Let’s face it:
Finding clients for your law firm online can be extremely difficult if you don’t have a solid game plan.
Terms like “SEO,” “keywords,” “content marketing” and other search engine-related words cause most attorneys’ heads to spin.
But don’t go hire a high-priced SEO consultant yet!
In this post, I’ll outline an easy way to drill down and find exactly what your potential clients are searching for, and teach you to write a post that will show up on the first page of Google fast.
Read on to find out how.
How lawyers can get clients online
Getting new clients over the Internet boils down to one thing:
Be where your clients are on the Internet.
It’s the same as getting them in person, really. Instead of showing up at networking events, speaking at conferences, and advertising in the real world, though, you’re just doing it through your online presence.
In this post, I’ll discuss how to get your website and articles in front of clients when they do Google searches.
There are other ways to be where clients are, as well:
- Running ads on Google and other sites (expensive)
- Writing guest articles on other sites (a great way to find clients, but takes some time for online networking)
- Getting mentioned by the media in relevant articles (very dependent on other people and circumstances to make it happen)
While they’re all great tactics and worth doing at some point, I’m going to show you a way to get prospective clients to visit your website (and hopefully hire you). We’re going to do that using an effective, data-driven method called the Keyword Golden Ratio.
First, let’s understand how this all works.
The big picture – getting your site to rank high on Google search
These days, when we have a problem, we usually go straight to the Internet for help.
Whether it’s researching medical symptoms, questions about how to complete a home improvement project, or looking for an answer to their legal issue, typing their question into Google is one of the first things we all do.
This means that one of the most important strategies for finding clients online is to be on that first page of the Google search results when someone is searching for an answer to their question.
How do you do get on the first page of Google?
A bit of background:
A “keyword” is whatever phrase a person types into Google. The entire goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to appear on the first page of Google for particular keywords that are relevant to your business.
If you’re a solo attorney who helps people register copyrights, for example, you want to be ranking high on Google for search terms that are relevant to copyright registration.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Unfortunately, something as broad as “copyright registration” has a ton of people searching for it, but also a ton of competition for that first page. This means that a lot of people out there are trying to get on that first page of search results, and there’s only 10 spots.
The “high competition” for that particular keyword makes it extremely difficult to rank high on Google for it. Check out the top results in the screenshot below:
Websites like Wikipedia, the US Copyright Office, and WIPO dominate the rankings, because Google trusts them to give the answer when a user queries “copyright registration.” They’re called “high authority” sites.
It’s going to be difficult (if not impossible) to beat them.
It’s also an extremely broad topic that will attract a wide variety of searchers, many of whom aren’t really interested in hiring you.
So, what’s a solo attorney to do?
Enter the “long tail” for finding “low competition” keywords
Back in 2004, Wired magazine’s Chris Anderson started writing about a concept known as the “long tail.”
It referred to the phenomenon of there being a small amount of “huge” hits, and a much higher number of smaller “niche” hits.
While Anderson wrote about products like movies and books (which have niche audiences for many products), the same concept holds true for Google search keywords.
Many big players are going after the high competition keywords with tons of search traffic. They’re very tough to beat, as we saw above with the copyright registration example.
However, for the keywords that have much smaller search numbers, the competition is often much lower. Even a new site can potentially crack the first page of Google with an article that speaks directly to a user’s question.
This is the basis for much of my law firm’s online content and SEO strategy.
Introducing the “Keyword Golden Ratio” – a data driven content strategy
What’s your current strategy for coming up with your law firm’s blog content?
Here’s what you’re probably doing:
A random idea pops into your head for a blog post or article. It’s about something that you think potential clients want to know about. You write it, post it on your blog, and it probably ends there.
No matter how good the article is, if no one finds it, no one reads it. That’s because you’re not checking first to see what the competition is like for that specific topic.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
There’s a concept out there in SEO circles called the “Keyword Golden Ratio” (KGR), originally made popular by Doug Cunnington.
The basic premise is that you want to find specific Google queries that are underserved by the Internet. Google often substitutes in something that it thinks is a good match, but often there are results on the first page that aren’t quite answering what the question is.
This gives you an opportunity to swoop in with a high-quality, highly-targeted article that can rank on the first page of Google quickly.
While the number of searches on these keywords is going to be fewer than those for the big ones, having a stable of posts targeting these low-competition keywords will result in a decent amount of traffic coming to your site – traffic that is looking for the specific answers and services you can provide!
