Understanding Search Intent: How Attorneys Can Get More Leads From Search Engines

Digital marketing is becoming increasingly important for law firms as more people turn to the internet to find legal services. To be successful in this competitive landscape, attorneys need to understand search intent and how to use it to improve their digital marketing strategy.

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1. What is Search Intent?

Search intent is the intention behind the keywords a person uses when searching online. The "Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me" search query would be more transactional whereas the "What is a felony?" search query would be more educational.

Knowing search intent can reveal how soon a person plans to hire an attorney.

Educational intent would be more toward the beginning of the sales cycle and transactional would be more toward the end of the sales cycle when the searcher is primed to hire an attorney very soon.

By understanding search intent and what keywords are typically connected to what intention you can plan your law firm's content marketing and advertising campaigns to be much more effective.

2. Why Search Intent Matters for Your Law Firm's Digital Marketing Strategy

Understanding search intent can help you identify what content and ads to create to target people who have more urgency to hire a lawyer. If you rank higher in search engines for more transactional keywords you will have a better chance of converting the client lead. That said if a law firm wants to be successful online they do need to have a well-rounded content strategy that satisfies all areas of the buyer's journey.

Search engines tend to look at a law firm's website as a whole and not as individual pieces of content. Even if you notice one practice area outperforming others if unrelated pages are poorly put together they often bring down the whole site's rankings.

Some of the types of search intent include but are not limited to:

  1. Informational: The searcher is looking for information about a legal issue or the process in general.
    Example search: "What does a personal injury lawyer do?"

  2. Navigational: The person is searching to find a specific law firm or attorney's contact information.
    Example search: "John Doe Attorney phone number."

  3. Transactional: The person is looking to hire an attorney for a specific legal matter.
    Example search: "divorce attorney in Kansas City."

  4. Commercial Investigation: The person is researching attorneys to compare their experience, reputation, and costs before making a decision.
    Example search: "Best criminal defense lawyer in Denver."

  5. Local Search: The person is looking for a law firm or attorney located near them.
    Example query: "Criminal defense lawyer in near me."

  6. Brand Search: The user is searching for a specific law firm or attorney they have heard of before.
    Example query: "John Doe law firm."

  7. Video Search: The person is looking for videos, typically because they learn better through video and audio than text, related to a specific practice are.
    Example query: "How can a lawyer help me with a felony charge."

Power of knowing search intention

Knowing search intention can also help your law firm make strategic decisions before you create a content marketing and advertising campaign. By having search intention in mind while creating your marketing and advertising campaigns you can better put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. Using that information you can better understand the potential client's journey and therefore are better equipped to use the correct terms when you write headlines, articles, ad copy, or call to action.

By addressing the potential clients' immediate concerns your law firm builds rapport with the client before they ever call you or visit your office. Having rapport with the potential client increases the chances of them hiring you as their attorney.

Creating content and ads based on intention

Creating content that is more relevant to the potential client helps increase what is known as dwell time on your website. This is a search engine optimization (SEO) term basically means how long the potential client stays on your website after clicking through from search engines. Google does track dwell time and the longer the better which will signal search engines to push your website toward the top of search engine result pages (SERPS). Also the longer the person is on your website the more likey they will email or call your firm.

3. How to Identify Different Types of Search Intent and Use Them to Your Advantage

I listed the most popular search intent types above with query examples. Now I will delve into the three main types for law firms below.

Informational Intent

Informational intent is when people are searching for information that is typical to educate themselves about laws, crimes, penalties, defenses, how to file a lawsuit, legal processes, and many more. People searching for information may want to see content that includes tips, stats, videos, and blog posts that include advanced insights from the attorney about the topic.

Some examples of these keywords are but are not limited to:

  • What is a legal separation?

  • How to file for divorce

  • When to hire a personal injury lawyer

  • What is a power of attorney?

  • How to start a small claims case

  • What are the grounds for divorce?

  • How to negotiate a settlement

  • What to expect at a criminal trial

  • What are the rights of tenants?

  • How to appeal a court decision

Navigational Intent

When a potential client is searching for a law firm's website, branded terms, contact information, and driving directions to the office location this would be considered navigational intent. To take advantage of navigational intent make sure your local SEO is strong. This includes having a complete Google My Business and a strong showing in Google maps. Your law firm can also create content on its website such as attorney bios, meet the team, contact page, landing pages, and attorney directories.

