What are the best keywords for law firms? (The reason “accident” isn’t a dirty word!)

If you’re an attorney who’s spent any amount of time with digital marketers, you’ve likely heard them talk about keywords, which ones are important, and the ones you need to rank for.

Understanding what’s important and what’s an up-sell in these conversations can feel like a minefield, when all you really need is to get a comprehensive, no-nonsense digital marketing strategy in place to start driving leads to your site.

In this blog, we unpack the secrets of keywords, why they matter, and which ones you need to rank for. But, we’ll tell you upfront: there are no universal “best keywords” for law firms. Instead, you need an individual, tailored approach—which we’ll outline in this blog.

Keep reading to learn more.

Why do keywords matter?

Keywords are a facet of search engine optimization (SEO). There are many components of SEO. Keywords are part of your organic (non-paid) content strategy, which involves writing optimized content like blogs, practice area pages, and location pages, among other things.

Google’s algorithms crawl your site and its content to learn about who you are and the legal services you offer. It then uses that keyword data to connect potential clients searching for your services in their search engine results pages.

It’s helpful to rank for a large volume and variety of keywords to give your website the greatest chance at being discovered through organic search. Ideally, these keywords would be a mix of branded and non-branded terms.

Branded terms include:

  • Your firm’s name
  • The names of your attorneys
  • Questions that include your firm or attorneys’ names
  • Names of any charitable initiatives
  • Any other terms or phrases that are unique to your firm

Non-branded keywords or phrases include:

  • Questions about the legal process
  • Questions about a specific injury, issue, or legal problem
  • Terms related to your legal services
  • Descriptive terms like “personal injury lawyer san diego”
  • Other “long-tail keywords” relating to your firm and services

Why is it important to rank for a mix of branded and non-branded terms? Because branded and non-branded terms have different impacts on your digital marketing efforts.

When your website ranks for branded terms, like your firm name, it indicates that people searching already know who you are; your firm has brand recognition. Whether they heard a TV ad, saw a social media post, or were referred by a friend, ranking for branded terms shows you have brand awareness—and that’s a good thing for law firms, especially in competitive markets.

When your website ranks for non-branded terms and long-tail keywords, it means people are finding your website without knowing anything about you. Using just the content on your website, you were able to connect with potential clients who were researching their legal problems.

What is a long-tail keyword?

Long-tail keywords are search terms with lower search volumes that are very specific. (Plotted on a graph, these keywords are low on the demand curve, which is where the name “long tail” comes from.) So, why try and rank for them? Because most Google searches are for highly specific, long-tail terms.

According to SEO leader Ahrefs, of the 1.9 billion keywords in their database, 92.42% got 10 searches per month or less. And in the absence of stiff competition, it’s relatively easy for strategic, forward-thinking law firms to rank on the first page of Google for terms that are likely to bring in valuable traffic.

For instance, the term “personal injury lawyer nyc” gets 4,400 monthly searches—an almost insurmountable volume if you’re a mid-sized firm and want to rank on page one of Google. However, “car crash nyc” gets 590 searches each month, and “i was hit by a car on my bike” gets 30 searches. The more specific you are, the less competition there is and the more likely the searcher is to convert. And if you’re a personal injury attorney in New York City with a focus on bicycle crashes, this is great news for you.

RELATED: Learn How to Do Marketing Keyword Research With This Brief Guide

How to get your law firm’s website to rank for the keywords that matter most

Ranking for keywords that result in conversions requires identifying your goals, knowing your audience, understanding their problems, and taking the strategic steps to solve them.

1. Identify your goals

What kind of cases are you getting, and what cases do you want more of? If your passion is complex asbestos and mesothelioma cases, but you want more car crashes help you fund those efforts, then you likely need to rank for more car crash-related keywords.

2. Conduct keyword research

Now that you know the types of cases you want to target, you can begin to research which car crash-related keywords people are searching for. Google Trends and Ahref’s Keyword Generator are free, helpful tools, in addition to paid, comprehensive platforms like SEMrush or Ahrefs.

Your research should focus on keywords, their search volumes, and keyword difficulty (a score of how hard it is to rank for that particular term). The more targeted and attainable your keyword, the better.

3. Create optimized content that speaks to your target audience’s needs

Once you have your keyword research, you can use it to build a content calendar and write high-quality, optimized articles and web pages that speak to your ideal clients’ needs. If we return to our NYC bike crash example, you can write a targeted blog about what to do if you were hit by a car while riding your bike and direct readers to your firm for more information and help.

However, you don’t have to be a car accident lawyer to take advantage of this strategy. Any kind of law firm can use keywords to build a content strategy. LaFleur works with firms around the country, including divorce lawyers, accident attorneys, disability firms, and more.

Why “accident” isn’t a dirty word

Many of the attorneys we speak with dislike the word “accident,” and for good reason. When something is an “accident,” it suggests that whatever bad things happened were outside of anyone’s control. The truth is, many so-called “accidents” were the clear result of negligence or wrongdoing.

So, why isn’t “accident” a dirty word? Because it means something different to your target audience.

The phrase “car accident” is part of most people’s vernacular, and for people who aren’t attorneys, it doesn’t carry the same weight or implication that no one did anything wrong. It just means there was a car crash. And when we look at Google Trends data, users overwhelmingly use the phrase “car accident” over “car crash” in search.

Furthermore, the search data for “car accident,” compared to “car wreck” is consistently higher. For instance, “car accident nyc” receives 480 searches per month, and “car wreck nyc” receives…zero. What’s important is to identify the words and phrases your ideal clients use to talk about themselves, their lives, and their situation, and use those words to describe your services back to them.

Practical law firm SEO strategies that deliver results

When you’re a working trial attorney, you don’t always have time to do hours of keyword research, outline a meticulous content strategy, and write blog after blog about bike crashes. That’s where the LaFleur team enters the picture.

Our team of writers, editors, and strategists have years of digital marketing experience, and there’s nothing we love more than digging into the data, crafting a quality content and keyword strategy, and optimizing content that helps your firm reach its goals. When you choose to work with LaFleur, we’re your true marketing partner:

  • We’ll conduct a thorough audit of your site’s digital performance, including keywords and other key performance indicators.
  • We can use the audit findings to outline a content strategy, including a list of which keywords you should be ranking for and a plan to help your firm get there.
  • We’ll create a content calendar for each quarter with blog topics, keyword data, and a content outline, so you know what to expect from your content and how articles will affect site performance.
  • We continually track how articles perform and hold regular reporting meetings, so you understand how content affects your site’s digital health and lead generation.

Improve your SEO and rank for the right keywords with LaFleur

We’re passionate about connecting skilled attorneys with their ideal clients. If you’re ready to learn more about keywords, SEO, and how LaFleur can help your firm reach its goals, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

You can reach our team by calling (888) 222-1512 or completing this brief form.

We look forward to speaking with you!


Soulo, T. (2021, March 21). What Are Long-tail Keywords? How to Find and Use Them. Ahrefs. Retrieved from https://ahrefs.com/blog/long-tail-keywords/

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

amy h

Amy Hinman is the social and paid media editor at LaFleur, where she crafts content, paid media, and social media strategies for highly regulated industries. She graduated with honors from Grand Valley State University, earning a degree in writing and Spanish. Amy is active in the literary community and is an avid gardener and cyclist.