5 Tips For Effective Keyword Research For Law Firms

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Potential clients are turning to the internet to find legal services and representation. This makes having a strong online presence essential for law firms looking to attract new business. At the heart of any effective digital marketing strategy lies keyword research - the process of identifying the terms and phrases people use when searching for legal services online.

Proper keyword research ensures your website shows up when potential clients are searching for what you offer. However, it's both an art and a science. Here are five tips to masterfully conduct keyword research for your law firm.

1. Walk a mile in your client's shoes

Before investing time into keyword research, you must intimately understand your target audience. Who are your ideal clients? What motivates their legal needs? What pain points are they hoping to solve?

Walk a mile in your client's shoes

Getting inside the mind of your prospective clients is crucial for anticipating the keywords they'll use when searching for an attorney. The better you can empathize with their perspectives and situations, the more precise your marketing for attorneys will be.

Developing audience insights

Don't make assumptions about your audience. Instead, actively gather data and feedback through multiple channels:

  • Client surveys: Send out periodic surveys to past and current clients asking about their motivations, concerns, objections, keyword searches, etc.
  • Analytics data: Your website and search analytics contain coveted clues about visitor demographics, interests, behavior flows, and more.
  • Social listening: Monitor legal forums, Facebook groups, Twitter, Reddit, and other online communities where your target audience gathers. Listen to their vernacular.
  • Sales team input: Your intake staff/attorneys interfacing with potential clients have a direct pulse on their biggest questions and language used.

The more of these audience research methods you can employ, the more comprehensive your understanding will be.

Persona building

With your audience insights compiled, construct detailed buyer personas. These semi-fictional representations bring your target audiences to life and ensure you keep their needs centered.

Try creating:

  • Persona names and personal bios.
  • Descriptions of their goals and challenges.
  • Psychographic and demographic details.
  • Sample dialogue and vocabulary used.
  • The keywords they'd likely search for.

Continuously refine these personas as you gather new data. Let them steer your overall content and marketing strategy.

2. Use the right keyword tools (and use them right)

While jotting down potential keyword ideas is a decent start, you can't simply stick a pin in that tactic and call it a day. To really uncover a goldmine of lucrative keyword opportunities, you need the pro tools in your corner.

Popular keyword research tools in the legal marketing arena include:

  • Google's Keyword Planner
  • SEMrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz's Keyword Explorer

These heavy-hitters provide powerful insights around:

  • Accurately forecasted monthly search volumes.
  • Competitiveness metrics to gauge ranking difficulty.
  • Related keyword suggestions to expand your targets.
  • Projected click-through rates and cost-per-click estimates.

But merely having access to these tools isn't enough. You need to wield them like a master chef cutting vegetables.

Going pro with keyword tools

Each tool offers different features and capabilities.

Take full advantage by doing things like:

  • Segmenting keywords by intent (informational vs. commercial vs. transactional, etc.).
  • Analyzing the competitive landscape and top-ranking pages for any keyword.
  • Discovering new, lucrative keywords based on auto-suggestions and related terms.
  • Tracking and monitoring your law firm's rankings over time.
  • Exporting data to cross-reference against other tools and spreadsheets.

The more intricately you use these tools, the more high-potential keywords you'll discover to prioritize in your strategy. Stop settling for half-baked tactics!

2. Use the right keyword tools (and use them right)

3. Don't ignore long-tail keywords 

At first glance, those fat, juicy head terms like "personal injury lawyer" are incredibly tempting to chase. They seemingly promise a never-ending flow of fresh search traffic straight to your virtual doorstep.

But here's the hard truth - those highly-coveted "head" keywords are incredibly oversaturated and competitive. Realistically, what are the chances of dethroning mega-firms and publishers who've monopolized those broad terms for years?

Instead of tilting at windmills, it's time to appreciate the unsung heroes of the keyword world - long-tails.

The hidden power of long-tails

While individually less searched, long-tail keywords (4+ words) convey way more qualified intent. Sure, the search volumes are lower, but we're talking laser-focused interest here.

For example, which searcher is more likely to convert:

  • Someone browsing "personal injury lawyer".
  • Or someone specifically seeking a "top-rated car accident lawyer in Miami".

The long-tail has a much clearer understanding of what they need and is further along in the buying journey. These are the searchers you want!

Finding your long-tail opportunities

Uncovering long-tail gold isn't quite as simple as the head terms.

