Ways People Search

Gyi Tsakalakis
August 22, 2011

When many people think about search engine optimization, they immediately jump to concepts like using keywords on your web pages, and building links to your website. No don't get me wrong, optimizing your web pages with keywords and acquiring new links are very important to getting found in search engines. But before we jump to executing optimization strategies, it's worth spending some time thinking about how people use search engines.

Admittedly, it's impossible for me to describe all the different ways people use search to find stuff online. In fact, every single day there are a number of searches that have never been done before.

However, there are some general search habits that can be very helpful in developing an optimization strategy. Here are a few ways that people use search engines, and what you can do to get your law firm in front of these searchers:

Directory Searchers

People are using search engines like yellow pages or other business directories. They will type in terms like "lawyer" or "criminal attorney" or "miami personal injury lawyer."

These searchers are often very targeted and likely to convert into a potential client inquiry. To get in front of these searchers, you need to focus on a combination of traditional SEO strategies, as well as, local search strategies. Local search includes building business citations, and sending search engines additional local signals that will help your firm appear in map results and hybrid local organic results.


Another way that a lot of people use search engines is to perform a research task. Perhaps they are researching ways to pay their medical bills. Or maybe they have been charged with a crime and want to know what criminal penalties they may be facing. Or perhaps they are looking for ways to deal with mounting debt issues.

These searchers may not necessarily be looking for a lawyer right now. However, by answering their questions, or providing them useful information, you may be able to attract and engage these searchers. While these searchers may not convert into inquiries at as high of a rate as directory searchers, there are many more research searchers out there. In order to get in front of research searchers, you should focus on developing topically relevant content to your practice. Topical blogs are an excellent way to do this. Think about what questions researchers that might eventually need your services might be asking online, and write in a way that demonstrates your knowledge on the topic and answers their questions.

Branded Searches

Finally, if you are working to develop your professional reputation offline, you will begin to notice that people are searching for your name of firm name. Even word-of-mouth referrals will look you up online. What will they see? Will they see your clients and colleagues speaking highly of you? Will they read something helpful or informative that you have published? While getting in front of these searchers may not be as challenging from a rankings standpoint, it's very important that you manage your reputation.

I recommend that lawyers "google themselves" once per day. Further, you should set up Google Alerts for your name, firm name, and variations of your name. That way, when something containing your professional reputation information is indexed in Google, you will know about it very quickly.

Gyi Tsakalakis
Co-Founder of AttorneySync
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