One of the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) is tailoring your site content to target specific kinds of clients. This work is both art and science, and if you’re in a large city with a lot of other lawyers, it can be a full-time job keeping your site at the top of the search rankings.

What Type of Clients Do You Want?

The first step is to determine your audience: what kind of client would you like see more of in your firm? Do you want more business clients? More brain injury cases? Family law?

The type of person you’re trying to attract is going to drive your entire online marketing strategy. If you’re targeting personal injury cases, you’ll probably not going to want to spend a lot of time creating articles and blog posts on estate planning or maritime law. (It doesn’t mean that you can’t, and perhaps you wish to target many different kinds of client. That’s OK, too.) If you really want to build a personal injury practice, you’ll be focused on creating content on topics relevant to injury victims.

Check Out Your Competition

The amount of work that you’re going to have to do to rank well for your key target demographic is dependent (partly) on how many other attorneys are trying to do the same thing. If you’re in a town of 10,000 people and there are two lawyers in town…well, you probably already are ranking well and everyone in town already knows who you are.

If you’re in Seattle, however, with hundreds of law firms, you’ve got some work to do!

There are a few tools that can help you check out your competition. We use a few:

  • SEMRush – One of our favorite tools. It can give you great information on all of the sites for particular search terms, information on how much people are spending on AdWords, and backlink information.
  • SpyFu – Another great tool for competitive intelligence on what other attorneys are doing.
  • – One of the most popular SEO tools out there, but a little overwhelming to use for the novice.
  • BrightLocal – A great tool for checking your local search results and to see how you’re doing against other websites.
  • RankWatch – Another good SEO tool that can help you track local Google+ results.

All of these tools are paid services, but you can get limited results with a free account for most of those. Try out all of those and see which one works best for you. We use all of these tools with our VIP Marketing service and provide our clients with monthly reports with the relevant information automatically.

Think Like Your Client

People are visiting your law firm’s site to find a solution to a problem they have.

To develop your keyword strategy, think about the different ways that a client might search for a solution to their legal problem. What kinds of phrases do you hear in your office? Any common questions that you get?

Depending on how competitive your search term is, you might not have to do much to rank highly for a specific phrase or you might have to dedicate an entire blog just to target a specific set of key phrases.

The number of keywords or phrases that you’ll need to target is also going to vary widely, depending on competition. For instance, if you’re trying to target personal injury cases in a large city, the keyword list is huge–over 270 keywords are found in the Google search results, just for auto injury alone.

Organize Your Keywords

First, you’ll want to take your keywords and organize them by the most popular search terms. You want to make sure that you’re hitting all of the different phrasings and wordings that people are searching for, and a spreadsheet with this information is very helpful. Being organized, you can record the date and URL of the posts you’ve made and then can use that information to see how you’re search ranking has changed over time.

Starting the Work

All of this research is just the basis of the real work of SEO: creating legal content. Content marketing is the foundation of a long-term SEO strategy, and that’s what we talk about here.

Learn more about our VIP Law Firm Marketing Service or go back to The Complete Guide to Law Firm Marketing.