If you're trying to get more people to visit your website, you have probably heard a lot about the pros and cons of free website traffic versus paid website traffic. Some people have a very strong preference for one or the other, but the truth is that just like any decision, you should let your personal situation be the guide. In this guide, we'll help you understand what some of the advantages and disadvantages of free traffic are, so that you can tell if free website traffic is right for your law firm. You'll learn which commonly held ideas about free website traffic are true—and which ones don't hold water any more.
Myth: Paid Traffic is Always Better than Free Traffic
This is one of the most pervasive myths out there. The truth is that even though every attorney would love to find a solution that just worked 100% of the time, there is no perfect way to get web traffic. If there was, everyone would use it, and it wouldn't be useful to differentiate you from the competition any more.
While it's true that there are some elements of paid traffic that can be better than free website traffic (more on those in just a few minutes), free traffic also has a lot to offer. Free traffic, especially if it's created through viral buzz, operates a lot like old-fashioned word of mouth referrals—just on a much bigger scale. Links that get people into your site via paid traffic almost always look like exactly what they are: advertising. There's nothing wrong with advertising, certainly, but many attorneys would prefer a campaign that is more about buzz and less about ads.
Myth: Free Traffic Is Always Hard To Get
This myth comes from a place of partial truth. It's true that many sources for free traffic take a lot of work. But what if you're just trying to get initial traffic numbers up so that you can better search engine optimize your website? In that case, you may want to try a traffic exchange, which allows you to get traffic for almost no work—the only catch is that in exchange, you'll have to visit some other websites yourself.
Another way to get free website traffic is to start posting to a blog. Blogs can be a great way to get your name out there, and while they may take some time to build, over half of attorneys with blogs say that they got at least some new business directly as a result of their blog writing.
Half-Myth: Free Traffic Can't Be Targeted Like Paid Traffic
While it's true that there are some ways to target free traffic—for instance, using free features on social networks can help you to target people you're connected to on those networks for marketing messages—this one isn't quite a myth. The methods for getting targeted traffic using exclusively free services are usually not very robust, and don't have the potential to bring in a lot of new clients.
If you have a particular niche market that you'd like to pursue, you may do substantially better with paid traffic than with free website traffic. Anyone seeking out paid web traffic building can find hundreds of ways to target exactly the customers you want, via keywords, locations, or demographics. This kind of flexibility simply isn't available from free website traffic generating platforms.
Myth: Free Traffic Won't Bring In Paying Customers
One of the biggest myths about free website traffic is that because you get it for free, it won't come from people who are actually willing to buy legal services. However, this objection stems from a misconception. Keep in mind that usually, even when you bring in paid web traffic, no one's having to pay anything at all to click on your site or find out your number. Free traffic can actually be some of the best traffic to bring in for conversions, especially if it comes from people you're connected to on social networks. Social network referrals have become big business for attorneys in recent years, and this is a trend in free website traffic that shows no sign of slowing.
Fact: Free Traffic Can Go Away With Platform Changes
One of the biggest issues with free website traffic is that it's often brought in by search engines or social networks. While you have absolute authority over how your own website works, you have no say whatsoever in how Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google conduct their business. If Google makes changes to their search engine and it causes your website to fall from Page 1 to Page 20 for “immigration lawyers,” you don't really have any recourse at all other than to try to claw your way back up.
With free traffic, it can be hard to know what you're getting in the future. In 2012, Facebook decided to allow businesses to promote posts in order to make them visible to more people. The problem? When it did this, it also cut down the number of people who see a non-promoted post. In this way, Facebook actually made the value of its free traffic boosting features less while increasing the value of its paid advertising.
Fact: Free Website Traffic Takes Time
No matter what kind of free traffic building platforms you're using, it's very unlikely that you'll generate a lot of free traffic in the first few days or weeks of your campaign. Free website traffic tends to build up slowly. If you want a fast start and a guarantee that thousands of people are reading your website who wouldn't otherwise, you're going to need to start looking at paid traffic programs.
Just because free website traffic takes time to build doesn't mean it's automatically not worth it. Your law firm needs to make sure, though, that you're not spending so much time on building traffic for free that it's actually costing you more than you wanted in personnel expenses.