Friday, June 26, 2020

5 Keyword Best Practices for Lawyers

Keywords are the foundation of search.  While there are many other techniques and strategies to make a site’s performance in search successful, keywords are still at the heart of that success.  It’s important to understand which keywords to target in your SEO campaigns because not all phrases are ideal to target.

Here are 5 best practices lawyers can use when selecting keywords to rank for in Google search. 

Understanding Keyword Targeting

There are two basic reasons why attorneys cannot go after every legal keyword phrase under the sun:

  1. Not all phrases have search volume (i.e. searchers just aren’t using them) and…
  2. The intent of the searcher may not be what you need for your firm (i.e. the phrase isn't something that will bring in clients).

In other words, people have lots of reasons why they are searching for legal-related phrases and some of those have nothing to do with researching or hiring a legal professional or they are too broad to determine what the searcher is looking for.

Avoid Broad Terms

Like we mentioned above, broad terms can make an SEO campaign struggle.  The reason is that it’s hard to know what a searcher is looking for when they use single- or double-word queries like “lawyer”, “attorney”, “car accident”, or “slip and fall”.

Consequently, it is very difficult to develop content that Google will show for these searches.
When it comes to searcher intent, the shorter the term or phrase they use, the more difficult it is to guess what they are looking for.  So instead of broad terms, focus on phrase that have clearer intent.
Here are some examples:

  • Primary practice area + city name, state abbreviation (i.e. “personal injury lawyer Houston, TX”)
  • Niche practice area + city name, state abbreviation (i.e. “car accident lawyer Clearwater, FL”)

You can also use your blog to target longer tail keywords that are much more specific but tend to have lower search volume and less purchase intent.

Use Multiple Sources for Information

There are many sources online where you can get data on keywords including their volume, trends about their use, competitiveness metrics, and more.  Here are some good ones:

  • Google’s Keyword Planner (free) 
  • Youtube’s keyword tool (Free) 
  • Wordstream’s keyword tool (Free) 
  • Google Trends (Free) 
  • Ahrefs Keywords Explorer (Paid)

These are all great resources and lawyers doing their own keyword research should use multiple sources instead of just one.

For example use Google Trends to find data on a phrase and then compare that with data from the keyword planner and a proprietary tool like Ahrefs.  All of the information combined can give you a clearer picture of what your audience may actually be searching for on a regular basis.

Measure Keyword Competitiveness

Part of doing keyword research is finding the right balance among phrases that you need to show up for and those that are practical to go after.  This entails measuring the competitiveness of keywords that you want to use.  One way to do that is to see how many other websites are using that phrase in search.

There are some really scientific ways of finding out how competitive a keyword is but that involves a lot of effort and in some cases paid software.

One quick way to see if something is going to be a challenge to rank for (in terms of time and money) is to just use Google search.  Type in the phrase in quotations to a Google search and see how many other websites are using that phrase on the web.  This metric is usually listed right at the top of a search engine results page in gray lettering. 

There’s no rule on when you should avoid the term but any phrase with a volume of 1 million+ is going to be challenging to rank for.

Avoid the Shotgun Approach

The worst thing you can do with your keyword strategy is try to target everything.  Over time it is completely possible to go after more and more keywords (especially if you have a blog).  In the beginning though, choose a core set of keywords that will help you drive more business and rank for your key practice areas.

By using these tactics in your keyword research strategy, you’ll be well-positioned to rank for keyword phrases that should drive qualified traffic to your website. 

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