10 PI Marketing Lessons for Solicitors
If you are a solicitor looking for personal injury leads and cases then let me explain about online digital marketing for the personal injury claims industry. This guide may be quite long but I’ll tell you everything you need to know to save money on SEO and Pay per Click (PPC). I’m going to be absolutely frank about the online marketing challenges from my experience and if you read this guide you may well save yourself an absolute fortune. I’ll tell you what to do and absolutely tell you what not to do!
If you’re a CMC then forget it. Don’t even bother reading my guide. You’re not going to be successful unless you have a tremendous amount of money to spend. Do you really want to do that in today’s uncertain legal environment where you are effectively going to be legislated out of existence?
Firstly, my experience in Personal Injury Cases
It’s an area that I know very well and I know what it takes to rank for personal injury keywords. Personal injury is possibly the toughest most competitive area to rank well for in search engines. I am also the owner of a MOJ registered Claims Management Company. I have ranked websites for some of the most difficult and competitive keywords. I was ranked #2 in Google for the huge keywords ‘whiplash’ and ‘whiplash compensation’ as well as had number 1 rankings for many other competitive keywords.
Frankly it’s a business that attracted me due to my SEO and PPC knowledge and the high payouts for referrals, but it is not something I was very passionate and enthused about. With the changes coming in due to LASPO bill I decided that my SEO business and other business interests would take priority. I have now exited that market.
So here we go, without further ado, here’s my 10 digital marketing and SEO lessons for solicitors!
Lesson 1: SEO is a waste of money for 95% of all solicitors in the PI market
PI claims websites are super competitive and unfortunately super spammy as the rewards are so high if you can get a good ranking. The consequence of this is that there is great risk within this sector in terms of SEO.
To rank for commercial intent PI keywords using only ethical white hat SEO techniques is an expensive time consuming task. It’s an area I know very well. Of course any SEO firm will tell you that they can do it as they want the business, but I’d expect that few will actually make a return for the customer. Most will eventually get their clients entire website banned in Google.
As the rewards are so high in terms of £600-£1000 and upwards referral fees for CMC’s, and even larger final fees for solicitors, those marketing their websites for personal injury terms are very aggressive. It is very difficult to rank for competitive keywords that will actually make you money. It’s even harder to do it without breaking Google’s guidelines.
As literally everybody breaks Google’s guidelines in the PI market, the only way to compete (unless you have a huge SEO budget) is to also break the guidelines yourself. This means that you are always at risk of getting your website banned in Google. It could happen anytime or you could get away with it. Does this sound like a successful foundation for a business for a solicitor? I don’t think so!
There is a way to make money from SEO, but this involves learning from PPC campaigns and using that knowledge to rank for the keywords that people search for that you know convert at crazy rates. Going straight into SEO is a recipe for disaster. If you’ve spoken with an SEO company they will tell you they can get you on the first page and you’ll be making lots of money. Don’t believe a word of it. Search engine optimisation and marketing is only for you under specific circumstances and as part of a holistic integrated marketing campaign.
Lesson 2: You can’t build a business on SEO
This lesson applies to all industries and not just for injury lawyers.
It’s true, you can’t build a business on SEO. You might find it strange for an SEO to say that, but the good ones will be frank about this! Digital marketing tactics need to be diversified so you get traffic from multiple sources, and SEO is one of many sources. The risk with SEO is that your rankings can be taken away overnight, and if you’ve expanded a business in terms of overhead (offices/staff etc) based on that traffic then you risk big financial issues. The online PI market is very risky and so many people push the boundaries with their search marketing and often pay the price down the line before they’ve seen a return. If your website gets banned from Google and you don’t even rank for your own company name, this is not going to be very good for your reputation.
Lesson 3: Getting on Page 1 of Google is less than useless for PI solicitors
If you’re speaking with an SEO company they will likely tell you that they’ll get you on page 1 of Google. In most industries it’s the sites at the top of the page that will get the majority of the clicks and hence significant numbers of customers. Low to middle page 1 is barely worth having in personal injury even more so.
