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Get Ahead By Debunking the SEO Myth of the 'Tail'

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Attorneys need many tools to shape a successful online marketing strategy, but SEO is perhaps the least understood.

If a world of potential clients is heaven, then Google is St. Peter, and a proper search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is every attorney's keys to the Kingdom. But the only way to find and use those keys, and outpace your competition, is to really understand how "tails" affect searches.

What Is a Search 'Tail'?

When consumers use search engines, they often use two different types of queries:

  • Short-tail. Short and to the point. Ex. "sushi restaurant Seattle" or "new york personal injury attorney."
  • Long-tail. Longer, but more specific. Ex. "los angeles bar takes credit cards" or "detroit criminal defense attorney embezzlement experience."

Short-tail searches often contain only keywords, and for attorneys that may seem like the perfect thing for an SEO strategy. If you're a Houston divorce attorney, your goal would be to rise to the top of Google's "houston divorce attorney" search results.

However, there are likely thousands of Texas divorce attorneys who use those keywords in their blogs, websites, social media, etc. to try to draw clients. However, an SEO strategy that focuses on long-tail searches can truly set your practice apart.

Wagging the 'Long Tail'

Many clients understand their legal issues in terms of natural language, so long-tail searches are a more natural expression of a problem.

As blogger M. Shannon Hernandez explains to The Huffington Post, focusing on long tails like "how to take care of vinyl pool liners" are far more successful than shorter ones like "vinyl pools," and they hone in on a customer or client's specific needs. It isn't hard to see how attorneys should take advantage of long-tail queries by crafting an SEO strategy around the ways their clients seek help online.

And long-tail strategies really work. These long search engine queries make up almost one-third of all legal search traffic. FindLaw's "The Futility of Chasing Silver Bullets" explains that these long-tail search results are almost four times more clickable than the mundane "x lawyer y town, z state."

Crafting an SEO Strategy on the 'Long Tail'

Every attorney should be taking advantage of long-tail searches, and Google has been evolving in how it deals with them. Keeping that in mind, what should an ideal SEO strategy look like?

Find out how to start distinguishing yourself through SEO by attending FindLaw's free webcast, "Thinking Big: Better Leveraging Search -- and More -- to Supercharge Your Firm's Marketing Efforts," on Wednesday March 26.

Get a head start on your competitors by learning how to implement modern SEO practices to beef up your online marketing -- from head to "tail."

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