By the staff of Work Media
Keyword research for purposes of natural search and paid search can be quite different. This is especially true for the legal industry because keywords are so competitive. For paid search, you need to think in terms of volume, at least initially, until you can pinpoint those keywords that generate the most leads for your firm. With SEO, you need to pinpoint a much smaller set of keywords to target right from the start. The reason is that for every one or two keywords you want to target, you need a web page to be specifically optimized for those keywords. So you can’t just load up your site with keywords. If you have a ten page web site, then you can properly promote it for a maximum of 20 keywords.
This is not to say that your web site won’t rank for more keywords than those for which you are specifically optimizing your site. It will. But that is a side benefit. Forget about keyword stuffing your meta tags, using invisible text stuff with keywords, or any of those old methods that companies used to do. Those techniques don’t work and some of them will get your site banned. To be successful with SEO, you have to pick a small set of keywords and focus your efforts on optimizing your pages for those keywords in an aggressive yet ethical manner.
Another consideration for your keywords selected for SEO is that your chances of success go up as the competition for those keywords goes down. You want keywords that meet two criteria:
1. They get a reasonable amount of traffic; and
2. They have as little competition as possible.
As an example, let’s say you are considering the following two keywords:
Expected traffic: 485,000 visits / month
Direct competitors: 955,000
Expected traffic: 3,950 visits/month
Direct competitors: 12,000
So which keyword is better? Keyword B. Sure, keyword A gets much more traffic, but with so many directly competing sites, it will take a long time to achieve a high search engine ranking for that keyword. Keyword B, even though it gets much less traffic, is in a much less competitive situation, so your chances of achieving a high search engine ranking for that keyword are much better.
To put this in more concrete terms, you probably don’t want to promote your web site for the keyword “lawyer.” It would be nearly impossible to rank for unless you have unlimited time and resources with which to promote your site. Assuming time and resources are a consideration, you will have a much better chance with a keyword that is more targeted. For example, if you practice law in Atlanta, you have a much better chance getting your site ranked for “Atlanta law firm.” Going one step further, if you practice personal injury law, then you have an even better chance of ranking for the term “Atlanta personal injury lawyer.”
There is another very good reason to use more targeted, specific keywords, and that is that those keywords reflect prospects farther along in the decision making process. In other words, just because someone is searching for “lawyer” does not mean that they are looking for help with the kind of law you practice. If someone is searching for “New York lawyer” and you practice in New York, then there is at least a geographic connection between you and the prospect, but the person still may not be a good match for your firm. But if one of your main areas of practice is maritime injury in the city of New Orleans, and someone searches for “New Orleans maritime injury lawyer”, then that is a perfect fit. To get the greatest leverage from your time, focus your search engine optimization efforts on getting your site ranked for keywords that would be used by someone specifically looking for the kinds of law you practice.