Frank Olivo

Frank Olivo is the founder of Sagapixel. He writes on a number of topics related to digital marketing, but focuses mostly on SEO.

Bankruptcy Attorney Marketing: SEO and PPC for Bankruptcy Lawyers

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Bankruptcy attorney marketing is a unique area of law firm marketing that presents several distinct challenges and opportunities.

Over the last 5 years, we’ve developed a team at Sagapixel that specializes in bankruptcy attorney marketing, allowing us to gain many insights into PPC and SEO for bankruptcy attorneys.

I’m going to share with you what we’ve learned.

Marketing for bankruptcy attorneys is especially dependent on SEO and PPC. Unlike areas of law such as workers’ compensation or personal injury, clients don’t ask around for recommendations, likely out of a desire to not broadcast the financial troubles they are having.

This is the first unique challenge and opportunity: bankruptcy clients rely heavily on Google to find a lawyer to file bankruptcy.

While personal injury lawyers will often rely on mass market advertising such as television and billboards to build a brand and a mental association with the types of accidents they focus on, bankruptcy lawyers typically do not market this way.

This means that your prospective clients don’t already have someone in mind when they decide to explore bankruptcy.

Clients are likely to find a bankruptcy attorney by searching on Google—I’m going to share the strategies you can execute to ensure you are the lawyer they find.

The first marketing channel you should be advertising on is paid search.

PPC for Bankruptcy Attorneys Explained

When someone performs a search for “bankruptcy lawyer” the first results are paid search ads:

PPC results for bankruptcy marketing

This type of advertising is called pay-per-click advertising (PPC) or paid search.

In essence, every time someone performs this search, an ad auction takes place and the ads are given their placement. If, and only if, the searcher clicks on the ad, the advertiser is charged.

This is the fastest and most predictable way to get new clients for your bankruptcy firm.

One could write an entire book on how PPC works—there are countless guides and YouTube channels dedicated to the practice—but I’m not going to dive deeply into all the inner workings of PPC management services. If you’d like to read more about it, I suggest this article by Search Engine Journal.

Instead, I’m going to share some of the key takeaways that make or break a bankruptcy attorney marketing campaign that is running PPC ads.

Key Tips for Successful PPC Marketing for Bankruptcy Attorneys

Don’t focus on the cost-per-click; cost-per-conversion is what matters

The most common objection attorneys have about PPC advertising is that the cost-per-click (CPC) is high.

I’m here to tell you that the cost-per-click doesn’t matter—you should focusing on the cost-per-acquisition (CPA). Let’s think about it like this: if the CPC were $100, but you could get every third click to become a client, your CPA would be $300. Would you do it?

This is an exaggeration—Google’s keyword planner indicates the CPC to be between roughly $10-$40:

bankruptcy lawyer cpc in google ads

So if we assume we can get a 10% conversion rate (the conversion rate is the percentage of people that click and either call or send an email) this is what we can expect:

PPC forecast for bankruptcy lawyer

$860 for 6 client consults. This is a conservative estimate; we’ve seen PPC campaigns for bankruptcy lawyers convert at up to 30%. Let’s say we got an 18% conversion rate:

ppc forecast for bankruptcy lawyer at 18 percent conversion rate

At this point, the average CPA would be $76 vs. $140. This is why it’s often more expensive for you to try to manage your own PPC campaign vs. hiring a professional (it’s comparable to trying to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, now that I think about it).

Make sure you split test everything

If you do decide to DIY your PPC management, it’s easy to get lazy, but don’t let yourself get lax and stop a/b testing.

Google introduced responsive search ads a while back, which automates much of the process of split-testing copy, but it doesn’t always outperform standard expanded text ads.

Also, the only data it gives on your headlines are the impressions, which doesn’t help to manually optimize your ad copy (just because they showed a headline often doesn’t necessarily mean it resulted in additional clicks or conversions).

Your ads should not be the only thing you split test—you should also be split testing your landing pages. Google Optimize also allows you to a/b test your landing pages, helping you to determine what messaging results in increased conversion rates.

Leverage Automated Bidding

Google collects a ton of data about its users.

Through automated bidding, you can leverage its AI to use this information to automatically set your bids based on the individual’s likelihood to convert.