In my experience people don’t compare a lot when it comes to making a claim. All companies offer no win no fee, and there’s very little that a potential client can see to differentiate the competing companies. Therefore in most cases they go with solicitors from the top 3 PPC paid ad spots or the top 2 organic listings in Google. If you’re in position 3 or below you haven’t got a chance, and it will likely cost you a fortune to get to that position in the first place. If you want to succeed with SEO it’s vital that you get to number 1 or 2. That’s going to cost big money for most keywords.
Lesson 4: Website Conversion rates are very low in Personal injury
Yes you heard it here first. You get a LOT of tyre kickers and people searching who don’t really intend to claim. You also get many complete waste of time leads. I dread to think of the amount of idiots I’ve spoken with who want to claim for an accident that was their fault. You’ve no doubt experienced the same.
There are keywords that convert really highly but these need to be discovered. There are also many keywords that you’d expect to convert into quality cases that just don’t. Your SEO company may tell you that they’d expect average conversion rates of 5-10% for visitors to your website. This would mean that if you got 1000 clicks per month you’d expect to get 50-100 potential cases. You and I know that this would represent a substantial amount of money. Again, I say don’t believe it. If you are getting a 1-2% conversion rate with PI claims you are doing OK.
Lesson 5: Google’s estimates of potential traffic are wildly inaccurate
I once built a PI website around a keyword that Google’s tools say is searched for 1500 times per month. The maths is simple. Get to number 1. I’d expect to get maybe 25% of those clicks so get nearly 400 visitors every month. Even at a 1% conversion rate I’d get 4 RTA claims a month. I’d expect to earn around £2,500 a month and if I could get the conversion rate to 2% it would be worth £5,000 a month to me. That sounds like a nice bit of business if you have the SEO ability.
I got the website to #1 for its keyword. How many clicks a month did I get? I was lucky if I got 1-2 clicks (not leads or cases) per month rather than 400! The whole exercise was a waste of time because even though Google said the keyword had traffic, the reality was it didn’t.
The important lesson here is that you shouldn’t believe Google’s tools or an SEO who bases their info from Google’s tools in personal injury. What I should have done was start a PPC campaign in Google Adwords and bidded on that keyword to get accurate data about how often it was actually searched for. Hopefully my loss is your gain as I’m freely sharing the (expensive) lessons I learned.
Lesson 6: If you can’t make money buying traffic using PPC you should forget about SEO
SEO costs money and if you go after big PI keywords then it’s going to be expensive. You also will be spending lots of money without knowing if you’re going to be successful. You need to factor the risk of lack of success into the cost. This risk is substantial.
You may well lose money at first using PPC but at least you know you will be getting potential leads to your website immediately, rather than spending thousands of pounds every month in the hope that you might get some website traffic at a later date.
You can learn lots of lessons very cheaply about lots of keywords with PPC. Once you’ve learned all of those lessons, then and only then should you consider SEO. There’s no point spending huge amounts of money on keywords that have little traffic or keywords that just don’t convert to leads.
The lesson here is to learn from PPC and when you find areas of success to feed that data to a potential future SEO campaign.
Lesson 7: Your website is NOT good enough to make money with PPC or SEO
I haven’t seen your website dear reader, but I stand by my statement.
Getting traffic to your website costs a lot of money in PI whether it’s from SEO or PPC. To make it pay you MUST be able to get as many visitors filling out your claim form or calling you as possible! Your website needs to be designed to direct as many people as possible to your forms and phone numbers.
You need to be investing heavily in a process called ‘conversion rate optimisation ’, otherwise known as CRO. With CRO you are constantly testing different versions of your website pages against each other to find better performing ones. Once, through testing, you have a high converting website, you will have half a chance at getting PI cases for an acceptable cost. Think of it like this. Say you pay £20 per click with Google Adwords and you convert 2% of visitors, then each case costs you £1,000. If you can increase the conversion rate through testing to 4% then each case now only costs you £500 for the same £20 per click ad spend. That’s a big difference, and the most success with Google PPC can be found by working outside your advertising campaign and actually on your website.
