Let me start by saying something sacrilegious. Search engine rankings do not matter. Well actually, they do matter somewhat, but not as much as many think. That is because many legal marketers tend to look at where their site is listed in a Google search as the end result of a search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) effort rather than as just another interim metric.
“Wow. We’re listed in the top three!” we’ve heard many a client attest, undoubtedly feeling as though they’ve discovered the holy grail. Similarly, we’ve known some clients where anything short of such placement is cause for excessive hand-wringing.
The truth is that the only reason why it’s good to have a top listing is to generate greater number of impressions (exposures to the web site link) so that more people both visit the site and then contact the firm in some manner.
The variable that many miss is the expense involved. For example, consider a situation in which one firm is paying $10 per click to achieve a number one ranking and winds up generating 100 total clicks with a total expense of $1,000. Then compare that to a second firm that is paying $5 per click to be ranked lower. This effort generates 30 clicks costing the second firm $150. Compared to the first firm, the efficiency this firm has achieved will allow it to either invest more dollars into the campaign or recoup the savings.
The same can be said for an SEO program in which a staff member or outside vendor is paid to ensure that the firm is listed high on the organic section (i.e., left side) of the search engine directories. The cost of obtaining that service must be weighed against the potential revenue lost by not having that service. Perhaps that individual or SEO provider achieved the goal of a top listing…what was the cost of that effort versus the additional revenue earned by being listed first?
The point is not that search engine placement is irrelevant, or that being first is not often the preferred position. Rather, such a position is a means to an end, as is the monthly budget applied and the dollar amount of the click bid itself. If the goal of your firm’s PPC or SEO initiative is to generate more revenue for the firm, then the leads (or actual clients) generated per dollar is a much more significant metric. As important, it is also a better metric for directing you as to how your on-line dollars should be allocated.