How To Do Keyword Research For Your Law Firm Website

February 26, 2020
keyword research

Getting your law firm’s website to the top of the Google search results (or Bing or Yahoo results for that matter) is a must-do for law firms that want consistent business. The average potential client in search of legal help will first go to search engines, whether they’re on a desktop computer or on their mobile phone.

The art and science of getting your law firm to the top of these search results is called SEO, or search engine optimization. While it sounds like a rather technical acronym, it’s actually a lot easier to implement than you might think: one of the best (and easiest) ways to boost your SEO is to use lots of keywords in your written content. But in order to know what those keywords are, you’ll have to do some keyword research.

Don’t worry…you’ll see it’s much easier than it sounds to identify keywords for SEO.

What is keyword research?

SEO keywords are words or phrases that people type into Google (or other search engines) in their attempt to find information. Potential clients might be conducting a navigational search to find a local law firm, or an information search to learn more about the issue they are facing. Either way, keywords are the words and/or phrases they’ll type into Google—and if these words are worked into your content, their search has a better chance of ending on your law firm’s website.

However, you will most likely not be able to guess what words searchers are using. In fact, despite the fact that you know your profession well, some of your best guesses might be far off from the exact words and phrases searchers are using. In order to optimize keywords on your law firm’s site pages, you need to use one of the many online tools to find out what words and phrases searchers are using (more on that later).

It’s also good to dive a little deeper into this concept and understand the different types of SEO keywords. In the main, there are three types:

Fathead, also known as just “head” search terms are the most popular, but they tend to be incredibly broad and general. Fathead terms that relate to your law firm might be: lawyer, attorney, or even law firm. These terms have millions of searches every month, and it’s nearly impossible to boost your SEO by focusing on these keywords alone.

Chunky Middle terms are less competitive and more specific. Keywords in this category might be terms like: bankruptcy lawyer, tax attorney, or DUI lawyer. You will certainly want to target some of these keywords in your written content, but for purposes of boosting your SEO, they’re not enough.

Long Tail terms have the fewest number of searches, but because they’re so specific, they can provide a great boost to your SEO. These are terms like New York bankruptcy lawyer, tax attorney near Atlanta, or DUI California lawyer. Because there are fewer monthly searches (perhaps even just in the hundreds) for these terms, they are perhaps some of the easiest SEO keywords with which you can compete against other law firms. While there might be fewer people searching these terms, you’ll have a better chance of getting in front of them.

Why is keyword research important for your law firm?

As mentioned, keywords are what will help you compete against other law firms in the Google search rankings (or other search engine). Keywords are like flags to Google that let them know your site is relevant to user searches. Again, you should not rely on guessing about what these keywords are. Moreover, keyword research tools will tell you other related terms users are typing into Google, so you can use these terms as well.

Keyword research will also help make sure your efforts are not misguided. While you might be able to guess some of the keywords that can boost your SEO, you might totally miss popular search terms, or place more importance on terms that are actually less popular—or too popular. Keyword research tools will actually tell you the average number of monthly searches for a term, so you can zone in on the best terms to use. It can also tell you what keywords competitors are using, so that you too can start using them.

What is the Google Keyword Tool?

There are a number of free keyword research tools online, such as AnswerThePublic, Moz, and Ubersuggest. But one of the greatest is provided by Google itself. Google’s keyword tool—the Google Keyword Planner—is found right on the Google Ads dashboard.

The Google Keyword Planner will help you to do research on keywords that relate to your business (in this case, your law firm). Or, you can place a competitor’s site into the Keyword Planner and see what keywords they’re using—and then use them yourself.

The primary purpose of the Keyword Planner is to assist you in creating optimized PPC ads (pay per click advertisement). However, it can also be a useful tool to identify keywords for SEO.

How to use the google keyword tool to find the right keywords

You can use the Keyword Planner to find new keywords, or to see what type of search volume is associated with keywords you currently used—and get predictions about their future performance. This latter option is most useful for analyzing how PPC ads will perform, since the dashboard will show you metrics like the average cost per click, conversion rate, and monthly impression (namely, how often it’s seen).

But if you select the option to discover new keywords, you can enter a number of terms that relate to your law firm and its areas of practice. Google will show you a list of related terms sorted by their relevance to user searches, along with average number of monthly searches, and how competitive the term is. It will also show you how much other law firms are paying to display PPC ads with those terms—which is perhaps the best indicator of how hot these terms are in terms of SEO.

Since other law firms are paying big bucks for ads that contain these terms, it certainly wouldn’t hurt you to include them in your written content. Potential clients are using these terms to find a law firm, and if your law firm’s website has these words woven into the copy, they could see your firm’s site near the top of the Google search results, without you having to pay for clicks.

How to determine which keywords are most important for your law firm

As mentioned, the Google Keyword Planner is a great tool to scope out keywords, because you can see how much competitors are paying for certain terms. The market is a great indicator for the value of SEO keywords, so you’ll definitely want to work these terms into the content on the pages of your law firm’s website.

The Keyword Planner will also let you input a domain name like the website URL of a competitor, and see which of their keywords are performing well. These are terms you will also want to consider working into your content. They are helping competing law firms, so they can certainly help you. This is all the more true if that law firm competes with you in the same area of law, and especially if they compete with you locally.

You will also want to take advantage of suggested keywords that relate to the words or phrases you input into Google. However, paying attention to their degree of competitiveness is also important.

Fathead keywords (usually one-word terms) are highly competitive because they are so broad. For example, if your firm specializes in a particular area of law, focusing on the keyword lawyer will not help you—because now you will have to compete with thousands of other lawyers in every area of law.

However, using more specific Chunky Middle and Long Tail phrases can help your SEO a lot more. Not only is there less competition, but these terms have more direct relevance to the searches that potential clients are performing.

A final word about law firm SEO keyword research

One of the most important factors in Google’s system of ranking information is content. In order for content to be ranked, it needs to be relevant to user searches. And in order for Google to perceive relevance, it has to use some of the same keywords that searchers—your potential clients—are using. The only way to lock down these keywords with 100% accuracy is through keyword research. As you’ve hopefully seen, keyword research does not have to be difficult or costly; there are plenty of free and user-friendly tools to use right online for finding the right keywords.

At the same time, it’s important to realize there are other factors to SEO. As important as keywords are, building up links to your site across the internet and site architecture are also important ranking factors.

You could use all the right keywords in your content, but if you miss putting them in some of the less obvious places (such as meta descriptions and title tags) you’ll miss out on tapping into their semantic power. That’s why it’s often good to work with a firm that specializes in law firm SEO; they can not only help you use the right keywords in your content, but leverage some of the other strategies that can provide a real boost to your law firm’s SEO.