The search engine optimization (“SEO”) process starts with a task called keyword research. Look at it like this: there is a whole universe of search queries that people all over the world are using to search for all kinds of stuff online. Out of that universe, there is a small bucket of search queries conducted by people in your market that are relevant to your law practice. Obviously, you want your website to appear highly ranked for those searches. Keyword research is the process of trying to figure out what those keywords are.
It’s kind of like goal setting. Setting goals gives direction to your actions. Your keywords set the direction for your SPO campaign. If you don’t optimize your website for those specific keywords, it is unlikely that your site will just happen to rank for those keywords.
There are a number of tools you can use to uncover those keywords. The main one I rely on for keyword research is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. To access the Keyword Planner, you have to log into a Google AdWords account. You don’t have to actually run any ads, you just have to create an account and get in. Once you are in, it is a free tool to you.
The way I generally use it is to start by providing Google with three keywords relevant to the business at hand. So let’s say you are a personal injury lawyer based in Chicago. Your three seed keywords could be “Chicago personal injury lawyer”. “personal injury attorney Chicago“, and “Chicago IL personal injury lawyer“.
Then google will present you a list of keywords related to your target seed keywords along with a range of estimated monthly traffic for each one.
My process for analyzing the data is as follows: first, I export the keyword data into a spreadsheet that I open in Excel (or whatever spreadsheet software you use). Then I eliminate or hide the columns of data that I’m not interested in. The main thing I look at is average monthly searches. Google will also show you searches per month, so that can be useful if you are analyzing data for a particular time of year.
Then I add one new column. I called that column “Selected”. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. Then I sort the data by the average monthly search column from highest to lowest. Now as I scroll through that list, I place an X in the Selected column next to any key word that is a good SEO candidate. Once I have gone all the way through the list, I sort again by the Selected column. This will bring all of my selected keywords to the top of the list.
I generally do this with several different keyword lists starting with different seed keywords. There will be a lot of overlap in the keywords from one list to another, but there will be some that only show up in one list. Once I have gone through this process, I create one master list of all my potential keywords. That is my initial keyword basket that will use to optimize my website.
There are also other keyword research tools you can use. Here are a couple of keyword research tools that are free:
Another paid research tool that I like is SpyFu.com. It is intended mostly for paid search research. SpyFu generates keyword data by constantly analyzing paid search results. However, it can also be useful for creating your SEO keyword list.
Any keyword that has high competition with high bids may be a good candidate. These law firms who are spending big bucks on those ads are very likely analyzing the results and attempting to spend their money where they are getting the most leads or the highest return on investment. So even if there is a keyword that is not high in traffic, if it is a high converter it may be a very good SEO candidate.
Don’t use guesswork when it comes to the language used on your website. Analyze the data that is available using the tools discussed in this article and then decide what keywords to target.
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