Keyword Research for Lawyers: Choosing the Right Keywords to Get More Traffic and Leads

Keyword Research for Lawyers (Secondary)Three-quarters of Google searchers never go past the first page. That tells you how important Keyword Research for Lawyers is.

If you’re not featured on the first page for your targeted keywords, most people won’t find you, and you’ll miss out on traffic, leads, and clients.

There’s no getting around the fact that to feature anywhere near the top of search results, you’ll need to do some keyword research.

Fortunately, if you hire SEO experts, they can do the legwork for you. In either case, it doesn’t hurt to know a little more about what keyword research for lawyers is and how to go about it.

By the end of this article, you’ll:

  • Have comprehensive knowledge of keyword research
  • Understand keyword factors such as search intent and more
  • Learn the optimal strategy for keyword research
  • Gain a suite of tools to make keyword research easier
  • And more!

Let’s get into it.

Your chosen keywords not only form the foundation of your SEO strategy but your content strategy too. It’s a big deal.

What is Keyword Research, and Why Does It Matter?

Keyword research is the process where you dig into what people type into search engines when they’re on the hunt for information.

For lawyers, this means figuring out the specific phrases potential clients use when they’re searching for legal help online. It’s not just about finding popular terms; it’s about understanding the exact questions and issues on people’s minds.

Keywords form the foundation of your SEO, your law firm’s website (metadata, URLs, etc.), and also a law firm’s content marketing strategy.

Keyword Research For Lawyers

More than that, here’s why keyword research for lawyers matters:

Attract Relevant Traffic

By targeting specific keywords, your website attracts visitors who are looking for the exact legal services you provide. This can lead to higher chances of these visitors becoming clients.

Increase Visibility

Getting your keyword strategy right can help your website climb up the search engine rankings. When you rank higher for the right keywords, more potential clients can find you.

Competitive Edge

Knowing what keywords your competitors are targeting—and finding the gaps in their strategy—can set you apart. You can capture traffic that others are missing out on by targeting less obvious, but highly relevant keywords.

Market Insights

Through keyword research, you learn the language and concerns of your potential clients. This knowledge is gold for guiding your content creation, ensuring you address the topics most relevant to your audience.

Marketing Efficiency

With keyword research, your SEO and marketing activities are more focused. Instead of spreading your efforts thin, you concentrate on strategies that are more likely to bring results, making your marketing more effective.

Adapt to Changing Trends

The legal field is always changing, with new trends and laws emerging. Regular keyword research helps you stay current, ensuring your website addresses the latest issues and needs of your clients.

It’s fair to say that your starting point with all lawyer marketing activities is to find out what people in your target audience are searching for most frequently.

Keyword Research Basics

Before we go deeper, let’s remind ourselves about some keyword fundamentals.

Ideally, you want your website and content to rank as highly as possible on page one of Google for many relevant keywords.

Put another way, when your target audience types in a search term related to your practice area, you want them to be directed to your online content rather than your competitors’ pages.

Let’s go over the 3 basics of keyword research.

Keyword Volume & Difficulty

Let’s break down two critical concepts you’ll come across: keyword volume and difficulty.

Understanding these will help you pick your battles wisely in the vast landscape of search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Keyword Volume: This refers to the number of times a specific keyword is searched for in a given period, usually a month. Think of it as a popularity contest. The higher the search volume, the more people are interested in that topic or question. For a law firm, knowing these numbers is crucial because it helps you identify what potential clients are actively searching for. But here’s the catch: more searches often mean more competition.
  • Keyword Difficulty: This metric gauges how tough it will be to rank well for a particular keyword. It considers factors like the strength of current ranking pages, their domain authority, and how many backlinks they have. High difficulty means it’s going to be a tougher climb to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Now, you might think the goal is to find high-volume, low-difficulty keywords, and you’d be right, to an extent.

But it’s not just about reaching for the low-hanging fruit. It’s about strategic alignment with your firm’s specialties and the specific needs of your potential clients. Sometimes, a keyword with lower volume but very relevant to your practice could be more valuable than a generic high-volume term.

It’s about quality over quantity. Take a look at the 2 examples below.

As you can see, being more specific allows you to target a more specific audience that could be more applicable to your services (in this case, if you’re in San Diego).

For lawyers, striking the right balance is key. You want to attract traffic that’s not just large in numbers but is also highly relevant—people genuinely looking for the legal services you offer.

This means sometimes going after more niche keywords that perfectly match your expertise, even if they have a smaller volume, because the traffic they bring is more likely to convert into actual clients.