Once they’re on your site, all of your other techniques kick in – offers to sign up for your newsletter, contact you for a consultation, etc. But those are all the subject of another post.
5 Steps for effective Law Firm Keyword Research
Here are the 5 steps you can take to implement the Keyword Golden Ratio and start laser-targeting potential clients online:
Step 1: Picture your ideal client and what they’re searching for
Before you start any keyword research, you need to have a good idea of who your ideal client is.
I find that it’s better to forget about the legal solution you offer, but instead to focus on the main issue or problem from the client’s perspective.
We looked at “copyright registration” before. That’s an answer that a lawyer would give.
But what’s the problem that the client is having?
If your ideal client is a photographer, for example, they’re probably typing something like “how do I stop people from stealing my photos?” or “How do I protect my photos?” into Google.
Variations of that particular question are going to be what we’re trying to think of here. Think deeply about the type of client you want to target and what kind of problems they have.
That’s what we need for the next step:
Step 2: Get a big list of potential keywords with 250 or less average monthly searches
Next, you need to use some keyword tools to find potential client queries that have 250 average monthly searches or less.
Here are some tools that I use, or you can check out my full article on keyword research here.
- The premium option: Ahrefs
- Less expensive: KWFinder (affiliate link to help the site)
- Budget option: Keyword Keg
- Free option: Keywords Everywhere browser extension
All of the above will help you to get a list of potential keywords. With the top 3, you’ll have the ability to search for base keywords and see all kinds of useful variations.
I can add them to a list, and export that list out as a CSV file.
The free option that I mentioned above, Keywords Everywhere, is a browser extension that will tell you the search volume of a keyword and suggest related ones, right in your browser. You can select favorites and export them to a CSV file.
See this video for how to do it:
When you’re looking for good keywords, try to find ones with “client intent.”
By this, I mean that it’s a search query that a potential client would type.
Consider the difference between “how do I register a copyright myself” or “how do I register a copyright for free,” versus “how much does a copyright lawyer cost.”
The first two are not going to make good clients, in my opinion. They’re looking for self-help and free options, so it’s likely they’re not going to want to pay for an attorney.
The last one, though, seems to recognize that they’re going to pay. Your job is to convince them to pay YOU to do it.
That’s not to say that it’s not worth writing the first two. You may be able to craft the post in such a way to convince them that free is not the way to go. Emphasize the dangers of making mistakes, and how they can avoid trouble by hiring an attorney to do it correctly.
If you’re just starting out, going for client-centric keywords is going to be a better use of your time.
Here’s a link to my template spreadsheet on Google Drive – just make a copy of it to your own Google Drive and you’re good to go.
There’s a column labeled “Keyword” and a column labeled “Search Volumes” – ignore the one labeled “Allintitle Results” for now. You’ll want to paste the keywords and the search volumes into the spreadsheet in those columns.
Pro Tip: when you paste, use “Shift-Ctrl-V” to remove any formatting that might be on your text from where you copied it (“Shigt-Cmd-V” on Mac).
Now, you should have a spreadsheet with a good number of keyword options, along with their respective search volumes. I recommend at least a hundred or so to start.
Then we’re ready for the next step:
Step 3: Compare the “allintitle” results with the average searches
The heart of the Keyword Golden Ratio strategy is a comparison between the average monthly searches and the number of posts out there that have the entire search keyword in their title (this is the “ratio” referred to in the name of the strategy).
This tells us whether a lot of other sites are specifically going after that particular search term or not. While it’s not a guarantee, this is the most data-driven and accurate way I’ve found so far to choose the right search terms to go after.
In order to do this, you’ll want to use my KGR spreadsheet to quickly do the required calculations and keep things organized.
The other tool you need to have in your arsenal is a particular search modifier on Google, “allintitle.”
The way you use it is this:
Type “allintitle:[your keyword]” into Google.
Here’s a screenshot of it in action:
You will see the number of results that Google comes up with (in the screenshot above, the number of results is 2). Enter that number into your spreadsheet, along with the keyword itself and the average monthly searches you got from the last step.
I’ve set the conditional formatting on the spreadsheet as follows:
- It will turn green when the ratio is .25 or lower. Those are the ones you should go after, as competition for that specific keyword is very low!
