Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Common Lawyer SEO Mistake: Keyword Envy

I was speaking with a lawyer the other day that told me, “if you want to generate case leads via search, there are only a few keywords that matter and even then, it only matters if you are in the top 3 positions.” While it is true that having a top search position for a highly searched phrase can generate traffic, it's a bad SEO strategy. Here's why:

  • Personalized search results.A few years ago, Google started personalizing the search results based on your search and click history.So, what you see is not necessarily what the average consumer sees or what any individual looking for a lawyer sees.
  • Changing consumer search patterns. Earlier I posted a entry on ReachLocal and a ReachLocal salesperson commented that a significant part of their strategy was to target longer search queries.Their observation was as follows: “The average length of a search query has gone from 2 words 10 years ago (like 'dui attorney') to now more than 4 words (Aggressive DUI Attorney Alpharetta).”I absolutely agree with this change in consumer behavior because we’ve seen it in our analytics data as well.As search queries expand by 1 or 2 words, the combination of search queries grows exponentially, making the “few keywords that matter” strategy less effective.

    So, if you fixate on a short list of keywords and the top 3 search positions, you’re missing the boat on search. To share some data:
    • On a site rich with content that helps consumers find a lawyer, like lawfirms.com, our top keyword only accounted for 1.1% of our search traffic. The top 50 keywords only accounted for 9.7% of traffic.
    • Our immigration lawyer site, usimmigrationlawyers.com, has the top position on Google for “immigration lawyer.”While this keyword has high search volume and we have the top position, it still only accounts for 12% of our traffic.And the top 50 only account for 38% of traffic.
    Capitalizing on organic search demands that you publish more information about your practice and that you broaden the keywords that matter to you.In the end, what matters most to lawyers is connecting with the consumer that is looking to hire an attorney. To do this, you have to cast as wide a net as possible.

    17 comments:

    1. There was a great white board video posted yesterday on "The Long Tail Searches" I referenced in my earlier posting.

      There is significant changes on the horizon with SEO with Bing coming into the search space, not to mention Google Caffeine, and the potential Microhoo partnership.

      A great analogy for SEO - you invest a lot of money/effort/time into getting visibility for a handful of keywords, without a single click even happening. It's like that yellow pages ad you pay for every month, whether someone looks at the ad or not. Whereas PPC is something that you pay only when someone is actively interested in the services/products you offer in your targeted area.

      And kudos to ReachLocal for being listed #39 on Inc's Fastest Growing Privately-Held Companies. We must be doing something very right.

      ReachLocal Rep

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