Here’s another example of choosing a more niche keyword:

should i get a personal injury lawyer after car accident

Keyword Length

There are three types of keywords for lawyers to focus on:

  • Head terms: Three words or less, broad terms like “personal injury” or “criminal defense,” which are high volume/low conversion.
  • Body terms: Usually 4-6 words in length, including a little more detail like “child custody laws in Colorado” or “DUI defense lawyers in Toronto,” which are medium volume/medium conversion.
  • Long-tail keywords: Six words or more in length, usually quite specific, and often in the form of a question like “What is the punishment for common assault in Texas?” or “Is adultery grounds for divorce in Illinois?” They are usually low volume/high conversion.
Lawyer Keywords Head Body Long-Tail

As you can see from the above graphic, search volume and conversion rate generally have an inverse correlation, so targeting the most popular keywords is rarely the right strategy for law firm SEO.

There are many theories on the types of keywords you should target with SEO campaigns.

We find that the most effective keyword targeting approach is following a typical customer journey. That means we need to understand search intent: what are people hoping to achieve by entering a particular search term into Google?

Before we go deeper into search intent, remember that searches of more than four words make up 95.88 percent of Google searches. There are lots of clicks to fight for, and as long as you’re targeting the right phrases, you’re looking in the right place with long-tail keywords.

Each keyword has an implicit intent.

For those readers unfamiliar with the “customer journey,” here is a simplified overview.

Keyword Research & Customer Journey

The best SEO keyword strategy maps to specific user intent based on where they are in the customer journey.

Search intent can vary, but let’s take this example of a customer journey. Say someone recently received a DUI. They could potentially follow this search pattern:

  • Informational Intent to learn more about the laws surrounding DUIs.
  • Commercial Intent to better understand their options for DUI lawyers in their area.
  • Navigational Intent to learn more about the lawyer they just decided was best for their case.
  • Transactional Intent to purchase services from that lawyer.

Let’s compare the following 4 search queries:

Informational Intent

Let’s say they search for “DWI Laws in San Antonio.”

The intent of this query is less obvious. The user is simply searching for general information and Google delivers a different search results page.

Google features the firms that provide the best and most relevant information relating to the query.

Informational Intent Keyword

Information queries like this usually reflect a potential client at the beginning of the customer journey (awareness).

Commercial Intent

Observe this search for “best DWI lawyer in San Antonio.”

With this query, the intent is clear: the searcher is seeking a top attorney to support them with a DUI charge (commercial intent).

Commercial Intent Keyword

Google’s search result for the term includes the Google Business Profiles for firms with optimized profiles and plenty of reviews. The organic search results on page one mainly feature lawyer directory entries rather than individual law firms.

They’re ultra-competitive and very difficult to rank for (a common trait of commercial queries like this). But these keywords are crucial for local SEO.

Navigational Intent

Let’s say they decided to go with the top result in Google and search “Trey Porter DWI Lawyer.”

Navigational Intent Keyword

This search is a “branded query” where a user seeks information about a particular law firm.

The intent may be to evaluate this firm’s services so Google returns relevant results related to the firm.

Transactional Intent

Now, let’s assume the journey is nearing its end.

They did the research, compared options, and decided to pursue Trey Porter DWI Lawyer. Their next search may be “Trey Porter DWI Lawyer Pricing.”

Transactional intent keyword

Pursuing this keyword in your strategy is important because the conversion is very high. They’ve essentially made their decision!

It’ll be important to ensure your website is able to show up for queries such as this one.

Ultimately, best-practice keyword research for lawyers understands the difference between the stages of the customer journey and the types of queries that relate to each — targeting keywords that cover every stage.

By understanding search intent, you can identify what the user is looking for and target profitable keywords by shaping your content around these terms.

Though I listed 4 intents, the typical journey is closer to 3 stages. With this in mind, lawyers should ask the following:

  • What keywords will users search to collect information about a legal matter? (Informational/Awareness Intent)
  • What keywords will users search to find a law firm to suit their needs? (Commercial/Brand Intent)
  • What keywords will users search to hire your law firm? (Transactional/Purchase Intent)

This last stage is often a combined intent of Transactional and Navigational.

Customer Journey & Keyword Intent


Trey Porter is one of our many satisfied clients who opted for comprehensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Now, they rank highly on search results for terms such as “San Antonio DWI Attorney.”

This helps his law firm garner numerous leads through our work on their marketing.

Learn more about Trey Porter’s Marketing.

