How long does SEO take for law firms? (Real case study)
Wondering how long SEO will take to show results? The broad answer – which doesn’t apply in every circumstance, and should be taken with a grain of salt – is:
Around one (1) year. As little as 6 to 8 months, as long as 16 to 18 months.
The duration that you’ll need to invest in SEO before it begins to bear fruit is impacted by several factors. Here are the big ones:
- Competition in your legal area of practice
- Competition in your geographic market
- Quality of your SEO strategy (this is a big one, and often neglected)
- Technical quality of your website
- History of your website’s domain
Then again, even when all of these factors are known it’s still not possible to know exactly how long SEO will take to “work”. In general, I am comfortable using one year(ish) answer in almost all circumstances.
SEO Case Study: IllinoisRecklessDriving.com
Breakdown of costs:
- Domain registration, 5 years: $64.95
- Web Hosting: $348.00 (WpEngine)
- Web development costs: 10 man hours = $1,500.00
- Strategy and content creation: 10 man hours = $1,500.00
- Lawyer consulting fee for content: $300
- Link buys: $150.00
Total SEO project cost = $3,514.95
- In February of 2016 we launched IllinoisRecklessDriving.com on our JurisXpress framework.
- We began with strategy. We conducted keyword research to identify a low competition practice area with a relatively strong search volume (low competition, high volume). We landed on reckless driving defense in Illinois.
- We were able to snag the domain name, IllinoisRecklessDriving.com, on GoDaddy for $12.99. Not bad for an exact match!
- We then researched identified a handful of sub-topics using the process described here.
- We then interviewed a lawyer in Illinois – one who had experience prosecuting and representing people facing reckless driving charges – on each of the topics.
- We recorded, transcribed, formatted, and publsihed the content from the interview. In other words, we produced original and authoritative content.
- After the site was launched, we bought a few relatively cheap legal directory backlinks. We pointed them to specific pages the site and used anchor text containing strategic keywords.
Organic search traffic
The site was launched on February 1, 2016. As you can see in the screenshot below, by February 2017, the site’s organic search traffic took a big leap forward:
Google keyword rankings
In the same period we were able to achieve top three organic rankings for our primary target keywords:
Conversions on website (ie. leads generated)
As you can see, when the rankings and traffic hit, the site began producing leads:
Things to consider
- These results do not represent the ceiling for this website. This is a case where it took SEO ~12 months to “begin to work”, but not to reach its full potential. For instance, we currently rank #3 for our primary keywords. If we move those to #2 or #1, we’ll see greater results.
- We intentionally chose a low-competition practice area. This is what allowed us to make such a minimal investment but still yield high rankings. For high-competition areas, greater investment is required.
- We did not do any SEO work on the site after launch. It is likely that we would have seen results faster if we had. Keep in mind that this was a brand new domain. In our experience, a brand new domain takes time to rank in Google, regardless of the quality and quantity of positive SEO signals produced (see Google Sandbox Effect).
- Strategy really matters. The site would failed to have produced results as quickly as it did in the absence of an effective keyword targeting and content strategy. “Going back to the drawing board” on strategy can delay SEO results significantly.
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