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Organic Search Results or Pay-Per-Click: Pros and Cons for Law Firms

Law Firms

Litigators can choose between sending a cease-and-desist letter and filing a lawsuit. Both actions are means to a similar end: stopping a behavior or action. But there are strategies and nuances, as well as pros and cons, that attorneys consider when deciding which tool to use.

The same can be said of search engine ranking strategies. Generally, there are two digital marketing tools law firms use to get discovered on the Internet: organic search and pay-per-click.

Organic search results and PPC refer to how high a website is ranked by search engines. The idea being, the higher a law firm’s website appears in the results, the more likely people will be to notice it – and click on the link. This is because Internet users want instant gratification results and don’t bother scrolling. Also, they trust that the search engines are ranking the results based on quality, usefulness, and relevancy. There is some truth to both theories.

To put it simply, organic search results come from Internet users finding a website through keyword searches. How high the law firm’s website ranks depends on a lot of factors, but we know that content that is search engine optimized performs best. Meanwhile, PPC is more akin to an advertising strategy, where money is spent to rank high on a search engine results page. Law firms may choose one search engine ranking strategy or the other, or use both. Either organic search strategies or PPC can be part of an overall legal marketing strategy and support legal marketing plans, digital marketing plans, content marketing plans, campaigns, or any combination of these.


As the name implies, organic searches mean people are led to the law firm’s website as a natural result of the firm’s marketing activities. This can include SEO strategies, blogging, videos, and social media.


  • Besides the cost of creating content, whether it’s drafted in-house by an attorney or outsourced to a ghostwriter, there is no additional cost to organic search strategies. There can be additional costs, of course, if an SEO expert is hired to help optimize the website.

  • Appearing up high and consistently in search engine results helps brand the firm and builds trust in its authority.


  • Time. It can take weeks or months to see results from efforts to rank high in searches.

  • Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms, which impacts what factors are being used in ranking.


PPC involves creating and purchasing digital ads, either on search engines or on social media platforms, to show up high in search results or in people’s feeds. A budget is selected and money is deducted from it every time someone clicks on that ad.


  • Again, time. With PPC’s targeting abilities on audiences and keywords, firms can see results almost instantly.

  • PPC ads are always placed higher on search engine results pages.


  • PPC ads can be expensive, especially in a competitive field. Also, once the budget is used up, the traffic stops.

  • There is limited ability to change an ad once it’s purchased, meaning it can get stale or outdated.


Which to Use?

Different situations call for different strategies. Not sure if an organic search strategy or PPC ads is right for your law firm? Speak with one of our legal marketing consultants about your law firm’s goals today!