Get More Traffic & Leads

Talk to a marketing expert

Keyword Research Strategy

Navigating keyword research can seem like a daunting task, especially in the competitive legal industry. However, with a systematic approach, you can uncover the keywords that will drive the right kind of traffic to your website.

Let’s dive deeper into each step of the keyword research strategy for lawyers.


Identify Core Practice Areas & Topics

Start with what you know best—your practice areas.

Whether it’s family law, criminal defense, estate planning, or personal injury, each area has its unique audience and search terms. Understanding the nuances of each practice area helps you not just in identifying relevant keywords but also in crafting content that speaks directly to potential clients’ needs.

Maybe your website already reflects this step, like Strategic Criminal Defence Law does below.

Strategic Criminal Defence Law Practice Areas


Brainstorm Initial Keywords (Seed Keywords and Specific Variations)

Seed keywords are broad terms that relate closely to your practice areas. For example, “divorce lawyer” or “DUI attorney” could be seed keywords.

From there, branch out to specific variations. Consider how your clients speak and the questions they might ask. “Affordable divorce lawyer in [City]” or “DUI defense strategies” are examples of specific variations that can attract more targeted searches.


Review Q&A Websites

General Q&A websites like Quora and Reddit, along with legal-centric websites like Avvo,, and Justia, are treasure troves of real questions asked by real people.

These platforms can provide a wealth of long-tail keyword ideas that you might not find using traditional keyword tools. Pay attention to recurring themes and questions related to your field.

This step is about listening to your potential clients’ voices and understanding their concerns from their perspective.

Avvo Q&A Example


Investigate Local Keywords

For most legal services, locality plays a huge role.

People often search for lawyers near them. Including city names, neighborhood names, or even local landmarks in your keywords can help you capture this audience. “Estate planning attorney in [City Name]” or “personal injury lawyer near [Landmark]” are examples of how you can localize your SEO efforts.


Study Search Intent

Behind every search query is an intent.

Some users seek information, others are comparing options, and some are ready to hire a lawyer. Tailoring your keywords and content to match these intents is crucial. Analyze the keywords to determine the intent behind them and ensure your content addresses what the searcher is truly looking for.

Search Intent Example


Use Keyword Research Tools

Armed with a preliminary list of keywords, it’s time to leverage keyword research tools such as Semrush, Ahrefs, and Google’s various options.

These tools can help you expand your list with related search terms, evaluate the monthly search volume for each keyword, and assess how difficult it might be to rank for them. Don’t overlook the power of these insights; they can significantly influence your SEO strategy’s direction.


Conduct Competitor Analysis

Knowing what your competitors are doing is key.

Identify who they are, what keywords they’re targeting, and how they’re structuring their content. This doesn’t mean you should mimic their strategy entirely but understand the competitive landscape. It could reveal gaps in their approach that you can capitalize on or inspire new angles for your content.

Competitor Analysis Example


Create a Keyword List

With research from the above steps, compile a comprehensive keyword list.

This list should be diverse, covering broad terms, long-tail phrases, local keywords, and any questions that might bring potential clients to your site. This list is your SEO roadmap, guiding the content you’ll create and optimize.


Group Keywords Into Clusters

To make your SEO efforts more manageable and effective, organize your keywords into clusters related to specific topics or practice areas.

This not only helps with creating a structured content strategy but also improves your website’s topical authority in the eyes of search engines.

Keyword Cluster Example


Analyze and Rank Priority Keywords

Finally, prioritize your keywords.

Consider factors like search volume, difficulty, relevance to your practice, and alignment with user intent. Ranking your keywords helps you focus on optimizing for the ones that offer the best opportunity to attract the right audience to your law firm.

By thoroughly understanding each step and applying a focused approach to your keyword research, you’ll be better positioned to attract potential clients actively seeking legal advice and services.

Remember, the goal is not just to increase traffic but to drive meaningful engagements that can grow your practice.


Michael Oykhman, of Strategic Criminal Defence Law, specializes in criminal defense for the Calgary area. His law firm benefitted greatly from dedicated marketing services, such as comprehensive SEO efforts and Google Ad campaigns.

Learn more about Michael Oykhman’s Marketing.

Let Us Help You Bring in More Leads to Your Law Firm

Get in Touch!

Contact Us

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers: How to Find Profitable Keyword Opportunities

If keyword research is starting to sound like hard work for lawyers, fear not.

Yes, legal keywords are competitive, and getting them right is important. But finding profitable keyword opportunities is made much easier by the abundance of keyword research tools available.

