I talk to attorneys every day. 99 out of 100 times, they have been, and I quote, “screwed over by an SEO company” before. I am quoting, so please excuse my language.

It’s like when a guy had an ex-girlfriend cheat on him and distrusts his new girlfriend because of it.

If you don’t want to get burned again, you have to become a savvy consumer.

We use SEMRush daily, it’s how we do competitor research. We rank clients on the first page (Personal Injury/Car Accidents in Miami, Austin, Philly, and NYC).

You will need to create a free SEMRush account first.

Finding the Top Searched Terms

How are people searching for a lawyer in your area? More specifically, the type of lawyer you are (PI, criminal defense, family law). And what are the highest-searched key terms?

(key terms are words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines)

The higher the volume, the more website visits, calls, leads and ultimately (assuming you have an awesome intake system) more signed cases.

People search differently in every market.

SEMRush will tell you which keyword permutations are getting the most traffic.

Let’s say you’re a personal injury attorney in Austin, TX. Which of these terms would you rather rank for?

The right answer is both! But if you had to pick, I am guessing option #1.

Only ranking for “Austin injury lawyer” is not going to have the ROI that you can expect from SEO if you rank on the first page for the highest searched terms.

So, when I get a call from an attorney who claims they are “ranking” but they aren’t getting much business, I already know where it’s going.

At LawRank, if you aren’t ranking for the highest searched terms in your market, then you aren’t “ranking”.

Ranking just means you’re on the first page for something that was searched. You want to rank for the highest-searched terms in your market.


Now let’s say you are a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, CA.

What is interesting about this particular scenario is that “Los Angeles criminal lawyer” is a highly searched term.

We all know people aren’t actually searching for a lawyer that is a criminal.

Without checking SEMRush, you might not have known that this is a key term you want to rank for. You might not have ever checked if you were ranking for it.

Doing Competitor Research

You can see how your competitors are doing compared to your project. SEMRush will give you an estimate of how much traffic your competitors have.

Now, this gets people going. Yep, you guys are a competitive bunch. I’m pretty sure it started with the LSAT.

I get it, I’m pretty competitive too. You want an SEO agency that is competitive– trust me.

Here is an example of one of our client’s traffic via SEMrush. Please note that SEMRush tends to under-report.

It will also show you your competitor’s rankings, although not always 100% accurate.

Here you can see the key term, the competitor’s position for that key term, and the volume.

*note the first 10 positions are first-page results

We double-check using BrightLocal Local Search Result Checker for the most accurate results.

Brightlocal allows searching as if you were in a particular city. It will give you the most accurate results.

Getting Content Ideas

You can see what content is driving traffic to your competitors. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Traffic is a big component of SEO. You need to have informational intent content to rank for commercial intent searches.

Meaning that traffic comes before ranking.

An example of informational intent is an article on the latest Miami Car Accident Statistics or on What Happens if I Skip Jury Duty?.

Informational Content on shakedlaw.com

There are some funny ones, like “Is it Illegal to Have Sex in a Car?” or “What Happens if I Flip a Cop Off?

Now, commercial intent means someone is searching for an attorney. So, basically, what you should be trying to rank for. Your homepage content would be an example of commercial intent content. Same with practice area pages.

Here are some examples of commercial intent content. You can click on each key term:

In case you are wondering, yes we rank our clients for those terms. I could keep going but I don’t want to lose you.

So, the question you should be asking is, is your SEO company trying to get traffic from the informational intent searches that your competitors are getting traffic from?

Remember you need traffic to rank.

Finding Referring Domains

Let me start by explaining what a referring domain is.

I am going to assume all of you know what a link is. A Referring Domain is the URL that a link is coming from.

Let me give you an example.

Say you advertise on FindLaw.com, Findlaw.com will link back to your site multiple times.

However, even though you might be getting hundreds of links from FindLaw.com, it only counts as one referring domain.

FindLaw.com is the referring domain.

Why is this important?

Because the SEO benefit you get from a link diminishes as you get multiple links from the same referring domain.

SEMRush is not the most accurate when it comes to RD’s (we prefer Ahrefs). However, it will give you a good estimate of how many RD’s your competitors have.

Use this number to compare to how many RD’s you have. Keep in mind that this number doesn’t account for quality, only quantity.

Auditing Your SEO Agency

Unfortunately, not all SEO agencies are created equal. Monthly reports and data can be manipulated.

By learning how to gather this data on your own, you will have more to go off of than just biased monthly reports.

Using SEMRush When Researching SEO Agencies

This knowledge can also help law firms look at an SEO agency’s current results.

If they don’t have impressive results, chances are you won’t be their one-hit-wonder.

Some things to look for:

  1. Do they have law firms in similar markets ranking for the most competitive terms?
  2. Do they have firms in large markets ranking for the most competitive terms?
  3. What is the monthly traffic of the firms they work with? You can take it a step further and compare it to firms ranking on the first page in that market.

Having independent data can help make the best decision for your firm.

It is also helpful to have a list of questions and a checklist of what to ask an SEO agency before hiring them.

In Closing

I hope you found this information useful! If you have any questions leave a comment below or send me an email.