Here’s an example: on the attorney web design side of our business we paid $148 for a click that turned into a customer just a few months ago.

Google knew that she had just started a business, she was an attorney, and she had been looking into getting a website, so when she typed in “companies that build websites for law firms” Google knew she was likely to convert, so it bid highly for the click.

She ended up becoming a client of ours.

PPC Marketing Works for Bankruptcy Attorneys

We’ve never run PPC marketing for a bankruptcy attorney that didn’t deliver. Not even once.

That’s why so many of your competitors are doing it. If you’ve tried it in the past and it wasn’t profitable, you had the wrong person managing it.

Every bankruptcy lawyer should be doing PPC. It’s an ROI-positive marketing channel for bankruptcy attorneys, so even if you rank well in organic search, you are leaving money on the table if you don’t run PPC alongside your SEO.

SEO for Bankruptcy Lawyers

Sagapixel’s analogy is that if PPC is going to the store to buy apples, SEO is planting an apple tree in your yard.

What is SEO?

The goal of SEO is search visibility. At its core, there are three things that go into SEO:

  1. Ensuring your website is properly accessible to Google and able to be indexed
  2. Maximizing the relevance of your website’s content to the searches potential bankruptcy clients are performing on Google
  3. Increasing the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of your website

Let’s go into how these topics commonly come into play with SEO for bankruptcy attorneys.

Technical SEO

There is a lot that goes into technical SEO. Without getting too far into the weeds, I’m going to share the most common technical SEO issues we encounter on when performing SEO for bankruptcy attorneys.

To start, if Google can’t access your website, it can’t index it. SEO usually starts with checking that Google is able to index the most important pages on your website, and if necessary, telling it to ignore low-value content.

Content management systems such as WordPress generate lots of archive pages that are of low value to a bankruptcy lawyer’s website. We noindex all of the following pages on our law firm clients’ websites:

  • category archives
  • date archives
  • tag archives
  • any other sort of autogenerated archive, other than a staff/our team archive

Here’s a video I shot explaining this process:

Unless someone has gone into the back end of your website and noindexed these pages, you are wasting your crawl budget and potentially even lowering Google’s score of your site’s overall quality.

Other parts of technical SEO includes diagnosing and fixing any errors found in Google Search Console. The “coverage report” is where you’ll find if there are any issues with your website:

error report in search console of a bankruptcy SEO client

Bankruptcy Attorney Keywords and Your Blog Content

Your blog can be your website’s primary driver of traffic and most valuable lead generation source. That said, the role of content in SEO is understood by almost no one outside of the legal marketing field (and often isn’t understood by people in the legal marketing field).

Simply writing a whole bunch of articles about bankruptcy will not make you to rank for “bankruptcy lawyer near me.”

Let’s get that out of the way.

The purpose of your blog content is to get in front of potential bankruptcy clients when they are researching the legal issues they have. If someone types in a search like “how to stop a sheriff sale in Virginia” and you practice law in Virginia, this is an opportunity to get a new client.

To start, they very well may not even realize that a bankruptcy lawyer can help them. Your article will educate them on the options available, the process, and will include a call-to-action that prompts them to fill out your contact form or call.

This is just one example of the many topics related to bankruptcy and finance you could potentially write about that will drive traffic. At this point, we’ve outlined basically all of them for our internal use with our clients, and we’ve seen the traffic and conversion potential for different bankruptcy topics and the keywords that should be included when targeting them.

In our experience, these keywords are typically quite easy to rank for, often landing your article on page one of Google without any promotion or link building. SEOs refer to these types of keywords as “long-tail keywords.” The bulk of the searches entered into Google each day are long-tail keywords such as “can a lawyer help me stop a foreclosure” and not head terms such as “bankruptcy lawyer.”

Bankruptcy Attorney Keywords and On-Page Optimization

The goal of on-page optimization is to clearly communicate the relevance of a given page to both search engines and visitors.

A lack of on-page keyword optimization is usually the biggest problem we find with bankruptcy attorney websites.

If your home page does not have “Bankruptcy Lawyer in XYZ City” in the title tag, some header tag, and several times in the page copy, why would Google rank it over a website that does?

It should be extremely apparent to both visitors and search engines that your page closely aligns with the legal issue the visitor is searching for help with.

