When looking for better search engine visibility for your law firm’s website, one of the key tactics necessary is using the correct keywords.
Google’s front page is a leaderboard, with the pages ranked 1 – 10. Good keyword research and competitor ‘spying’ combined with great content will serve to lift your law firm up the Google rankings.
You can skew the leaderboard odds in your favor by doing your research and writing correctly and beat out some of the ‘top law firm’ entrants who have all the SEO and keyword tools at their disposal.
Right keywords – Great SEO will come from using the right keywords. But how to you know what is best for your law firm and – if not – how you should go about finding them?
Great search engine optimization (SEO) is critical to your business success. It provides you with organic traffic, better conversion rates, and puts your business on the virtual map.
But first, why keywords? How important are they to clients finding your firm, whether your’e a Phoenix DUI attorney or a Manchester (UK) property law firm. Regardless of the firm, location and specialty, the proper use of keywords is one of the simplest and potentially most effective ways to achieve a good ROI on your SEO.
Bad keywords = Fewer client enquiries. It’s that simple.
Search Engine Optimization is the process that permits your law firm site to achieve a ranking and visibility on the web.
There are various aspects to SEO, all with different criteria – speed, links, relevance, site layout and so forth.
Google is completely focused on delivering good customer experience (just like a good lawyer) and that means they want to ensure searchers are rewarded by finding exactly what they’re looking for.
Unlike humans, search engines look at the world differently. They ‘crawl’ your firm website by reaqding the code on it and by indexing and storing information. They then take that data and apply their algorithms to decide how relevant it is to the searcher.
Spider’s Work – A wonderful site full of images will be invisible to search engines without text. What is always needed is good content that is descriptive and permits the spiders to ‘see’ your site and to know what your legal specialty is.
You also provide good, quality hyperlinks to authority sites and use your appropriate wording.
Which is where keywords come in.
What are Keywords?
Essentially they are a word or phrase that defines and describes a page on your site – describing what your content is about.
Once these short ‘summaries’ of your page is chosen the seearch engine spiders will find keywords and index them, helping to direct traffic back to the site based upon the words.
What are the Keys to Choosing the Best Words?
Brainstorm Keyword Ideas
When you’re working on keywords start brainstorming. Open a spreadsheet in a program like Google Sheets or Evernote and list every applicable word related to your firm and your areas of legal specialty.
See what Google indicates as related keywords when you enter a search terms.
For instance, you enter “Miami Divorce Attorney” and it pops up the suggested alternatives:
Cheap Miami divorce attorney
Best Miami divorce attorney
Miami country divorce attorney
Miami Florida divorce attorney
Miami Beach divorce attorney
. . and so on
Use synonyms – When searching for keyword terms you need to duck and dive down different side routes to locate synonyms and related terms.
Check Thesaurus.com and search for related terms.
See what “lawyer” brings up, for instance –
Some are great – some not. But it leads to other ideas. You need to brainstorm thoroughly before using your ‘spy tools’.
Use a Competitor Spy Tool and Keyword Planner
One of the best keyword planners is the Google keyword planner which lets you asses how Google believes different keywords might perform. It permits budgeting if adwords are being used, but also provides key information on different phrases and keyword combinations.
It also permits a search through different ad groups for keyword ideas and to also search historic search statistics – all invaluable.
Other keyword & ‘spy’ tools – There are other keyword tools that you can use to develop the best keywords for your law firm site, apart from the Google keyword planner.
Plus you need to use tools to ‘spy’ on your competitors.
There’s nothing like checking out what your law firm competitors are doing.
See what words they are using and how you can adopt and amend them to garner a key, targeted audience.
You can use tools to ‘spy’ on your competitors, such as Keyword Spy and Spyfu.
If you want to know some “sneaky” ways to spy on your competitor check this article with some key tips and tools to easily and effectively see where they get their traffic.
When you do your research on keywords you should look at the ranking difficulty and relevance, as well as search volume. But the key is always to make the terms as relevant as possible to your legal specialties, your geographic location, key points of difference, attorney names and so forth.
