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Examples of How Long Tail Keywords are Limited

In a recent blog post, we discussed the limitations of setting a plan for long tail keywords. The gist of that article was that long tail keywords were too numerous to effectively target in your law firm’s online marketing campaign, so there wasn’t much sense in spending too much time doing it. The better approach was to simply blog, hitting those long tail keywords naturally as you wrote about what your firm wants to focus on.

We left things kind of theoretical, in that post. Here are a couple of concrete examples that show the problems of targeting specific long tail keywords. In our next post, we’ll show how these problems even spill over into “vanity keywords,” as well, and how you can still effectively market your law firm online, despite these obstacles.

But First, Keyword Research

These issues revolve around keyword research, one of the key aspects in the planning stage of your law firm’s online marketing effort.

When you decide to market your law firm online, a key component is to make your firm’s website rank well in search engines. The question becomes: Which searches do you target? Keyword research is the way you come up with that answer.

By performing keyword research, you determine the particular words and phrases that make up the search engine queries you want to rank well in. You then target those words and phrases in the content that you use to fill your firm’s website. The problem: Tiny changes in the wording of a search can drastically alter your ranking, even if those different words don’t change the meaning or intent of the search query.

Examples of the Limits of Keyword Research and Execution

For example, personal injury attorneys are aware that there has been a sharp rise in car accidents over the past few years. Exactly two years ago, the Los Angeles Times covered the issue. While that article is at the top of the rankings when you do a Google search for “spike in car accidents across the country,” it falls to seventh when you do a Google search for “rise in car accidents across the country.” The difference between “spike” and “rise” pushes the Los Angeles Times’ piece six spots down, reducing the likelihood of it being clicked on from 31% to under 3%. A legal blog post by this Los Angeles trial attorney firm fared even worse: It went from ranking 13th for the “spike” search to not even breaking the top 200 for “rise.”

Why? There are a handful of factors, but two of the most prominent are:

  1. Both the Los Angeles Times article and the legal blog post have “spike” in their URL, but not “rise,” and
  2. The legal blog post also has “spike” in its H1 heading at the top of its article.

These are huge changes in the rankings, and all because of a tiny change in the verb that was used in the search query. Though, to be fair, with such a long tail search term (both searches were seven words long) any change was bound to impact the rankings, a bit. Additionally, the words “rise” and “spike” are slightly different. “Rise” connotes a general increase, while “spike” tends to mean a sudden, significant, and often temporary increase.

So what if the search was shorter, and what if the words that were swapped were perfectly synonymous? And if small changes to the search query impacts the rankings so drastically, how do you effectively market your law firm? And just what are “vanity keywords”?

We’ll cover all that, in next week’s post.