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Keywords for Law Firms: What SEO Terms Should Law Firms NOT Go After?

  • LawFirm
  • SEO

Don’t waste your time and money targeting the wrong keywords for your law firm! Learn the dos and don’ts of law firm SEO, like which terms to avoid and best practices for success.

by jennifer 11 May 2022

Table of Contents

In today’s digital age ranking well on Google has never been more important, but many law firms still struggle when it comes to on-page SEO and effective keyword selection. 

From expensive SEO campaigns that fail to yield results to lawyers dedicating countless hours to optimize their sites without success, law firm SEO can seem daunting without understanding the basics. This is why it is important to understand how to select keywords for your law firm, and how to best utilize them on-site.  

In an effort to help you avoid these common, and frustrating, mistakes, we’ll be breaking down many of the flawed assumptions surrounding law firm SEO, as well as which keywords to avoid, and best practices for SEO success. 

Don’t: Focus Exclusively On High Competition Head Terms

Most law firms believe that focusing solely on high volume, high competition keywords like “San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer” or “Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney” will help to generate the most leads and boost quality organic traffic.

The truth of the matter is that these keywords can be incredibly competitive and therefore difficult to rank for, especially if your website is new, or if you have low domain authority. These types of keywords are often referred to as “head terms”. Head terms are highly popular keywords that possess high search volume, and while they can certainly provide benefit to your website, your digital strategy shouldn’t rely solely on their use. 

High competition aside, these types of keywords also tend to possess less conversion value than more long-tail and specific terms. Oftentimes, potential clients will search for questions related to their particular problem or concern before directly searching for a lawyer. If your website can create content to address these questions early on while advising on the benefits of hiring a lawyer, there is a much bigger chance to see conversion, as well as higher rankings on the search engine results page.   

DO: Target Relevant Long-Tail Keywords

Instead of focusing solely on terms like “New York DUI Attorney”, try refocusing your efforts on relevant long-tail keywords and trending questions like “How to Get a DUI Expunged in New York”, or “How Much Does a DUI Cost in New York?”.

While these keywords may possess less volume than popular head terms, they are guaranteed to drive a better quality of traffic by drawing in users at an early stage in the process who may not even know that they need a lawyer. By capturing this audience, answering their questions, and providing some legal advice, your law firm is much more likely to see conversions increase.

An added bonus in utilizing these long-form keywords is that they often contain head terms within them which allow you to potentially rank for both simultaneously, which is an easy win-win for your law firm’s website. 

DON’T: Use Intuition to Guide Keyword Selection

Oftentimes, people who are new to SEO and keyword research may select keywords “intuitively”, or without the use of data-backed software, or prompts from search engines. This may seem to make sense when selecting head terms to focus on, but without properly understanding key factors like volume, difficulty, and cost per click, it can lead to poor keyword selections that fail to help your law firm rank. 

For example, if you’re not using any tools or software to aid in keyword research, you might just be guessing which can result in the use of keywords with unreasonable difficulty, or lower search volume than similar and equally applicable terms. Without the right knowledge and tools, you may be wasting precious resources and time on keywords that won’t help to move the needle when it comes to organic traffic and conversions.

When performing keyword research, there are a few different methods you can use to help select the best terms. If you’re planning on creating a decent amount of content or would prefer to tackle SEO in-house, it may make sense to invest in a software or tool with keyword research capabilities. This will allow you to gain insight into estimated monthly search volume, ranking difficulty, competition, and cost per click. Through using these tools, you can also see what terms your main competitors are ranking for and then try to re-create their success in a unique way. 

If you’re not ready to invest in keyword research software, or you don’t have the time to learn a new tool, you can always use features on Google to perform light keyword research. To do this, simply type your proposed keyword, topic, or question into the search box and see what suggestions populate beneath it. The suggestions that pop up below are the top keywords related to your search and may be helpful to add to your list of terms to target. 

Another helpful way to use Google for keyword research is to perform a search for your topic or keyword and explore the “people also ask” box. Here, you’ll find a list of popular questions related to your search. If you’re creating an FAQ or looking for questions to guide topic research, this is a great place to find them. Creating a piece of content around one of these questions or including them in your content is a strong way to connect with your intended audience and increase your ability to rank. 

Additionally, if you need more keyword ideas related to your search, you can also scroll to the bottom of the search engine results page to the “related searches” box, which contains all of the most popular searches related to your initial query. These may be highly searched long-tail keywords or questions to consider including in your content. 

DON’T: Assume That Potential Clients Know They Need a Lawyer

Many lawyers and marketers assume that potential clients will search directly for lawyers in their area after an accident or event requiring legal assistance. The problem with this assumption is that a great number of people aren’t even aware that they need a lawyer, and they don’t search for lawyers in the way they search for consumer products. 

Instead of immediately searching for “whistleblower lawyer San Francisco”, your potential client may search for questions surrounding how to collect evidence as a whistleblower or want to know what laws exist to protect them from retaliation. By focusing solely on broad location-based head terms for your law firm’s website, you’ll miss out on capturing all of the potential clients who weren’t even aware that they needed legal assistance. This is why it is important to research related questions and concerns and choose keywords that reflect them.

There are also situations where potential clients may need encouragement and guidance before stepping forward and pursuing legal action. For example, persons who have suffered sexual abuse or institutional abuse may possess a certain set of challenges that can stand in the way of their pursuit of justice. Perhaps they are afraid of hurting their place of worship, or maybe they are unaware of the statute of limitation laws in their state, or whether or not what happened constitutes abuse. This is why it is vital to connect with your audience early on in their quest for information by providing them with relevant answers to their most pressing questions and doing so with empathy for their predicament. 

DO: Use Keywords and Topics That Address Potential Concerns and Questions

When creating content for potential clients, it is important to envision what kinds of difficulties they may be experiencing, what questions they might have, and what information would be most helpful for them at this time. As we mentioned earlier, there are a number of paid and free tools you can use to discover popular questions and long-tail keywords which will be incredibly helpful in optimizing your content for search engine success. It will also be important to take past clients into consideration and to use long-tail keywords that speak to their common fears, frustrations, and difficulties. 

Outside of utilizing related questions and low-difficulty long-tail keywords, it is also vital to empathize with your potential clients, and focus on creating content that will genuinely help them through whatever difficult situation they are navigating. Whether you’re speaking to victims of violent crime or persons who just experienced a work or car accident, it is important to use a tone of voice that conveys empathy while addressing their fears, questions, and concerns in a meaningful way. By providing these potential clients with legal education and support during their time of difficulty, you are not only helping them but much more likely to secure them as a future client. This is why it is important to pair the right long-tail keywords with your knowledge of the audience and speak directly to their needs.

Whether you are interested in optimizing your entire website, or you’re just getting started writing blog articles, utilizing the right keywords will be crucial to your law firm’s digital presence. Unsure if your law firm has the time or resources for in-house SEO? You can always connect with us here at MeanPug to see how we can join forces for maximum growth and success.

Read More: Do Directories & Reviews Help Google Ranking?

Read More: Law Firm Web Design – All the Basics Explained

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