You should have individual, keyword-optimized service pages for:

  • Chapter 7 Lawyer
  • Chapter 13 Lawyer
  • Foreclosure Lawyer
  • Debt Settlement Lawyer
  • Creditor Harassment

In essence, you should have a service page optimized for any keyword related to the debt issues you help your bankruptcy clients with.

This is how bankruptcy lawyers think people search on Google:

bankruptcy lawyers

This is how they actually search:

I need a lawyer in Charlottesville to help me stop a foreclosure

By including keyword-optimized pages for each of the debt issues you help clients with, you’ll increase the likelihood of ranking for the long-tail keywords that your clients enter into Google.

I could write an entire article on nothing but on-page optimization, so I’m not going to go any deeper into the topic, but it is a critical part of SEO.

SEO for Bankruptcy Lawyers is Local SEO

From the data we’ve collected from bankruptcy lawyers we’re working with, about half of the searches for keywords like “bankruptcy lawyer in Philadelphia” end with a click going to the local search results.

This is what I’m referring to:

local map results for bankruptcy lawyer seo

In other words, if you’re in the maps and in the blue link organic results, half of the time users will click on the map result.

This makes “local SEO” an essential part of doing SEO for a bankruptcy attorney.

Step one of local SEO is NAP consistency. You need to establish a consistent formatting for your name, address, and phone number (NAP) and use it across all your online presence. This means spelling your street address as NJ-73, not RT-73, or Route 73, or RTE-73 (we used to be located on NJ-73 and these are all commonly used formats for that street name).

Once you’ve established your NAP, you need to claim all your local citations and industry citations. These are online directories, some of which Google checks to verify the information it has for you.

The most important of these local citations is your Google My Business listing.

This is where you will control the information potential clients will see about you and your practice.

When you claim your listing, make sure you fill out your profile entirely, include a number of photos geotagged with the location of your office, and make sure you select the following categories:

  • Bankruptcy attorney
  • Lawyer
  • Tax attorney
  • General practice attorney
  • Foreclosure service

Once your local citations are claimed and your Google My Business (GMB) profile is filled out, it’s time to build links.

Link Building for Bankruptcy Lawyers

Link building is the most difficult part of SEO.

It can also be the most impactful, potentially because it is so time-consuming. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

We’ve developed a method for link building where each step of the process is handled by a different team member, which increases efficiency tremendously.

Since most bankruptcy lawyers have <$5000 SEO budgets, we typically need to leverage link building strategies that are predictable and scalable, but can’t utilize the more expensive “PR” methods to acquire links from news outlets.

Become a guest contributor

One method that is effective at building links for bankruptcy lawyers is by offering to become a guest contributor to other websites.

The first benefit is that we know we can secure a link to our client’s website in the post. Second, it presents an opportunity to develop relationships with bloggers and sometimes other attorneys. Third, it’s scalable and and a predictable method for acquiring links to our client websites.

Create linkable assets

When execute correctly, linkable assets can be extremely valuable to a bankruptcy lawyer’s SEO.

The idea is to create an asset that is “link-worthy.” For bankruptcy attorneys, this usually takes the form of a study, survey results, or statistics. The whole idea is that when someone somewhere is writing an article and needs data to back it up, they cite your website.

For example, a bankruptcy law firm website may have an article sharing statistics on debts discharged in bankruptcy. For example, this article has earned links from 99 different websites, most likely without any manual outreach:

linkable asset for bankruptcy lawyers

It is important to understand that this is not buyer’s journey content. Potential bankruptcy clients are highly unlikely to find this content and contact you. Also, simply having this content on your website will not help it to rank for keywords like “bankruptcy lawyer near me.” Its purpose is to passively attract links over time, increasing the amount of PageRank being passed to your website and demonstrating your authority and expertise to Google.

PPC & SEO for Bankruptcy Lawyers

If you’ve decide to get serious about marketing for your bankruptcy law firm, this guide provides a rough outline of how we’ve managed to get steady streams of clients to bankruptcy lawyers in extremely competitive markets in large cities.

While it is difficult to share the breadth of what we’ve learned over time, it does cover many of the major bases. If you don’t yet have the resources to work with a legal marketing firm like Sagapixel, hopefully will provide a game plan for you to follow once you do.

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