Many of these are completely free and only cost time. If you hire SEO specialists, like most firms, it won’t cost you any time.

With a few clicks and keystrokes, these tools will provide plenty of strong keyword suggestions and tell you how difficult it is to rank for these keywords.

All of the following tools make keyword research for lawyers a lot easier.

Google Keyword Planner

Google is the undisputed king of search, with more raw data than any other platform, the best analytics tools, and the broadest reach.

It shouldn’t be surprising, therefore, that anything offered by Google to help with keyword research for lawyers is worth considering. The suggestions are based on a very broad cross-section of the internet.

Google’s Keyword Planner tool can help you identify keywords and check their search volumes in detail.


We’ve already established that search volume isn’t everything — the most-searched-for terms generally have low conversion rates and are very competitive.

However, there’s no point in targeting keywords your audience is not searching for. So, it’s important to understand the search volume of each major keyword phrase you target.

Google Trends

Google Trends is another free-to-use Google tool that may be of use to some firms. Law firm content is less susceptible to “trends” than other businesses, but this tool can help to identify if a specific keyword is trending upwards or downwards over time.

A good example is cannabis legislation, which is a hot topic in many states, meaning that cannabis business lawyers may be looking for related keywords that have started trending.

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers Google Trends

“People Also Ask” Sections on Google SERPs

Take a look at the following Google SERP (search engine results page) for the query “what are the property division laws in Calgary?”

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers People Also Ask

Below the featured snippet at the top, which is provided by Spectrum Family Law, is the “People also ask” section.

This features related questions and is a veritable goldmine of keyword phrases for law firms to target:

  • What is the law of dividing property?
  • Is my partner entitled to half my house?
  • How do you divide relationship property?
  • How are assets divided in a divorce in Alberta?

Google generates these questions from thousands of potential options. The listed ones are considered the most closely related to the original search query. These and other FAQs can be ideal keyword phrases on which to base articles, blog posts, and other content on your website.

Related Searches Section on Google SERPs

Another tool that is staring lawyers in the face is featured at the bottom of every Google SERP: the “Related searches” section.

A query for “who can write a will in Chicago?” includes this section at the foot of the page.

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers Related Searches

As you can see from this example, the types of related searches might be excellent keyword suggestions for an estate planning law firm in Illinois to target on its legal blog.

Google Analytics

We’re still not done with the Google tools for keyword research for lawyers.

Google Analytics is best known for providing stats on website performance but you can also gather important keyword data.

After you link Google Search Console with Google Analytics, go to Acquisition>Search Console>Queries for a list of possible keyword phrase targets.


Unlike the other tools covered so far, Ahrefs is a paid tool. It’s one of the most comprehensive tools covered here because it provides competitive analysis and keyword research. For some law firms, this justifies paying a small fee.

With its Keyword Explorer, you can enter a term like “divorce lawyer” and a few related keywords like “divorce attorney,” “child custody attorney,” and “alimony attorney.”

The keyword volume and difficulty score will be displayed like this:


You can enter more than three keywords at a time, but they should be thematically similar so that you can target the right keyword topic clusters in your content.

Ideally, you’ll identify some keywords with not only a high search volume (100+) but also low keyword difficulty scores (generally under 30 means they are less competitive and fairly easy to rank for).

The “Questions” section of “Keyword Ideas” also generates keyword phrase ideas for informational query keywords.

In the “Top Pages” section of the Ahrefs tool, you can type in the keywords you’re trying to rank in your location and find the top-ranking competitor pages.

Once you identify these top competitor pages, you can analyze the quality of the content and start planning to improve on this with the content you develop — which should get you higher rankings over time.


Semrush is another leading tool for keyword research for lawyers.

It’s actually a suite of six different tools:

  • Keyword Overview: Helps you discover the organic and advertising value of any keyword based on search volume, intent, keyword difficulty, number of results, competition level, etc.
  • Organic Research: Helps you find ways to rank for your rivals’ most profitable keywords.
  • Keyword Gap: Uncovers new opportunities for launching efficient SEO campaigns.
  • Keyword Manager: Creates powerful master lists that fit your SEO strategy and goals with real-time metrics for up to 1,000 keywords at once.
  • Organic Traffic Insights: Integration with Google Analytics uncovers “not provided” keywords and cross-reference data on your website’s organic search performance.
  • Keyword Magic Tool: Generates thousands of keyword combinations from one seed keyword.

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers SEMRush

This may seem like overkill for some firms.

