Is Your Marketing Strategy A Long Shot?
In the world of online marketing, aiming to position your firm as the “best DUI/divorce/criminal lawyers in (insert name of city here)” is like showing up at a movie audition with a hundred other actors. You may indeed be the most talented, but against such fierce competition, you’re still a long shot at best.
If you’re scratching your head at that conclusion, you’re not alone. Many law firms believe that achieving top search engine rankings for so-called head-term phrases (e.g., “Miami personal injury attorney”) is a “silver bullet”—a magical tactic that will guarantee a steady flow of website traffic and a high conversion rate. In reality, that is an example of a highly competitive search that does not necessarily indicate an intent to purchase.
The numbers prove it. After sampling 3.7 million search visits and 2.66 million search phrases, we discovered that 62 percent of searches are non-branded; that is, the users don’t know who you are, they’re simply people with legal needs looking for help. Roughly 67 percent of non-branded search traffic (e.g., California DUI laws) can be considered preliminary information gathering with no clear intent to find and hire an attorney.
However, nearly 32 percent of non-branded search traffic can be described as long-tail searches—longer strings of specific keywords that visitors use when they know exactly what they’re looking for and are close to making a commitment. For example: “drunk driving lawyer in Santa Barbara that handles cases with motorcycles” or “Austin divorce lawyer family with special needs.”
The numbers tell the story: for attorneys looking to directly target potential clients, a focus on long-tail searches is the smarter play. Not only are long-tail searches growing in popularity, they have a far higher likelihood of conversion.
Still fuzzy on this? Think of targeting vanity searches as a direct marketing campaign that floods the market with postcards emblazoned with your firm’s tag line. Now think of long-tail searches as a pre-qualified mailing list of prospects who have indicated a specific and immediate need for your services. The former, which requires a significant investment of time and money, may result in a trickle of inquiries. The latter, which is more targeted and typically less expensive, leads to ringing phones and an influx of clients.
Yes, targeting long-tail searches may not drive as much overall traffic to your website. However, in this case, less is more, because the traffic you do generate is more focused, more committed and more likely to say, “You’re hired.”
Let’s revisit the scenario at the start of this article. If the production company staging the audition sends out a call for “male Caucasians, 6’2”, 225 lbs., with wavy blond hair, blue eyes and previous experience portraying a brilliant attorney,” their talent pool will be much more defined. Instead of wading through a sea of candidates who don’t really fit the bill, they’ll find their leading man far more efficiently and frugally.
The same applies to your firm: When it comes to finding your next case, a long-tail is better than a long shot.