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Which Term Ranks Higher In SEO? Attorney Or Lawyer? – Above the Law

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Rebranding your law firm? You’re probably wondering if it’s better to use the term “attorney” or “lawyer” for search engine optimization. Often interchanged, Google may prefer one over the other. It’s important to distinguish which term is best for your law firm and your practice and use the term that will drive the most traffic to your website. Continue reading to learn which terms rank higher in SEO for law firms.

Why is SEO so Important?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is at the core of online marketing. This method helps websites rank higher in Google and other search engines. Most potential clients search for law firms online. Many will not look past the first page of search results.

An effective marketing strategy involves using keywords that prospective new clients will use when they search, so they will find your firm on that first page of results when looking for a lawyer online.

Surprisingly, many law firms still don’t have a digital presence. Some law firms are not taking advantage of this critical marketing approach. A professional website designed to match the queries and searches of potential clients is a necessary marketing tool.

To make your website more visible, accessible, and competitive, SEO must be part of your plan. Using the right keywords, including pages about your firm, incorporating biographies of attorneys, and posting consistent blogs are all part of an effective marketing strategy and will help generate traffic to your website and increase your client base.

Potential clients often search “attorney” or “lawyer.” What makes them choose one over the other, and which word should you focus on in your website to increase your search rankings?

Reasons to Use “Attorney” as a Keyword
Data has shown that more people search the words “attorney” and “attorneys” than “lawyer” and “lawyers.” This is a valid reason to use “attorney” on your pages. There is no geographic link regarding this data. People from all over tend to search “attorney” rather than “lawyer” when searching for legal information.

“Attorney” is an Industry Term
Other businesses refer to someone providing legal services as an attorney, not a lawyer. It is also used to designate a specific practice area. For example, many attorneys describe themselves as “personal injury attorneys “or “criminal defense attorneys.”

It is important to know what the trending term for a legal representative is in your location. Online searches are related to how people talk about the topic they are searching for, so you must use the term used by the clients you are targeting and hoping to recruit.

Reasons to Use “Lawyer” as a Keyword
There are a few reasons to use the term “attorney,” but there are also good reasons to use the term “lawyer” as well.

Using “Lawyer” is Less Expensive
This applies if you use a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising method. A PPC means your firm pays a publisher every time a particular link is “clicked.” Search engines and social networks offer this Pay-Per-Click method. The word “lawyer” warrants a less expensive payout than its synonymous word, “attorney.”

A Lawyer is a Local Term
Sometimes “lawyer” is used more often in your locality or your practice area. The word “lawyer” is often used in the South and is a more established and popular global term. Specific practices may use “lawyer” more often than “attorney.”

For example, “divorce lawyers “and “workers comp lawyers” are not usually referred to as “attorneys.” Again, an effective SEO strategy will match the search trends of potential clients in specific locations and ensure your website is using the trending term.

Which Term is Better For SEO?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It depends on a variety of factors, including:

Geography
Your law firm’s location may determine the use of “lawyer” or “attorney.” Research on your own and figure out what keywords and terms are used more often in your locality.

Practice
The type of practice you have or the services you offer may dictate what term is used. The most common word used by potential clients may depend on your expertise. Again, research the keywords and terms for your practice, as there is often a considerable disparity in the preference of terms across different practice areas.

Use Google AutoComplete

One easy way to learn which term is trending is to use the Google AutoComplete search query. This tool will show you the Google suggestion that finishes your search based on recent searches from other users.

It’s important to remember that not all who search for law firms online may be looking to hire a firm. Some are looking for information about becoming a lawyer or may be searching for the District Attorney in their city. Using long-tail keywords may be more beneficial because you can be more specific and connect with people looking for your firm’s specific services.

Long-tail keywords are more precise phrases, not just one-word searches. It’s important to note that long-tail keywords make up approximately 70% of all searches. Legal phrases are competitive, so it’s important to use an optimized strategy to increase search engine rank.

Using Google AutoComplete confirms the actual search phrases used. For example, if you type in “car accident,” results include what other people have searched. For example, “car accident attorney” or “car accident lawyer.”

Then, you can make your content match what people more often search for online. This method works on long-tail keywords, as well. You can type in “car accident lawyer in” and see what location pops up.

Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console determines which terms are more successful than others. Website owners can monitor and troubleshoot their website’s presence in Google search results. It’s a powerful tool providing historical data regarding how often a site appears in search results, which searches to include, and which results in traffic to their site. This can help a growing firm develop an effective marketing strategy based on real data.

Digital Marketing Next Steps
When using “attorney” or “lawyer,” there are many deciding factors. Location and practice area seem to be two key components. Take the time to really research online what your potential clients are searching for, add those keywords to your website pages, and reap the rewards.


Annette Choti, Esq. graduated from law school 20 years ago, and is the Founder of Law Quill, a legal digital marketing agency focused on small and solo law firms. Annette wrote the bestselling book Click Magnet: The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide For Law Firms, and hosts the podcast Legal Marketing Lounge. She is a sought-after keynote and CLE speaker throughout the United States and Canada. Annette used to do theatre and professional comedy, which is not so different from the legal field if we are all being honest. Annette can be found on LinkedIn or at annette@lawquill.com.

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