. It ensures that your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) is provided to Google Business Profile, Bing Places, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and a variety of other services.
This service is not typically managed by any specific person and is a bit of a “set and forget” model.
Average cost: $300 – $500 per month
Small Scale Hyper-Local SEO
Small-scale hyper-local SEO gives you all the benefits of automated options, while also providing a limited number of additional services such as some keyword research, keyword tracking, and on-page optimization for your hyper-local area. This may also involve creating dedicated local pages for your firm – focusing on nearby towns and cities.
If your SEO agency also provides paid search (pay-per-click or PPC ads) and social media services, they may create ads and posts to target specific local audiences for an additional fee.
Average cost: $750 – $1,000 per month
Local SEO/Regional SEO
Local/Regional SEO will focus more heavily on establishing a presence within the market the firm is looking to capture, such as Philadelphia or NYC. The scope of work for this kind of work could (and should) include detailed keyword research with actionable keywords, planning, and potentially creating pages that target the local market, an internal linking and backlinking strategy, and technical optimization on the website.
Not only will you receive a greater variety of services with a local SEO campaign, but you’ll also receive more transparency on search performance and how your investment is being spent. You should get regular analysis and reporting on the impact of efforts such as content marketing, technical and on-page optimization, social media engagement (if the firm is managing this for you), and local reviews and ratings, along with tracking metrics like keyword/URL performance, traffic, and conversions.
Pro-Tip: Local SEO and Hyper-Local SEO are heavily reliant on the law firm getting Google Reviews on their Google Business Profile. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews!
Average cost: $1,500 – $4,000+ per month
National & Global SEO
National and Global SEO campaigns are much more complex and comprehensive. There are many ways to manage these strategies, but all of them involve establishing authority online. Campaigns like this will include most of what a Local/Regional campaign offers with a lot more backlinking, digital PR, and building out practice area pages that establish expertise in the space and make clear that the law firm in question works nationally or globally.
For firms looking to compete on these stages, it is important for them to have offices throughout the country or world, as proximity to the searcher is still important. However, proximity is definitely not the only factor that matters to Google; in fact, the best content will almost always win the day.
Average cost: $7,500 – $10,000+ per month
Understanding What Factors Affect Your Price
Much like the law firm model, think of your SEO services in terms of billable hours. If the average SEO firm charges $150-$250 per hour, the SEO company will need an ample amount of time monthly to accomplish your goals. Local SEO, for example, can be scaled up in order to expedite the results, but Google will always play a role in how quickly you see results, as the algorithm needs to trust the website in order to allow it to rank well. The larger your budget, the more time your SEO company can spend building that trust through backlinking or content creation.
What Makes for Quality Law Firm SEO Services?
The best predictor of quality in law firm SEO services is past experience. One particular SEO agency or SEO consulting provider may offer an impressive list of services, but without proven results from other clients to back it up, you have no way of knowing if they are worth the cost. Technical expertise can be faked by unscrupulous “SEO experts,” especially if your own SEO knowledge is limited, but client success stories and verified positive reviews are priceless.
If you’re considering working with 9Sail to boost your law firm SEO, take a look at this case study of how we helped one NYC boutique entertainment law firm multiply their ROI twenty times over by using SEO to increase qualified leads.
When Should Your Law Firm Expect Results?
SEO takes time. This is something SEO companies repeat over and over– because it’s true. Firms that have never invested in SEO should expect 6-9 months (dependent on how competitive the market is) to see results. If you are switching from one SEO to another, 3-6 months is reasonable.
Search engines take time to trust a source. The right content needs to be available and paired with the right signals for search engines to give you favorable placement. If you are investing heavily (2-3x normal spend) on a local strategy, results should be expedited, but always expect results to take 3 months at a minimum. Firms that want quick results should consider including Google Ads and paid search in their marketing strategy to bridge the gap while SEO ramps up.