What Is Search Intent and Why Does It Matter for Law Firm SEO?

Search engines play a critical role in driving traffic to your website.

If you can create content that ranks highly on Google, you’ll get a ton more eyeballs and qualified leads to your website. Which means you’ll inevitably get many more clients.

But it’s not enough to simply rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs). You need to ensure that your content aligns with what users are searching for.

That is, your content needs to align with search intent.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss search intent, including what it is, why it matters for law firm SEO, and the different types.

What is search intent?

Search intent refers to the reason behind a user’s search query.

It’s the “why” behind someone’s search — the underlying motive driving searchers to type specific keywords into a search engine like Google.

For example, the search intent behind “DUI lawyer” could be several different things. One searcher may be looking to hire a DUI lawyer, while another could be looking for a definition.

Google’s algorithms are sophisticated enough to know people’s search intent. They do their best to rank content that fits the search term and the search intent.

So, best practice dictates you look at what’s currently ranking for a given keyword and analyze them. You can get a good idea of what Google thinks the search intent is behind a keyword based on what’s already ranking.

Importance of search intent for law firm SEO

Search intent is particularly important for law firms, as potential clients may search for legal services or advice using specific keywords.

If your content doesn’t match the search intent, you risk losing out on potential clients who may go to a competitor instead.

You could write the best blog in the world, but if it isn’t matching search intent, Google won’t rank it where you think it belongs.

By understanding and aligning your content with search intent, you can improve your website’s visibility, attract more targeted traffic, and ultimately increase your chances of converting visitors into clients.

Types of search intent

Now that you know the importance of mastering search intent, we can get into the nitty-gritty.

There are four main types of search intent: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. Each type of search intent has a different purpose and requires a different approach to content.

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1. Informational

Keywords and phrases with informational search intent specifically provide information on a particular topic.

For example, someone might search:

  • What is bankruptcy?
  • How to file for divorce

These types of searches are usually made by people in the early stages of their research looking for general information.

To begin ranking for keywords with informational search intent, you should create high-quality, informative content that addresses common questions your target client could ask.

They should be relevant to your practice area.

Our client Trey Porter Law creates a lot of top-of-funnel informational content to attract new clients.

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2. Navigational

Navigational search intent is when someone is looking for a specific website or brand online.

For example, someone might search for “Trey Porter Law” or “Trey Porter Law contact.”

trey porter law

These types of searches are made by people already familiar with your law firm who are looking for specific information.

To optimize your law firm’s website for keywords with navigational search intent, you should work to establish yourself as a reputable and prominent brand. The more widely known your law firm is, and the stronger your overall law firm SEO is, the more likely you are to rank for branded keywords.

Additionally, make sure your website is easy to navigate and has a dedicated contact and attorney bio section.

3. Transactional

Transactional search intent is when someone is looking to take a specific action, such as making a purchase or hiring a lawyer.

For example, someone might search:

  • Best personal injury lawyer in New York
  • Hire a DUI lawyer Texas

These types of searches are made by people who’ve already finished the research stage and are ready to take action.

To optimize your law firm’s website for transactional search intent, you should create persuasive, action-oriented content that encourages visitors to take the next step.

4. Commercial

Commercial search intent is when someone wants to purchase or hire a service but is still researching the best option.

For example, someone might search:

  • Compare divorce lawyers in Chicago
  • Best DUI lawyers in Los Angeles

These searchers intend to hire a lawyer but are comparing their options to make sure they pick the best one.

To optimize your law firm’s website for commercial search intent, create content highlighting your unique selling points that sets you apart from your competitors.

This can include client testimonials, case studies, and information about your team’s experience and qualifications.

You could also create “best” or “top” lists and list yourself near the top. A blog outlining the “best DUI lawyers in Los Angeles” that ranks highly on Google will attract a ton of traffic.

How to determine search intent

There are a few ways to determine search intent.

You can pay for a tool like Semrush, which clearly states the intent of each keyword.

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If you don’t want to pay for a subscription, you can generally get an idea of the search intent based on where the users are in the marketing funnel when they search for those words.

At it’s most basic, it could look like this:

  • Awareness: User searches for an informational keyword like “how to beat a DUI”
  • Consideration: User searches for a commercial keyword like “DUI lawyer reviews near me”
  • Conversion: User searches for a commercial keyword like “hire DUI lawyer”

Master search intent to attract qualified traffic

Understanding and aligning your content with search intent is necessary for law firm SEO success.

By recognizing the different types of search intent – informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial – and creating content that caters to each type, you can optimize your website to attract the right audience at the right time to convert them into clients.

Make sure to incorporate search intent in your content and keyword research plans to watch your law firm’s online presence and client base grow.

Don’t underestimate the power of search intent; master it, and watch your law firm’s online presence and client base grow.