Why does SEO for personal injury matter (and what am I getting out of my investment)?

Personal injury law firms operate in one of the most competitive marketing environments of any profession. In that environment, nothing is more competitive than the battle for the prospects who are looking for legal services and find your firm through organic web searches. These leads can drive down your cost per case, deliver valuable referral prospects, improve your firm’s competitive position for new prospects, and amplify the value of all of your other traditional and digital marketing efforts.

The process of getting that organic traffic, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the hottest and often misunderstood topics in personal injury marketing. So, it’s only natural for your firm to occasionally ask, “What am I getting for that monthly SEO expense?”

In this edition of Plain Talk, we’ll cover how well-done, cost-effective SEO techniques will build revenue for your firm and how you can maximize the value of online organic search. We’ll cover:

What is SEO?

We talk about SEO so much in the legal marketing business, but what is SEO really, and how does it work? In simple terms, SEO makes finding your firm on search engine results pages easier for prospective clients. Unlike search engine marketing (SEM), which is a paid form of online search advertising, SEO is unpaid and is essentially how search engines like Google and Bing reward your firm for following their best practices.

Law firm SEO is also a crucial part of a personal injury attorney’s overall marketing strategy because it complements and amplifies both digital and traditional media for your target audience. Additionally, it narrows the consumer “funnel” to place your firm in front of more prospects when they need an attorney.

The primary components of effective SEO that firms should be concerned with are:

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is, for lack of a better word, pretty technical and is critical for SEO performance. In technical SEO, software and SEO specialists create conditions that allow Google and other search engines to efficiently “crawl” your law firm’s website for relevant keywords. This can involve things like responsive design, loading speed, and how your data is organized (schema). Much of technical SEO should take place during your website build, but in some cases, the rules change, and you may need to make updates.

Off-site SEO/Local SEO

When your technical SEO is up-to-date, off-site SEO can be used to send traffic from other sites to yours. This can include links from another site to yours in the form of “backlinks.” Link building can also include links from social media, directories, or review sites. Because consumers see these sites as credible resources, your firm benefits from the borrowed equity they offer by sending qualified leads to your website.

Local SEO also falls under this component and involves optimizing a firm’s online presence to rank higher in local search results. This includes creating and optimizing Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) listings, getting consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) citations across online directories, and encouraging customer reviews. The goal is to increase visibility for local searches, helping your firm attract a nearby client base.

On-site SEO

Also called on-page SEO, this practice focuses on optimizing your web pages. It involves implementing strategies such as internal linking, crafting compelling meta descriptions, optimizing title tags and headings, and more—all while adhering to search engine best practices. By strategically optimizing these elements, personal injury lawyers can enhance their website’s online visibility and relevance.

Content and User Experience (UX)

Search engines help your site get found, but do people find once they get there? Informative content, thanks to Google’s “helpful content” update, has become especially important. And while a recent American Bar Association study shows that only a third of firms have blogs, ones that feature high-quality content and valuable information are proven to help drive organic search results that build trust and drive lead generation for cases.

Search engines also look at the experience your site offers visitors to decide if they want to send you more traffic. Search engines look at things like bounce rates, engagements like clicks, form completions, and dwell time to determine if the data shows that users are getting value from your site experience.

Does my personal injury firm need to invest in SEO?

Yes. Personal injury firms need SEO to be competitive. A well-conceived search strategy is cost-of-entry for effective personal injury firm marketing today. Without it, you risk another firm snatching your lead at the moment of truth. One recent study showed that, next to referrals, the components of online search made up the lion’s share of prospective client engagement opportunities.

How clients search (for lawyers) Clio research study, 2024

When you invest in SEO, you’re investing in a holistic approach that addresses multiple aspects of your online presence and marketing strategy, aiming to enhance visibility, credibility, and user experience across multiple digital touchpoints, ultimately driving sustainable growth and long-term success for your business. At its best, SEO drives both efficiency and effectiveness in your overall marketing plan by capturing “last mile” prospects driven online by everything from word-of-mouth referrals to traditional media.

While studies show that most personal injury firms get about 58% of their website traffic from paid search (PPC), the conversion rates for paid search average about 1.8%, while conversion rates for organic search are closer to 4%, so investing in migrating future prospects from paid to organic search by improving SEO could lead to substantial increases in prospect conversions.

What are SEO conversions?

A personal injury law firm should think about SEO conversions as the actions a user takes while on your site, like click-to-call, human or bot chat engagement, or form completions. These are the on-site conversions that can be measured directly through Google Analytics.

While these on-site conversions show the intent of a prospect to seek your services, these conversions are not the same as signed cases. Instead, these conversions “tee up” prospects for your intake team to screen and sign based on the firm’s own definitions of what cases are most desirable, referrable, or undesirable. Leads have a very short shelf life, though.

