Take Advantage of the Referral Fee Ban

Ian HancockSearch Engine Optimisation

The referral fee ban which came into effect on April 1st 2013 by the Legal aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, means that it is now an offence to pay or receive referral fees in personal injury cases. There will be a reform of “no win no fee” agreements as part of Lord Justice Jackson’s Review of Civil Litigation Costs. The ban will affect all types of legal firms including claims management companies, solicitors and insurance companies. If the ban is in some way violated, the company will be punishable by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

With the ban in place it is said to intensify competition within the personal injury market, with companies competing to generate their own leads. Some smaller companies have previously relied on referrals from claims management companies and are concerned about how they will be able to compete with larger firms going forward. The SRA in response to these concerns stated that “some firms are highly dependent on personal injury referrals, and may be at risk, not just from the ban but from a likely shrinkage of the personal injury market over the next few years, as a result of factors such as the changes to the costs regime.”

Smaller companies need to seek out ways to receive referrals through promotion and marketing. With over 92% of all B2B enquires now starting online, it makes sense that personal injury companies should invest in search marketing, to maintain sustainability in the wake of the referral fee ban.

A recent study looked at the top 100 keywords that consumers use when searching online for personal injury services. Half of the searches were dominated by brands, with Irwin Mitchell accounting for a third of these search results. The remaining 48% of the search market isn’t brand related and the organic results showed other smaller legal companies having surpassed the claim management companies in the results. These companies now receive 64% of clicks compared to 34% the previous year. This has increased the chances for other smaller companies to break into the market or be considered as a major player.

This highlights how whether you have a small or large company you can boost your online presence in order to generate your own leads. The internet is an even plateau for businesses and can open up markets to all if you have the right visibility and investment in SEO. Research shows that there are over 200,000 searches every month for terms around medical negligence and Personal Injury. The table below shows the amount of searches that have occurred for certain terms within the medical negligence field. This is just an example of the type of traffic you could have a share in depending on your specialism.

There are a substantial amount of searches for these terms and in order to become visible within the search results, a page one ranking position is vital. If you look at the table below you can see how the click through rate increases in accordance with your position on Google.

Natural search and AdWords are both ways that traffic can be generated to your site, although Google AdWord campaigns can be expensive. One click on your advert for the phrase ‘Personal Injury Solicitor’ would cost around £40, with ‘Medical Negligence Solicitor’ costing £38 for just one click.*

Therefore taking advantage of SEO to help you get you to the top of Google naturally with your desired keywords, will increase traffic and ultimately leads, whilst offering you a far greater ROI than perhaps the PPC route, as essentially you are in an auction.

The personal injury sector is worth an estimated £1.8 bn per year and this isn’t exclusive to the larger businesses, smaller companies can be privy to this if they up their online marketing and target the right terms.

If you’d like to discover more how SEO can strengthen your business, contact Miromedia on 01926 358 200