- The yellow-highlighted ones are above .25 but below 1. This means that they are keywords you can potentially target, but it might be a little more difficult to rank high for. I target these after I’ve exhausted the green ones.
- Red ones are above 1, and probably have too much competition to rank easily. Save these for later, when you’ve got a more established website.
You may notice that Google makes you solve a Captcha to prove that you’re a human after every few allintitle searches. This is because it’s not a normal search operation (have you ever done an “allintitle” search before?), so Google thinks you might be a robot.
Just solve the Captcha and keep going.
Sadly, most of your keywords are not going to meet the ratio. There’s just a ton of content out there on the Internet. But keep plugging away and you will find some gems.
Pro Tip: This can be time consuming and monotonous. When I do this for a large volume of keywords, I hire a Virtual Assistant to take care of it for me. Just make sure that each step is clearly explained for them and, if they’re outside the country, that they’re equipped with a VPN that can make Google think they’re in the US.
For very locally focused lawyers, this may not be a good option unless they can VPN into your specific municipality. You could try hiring a local college student or get your kids to help out, instead!
Once you’ve got your list checked and have a bunch of KGR-compliant keywords, let’s double check the competition.
Step 4: Take a look at the first-page competition
The KGR isn’t fool proof, so you want to do a quick final check of the competition on the first page of Google before writing a post.
Simply type the keyword into Google, and see what comes up. You may want to use your browser’s “incognito” or “private browsing” mode so the results aren’t tainted by your own Google search history.
Note: we’re not using the “allintitle” operator here. Just a plain old Google search.
If you see a lot of sites on the first page that are very authoritative (Wikipedia, government and University sites, big medical and other sites), approach with caution. If they have articles that are completely on point with answering the question, then this may not be a good choice for keyword, even though it meets the Keyword Golden Ratio.
Remember, we’re trying to rank higher than those sites by going after topics that they haven’t specifically answered.
However, if you’re seeing a lot of forum posts, Quora or Yahoo Answers pages, and other not-so-authoritative sites in the top 10 Google search results, there’s a good chance that you can rank. This means that websites don’t seem to be specifically targeting this term, but that people are out there asking the question.
This is a good thing – take advantage of it.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of good keywords, let’s start writing.
Step 5: Post a great article targeting the KGR-compliant keyword
This step is up to you.
You want a well-written, high quality post that answers the user’s question and includes more relevant info than they were initially looking for.
One vitally important thing: you want to use the entire keyword you’re going for in the title of the post.
Use all the words. They don’t have to be in the same order, but it helps.
Take our previous example of “how much does a copyright lawyer cost”:
- Bad Title: “What do you have to pay for a copyright attorney?”
- Good Title: “How much does a copyright lawyer cost? [Protect your rights]”
It features all of the words from the user’s search term, plus it’s got that bracketed portion that makes your site stand out in a sea of Google search results.
Here are a few more tips on writing a reader-friendly blog post:
- Limit the length of each paragraph in the post to 1-3 sentences. I know that, as a lawyer, this will make you crazy. You’re used to writing long paragraphs. I get it. But trust me – it is so much easier to read than a wall of text, particularly on mobile devices.
- Use images, YouTube videos, infographics, and other rich media to spice up the post and visually break up the text
- Use the keyword again in the intro paragraph (first 100 words or so) and in one of the headings in the post
- Use headings to break up the post into reasonable chunks, so the reader can follow along with where you’re going
- End with a strong call to action stating why they should hire an attorney to help them, and either link to your contact page/info or put a contact form at the bottom of the post
- You want the post to be at least 1000 words, but you should really shoot for 1500-2000 at a minimum.
If you want to go to the next level, use a tool like SEOQuake to check out the word count of the other posts in the top 5 or so, and use more than those posts do. This signals to Google that your post is covering more than the others.
Google likes to favor posts that have more relevant content, so if you outperform your competition with amazing, on-point material, you’ll be rewarded for it!
Wrap-up – go forth and find those keywords!
You can keep track of your rankings for those keywords with a free or inexpensive tool like SERProbot (which is free for a limited number of searches, but only about $5 a month for more).
If you give this strategy a shot, let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Leave any questions you have in the comments or use the contact form to shoot me an email.
Looking for more help establishing your solo firm online and getting clients while you sleep? Check out the other info I’ve got on the blog – from building your site to perfecting your online strategy!