According to Daniel Morgan of Morgan and Morgan, “If there’s more than 30 seconds to a minute queue and that person hangs up, most likely, they’re not hanging up and calling back in 30 minutes when the queue times are bad. Most likely, they’re hanging up and going to the next in line on Google or the next recommendation they got from their Facebook friends.”

How search engine rankings impact your business

There’s a saying that if you don’t rank, you don’t earn. And that’s not an exaggeration. According to a Teknicks study, less than 6% of all search clicks happen beyond the top 10 search results. In fact, ranking (or not ranking) directly influences click-through rates (CTR) and your site traffic.

Essentially, the higher your site ranks with important keywords, the more clicks and traffic it will receive for those keywords, and if you’re currently ranked in positions 10 or below for important keywords, your SEO strategy needs attention because you are missing out on those high conversion clicks.


“Less than 6% of all search clicks happen beyond the top 10 search results.”


How to measure progress

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t measure progress. If you’re working your way up the Google ladder, focus on metrics that can demonstrate your growth and progress. These should increase over time and can include:

  • Organic traffic
  • Keyword rankings
  • Click-through rates (CTR)
  • On-site conversions and conversion rates (calls, chats, forms)
  • Backlink profile and quality backlinks gained
  • Any SERP features you may have captured, including “Featured Snippets
  • Decreases in PPC cost-per-case acquisition cost

Remember, SEO is a long-term growth investment. Unlike PPC, it may take some time before you reap the full rewards, but if you’re committed and consistent, you’ll find that your cost-per-case average decreases over time, and the real value of SEO will become undeniable in the form of consistent site traffic and signed cases.

Google Business Profile: The “other” organic search

Another important part of your search strategy is the Google Business Profile (GBP) mentioned earlier for your office location(s). Each GBP is a significant contributor to your local organic search efforts in specific geographic areas and plays an important role in driving traffic to your site. Consider GBP traffic as its own category: “local search traffic.” It offers benefits similar to organic traffic but with different acquisition characteristics.

Google Business Profiles displays local businesses with information important to your prospects, like proximity, user reviews, phone numbers, and website links. Optimizing your GBP means a greater chance of appearing in the “map-pack,” the top listings just below the map of similar businesses. These listings tend to get the most clicks and attention from users.

It’s important to note that Google Analytics often miscategorizes clicks from Google Business Profile as “direct” traffic, especially on mobile devices. This can create an inaccurate picture of your true organic traffic. We recommend that firms use UTM tags on the website link within their Google Business Profile to force traffic attribution as “organic” in Google Analytics so you know this traffic is part of your deliberate.

How does your SEO investment deliver effectiveness and efficiency to drive new cases?


As a relatively fixed monthly cost, great SEO execution positions your firm to be found ahead of other competitors in the way that most prospects prefer to look for an attorney—online search.

Because organic search delivers (on average) twice the conversion rate of paid search, every organic search is likely to deliver twice the revenue for the firm. So, even if you spend equally on paid search and organic search, once you are ranking for key terms, your SEO investment should be more efficient.


While it’s not terribly difficult to track a lead from organic search to a closed case (if your systems are set up to accommodate lead tracking), it is hard to know how traditional media like TV, radio, outdoor, etc., specifically drive organic search and interest in your firm. Some attribution models promise this level of specificity, but in reality, you only get loose statistical probability.

However, organic search sits in the path of most of your prospects. The fact that organic search is very often the last action before a prospect calls or clicks to a form fill at your firm speaks to the effectiveness of including robust SEO in your layered marketing and media plan.

While you can’t flip a switch to change your organic search focus (like you can with paid search and Google Ads), there are important insights you should be pulling from organic results that will make your overall media buy, blog, and social media content plan, etc., more effective. As site traffic for different terms changes, you can use this data to improve your other media activity.

For example, weather anomalies in your area that lead to an increase in specific injuries or accidents may first be seen in organic search result topics, like a canary on a coal mine. Noting these prospect-driven trends allows you to use SEO hits to improve your paid media activity, email, blog, social media, and public relations activity so your marketing is more relevant to today’s prospect needs. If you are not currently using these insights to fine-tune media and online marketing efforts, you may be leaving cases on the table.

So, what are you getting with SEO?

Think of the competition for great firm prospects as a professional car race. When your search strategy is well thought out and executed, your firm will get the “pole position” for new clients. While the rest is up to the firm to win each race during intake, this position is the best possible starting point for engaging and winning online with prospects.

Ultimately, investing in SEO efforts is an important part of your marketing plan investment that requires careful planning, monitoring, and optimization to ensure a strong online presence, attract potential clients, and drive business growth for your personal injury law firm.

If you’d like to understand where you currently are on your personal injury lawyer SEO path or have questions about how to improve the value you are getting from organic search, drop us a note or call us at 502-499-4209. We’d love to help!

Jacob Butko, Account Director PriceWeber Marketing, Louisville KY
Jacob Butko Account Director