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Legal Blogging and the Limits of Long Tail Keywords

Long ago in our blog, we covered the basics of long tail searches. In essence, whenever someone gets on a search engine like Google and puts in a search query, the words that they use fall on a spectrum of specificity – some queries will have a low level of specificity, like “car,” while others will have a high level of specificity, like “Saturn aura 2010 v6 premium with under 80,000 miles looking to buy.”

Targeting these highly-specific searches is crucial for your law firm’s marketing efforts. Doing it in an organized way means understanding how long tail keywords work. Unfortunately, the sheer number of possible searches that can be done online puts limits on the value of strategizing your law firm’s long tail game online, and highlights the need to simply blog.

Background: Long Tail Searches

Search queries that have a high level of specificity are called long tail searches. Because they show what the user is looking for in greater detail than a vague search – a particular type of car, rather than just a car, in general – the people who do long tail searches on Google are warmer leads for the businesses that sell what they’re looking for. As a personal injury attorney who likes representing motorcyclists in Spokane, you’d much rather bring in an internet user to your site who’d just searched for “broken leg in motorcycle accident in Spokane,” than one who simply searched for “attorney.” The biker with the broken leg is far more likely to hire you while, for all you know, the one who searched for “attorney” might be looking for someone to draft a will.

Attracting these long tail searches, then, is a priority for your law firm’s website. The act of identifying those searches, though, involves isolating the long tail keywords that the searches use. Identifying these keywords, however, is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

Limits of Long Tail Keywords

When you use a search engine, you can put as many words as you want in the search field, using whatever words – real or made-up – that you can think of. As a result, search engines see new things every day: Despite being around for over a decade and dealing with trillions of searches every year, 15% of search queries done on Google today have never been done before.

While this sounds like an interesting piece of mere trivia, it has unfortunate consequences for your law firm’s online marketing efforts, especially when it comes to strategizing for what long tail keywords you want to pursue. This is because different long tail keywords – the crucial words or phrases that are used in search engine queries that are more than a couple of words long – can have the same logical meaning, and this can make it excruciatingly difficult to set a battle plan.

For example, consider the long tail search “criminal defense Chicago fourth amendment can police do an illegal search”. Depending on their marketing strategy, a Chicago criminal defense attorney might consider up to eight of these eleven words to be “keywords” in their online marketing efforts because they are words or phrases that they want their firm to be associated with, online:

  1. Criminal defense
  2. Chicago
  3. Fourth Amendment
  4. Illegal search, and maybe even
  5. Police

Therefore, said Chicago criminal defense firm would want to optimize their site to score well for the search.

But what about the search “criminal defense lawyer in Chicago who can prove the police did an illegal search”? This one is asking the same essential question as the first query, but uses several different keywords. As a result, if the Chicago defense firm hones their content exclusively for the first search, they’ll lose to their competitors in the second even though the search is, essentially, the same one.

Strong Legal Blogging Chases Long Tail Keywords Organically

Unfortunately, as more and more people learn to use search engines effectively, the length of typical search queries grows. According to one recent study, 41.7% of queries had five or more words in them. This length strains the effectiveness of even the best-laid long tail keyword plans, simply because there are so many potential queries that can be done.

Legal blogging avoids this mess.

By hosting and maintaining a legal blog on your law firm’s website and then writing about the legal topics that your firm deals with and wants to attract, you don’t have to worry as much about identifying all of the specific long tail keywords in your field. Instead, simply by writing organically you can cover the topics that your firm is most concerned with, hit the words and phrases that are most searched in Google, and promote your site’s rankings.

Legal Blogging for Long Tail KeywordsFor the many attorneys that value precise plans, this could sound like too much of a “ready, shoot, aim” approach. However, the reality is that there are simply too many words in the English language, and too many permutations that they can all take, to effectively identify and then use all the words and phrases that most describe your firm. Instead, a more effective plan of attack would be to write legal blog posts about the aspects of the law that you want your firm to cover. If done well, you’ll hit the long tail keywords that you want to hit without even thinking about it.

In the end, it’s like the adage “dress up for the job you want to have,” except instead of changing clothes, you just write.