SEO: Keyword Research for Law Firms

Keyword Research

Keyword ResearchWhether you’re new to SEO, or a seasoned veteran, you will understand the importance of keyword research.

Without proper keyword research, your website won’t appear on any of the first few pages of Google. If your website doesn’t appear on any of the first few pages of Google, people won’t be able to find your organically.

You’ll be losing out on loads of potential traffic and potential leads for your law firm.

Google’s own tools, namely Google AdWords Keyword planner and Google Trends makes it easy for law firms to conduct their own keyword research and start ranking for their chosen keywords.

In this blog post, we’re going to break down how law firms can begin using the tools to find the best keywords and how to use those on your own website in order to rank effectively.

Keywords broken down

It’s important to remember, Google, along with the other search engines, rank specific pages, rather than whole websites.

This means when a user enters a query into a search engine, they are presented with the top web pages for their specific query.

If a user was searching for ‘defense law firm in Illinois’ for example. They’d be presented with the following page.

Defense Law Firm in Illinois

If you had a law firm and were based in Illinois, it would be super important to appear on this first page, if you want to be found by locals looking for your services.

But just how do you go about ranking for these keywords and how do you know which keywords are worth trying to rank for?

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Come up with your own list of key phrases

The aim of keyword research is to find keywords and key phrases that have a large enough search volume to rank for but are not so competitive you have no chance of ranking. It’s also useful to note that you want to rank for keywords that are relevant to your own law practice.

For example, if you specialize in corporate law then this might be a keyword you aim to rank for. With that said, most of website traffic comes from long tail key phrases so only trying to rank for “head” terms will leave you with limited success because everyone is trying to rank for those.

Here’s a nice graphic that illustrates how much of the web’s traffic comes from the long tail.

Long Tail Search Traffic

Each law firm will have different overall business aims and so their keyword research and the keywords they rank for will be different too. But remember that the customers needs should be top priority. So instead of being laser focused on ranking for only things like “Auto Accident Attorney Boston MA”, try also shooting for phrases like “What to do if you get in a car accident” etc.

Note: Try to target one key phrase per page but also be aware that Google expects high level writing to include keywords and phrases that are related to the main one you are targeting.

KeywordTool.io is a cold tool to give you keyword variants and related keywords that can help deepen your content.

Keyword Tool Search Result

Google is sadly killing off Instant Search feature, which automatically populates search results as you type in a query. This kind of data offers valuable insights into what it deems as related terms.

Before you start using these tools, create a list of keywords related to your law firm that you think people might be using. In this exercise, you want to come up with around 20 different keywords.

Once you’ve created this list, you can input these into the Keyword Planner.

There are two huge benefits for using the Keyword Planner as well as your own initiative:

  • The tool shows you how many people are searching for your keyword.
  • It provides you with other keyword ideas that you might have overlooked.

Choosing your keywords

You might be from the school of law firms who believe keyword research isn’t necessary for law firms and doesn’t help in any way.

But believe us when we say, it does work, you just have to know how to do it properly and be aware that without in depth content, you’ll achieve weak results!

When putting together your list of keywords use the following checklist to make sure you have covered all areas.

Note: Although it’s important to be thorough in your own initial keyword planning, Google Keyword Planner will highlight any potential keywords you may have missed.

  1. Top level pages
  2. Location: Have you considered including keywords for your location. Searches based on location have a high chance of ranking for that specific area.
  3. Your services: Not all law firms offer the same services. It’s important to try and rank for each service you provide. People who are looking for a corporate attorney will not be interested in reading content about divorce law.
  4. Ideal clients: Does your firm target specific clients or industries? If so, give some thought to that in your keywords. For example, if you specialize in small businesses, being able to rank for ‘small business law firm New York’ would be beneficial for your company.

Looking at your competitors

Once you’ve populated your list of keywords you’d like to rank for, start looking at your competitors. Do their law firms rank for the same keywords on your list?

To do this, simply search for your chosen keywords on Google.

If your competitors show up on the first pages, it’s a key indicator that you’ve chosen a strong keyword and should begin optimizing your pages for that keyword.

If the pages shown for your chosen keyword are unrelated to your niche or industry, it’s a sign that you need to work on your keywords and refine them.

