If you have ever gotten a telemarketing call from an SEO company (and let’s face it who hasn’t?), then you know that keywords make or break your visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But how do you choose the right ones? And how do you use them once you do?
Free web marketing today (as opposed to pay-per-click or other kinds of paid marketing) is wrapped up in the effective use of keywords. Before you can begin to use them effectively, though, you’ll need to figure out just what the best keywords are for your business.
Choosing the Right Keywords
Some keywords are obvious. If you are a tax lawyer, then “tax” “tax lawyer” and “tax attorney” are going to be right at the top of your list. They will help you show up when potential clients go to Google to look up a professional in your field.
But what about some of the more subtle keywords, like “IRS”, or “tax evasion”, or “amended return”? Do you include those on your list? Or how about geographic terms like “Michigan” or “Metro-Detroit”?
Your decision over which keywords to include will depend greatly on who your ideal client is. Your keywords should be targeted at the way those people look things up. So if you are focused on Fortune 500 mega-businesses, you may want highly specialized keywords since your decision makers are going to be highly versed in their field.
But if you are targeting the public, or even small businesses, you’ll want to keep it simple. Most people don’t search the web using fancy language. Instead they type the first thing that comes to mind.
Sometimes you can also create a niche market for yourself by intentionally pairing unusual keywords like “equestrian contract” or “bakery tax law.” I am working with one family lawyer whose focus is on helping her clients learn through the divorce experience. We are pairing words like “holistic divorce” and “reiki divorce” to help her target a particular kind of client.
Other times the person is facing a specific problem. Particularly in the realm of criminal law, a client may look up the exact language the court uses because they are trying to figure out what it means. Make sure your keywords include the layperson’s language, as well as the legal speak.
What To Do With Your Keywords
Once you have created a list of a dozen or more keywords (including word pairings), plug each one into your favorite search engine and see where your website comes up. Are you on the first page or the twentieth? If your website is nowhere to be seen, you know you’ve got some work to do.
Using keywords is really not that complicated – you just add the words into your web content in a way that naturally makes sense. But for lawyers, this can force you to break a long-held rule for writing. You will have to use different keywords that each mean the same thing. That’s a difference without a distinction! you object.
That’s ok, because you are using the different terms to attract slightly different types of potential customers. The interested reader who types in “tax lawyer” isn’t quite the same as the one searching for an “IRS attorney,” but you can probably help them both. By replacing the words you use over and over again with synonymous keywords, you can broaden your website’s appeal and improve its search engine ranking.
The key is to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your readers’ ability to understand what you are writing. Gone are the days where you need list your keywords in a comma-separated list so that the web-browsers will pick them up. Now keywords should be blended seamlessly into your content. Let one particular topic shine in each post, but support that topic with other top keywords you have chosen for your website.
Want a practical example? This post has been focused on the keyword “keyword.” By now you might be a little sick of reading it. But did you notice that I also used “search engine” “SEO” and “lawyer” several times? That’s because part of my target audience are lawyers looking for how to improve their SEO. By using keywords that come back to that core concept, I can drive more traffic to my website and get more interested readers and potential clients.
Do you need help identifying your best keywords? Are you having trouble narrowing down your ideal client? Lisa Schmidt is a blog coach for Legal Linguist. She can walk you through the steps to creating an effective blog and help you improve your web presence. If you want one-to-one attention and some of the top industry tips, contact Legal Linguist today to set up a meeting.