Moz’s keyword tool can be used to research your highly relevant ‘law’ choices.
You need to select options that have both a high exact match local search volume and a low difficulty score.
A high exact local search volume means that among people searching locally to your business, there is a large number of people searching for that exact keyword. A low difficulty score means that the keyword is not particularly competitive and a smaller number of other firms or websites are using the keyword, which means less competition.
Soovle is useful because it aggregates the suggestions from the major search engines and lets you see how they choose the suggestions that are displayed in the search box when you enter your search terms.
SEMrush. SEMrush functions a lot like Google’s Keyword Planner in that it offers data on estimated traffic, keyword difficulty scores, and site auditing, but it provides competitive analysis as well so you can see which keywords your competitors use and how they use them.
Let’s enter ‘Skadden.com’ for instance –
First we see an overview of their traffic and other information –
And then we see some of the top keyword terms leading to searches on the Skadden site –
How useful do you think at tool like SEMRush might be when you’re researching your competitor’s use of keywords?
Ubersuggest. This free keyword tool helps you create long-tail keywords (see below) using a broader, base keyword.
Keywordtool.io. This free tool uses the autocomplete feature on Google to help you generate keywords.
AHREFs Site Explorer has a seven day free trial and is a powerful tool to find competitor information. Enter the url to search and find the organic keywords that are being ranked.
Similarly the Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer can generate a vast volume of good SEO keywords to use, finding great related keywords you would never have thought of.
Using these often free tools (or introductory offers) provides a huge advantage when you’re checking on the keywords you can use to generate maximum leverage over other law firms marketing in ‘your’ space.
Avoid General Keywords
In the law profession the use of general keywords such as “personal injury attorney”, or “bankruptcy lawyer” will be highly competitive and enormously difficult to rank for in most cases, particularly if you are a small firm in a smaller town or state.
Even if you do rank for such terms, there will be fewer ‘qualified’ people who are finding your law firm.
The key is to use ‘buyer’ keywords or longtail keywords (see below), just as it is to research using the keyword tools mentioned above.
Don’t forget also to use the Wikipedia definitions for keywords and generate more ideas through them, as well as having links to the most-authoritative site out there for valuable links back to your site.
Whether you’re focused on dog bite injury law or the latest Brexit issues, you’ll find keywords and authority links via Wikipedia.
Check Forums and Question Sites
A useful research site is BoardReader, which permits a search of key forums.
Checking forums using keywords from the free tools we’ve mentioned will give you more complex and details suggestions.
Searching forums like this will give you a sharp focus on words and what qwu3estions are being asked, many of which may never have occurred to you.
Quora is another site that lets you research what people are wanting to know – providing another range of ideas and keywords.
Quora is important because it lets you know what your clients – or potential clients – are wanting to know.
You can search for a term in the search bar and may well find a whole part of Quora devoted to your area of interest or specialty.
Avoid Keyword “Stuffing”
Keyword “stuffing” used to be a favorite trick for those seeking high, organic rankings. But no more. For those who simply repeat their keyword phrases any more than say 1.5 per cent of an article of 400-600 words can be penalized.
The key is to write for the audience, not the search engines. The ‘smarts’ of the search engines are such that they can now read natural, relevant, quality and unique content like a real person. But they also have the overlay of their algorithms.
By providing quality content that will use related phrases and words around the main keywords, you will rank far better.
Make sure you focus on writing for your audience – for real people – don’t try and trick the search engines or write content purely for rankings.
You need quality content – always.
Use Long-tail keywords
One of the advantages of running lengthy (but relevant and useful) content is the ability to use so-called “long-tail keywords”.
These are specific phrases that can be extremely useful to raise the profile of firms in specific areas. For intance, instead of trying to rank for ‘San Diego Law Firm’ or ‘Bankruptcy Attorney’, use terms like ‘San Diego bankruptcy attorney’ or ‘San Diego bankruptcy law firm experts’ and the like.
