I was speaking with a personal injury lawyer the other day about his search marketing campaign. The lawyer practices in a very large, extremely competitive market for personal injury. He explained to me that he wasn't getting a lot of results with his current efforts. He had hired a company and was spending approximately $400 total a month on his organic search marketing. He asked if I could take a look at his campaign as well as the competition in the area and make some recommendations.
I performed a thorough competitive analysis to assess what the leading personal injury firms in the area were doing online. I looked at the back link profiles of the firms, the various websites and blogs each had, the legal marketing companies they used, the link networks they were accessing, directories they were in, the content strategy for each, etc.
Once I had performed this analysis, I could begin to make recommendations for what it would take to compete in the area.
The first step in structuring a campaign is understanding that the organic search results are a marketplace. For any given search, there are only 10 available spots on the first page of Google. Of those 10 spots, the lions share of the clicks are going to the first 3 organic spots (with over 50% of going to the first result). In short, this is a winner-take-all game.
This is important because when assessing the competitive landscape, if we determine that the top 5-10 competitors in an area are spending on average $5k - $7k a month on their search marketing efforts, we aren't going to be able to compete with them at $400 a month. This doesn't mean that some company isn't willing to sell you on the idea that you can. It simply means that you shouldn't be surprised when the results are lackluster at best.
Many firms are surprised when we break down the investments that others are making. When you see that a firm is paying for an in-house content writer, listings in all the top legal directories, blogs with 2 different legal blogging networks, a top notch SEO firm, etc. you get a better idea of the totality of the investment.
The most important takeaway is that if you want to truly compete in the organic search results, you need to be willing to invest appropriately to do so. If you are trying to get the results of the top performers at a discounted rate, you are only fooling yourself. You will not get the results you desire and frankly you are probably better off investing in some other form of advertising or marketing.
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