SOURCE: FORBES

If you want your law firm to stand out from the com­pe­ti­tion online and con­nect with poten­tial clients, it all starts with key­word phras­es. Your key­word phras­es are the back­bone of any suc­cess­ful SEO cam­paign.

A key­word is sim­ply a sin­gle word that you want to tar­get. Think “attor­ney.” A key­word phrase is a group of terms, usu­al­ly two to maybe four terms long. Think “Flori­da attor­ney” or “Fort Laud­erdale attor­ney” or “Fort Laud­erdale pro­bate lawyer.”

Typ­i­cal­ly, the short­er the term, the more traf­fic you can receive. Why? Short­er terms are searched for more often and there­fore have more traf­fic.

How­ev­er, with more traf­fic comes more com­pe­ti­tion for a spe­cif­ic phrase. So while in a per­fect world, you would be No. 1 in your city and state for your prac­tice area, this may not be real­is­tic in an ini­tial cam­paign. This is why we always rec­om­mend bal­anc­ing what is attain­able for a client with a chance to rank high­er long-term using high-vol­ume, com­pet­i­tive phras­es.

Rank­ing high in search results usu­al­ly takes more effort than sim­ply throw­ing dozens of key­words onto your web­site. Instead of sim­ply dump­ing key­words like “Flori­da” and “attor­ney” into your text, make sure you have a plan. Here are some tips to help you select the best key­word phras­es for your law firm — and incor­po­rate them into your web­site con­tent.

1. Identify Your Marketing Objective

Hav­ing a spe­cif­ic mar­ket­ing objec­tive is essen­tial when choos­ing key­words for your law firm’s web­site. Key­words allow your firm to define the type of prac­tice and cas­es you rep­re­sent. When select­ing key­words, it’s essen­tial that you con­sid­er your ide­al case or client.

Below are some questions to consider when you start:

• Is your prac­tice city­wide, region­wide, statewide or nation­wide?

• Do you prac­tice in a spe­cif­ic met­ro­pol­i­tan area? Does that area have com­mon names?

• Do peo­ple in your area search by coun­ty, city, ZIP code or area code?

Now that you have this infor­ma­tion, you have a geo­graph­ic area to tar­get.

Marketing Objective

2. Include Your Practice Areas

While it can be great to tar­get a spe­cif­ic city using terms such as “Atlanta lawyer” or “Hous­ton attor­ney,” most like­ly you’ll need to include prac­tice areas. Why? The first rea­son is com­pe­ti­tion. There are sim­ply more firms going after broad key­word phras­es like those. The sec­ond rea­son is actu­al mar­ket­ing. You want to mar­ket to peo­ple who will use your ser­vices.

By includ­ing prac­tice areas in your key­word phras­es, your firm can improve your lead qual­i­ty. If your firm only han­dles DUIs and crim­i­nal cas­es, you don’t want to adver­tise for a gen­er­al search term, such as “Flori­da attor­ney,” since that could send you clients look­ing for help with prop­er­ty dis­putes, dis­so­lu­tions of mar­riage, etc.

Consider these questions:

• What are your spe­cif­ic prac­tice areas?

• What type of clients do you aspire to attract to your prac­tice?

• Are there spe­cif­ic terms for your prac­tice areas for the lay pub­lic? Most attor­neys know what a com­mer­cial lit­i­ga­tor is, but the pub­lic may just know them as busi­ness lawyers.

• If you were a client, what key­words would you type in to find your firm? Avoid legalese, and focus on the com­mon phras­es that your clients might use to describe their case when search­ing for an attor­ney. For exam­ple, “can­cer from asbestos” might be a bet­ter key­word phrase in some cas­es than “asbestos lit­i­ga­tion.”

3. Use Keyword Tools 

Now that you have a clear mar­ket­ing objec­tive and under­stand the impor­tance of includ­ing your prac­tice areas in your key­word phras­es, you can com­pile a list of the best key­words for your firm. There a vari­ety of key­word tools on the mar­ket that can help you get start­ed on this.

Here are a few of them:

• Google Key­word Plan­ner

• AnswerTheP­ub­lic

• Uber­sug­gest

The best way to use such tools is to search for a ser­vice that your firm pro­vides and see how oth­er peo­ple are search­ing for the same ser­vices — mean­ing the types of search phras­es they use — as well as what the search vol­ume is for the key­words you’re con­sid­er­ing. Then, con­sid­er how much com­pe­ti­tion there is for each key­word (many key­word tools will show you this data as well).

This is when hav­ing a real­is­tic yet strate­gic goal is vital. While your firm may want to imme­di­ate­ly rank for the most pop­u­lar key­word phras­es, such as “Flori­da attor­ney,” some­times it’s best to start with less pop­u­lar phras­es, such as “Fort Laud­erdale DUI attor­ney,” since there’s usu­al­ly less com­pe­ti­tion.

Incorporating Keywords Into Site Content

Once you’ve select­ed the best key­word phras­es, you can incor­po­rate them into your site’s con­tent. Be care­ful not to over­sat­u­rate your site with key­words because search engines not only frown on this but may con­sid­er your site “spam­my” and skip over it alto­geth­er.

Aim to include key­words nat­u­ral­ly so that they flow seam­less­ly with­in sen­tences. Use key­words in your page titles, head­ings and through­out the body con­tent.

When select­ing top­ics for blog posts or oth­er web­site con­tent, make sure they direct­ly relate to your key­word phras­es. For exam­ple, if your key­word phrase is “Fort Laud­erdale DUI lawyer,” here are some pos­si­ble top­ics:

• Is it worth get­ting a Fort Laud­erdale DUI lawyer for your first offense?

• Can a Fort Laud­erdale DUI lawyer get you out of jail?

• How can a Fort Laud­erdale DUI lawyer get your case dis­missed?

By pub­lish­ing valu­able con­tent that includes appro­pri­ate key­words, you can help opti­mize your web­site. Keep in mind that your rank­ings may not increase overnight — some­times it can take up to a year or more — but by steadi­ly build­ing your site’s val­ue, you can gain search engine trac­tion and start to get noticed by poten­tial clients.

Wrap-up

Remem­ber that key­word phras­es are the back­bone of your SEO cam­paign. Make sure you use the best ones in the begin­ning. You can always revise along the way, but it’s good to start with the best ones first.