You've got to diligently:

  • Mine through your keyword tool's related searches and question templates.
  • Study the auto-suggest results and scrolling search feeds.
  • Scrutinize your top competitors' long-tail rankings.
  • Analyze your own website's query data and search console.

The more places you look, the more long-tails you'll start to uncover. And when you find those hidden gems, they shouldn't be ignored!

Two-pronged keyword strategy

The most effective approach combines head terms for awareness with long-tails for conversions:

  • Target head terms for visibility through things like blog posts and on-site SEO.
  • But focus your highest-value service/landing pages on specific long-tails.

This allows you to be strategic about what keywords you want to rank for on your most important website pages.

4. Keep tabs on the competition (and steal their candy)

You can research keywords until you're blue in the face. But if you're not considering what your competitors are up to, you're bringing a knife to a gunfight.

4. Keep tabs on the competition (and steal their candy)

Your top-ranking rivals are already dominating the most valuable keywords in your market.

Studying their tactics is essential for revealing:

  • Keyword gaps and opportunities you're missing.
  • Ways to leapfrog their rankings on your priority terms.
  • New emerging trends and content opportunities.

Competitive keyword intelligence

Powerful tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, SpyFu, and others allow you to deeply analyze what keywords your competitors are ranking for.

This is incredibly valuable data, as it showcases:

  • Their current top organic traffic drivers.
  • Head terms they're gunning for.
  • Long-tails they've strategically captured.
  • Niche keywords you may be overlooking.

But it goes far beyond just keyword data. These tools also illuminate competitors':

  • Top-performing pages and content.
  • Paid search efforts and ad spend.
  • Juiciest featured snippet/knowledge panel opportunities.
  • Backlink practices and profiles.

When you understand their full digital strategy, you can start reverse-engineering ways to outmaneuver them on the keywords that matter most.

Separating from the pack

Of course, the end goal isn't to become a carbon copy of your competitors. You'll need to find ways to differentiate and capture new keyword opportunities they've missed.

A few ways to forge your own path:

  • New long-tail keywords based on your specific service offerings.
  • Try alternative content formats like videos, tools, downloads, etc.
  • Target hyper-local geo-modifiers in your area.
  • Dig into niche practice areas or legal topics.
  • Optimize for voice search, mobile, etc.

5. Remember, keyword research never sleeps 

You can't simply run a keyword research project once a year and consider the job done. That's the equivalent of slapping a "aren't you a super sleepy baby" sign on a hungry lion.

The worlds of search behavior and ranking algorithms are in a perpetual state of restless evolution. Your keyword strategy demands the same relentless, dogged approach lest you be devoured by stagnation.

The never-ending SEO audit

The never-ending SEO audit

An effective law firm SEO strategy requires continuously monitoring and analyzing your performance to refine your approach, including:

Rank tracking

  • Religiously track your website's rankings for target keywords.
  • Segment by location for local campaigns.
  • Note upward/downward movement and fluctuations.

Analytics audits

  • Analyze which keywords are driving website traffic.
  • Identify top exit pages to prioritize improvements.
  • Mine for new potential keyword targets based on performance.

Competitive monitoring

  • Watch like a hawk for competitors making aggressive moves.
  • Identify new keywords they're targeting.
  • Reverse-engineer their backlink and content strategies.

Algorithm monitoring

  • Stay laser-focused on search engine updates that impact rankings.
  • Notice any new SERP features, requirements, penalties to conform to.
  • Join industry communities discussing emerging trends and tactics.

The second you take your foot off the gas is the second your competitors will blow by you in a cloud of dust and keywords. Don't let up!

The agile content approach

With your newfound awareness of what's working and what's shifting, your keyword strategy and content plan needs to remain extremely nimble and adaptable.

A few evergreen best practices:

  • Prioritize updating and optimizing your highest-trafficked pages first.
  • Continuously build authority with a steady stream of blog content.
  • Iterate and expand on successful long-tail and informational content.
  • Explore new content types/mediums to capture nascent opportunities.
  • Always be researching and integrating new valuable keywords.

The legal firms that build SEO momentum are the ones performing consistent keyboard gardening and landscape maintenance. As soon as you set it and forget it, you're dead on arrival.

Wrapping up

By living and breathing these five tips, you can craft a highly-targeted, research-fueled keyword strategy that drives sustainable streams of qualified traffic and leads for your law firm's website.

While keywords are just one piece of the digital marketing puzzle, they form a crucial foundation for success online.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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