Long-tail keywords are keyword phrases that identify a very specific search target, for example: “tropical plant nursery San Diego”. If you are a San Diego nursery that carries tropical plants, this is a far better keyword choice than, say, “plants” or “nursery”; and although “tropical plant nursery” and “San Diego nursery” are better, the long-tail “tropical plant nursery San Diego” is the most specific.
When people click through on your site from that search, you can be fairly sure that a) your business is what they’re looking for, and b) they’re much closer to buying than someone just browsing “plants”.
Even when some long-tail keywords you’d like to use may not be part of your daily business to the extent that the keyword can appear in your product descriptions or landing page, you can still use them in other ways. For example, creating a blog allows you to post multiple pieces of content that showcase long-tail keywords as well as your authority in your area.
mmy or manipulative tactics. Write for your customers instead and include keywords in a natural way.
Don’t Cannibalize Your Keywords
Cannibalization happens when you have multiple pages on your site that are competing with one another for the same keyword.
There is no point in having similar text on pages, which simply makes your job harder when you’re trying to attract qualified clients to your law firm.
You should try and ensure that your main web pages – eg about your attorneys, yourself, your firm background and philosophy and so forth – have different keywords from the actual blog content.
And make sure too that you cross link your pages where relevant to help build up the authority and help the search engines recognize what is relevant and helpful to the searcher when they’re looking for content about your legal services.
Take Advantage of Your Competitor’s Keywords
We’ve already mentioned plenty of tools to collect keywords, but you can then go ahead to check what your competitors are doing to maximize your own advantage online.
So find the competing pages for your firm. They are highly visible and you can see them with a simple Google search, which will quickly bring up the sites you need.
Then us Google to come up with the sites that appear when you put your ‘high level’ keywords into the search bar.
Then, using Google’s keyword research planner use the ‘Find new keywords and get search volume data’ option –
Past a competing page into the ‘Your landing page’ field. For instance, if you’re a drink driving lawyer in Fort Worth you may enter a competitor law firm into the “landing page” search and see what emerges –
google search for keyword research
Now, go to the Google Keyword PlanOnce you hit the ‘Get Ideas’ button you can see the keywords, the keyword ideas and other relevant terms that can help you find what your competitor may be ranked for and what the relevant search volumes are –
Use Your Keywords Smartly
Once you’ve completed your keyword research and ‘spying’ you need to use your words carefully for maximum advantage.
The keyword(s) need to appear in key places – including –
Descriptive meta tags
Image ‘alt tags’
While some of these locations will be obvious – such as using the keywords in your titles and so forth – others may be less so.
You should pay attention to areas often overlooked, such as image alt tags and the like that can garner significant targeted traffic to your site.
Your site should have a strong descriptive meta title tag, which is a summary of the page. These are the short text descriptions that will appear in entries on the search results pages and in the search engine window tab.
They need to be about 65 characters at their max and include your relevant keywords.
Remember that search engine spiders cannot see your images – but they do see your ‘alt tags’ and file names. They should contain keywords and in the case of alt tags describe the image.
The urls should include your keywords along with something easy to understand, rather than gibberish or long numeric sequences.
Using free tools, some commons sense and some easily undertaken online research you can uncover a treasure trove of keywords and keyword phrases that can help drive quality and qualified traffic to your site.
You need to keep your keyword list and develop content that makes the most of the words to generate the traffic you’re looking for.
Let us know how you’re going, or if you have any questions.
Here’s what it looks like now:
keyword research process sheet
It’s getting pretty long, as you can see. But we’re not done yet. This is just the first overall pass which is a combination of what we can come up with through a bit of Googling and scraping suggestions.
The next section of the keyword research process involves looking at places on the web where people are talking about what you’re writing.
Research how real people speak in their niche communities
Aside from the huge hubs your target niche hangs out (Inbound and GrowthHackers for marketing, for example), you can be sure that there is a group of people with questions that your content could answer on Quora.
For questions that definitely include your keyword, you’ll want to stay away from the Topic section and go to the ‘Search:’ menu item at the bottom there.
results for keyword research on quora