However, a good way to use SEMRush for keyword research is to first identify your top competitors and then enter their URLs through SEMRush’s “Organic Research” feature — then “reverse engineer” what they are doing but do it better.

Legal Forum Q&As

Other FAQs to target during the informational/awareness stage of the customer journey can be sourced by referring to the Q&A sections on legal forums.

Three of the best sources are the Avvo forum, the forum, and the Justia forum, all of which allow users to ask questions and receive free legal advice from qualified lawyers.

Here are the latest questions asked about employee discrimination law on the Avvo forum, for instance.

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers Avvo

Note also the panel on the right that includes “related topics,” which can also spur new keyword ideas for lawyers.

The forum features more general questions that can be filtered by practice area and a list of the most-recently-answered questions.

Keyword Research Tools Lawyers dot com

Finally, here’s what the Justia Q&A forum looks like. You can filter questions by practice area and/or state, and questions are often very specific.

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers Justia

Most of these questions are asked by people with genuine reasons to hire a lawyer, so there is often purchase intent attached — even though users may not be instantly looking to hire a lawyer.


Neil Patel’s SEO information is among the best, and UberSuggest is his free keyword research tool.

Here’s what the dashboard looks like.

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers UberSuggest

UberSuggest provides volume and competitive difficulty information on your selected keywords and generates new ideas and suggestions for related keywords and content.

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is another tool by Neil Patel and UberSuggest. This one is great for generating long-tail keyword phrases in the form of questions (who, what, when, where, why).

As you will see from the following example — a simple search for “estate planning lawyer — the sheer number of results generated” is amazing (you can download the results as a .csv file).

Keyword Research Tools for Lawyers Answer The Public

You have plenty of keyword research tools to get stuck into but if you’re still hungry for more tools, try these:

The Science and Art of Keyword Research

Choosing the right keywords is about finding a balance between phrases with high volume and low competition.

Keyword research for lawyers is certainly partly science — the tools outlined above will help you with identifying potential phrases, volumes, and competitiveness. They can also help you analyze the top-ranking competitors for the keywords you have identified.

From there, the science ends, and the art begins. To get rankings on page one of Google for your chosen keywords, you must create the best content for those keywords.

Or you can hire a lawyer SEO service to naturally increase traffic, lead generation, and client numbers.

Want to do more than just "get by"?

Attract (and convert) qualified sales leads with Legal Marketing 360, our all-in-one law firm marketing package that includes an expertly crafted Google Ad campaign, SEO program, and website design.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions – Keyword Research for Lawyers

Keyword volume represents the number of times a specific term is searched for within a certain period, usually a month. High-volume keywords indicate a significant interest in a topic, making them crucial for your law firm’s website as they can drive more traffic. However, the focus should be on balancing both volume and relevancy to attract qualified visitors who are more likely to become clients.

Start by identifying your core practice areas and brainstorming related terms and phrases. Utilize keyword research tools to expand your list and include variations based on real questions from Q&A websites. Also, investigate local and long-tail keywords that reflect the specific services you offer and the regions you serve.

While general legal terms can attract a broader audience, they often come with high competition and may not attract the right kind of traffic. Focusing on more specific, practice-related keywords can help you reach potential clients who are searching for the exact services you offer.

Local keyword research is critical because most clients are looking for legal services within their geographic area. Including local search terms like the city or neighborhood in your keywords can help you connect with clients who are more likely to engage your services due to proximity.

Keyword research is not a one-time task. Regular updates are essential to adapt to changing market trends, shifts in consumer behavior, and new competitive landscapes. Aim to review and update your keyword strategy at least every quarter to ensure it remains effective.

Several tools can aid in keyword research, including Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz. These tools offer insights into keyword volume, competition, and related search terms, helping you build a comprehensive keyword list.

Analyze your competitors’ websites and their content to identify which keywords they are targeting. Look for gaps in their strategy or areas they haven’t fully exploited. This can reveal unique opportunities for your law firm to capture untapped markets.

Search intent refers to the purpose behind a search query. Understanding whether users are seeking information, comparing options, or ready to hire a lawyer can guide you in choosing keywords that align with potential clients’ needs, improving the chances of attracting relevant traffic.

The best strategy involves a mix of both. High-volume keywords can drive more traffic, but they’re often very competitive. Low-volume, highly specific keywords may attract less traffic but can lead to higher conversion rates as they’re more aligned with specific client needs.

Monitor your website’s traffic, search rankings, and engagement metrics before and after implementing your keyword strategy. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console can provide valuable insights into how well your keywords are performing and identify areas for improvement.