You might wonder how your competitors can afford to pay £20-£100 per click in Google. This is one of the main reasons why. You’re not making a like for like comparison between you and them. Their website is a top of the range Mercedes whilst your website is a clapped out 10 year old Ford Fiesta! If you are serious about digital PI marketing then you need to spend money on your website. This doesn’t mean you need to make it look prettier. You need to make it convert. Conversions are at the heart of everything you should do. Conversions are the reason the website exists.
Lesson 8: There’s a reason that you don’t see CMC’s advertising in Google using PPC anymore
Short answer: They can’t afford it
Go and have a search in Google for some injury related terms. The vast majority are now solicitors advertising rather than claims companies as it used to be. CMC’s can’t afford Adwords PPC in many cases. For an RTA CMC’s will probably be getting £500-£700 if they’re using a quality solicitor or maybe up to £1,000 for an RTA if they’re using a factory style solicitor firm to refer their claims to. That’s not enough margin to make Adwords pay anymore in many cases.
Solicitors can afford to pay more for their cases than claims companies can. If you think you’ll be paying less than you used to pay CMC’s by marketing online yourself you need to think again. Google are the new CMC’s in that sense. However, Google can deliver leads and cases, and lots of them! Google can give you volume if you’re prepared to ‘pay the piper’.
You need to be prepared to pay at least what you used to pay for cases. If you are prepared to do that then you can get lots of cases and grow your PI business. SEO and PPC isn’t a magic bullet for profitability. Its hard work, very complex, and fraught with risk in the case of SEO.
Lesson 9: Even with PPC expect to lose money at first
Adwords management is a complex task best left to experts (such as myself of course). There are so many ways to optimise a campaign based on hard data so that incrementally over time huge improvements can be made. The maths is important in the sense that improvements are cumulative. If you can make 100 improvements over 6 months that improve the account by just 1% each time, then the overall improvement is much more than 100%.
Your competitors have already made these improvements in most cases and are still bidding at a level where they are paying a fair amount to get each case. Until your PPC manager can learn these lessons and make these improvements based on account data you are going to lose money. Hopefully it won’t be too much of a loss and success won’t be too far away. These optimisations that others have made are the effective market barriers to entry. So be prepared to wait to be profitable.
Lesson 10: My advice on how to approach digital marketing for PI cases
Let’s put all this together now. If you’ve not been completely scared off by my frank advice, then please read on.
I’ll plainly and briefly explain some of how I would work on PI cases for a client. You’re welcome to use this advice yourself, to work on it with another company, or to engage my services. This of course isn’t all that I would do, but for a free lesson it’s pretty good actionable advice.
1) Your website has to be the best it can be. It has to convert at crazy high rates to stand a chance. I would work very hard with a redesign to enable it to be profitable. You need it to be designed from a conversion point of view rather than an aesthetic one.
2) You should begin with investing in quality content on your website. You need to be active with blogging about relevant credible and genuine advice for your customers. Put the customer and their experience first and build a base for ranking through SEO at a later date by actually having a quality website and experience rather than all the other generic rubbish solicitor and claims websites out there.
3) Start slowly with PPC at first. You need to make sure that you have website conversion tracking AND telephone conversion tracking set up. Without conversion data you have no chance and I guarantee that you will never make money.
4) Learn lessons about which keywords convert at very high rates and then start optimising your website for those keywords in terms of SEO. If you find a particular keyword that converts at very high rates then its worth going for even if it’s only searched for a hundred times per month or less. Make decisions based on actual hard data.
5) Look at remarketing with Google. 95% or more of your (expensive) visitors won’t claim with you. Remarketing helps you to cheaply try to get them back.
6) If you are going to engage another SEO company for the love of God make sure that they conform to Google’s webmaster guidelines.
So there we are that’s it. If you are a solicitor that made it to the end of my PI advice guide then that’s great. I hope I haven’t completely scared you off, but at least now you have a much better idea about how to market your personal injury website.
I’d love to work with you if you are serious about growing your PI website online and getting more personal injury cases. Why not get in touch and fill out one of the call back forms on the website?
If you want some more Google Adwords PPC advice, then check out my Google Adwords Help Guide.