“I’d much rather top an organic search list for free.”

Over at Attorney At Work, jackl comments:

“I’m curious to know what “keywords with high commercial content” are. Perhaps brand names that are “official” sites like “viagra.com”?
Everything I’ve ever heard about Google searches contradicts this presumably biased Google study: that “organic” search rankings are much more important to top the search list for viewer “cred” than obviously paid ads.

If you’re in a position to pay for “pay for click” ads and find them useful, great (I’m not, I find them as dubious as the “paid leads” some lawyer directory sites offer), but I’d much rather top an organic search list for free.”

Putting aside the question of paid search ads, I’d like to focus on the “I’d much rather top an organic search list for free,” part.

Spoiler Alert: topping an organic search list is never free.

Even for the most non-competitive, long tail, low volume search queries, there are costs associated with organic search visibility.

Sure, some of these costs might be low (i.e. domain registration, hosting, web design and development, content, etc), but they’re not free.

But the truth is, it’s going to take time and effort. And last time I checked, time is money. And this is especially true for lawyers.

So, what’s your time worth to you?

How many hours are you willing to commit to designing and developing your website or blog?

How many hours each week are you willing to commit to writing?

How many hours each week are you committed to getting your content in front of the right people online?

5? 10? 20?

Are you even good at this stuff? Not sure yet?

Okay, let’s factor in some time for learning.

Wait, aren’t you a busy lawyer?

And let’s face it, the queries that are going to drive meaningful traffic (a/k/a people who might hire you) are competitive. Other lawyers are making considerable investments to appear prominently for these queries.

In fact, some are hiring in-house journalists and marketing teams.

Can you compete with that? Maybe. And if you can, congratulations. You’re in a tiny minority.

The bottom line is that there’s nothing free about organic search marketing. At best, it’s going to take a lot of your professional time. At the other end, it’s going to take a considerable investment to play ball in a competitive landscape.

But don’t take my word for it. Go forth. Learn SEO. Learn web design and development. Learn about content marketing. Learn about local search factors. Learn about web analytics.

Execute. See how you do. If you’re brave, report back.