If you want to go even further with competitive analysis, check out our webinar replay: How to do Competitive Analysis and Authority Marketing With SEMrush.

Using Google Keyword Tool Planner

The first step, if you haven’t already is to create an account with Google AdWords. Note: you can use the keyword planner tool for free without having to actually pay for ads!

Most law websites will have multiple pages. This means you have multiple opportunities to rank for a number of different keywords and phrases.

For example, if one of your key phrases was “Family lawyer Chicago”.

Google Keyword Tool Planner

Enter the keyword in the box above, set the location to Chicago and enter any other search filter details then hit ‘Get Ideas’ in order for the tool to populate a list of the keywords plus their search volume.

For example, you might want to add negative keywords which allows you to decide the keywords you don’t want to target.

The more information you provide to Google about the types of keywords you want to see, the better-targeted results you’ll be shown.

Don’t worry if you’re unsure about any of the filter options, simply leaving them blank. Google is smart enough to work out which keywords are relevant and which aren’t.

Filter Options

We can see now that your search term ‘family lawyer Chicago has between 10 and 100 monthly searches, but ‘divorce attorney Chicago’ has between 100 and 1000 monthly searches.

This gives you an idea for the kind of phrasing you need to be using in order to rank well for your chosen keywords.

If, amongst your search, there are keywords with low or even no search volume, you can throw these ones away or get to them later as it’s unlikely people are searching heavily for them, so it’s unlikely – but in our experience not impossible, that you would get much out of these terms.

Ad Group Ideas

You’ll notice there are two options available on the keyword planner ‘Ad group ideas’ and ‘Keyword ideas’

Using both of these will give you a broader understanding of all the different search queries made around your initial keyword.

Use these and filter through the ones relevant to you with the highest search volume.

Related searches

Another useful part of Google is to use the related search feature.

Choose a keyword you’d like to rank for. In this example, we’ve chosen ‘divorce lawyer Chicago’.

Google Rank Keyword

Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll be presented with a list of related searches.

Related Searches

This gives you another idea of the keywords people are searching for.

Suppose for example you offered a free consultation. You know people are searching for this keyword now. Now you can use this data to optimize your pages in order to rank for this keyword.

The related search feature is another keyword tool you can add to your arsenal in order to put your best foot forwards and rank for the top keywords in your industry.

What to do with your keywords

When you’ve been through your list of keywords, chosen others based on what the tools suggests, you can start putting together your SEO keyword plan.

This involves thinking about not only which pages on your website would be useful to optimize for certain keywords, but what new pages can build out larger segments of content around topics.

For example, if you know ‘divorce attorney Chicago’ has an average of 100 to 1000 monthly searches, you could optimize one of your pages to rank for that, or even go as far as creating new pages and long tail blog posts dedicated to your services around divorce law.

Takeaways

Law firms and attorneys can greatly benefit from thorough keyword research.

Whilst initially it might seem like a lot of work, the benefits greatly outweigh the work needed.

Once you’ve produced a list of the top performing keywords you might want to rank for, the next step is understanding how to implement these throughout your website in order to rank effectively.

When you nail keyword research you’re significantly advantaged as you begin to think not like a lawyer, but like your potential clients. Using their language and the phrasings they use will enable you to develop an inbound marketing strategy that will generate real leads for your business.

For those who are still unsure, keyword research can help law firms establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry by using the keywords that resonate most with their potential prospects.

But like with everything in marketing, you need to know when the work is done. In an ideal world, you could spend years conducting keyword research in order to find the best ones for your law firm.

This, however, is counter productive, just because there are a number of tools out there to assist you, doesn’t mean you should use them all, and it doesn’t mean you should spend months or even years doing it.

Think about your own business strategy and only conduct as much keyword research as your strategy requires.

Relate your keyword research back to your business goals and you’ll produce a great list of potential keywords to rank for.

Have you had any experience in keyword research for your law firm? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear.

About John McDougall

John is the CEO of McDougall Interactive, publisher of The Legal Marketing Review and an authority on internet marketing for law firms. His team of over a dozen people helps law firms understand how to create a comprehensive internet marketing strategy and how to use of SEO, Paid Search and Social Media to generate more, and better, leads.

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