Jo Stephens is the CEO of Law Firm Sites, Inc. She has worked for over 15 years helping lawyers with website design and SEO marketing.
When law firms are starting an SEO marketing strategy, one of the most important steps is choosing the right keywords to target and implement into their content.
Often, businesses and firms develop internal jargon for their services that aren’t used by people outside of the company. So, there’s a big problem if a firm tries to optimize for a keyword that isn’t used outside of their team.
In order to avoid this common problem, it’s important that lawyers do the proper research before they create content around a keyword that won’t bring them any business.
Here’s how lawyers can conduct proper keyword research and find what I like to call their “golden keywords.”
What are golden keywords?
Golden keywords are the main set of keywords that a firm should be wanting to rank for in order to get more leads for their business.
These aren’t the only keywords that the firm will want to rank for, but golden keywords can help bring the firm the most leads possible.
How do you find golden keywords?
I look at six factors when determining my golden keyword list: volume, popularity trend, competition, cost-per-click, keyword intent, and keyword relevancy.
Let’s dive into each.
This factor ties back to the idea of not wanting to target keywords that are internal office jargon. Be sure to look at how many people are actually searching for a keyword in a given time period to see if it’s worth targeting.
If no one is searching that keyword, don’t bother targeting it.
If there’s been a steady decline in popularity for a specific keyword over a few months, it might not belong on your golden keyword list. On the other hand, keywords with upward popularity might be a good fit.
Google Ads’ keyword research tool is great to see what the popularity trend is for a specific keyword.
Lawyers probably know that they’re not the only firm trying to target a specific keyword, so it’s important to take into consideration how difficult it will be to actually rank for that keyword.
For example, if there is a solo attorney in Milwaukee, it’s going to be very difficult to rank for “Wisconsin Attorney” as there are literally thousands of other lawyers that will be trying to rank for that keyword.
Instead, especially when this attorney is first beginning, they’ll want to select a keyword that is more specific and will be easier to rank for.
This is one of my favorite factors to consider when selecting a golden keyword list. Be sure to take a look at how much competitors are paying to have their site listed in the “Ads” section of search results.
If others are paying a lot for that keyword, they’re probably getting serious business from it, and if an attorney can end up ranking really well for that keyword, there’s a good chance they’ll find similar results to the ad-payers.
When it comes to keyword intent, there are traditionally four types.
1. Commercial, or “Buy Now” intent. These keywords will sometimes contain words like “hire” or “buy.”
2. Informational intent. These are keywords that are focused on learning rather than purchasing. Words like “How To,” “First Steps” and “Why” are often included in informational intent.
3. Transactional intent. These are keywords that fall in between commercial and informational, as the intent is to learn more about a product or service before purchasing. “Reviews” “vs.” and “best” are words that often appear in transactional intent.
4. Navigational intent. These keywords are used when the user already knows where they want to go. Brand and company names appear in these types of searches.
A lot of times, a keyword doesn’t comfortably fit within any of these intents, and lawyers have to do a little bit of digging to see what the intent is.
An easy way to do this is to search the keyword in Google! If the top pages look like the types of content and pages that will be created, it’s the right direction.
So, if you’re a lawyer that is compiling your list of “golden” keywords, make sure that if someone is going to search that keyword, what they find on your page will match the type of page they intend to see (for your “golden keyword” list, try to focus on transactional and commercial intents if possible).
Finally, lawyers need to make sure that the keywords that they’re targeting are extremely relevant to the services they provide.
To use an extreme example of what keyword irrelevancy looks like, bar association websites will often already be ranking for keywords like “bar association in Eugene” or “Pittsburgh bar association.”
But they also rank for keywords like “bar in Eugene” or “Pittsburgh bar.”
Do you see the problem? The majority of people who search “Pittsburgh bar” are most likely not looking for information about a legal association.
So, when lawyers are choosing a list of keywords to target, they need to be sure to think logically about how relevant the keyword is to their services.
Bonus Tip: Local Keywords
For lawyers and firms, local keywords are extremely important. Typically, a firm will only practice in a specific area, so making sure the majority (if not all) of the keywords contain a geographic area will bring exactly the right traffic to the site.
A great keyword research strategy is central to any lawyer’s SEO and content marketing strategies, so it’s important to make sure the process is given sufficient time and energy. Doing so will set up the firm for SEO greatness.