Friday, March 22, 2013

The Return of Long Tail Attorney Search

OK – long tail search never really went away but the ever changing landscape of the search engines are certainly giving it a new emphasis. This was recently written on Search Engine Watch and here are some of the biggest drivers leading to an increased emphasis on long tail search for attorneys…


As we have previously discussed, mobile search for attorneys is expected to exceed PC based search by 2016. We also recently learned that 77% of mobile search takes place at home or work – not exactly places requiring high mobility. In short, mobile search is the future of search.

One of the more interesting aspects of mobile search is the growing popularity of voice-based commands over typing. Thanks to the technology provided by smart phones, more people are talking to search instead of typing leading to longer and more specific queries (i.e. long tail search).


How many times have you heard an attorney (or yourself) judge results by how they (you) show up for a specific search term? Did you ever think to ask yourself that what you are paying for may also be what other attorneys are also paying for? Why invite such high levels of competition and at such high costs? Since 50-70% of attorney searches online are typically non-repeatable searches, why focus only on the smaller number of terms that cost more? As we have reported, attorneys are spending record amounts of money on PPC terms and driving up the costs at the same time. Remember: everything online is a function of competition and being a lemming is not typically the smartest way to lead.


Last year Google made 665 changes to their search algorithm. In addition the quantity of changes, Google also made two of the arguably most impactful changes with the Penguin (Links) and Panda (Content) changes.  These changes were so transformational that it has led many in the SEO community to literally change all of the rules they worked under for many years…or go out of business altogether. Some law firms responded by successfully changes to a more rich-content strategy with social media while others simply gave up on SEO and started buying PPC ads again. Remember, Google makes over 98% of their money from their paid advertising and the more people who give-up, the more competition and higher prices they will command…which is exactly what they want and you should not.


There is an old saying that “you cannot manage what you cannot measure.” When it comes to attorney marketing online, most failure comes from a lack of quality measurements. In short, many attorneys continue to infatuate on search term rankings, traffic levels, etc. while losing site on the whole reason they advertise to begin with: new cases and client generation. Why would an attorney want to be #1 for a specific search term that is more ubiquitous at the expense of a more case-specific term? To wit: Is being #1 for “Kansas City Injury Attorney” any better than showing up #1 for “Need Attorney For Truck Accident Injury on 435”. Which term do you think is more case specific? BTW, both of these terms came from actual searches to a client’s site…I am pretty sure how they would answer this question. The question is a function of conversion. So if you measure success by your overall level of visits, wouldn’t more case specific (long tail) visits naturally convert better? Then why, assuming the same level of visits, would an attorney want better results for lower converting terms? Again, false measurements lead to bad results.

If you are an attorney who wants to be successful online, you need to understand how ‘targeted” content and an active content strategy is the key to capturing long-tail search results, leading to new case and client generation.


Being a successful attorney online is not complicated if you clearly define your goals and utilize good and knowledgeable resources to help you achieve them. One of the most cost effective ways to doing this is by creating a long-tail search strategy around true measurements (cases and clients) of your results. Or you can choose to be a lemming and see where that leads you.


  1. Good analysis. I wonder how much lawyer v attorney matters in the end because I would think google may be smart enough to realize the terms are synonymous. This certainly did not used to be true but it may be true now.

  2. You have noted very interesting points ! nice website .

  3. Great Post... Nice share for me, maybe nice for all reader of your post.. thanks

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