In forthcoming blogs, I will be detailing how keyword research can help develop a website from start to finish. In today’s content regarding law firm SEO, I have started with how such research can lay the foundation for the design and layout of your site. Let’s start at the beginning.
When it comes to creating a legal website, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure a successful launch and continued success. There are the design aspects of the site, and there are several questions to pose at this point in the process, including:
Then you need to consider what topics will go on your site’s pages. How do you go about finding out what subjects you should discuss on your pages, and how do you conveniently organize them for your consumer? You could ask them, but you more than likely don’t have the time to go around asking people what they would like to see on your site.
How could you indirectly ask a large audience what it is that they want to see? As it turns out, your potential customers are answering that question for you every day when they go to a search engine and begin looking for information. When someone goes to Google and types in a phrase, you are given relevant pages based on what you typed into the search bar. That string of words that you type into the search bar is called a query.
What consumers type in that search bar tells you quite a bit. Do they want information, or are they looking for a product? Do they want high-quality or low-cost services? Are they early on in the decision-making process, or are they ready to pull the trigger? Keyword research can help you understand all of the information that these queries give you.
The words that make up a query are called keywords, and those keywords often share a common theme through different queries. For example, queries such as “what do I do if I was in a car accident” and “steps to take after a car accident” both share the keyword “car accident.” They are both looking for additional information on what to do after a car accident, even though they are phrased differently.
When you enter a query, the search engine takes the keywords into account, along with several other factors, and displays pages that are relevant to the topic that it thinks you are looking for. For both of the queries that include “car accident” and are looking for steps or what to do, you could expect pages to show up from car insurance companies or news articles with processes on what to do after a car accident.
The act of looking at search data and trends in addition to analyzing these queries and keywords is called keyword research. This research can do a lot more for you than help you compile a well-informed site outline. Thanks to tools such as Google Keyword Planner, or browser plugins like Keywords Everywhere or Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest, keyword research is something that you can always use to improve your website’s performance.
Keyword Planner shows you a quantitative range of people who searched a specific query within your selected geographic region over the past 12 months. Google Keyword Planner is an extremely useful tool, because it does allow you to filter the data by location. You’re likely only interested in search trends related to the cities that your potential customers live/work in, and being able to filter that data by location gives you the most useful information.
Using what you have found from keyword research and competitor analysis, you begin to get an idea of the sort of topics that you might want on your site. These relevant page themes are going to need to be mapped out so you can get an idea of what the website will look like. At Postali, we normally use a content outline as a guiding tool when we are laying out the structure of a site. With keyword research and competitor analysis, you can feel pretty good about creating an informed site outline.
One of the beginning stages of developing a website is having a site outline so that you can map out what the topic of each page is, what its purpose is, what goes on that page, etc. This helps your web development team understand the overall site structure, it helps the content team understand what they should be writing about, and it helps the marketing team see what they should be pointing people to your site for.
Creating a site outline needs to be based on some sort of data. You can look at successful competitors’ sites and see what sort of topics they discuss, you can think about your practice areas and lay out your website based on what the crimes you know exist that are relevant to your practice, and you can use search data to identify themes. Doing this research allows you to divide the site into sections with relevant on-page topics based on these thematic trends. Keyword research is an important aspect of generating the outline for a site, because you need to know what your consumer wants to see.
These on-page topics are where keyword research becomes so instrumental. Let’s use a criminal defense website as an example. You’re trying to decide what crimes warrant a page on your site. You live in a safe city, and you notice a lot of search queries around driving under the influence (DUI), traffic tickets, and petty theft crimes. You don’t really see much search around serious violent crimes. This tells you that it is going to be a lot more beneficial for traffic to your website and capturing potential customers if you have pages about traffic violations, theft crimes, and DUIs. While having a page about violent crimes would also be a good idea (since you also want those cases), you may want to prioritize the pages containing subjects people tend to search for more.
Now that you’ve begun laying out your site thematic categories you identified through research, you need to determine how many pages to have for each category, and what sort of information will make up the content on those pages. Here is where keyword research can really prove its worth.
For example, let’s use the same criminal defense website as before. Based on your research, you decided your most common categories were traffic tickets, petty theft offenses, and DUIs. Now you’re trying to decide what information you should have under your DUI section. You notice a high search volume for queries about punishments surrounding the different levels of DUI charges, such as “consequences for second DUI” and “first time DUI penalties.” From this data, you could infer that you should have a page for each of the different levels of DUIs. If you decide that you want to keep it to one page, you could provide information regarding the potential consequences for each level of DUI charges.
Using either of those options could help you reach your goals. They also may not. That is why keyword research is more of an art than a science. You can see what people are looking for and tailor your site based on what you find, and it may work out. Maybe people aren’t looking for that information because they were charged with a crime and are simply curious about DUI consequences in their state.
For the basic purposes of creating an efficient site layout and gaining a general idea of what your on-page topics should be, keyword research can prove itself quite useful. Using this tool as a guide for the layout of your website allows you to group what you see from potential consumers’ search habits into content that helps you map out your site’s design.
Taking those topics and applying them to what you are trying to accomplish is a different story altogether. In upcoming blogs, I will detail how keyword research can help develop a website from start to finish.
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