  • {brand name} Law Firm website

  • Contact {brand name} law office

  • Directions to {brand name} Legal Services

  • Phone number for {brand name}

  • About Us page for {brand name}

  • Services offered by {brand name} Attorneys

  • Office hours for {brand name} Lawyers

  • Directions to {brand name} office

  • Attorneys directory for {local area} Bar Association

Transactional Intent

Transactional Intent keywords are when a person is most likely to hire a law firm. These keywords often include near me or best attorney for. These keywords often lead to calling the law firm or scheduling a consultation. Targeting these keywords is best for ad campaigns that direct potential clients to specific landing pages with a strong call to action, easy email forms, appointment scheduling tools, and live chat features.

Examples of transactional content include:

  • Estate planning attorney in Austin

  • Best personal injury lawyer near me

  • Affordable bankruptcy attorney in Dallas

  • Find a criminal defense lawyer in Kansas City

  • Hire an immigration attorney in Boulder

  • Estate planning lawyer for hire in San Francisco

  • Business law attorney in Atlanta

  • Employment lawyer for hire in Dallas

  • Real estate attorney for sale of property

  • Family law attorney for child custody case

4. How Search Intent and the Sales Funnel are Intertwined: Understanding the Relationship for Improved Marketing Strategies.

Search intent is most effectively used when you understand the sales funnel based on AIDA. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Attention is at the top of the sales funnel, interest, and desire, are in the middle and action is at the bottom of the funnel. Its referred to as a funnel because you will many more in the interest stage than in action. The funnel is created to sift through the many to capture fewer but more of the cases you actually want in the action phase where they call or contact your law firm.

To get into more detail the buying process is broken into three sections awareness, consideration, and decision. Each of these phases is related to keyword intention. Understanding search means you know where the potential client is in the buying process which will save you a lot of time focusing on those in the decision stage most.

But is wise to be knowledgeable about each phase.

The awareness phase is related to more educational intent keywords. People looking to educate themselves.

In the consideration phase people may be narrowing down their search to fewer and fewer law firms trying to find the one they feel relates to them or their legal situation most.

The decision phase is when the potential client is ready to schedule a consultation with your law firm.

It is possible the client goes through all these phases in one or multiple visits to your website that's why law firms want to cover all areas of the sales funnel.

5. Improving Conversions with Search Intent Optimization: Tips and Best Practices

To improve conversions, you need to optimize your website and content for search intent. This includes using the right keywords, creating high-quality content that matches user intent, and providing a clear call to action. By doing this, you can increase the likelihood that users will take the desired action, whether that's filling out a contact form, making a phone call, or booking an appointment.

To further expand on improving conversions with search intent optimization, it's important to understand that your website's content and design can have a significant impact on whether or not potential clients take the desired action, such as contacting your law firm. By optimizing your website and content for search intent, you can improve the user experience, provide more targeted information, and increase the likelihood of conversions.

tips and best practices for improving conversions with search intent optimization

Use the right keywords: To optimize your website and content for search intent, you need to use the right keywords that are relevant to your legal services and target audience.

Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to identify relevant keywords and keyword phrases that match user intent. Use these keywords strategically in your website's content, meta descriptions, social media, and ad campaigns to improve your website's visibility in search results pages.

High quality relevant content and ads

Only create high-quality content, and ensure that it's relevant to the search intent. This means focusing on topics that your potential clients are interested in and providing them with useful, relevant information that answers their questions or addresses their concerns related to their place in their buyer journey. Your content should be well-researched, easy to read and stress your law firm's authority, experience, expertise, and trustworthiness.

Strong call to action

To increase conversions, make it clear what action you want potential clients to take. Provide a clear call to action on your website, such as schedule a free consultation and providing easy-to-find contact forms, phone number, or appointment scheduling tools. Make it easy for users to take the desired action of scheduling a consultation with your law firm.

Optimize your law firm website

Your website's design and layout can have a significant impact on user experience and conversions. Ensure that your website is easy to navigate, loads quickly, and is mobile-friendly. Make it easy for users to find the information they are looking for and ensure that your website's design and layout match your brand's identity.

Your law firm's website having a responsive design that fits all size screens correctly will have a big impact. Currently, about 65% of all law firm website visits are mobile but that means nearly half are still desktop devices so having a great user experience on both is crucial.

Using Google Analytics

To measure the effectiveness of your search intent optimization strategy, use analytics tools like Google Analytics to track your website's performance. Monitor metrics like dwell time, bounce rate, and conversion rates to identify areas for improvement.

6. Summary of search intent

In summary, understanding search intent is critical for attorneys who want to improve their digital marketing strategy and generate more leads. By identifying different types of search intent, optimizing your content and website, and working with the right digital marketing partner, you can increase your chances of success and grow your law firm's client base.
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