Does SEO Help Law Firms Attract Business Clients?

search engine optimizationI spent part of August trying to get a better handle on search engine optimization.   I’ve been trying for a while to decide whether law firms can really benefit from spending time (or money) on SEO.  Intuitively, it makes sense that an individual might use Google to find a divorce or personal injury lawyer.  But it makes less sense (at least to me), that more sophisticated consumers of legal services would randomly search for a lawyer to review employment agreements or handle the sale of a business.

I am aware that even a sophisticated buyer may sometimes turn to Google when shopping for professional services.  For example, an experienced marketing director of a well regarded firm recently found me by googling the phrase “law firm marketing coach” (or something similar).   Despite the fact that he is very well connected in his community, he chose to find what he needed on-line rather than asking his network for referrals.

I was thinking that this must be a bit of a fluke.  But then I read this post in an on-line discussion on LinkedIn:

Having spent 10 years in-house doing SEO at a business law firm, I can say with full confidence that it brings in institutional clients. I can’t give the actual number of files, but of those we did get via SEO, the ratio was about 30% corporate clients vs 70% individuals. We identified these at file opening in the accounting system, via referral source, coming from the client opening form. So we were reliant on the clients saying ‘google’ in their conversation with lawyers, and reliant on lawyers giving credit…

Corporate SEO is also a bit different than positioning commodity legal services. For example, a business lawyer that’s found by a local reporter via the search engines. That could be an SEO home run; and just as valuable as the DUI lawyer who gets 25 calls or website intakes, with only 6 turning into actual files.  Posted by Steve Matthews

So at least one pundit things that SEO is worth the effort even for business law firms.  SEO can increase the likelihood that reporters will use you as a source and in some instances, that can be worth alot.