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If you are in the process of marketing your law firm online (and you should be!), you might be wondering, “Is using the word “attorney” or “lawyer” better for SEO?” Even though many lawyers use these terms interchangeably, Google may prefer one word over the other. So, which term should you use on your website and social media pages? Search engine optimization (SEO) and Law Quill can help you determine which term is best in your particular situation.
Why Is SEO Important for Law Firms?
SEO is a method to help websites appear higher in Google and other search engines. Many consumers search for lawyers online, and they may only check the first few pages of results. Effective SEO strategies determine the terms that potential clients would use in their search for legal services so they can find your firm.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), 87% of respondents to its 2020 national technology survey have a website. However, only 59% of solo firms have a website. Additionally, the ABA notes that “It does not appear that law firms are placing enough emphasis on their websites.” Therefore, by having a website that is optimized to match a potential client’s query, you can help make your firm stand apart.
Better SEO means more visibility for your website. Knowing which terms to use on your website, including about us pages, home pages, biographies, and blogs is important when you are competing for consumers’ attention online. Law Quill can provide tailored recommendations based on your needs.
3 Reasons in Support of Using Attorney
Here are some compelling reasons why you may prefer to use the term attorney over the term lawyer:
The Definition Fits
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, an attorney is “an agent or substitute, or one who is appointed and authorized to act in the place or stead of another.” The word “attorney” has French origins and comes from another word meaning to act on behalf of others. Colloquially, attorney often means someone who is trained and educated in the law and also practices in court. If this definition describes the services you provide, you may prefer to use attorney over lawyer.
More People Search for Attorney
According to Google Analytics, more people search for the term “attorney” than “lawyer.” In this Google Trends chart, you can see that the blue line in the graph is much higher than the orange line. The blue line represents searches for “attorney” while the orange line represents searches for “lawyer.”
As of August 2022, nearly twice as many searches are conducted for the term “attorney” over “lawyer.” Likewise, “attorneys” is searched more often than “lawyers.” These results are not geographic-region specific, as every state showed more searches for the term attorney than for the term lawyer.
Attorney Is Used in the Industry
Another reason you might consider using the term attorney is when it is used more in the specific practice area you cover. For example, you may prefer to use the term attorney if you describe yourself as a “personal injury attorney,” “tax attorney,” or “criminal defense attorney.” Also, businesses often use the term attorney to refer to someone who would provide legal services to them. If people in your target area generally use the term attorney to describe someone in your practice area, you may want to go with this term because it corresponds to local search queries. The way people talk directly translates to how they search.
3 Reasons in Support of Lawyer
While there is plenty of support to using the term attorney, there are also compelling reasons to use the term lawyer, including:
The Definition Fits
Black Law Dictionary’s definition describes a lawyer as any of the following:
- A person learned in the law
- Any person who prosecutes or defends causes in courts of record or other judicial tribunals for a fee or other reward
- An attorney, counsel, or solicitor
- A person whose business is to give legal advice to others
The term lawyer has Middle English origins and denotes a person educated and trained in the law.
If this definition fits, you might prefer to use this term when describing yourself and your legal services on your website and social media channels.
Lawyer Is Cheaper
If you are using a pay-per-click (PPC) strategy, you may prefer to use the term lawyer if it is much more affordable than using the term attorney. Law-related keywords are often expensive. What makes one term more expensive than another in this realm is the popularity and competition score of the keyword. The sweet spot of PPC strategies is to find a term that is highly searched for but that is not as competitive. This will result in a lower cost per click, ultimately saving your firm money.
Lawyer Is Used in the Area
The term lawyer may be used more in your area than the term attorney. For example, lawyer is preferred in the South. Lawyer is also recognized more globally than attorney. Certain practice areas may use the term lawyer more often, such as “workers’ compensation lawyers” or “divorce lawyers.” Matching the search habits of people in your area who would like to use your services is key to an effective SEO strategy.
Bottom Line: Is Using Attorney or Lawyer Better for SEO Purposes?
As anyone knows who went to law school, the answer is usually “it depends.”
When Law Quill makes recommendations, we will want to explore various factors to determine which term is best for you, such as:
Geographic Area and Practice Area
It is important to know the specific practice area and location to determine the preferred option. Keyword research can help uncover which terms are used most in your particular geographic and practice area. There can be significant variation in the preference of terms across different areas. In many situations, it may be best to focus on one of the terms but to also include the other term and other variations to capture similar searches. The prevailing winner may be featured in your H2s, but the content itself can feature both terms.
Google Auto Complete
A relatively simple way to determine which term may be preferred over the other is to put the search queries into Google Auto Complete. This tool allows you to see what Google suggests to finish your search query, based on similar queries from other internet users.
It is important to keep in mind that people who are searching for the terms attorney or lawyer are not necessarily looking for legal services. For example, someone searching for lawyer may be more interested in topics about “How to become a lawyer” or “What is the average salary for a lawyer?” Meanwhile, someone searching for attorney may be looking for information for the Attorney General or District Attorney. You may prefer to use long-tail keywords so that you can match with people who are more specifically looking for the types of legal services you provide.
Long-tail keywords make up approximately 70% of all search volume. Since legal phrases are so competitive, it is important that you use an optimized strategy to help you rank higher than competitors using the same types of keywords.
Google Auto Complete allows you to view phrases that actual people are searching for that are related to the search query. For example, a person looking for divorce, might be looking for a “divorce lawyer” or “divorce checklist.” Once you type in the phrase divorce, you will then see what other people have searched for so that you can create content that aligns with these searches. This process works on long-tail keywords, too, such as “car accident lawyer in” and then a particular jurisdiction.
Google Search Console
SEO experts can use Google Search Console to determine which terms were more successful than others. Google Search Console helps website owners monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot their site’s presence in Google search results. This powerful tool helps firms and web developers determine how often their site appears in search results, determine which searches to include in their website, and view which results have driven traffic to the site. Looking at historical data can help you determine better strategies to implement moving forward.
How Law Quill Can Help Your SEO
Ensuring your website is optimized for search by using the best keywords can help more people find your firm and your content. The more people who can find your website and read your tailored content, the more likely it is that your firm will be hired. Law Quill conducts keyword research to gain insight into trends for your local market. We can check difficulty and competition scores to better understand what people are searching for and which keywords to use. We work with attorneys across the nation in various practice areas, helping them improve search rankings, drive website traffic, and increase lead generation. If you are interested in learning more about is using attorney or lawyer better for SEO or our data-driven process, we would love to visit with you for free regarding your law firm website’s content. You can schedule a phone or Zoom call at your convenience or email us at email@example.com.