By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, I invited my Twitter followers to pose a question (in 140 characters or fewer, of course) that I would take up on this blog. One lawyer sent a direct message wanting to know the best keywords to attract chief executive officers and chief financial officers who want to learn more about what their in-house lawyers can do for them.
The question is much more complicated than it might seem at first blush.
Here’s a driving analogy. If someone asks how to start a car, the easiest answer is: “Just turn the key in the ignition.” But there’s a complicated assortment of processes going on behind the dashboard and beneath the hood that are responsible for starting the engine. Even though the key signals to the engine that it is time to start, it is the first piece of a complicated process.
In other words, simply possessing a key will not make a car run — and the same key won’t start every car.
As with cars, there’s often a multilayered process that is engaged in before keywords will work. As with car keys, the keywords that will deliver the best performance are going to vary; one size does not fit all.
Legal Keywords and Problem-Solving
Keywords help people sort through the huge pool of information provided on the Internet and find what they’re looking for. But vague keywords, or inefficient keywords in areas where there is a lot of expert competition, are like replacement keys that are almost exact duplicates: They’re not going to work in the way you want them to.
To discover what types of keywords might attract them to your website or blog, you must first figure out what keeps executives up at night. Once you’ve done that, you can explain how an in-house lawyer is a problem-solver and ally when it comes to providing solutions to those specific problems.
Is an executive looking for loan workout help or bankruptcy reorganization advice? If the company is located in the U.S., does the executive have questions about the new healthcare legislation and how it applies to his or her company? What are the legal pitfalls a domestic company looking to expand abroad must avoid?
Once you’ve brainstormed ideas, it’s time to test them. There are several free tools — among them Google Insights, Wordtracker and Google AdWords — you can use to conduct research. (For more on the mechanical steps of finding keywords used in actual searches and then including them in your content, read “Law Firm Websites: Seven Tips for Legal Content Writing.”)
For a test run, I chose the simple phrase “in-house counsel” to see what would come up.
At Google Insights, a worldwide search of the phrase revealed that the top searches involved finding jobs and salary information.
I went to Wordtracker and plugged in “in-house counsel” to see what would come up. The most-searched phrase turned out to be the most specific grouping of keywords (a “long tail”): “in-house counsel obligation regarding spoliation.” Several job search-related queries also surfaced. There were two searches recorded for the keyword phrase “evolving role of in-house counsel.”
At Google AdWords, the “in-house counsel” query once again pulled up several job-related searches. However, it also indicated that the phrase “general counsel” is extremely popular and that “attorney client privilege in house counsel” is one substantive area that receives some inquiries.
There are, of course, additional strategies and techniques to sort and sift the information, but this brief exercise illustrates four points:
- When it comes to keywords, there is no virtual master key.
- Avoiding certain keyword phrases, such as the ones related to job searches, is just as important as finding the phrases you want to use.
- The best-performing site will have one page dedicated to each distinct phrase — for example, a page addressing spoliation, another explaining attorney-client privilege and a third discussing the evolving role of in-house counsel. (For more information on how to use your keywords on a page, read “Three Keyword Rules for Law Firm Website.”)
- You must measure the performance of your Web pages and keywords. Most sites require monitoring and adjustment. Because keyword selection isn’t as straightforward as one might hope, you may find one set of keywords performing extremely well and another set underperforming. (For more information on measurement, read “How to Install Google Analytics to Measure Your Marketing Campaign.”)
Integrate Your Legal Keyword Efforts with Media Outreach
At Legal Media Matters, we research keywords, develop strategies based on the basis of our clients’ goals and then write content. We also emphasize the importance of integrating online and traditional public relations strategies.
In addition to your online outreach, don’t forget traditional print publications as a means of reaching out to executives. Some of the best places for this type of outreach are the so-called industry bibles and trusted trade publications that accept guest articles. Review the editorial calendar to find an opening. (For more on this process, see “Writer’s Guidelines and Guest Articles,” and “Editorial Calendars and Guest Articles.”)
Another way to educate your audience is to post comments to articles related to your topics. In both instances, comments and guest articles can serve as the initial means of engaging your target audience. A website address or link back to your blog, if an executive is reading the information online, will allow him or her to continue the conversation — and may also provide valuable inbound links to your site, boosting its performance and the reach of your keywords. (For more ideas on finding your audience, see “Law Firm Marketing: To Draw Clients In, Reach Out.”)
If you need help researching keywords, writing content or devising a print publication placement strategy, contact Legal Media Matters. We can help you with your legal content writing project and tailor a legal marketing and public relations plan tailored to your firm’s unique goals.