You Say Law Firm, I Say Lawyer

Just Behave

 ET by Mark Sprague

You have a dilemma: you are considering a couple of keyword phrases that are similar. How do you choose, and does it matter? It often does. In this analysis, I show that consumer search behavior can be different depending upon how they start their search. Here I contrast the phrase law firms with lawyer to show that consumers engage in either seven or nine distinct categories of search behavior depending upon which phrase they use when searching for legal services. It’s often useful to contrast two complementary search phrases to show that user intent can be significantly different, depending upon which of the two keyword phrases they use.

Both keyword phrases generate about the same amount of search traffic on a monthly basis:

  • Law firms generate 68.3 million searches each month.
  • Lawyer generates 66.3 million searches each month.

When you look at the following two datasets there are a number of interesting observations that can be made about the frequency and usage of certain terms.

Law firm dataset (200 keyword phrases)

  • There are 20 keyword phrases with the term attorney – 33.8M searches
  • There are 22 keyword phrases with the term lawyer – 24.4M searches
  • There are 150 keyword phrases with the term law firm – 3.9M searches
  • There are 11 keyword phrases with variant terms (e.g. legal, law offices) – 6.2M searches

Hands down, consumers favor the term attorney over lawyer when they are searching. Interestingly, the term law firm appears in 75% of the keyword phrases, but accounts for only 6% of the total search traffic.

Lawyer dataset (200 keyword phrases)

  • There are 40 keyword phrases with the term attorney – 38.6M searches
  • There are 150 keyword phrases with the term lawyer – 20.8M searches
  • There are 14 keyword phrases with variant legal terms – 7.2M searches
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Law Firm SEO

Strictly from a volume perspective, the term attorney is more attractive because it appears in more searches (double) than the term lawyer. It is also an efficient term since it appears in 60 keyword phrases, while lawyer appears in 172 phrases. In a PPC campaign, it’s cheaper when you have the option to target fewer keyword phrases.

Search behavior for law firms

What kind of search behavior are consumers engaging when they start their search for a lawyer, or a law firm? There is some common ground between the two, and there are significant search volume differences in certain categories. We will take a look at the law firms behavior model first.

When you look at the keyword phrase law firms you find nine distinct categories of consumer search behavior:

  1. They are doing information searches using a lot of vague terms, but you do see specific request for advice, reviews and rankings – 56.6M searches.
  2. They are looking for law firms using variant phrases such as legal firms and law offices – 5.79M searches.
  3. They are looking for a type of lawyer specifying it by practice, such as family, criminal and divorce – 4.45M searches.
  4. They are looking for jobs using terms like employment and hiring – 704K searches.
  5. They are looking for a source to help with the selection process. They are using terms such as directory, list and find – 424K search.
  6. They are searching by value looking for lawyers and law firms using terms such as top, new and best – 201K searches.
  7. They are looking for business tools and services using terms like Software, Marketing and Logos – 58.8K searches.
  8. They are looking for a particular law firm by name such as West, Hill, Park and Bell – 45.5K searches.
  9. They are looking for a law firm in a large geographic location using terms like UK or American – 41.1K searches

If you have designed your website to primarily generate leads for your practice, it’s useful to understand that consumers are searching for software tools and jobs when using law firm in their search strings. This traffic is low value, and you don’t want your PPC ads showing up in these search results.

Legal SEO strategy by Mark Sprague

To find out more please continue on to Search Engine Land for the full article.

Mark Sprague

Find Out More

To find out more about SEO and Advanced Keyword Research send me (Mark Sprague) an email at: Mark@MSprague.com, or call me now at: 781-862-3126

Lexington eBusiness Consulting

About Lexington eBusiness Consulting

Mark Sprague’s 25 years of product development experience, which includes expertise in Search Engines, Information Products, SEO platforms and Social Networking applications provide in-depth expertise to help you refine products and services, and improve your websites performance by:

  • Developing a superior data-driven SEO strategy for your website.
  • Understanding your customers’ search behavior and normalizing it to your content strategy.
  • Understanding how search engine technology practically impacts SEO and content strategies.
  • Understanding how search technology impacts content in a social networking environment.
  • Developing a superior user experience based on sound information architecture, usability and coding standards.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mark Sprague
    Nov 28, 2013 @ 07:00:57

    Mark, excellent article of an amazing amount of use to me, personally. Fantastic!


  2. Mark Sprague
    Nov 28, 2013 @ 06:59:39

    allydent •
    Hi Mark,

    A great in-depth piece of analysis thanks. It’s interesting to segment searchers in this way by the words included in their search queries.


  3. Mark Sprague
    Nov 28, 2013 @ 06:57:06

    workbox •
    Thanks for the post. This is a great, real-world example of how 2 keyphrases, although extremely similar, can have such different implications and results for search engine marketing.

    I’m going to use this as an example to help people understand how this stuff works!


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