How Do Injury Victims Search?

Part of our journey to understand how they look for lawyers like you, involves thinking about how injury victims (your potential clients) use search engines.

Before we dive into specific search queries, let’s spend a brief moment putting ourselves in the shoes of the injured.

Who are these folks? What are they worried about?

As we’ve previously discussed, anyone can get hurt. However, some folks may be more likely to get hurt than others. The most obvious examples include people who live and work under relatively dangerous circumstances. Despite great improvements to work conditions, some jobs are still rather dangerous. It stands to reason that people working these are seriously injured more than people with less dangerous jobs.

Generally speaking, when you’ve identified such a job, there will be identifiable demographic information that flows from the employment.

Furthermore, people who are seriously injured tend to face similar concerns. Things like lost wages and medical bills. Ultimately, they tend to be concerned with their health (hopefully a road to recovery) and caring for their families.

Obviously, I’m just really scratching the surface here. But it’s useful to get into this mindset when beginning to think about how these folks might perform searches.

Head Terms

At one end of the search query spectrum, we have head terms. As defined by WordStream:

A head term or head keyword, in contrast to a long-tail keyword, is a popular keyword with high search volume. Head terms are generally competitive to rank for in search results.

In our context, one popular head term would be [lawyer]. If you’re wondering why I put brackets around lawyer, it’s to indicate exact match.

The search query [lawyer] has very high search volume. According to the Google Keyword Planner tool, The average number of times people have searched for the exact keyword [lawyer] in the United States in a single month is: 60,500.

As you might suspect, the competition for the query [lawyer] is very high. In fact, Google returns about 273,000,000 results for this query. Which means a page is competing with around that many other pages for visibility with a Google search engine result page (SERP).

Head terms are the types of keywords that everyone considers. This is part of the reason that they are also so competitive. In fact, my guess is that most of you who read this think of keyword research with a heavy head term bias. In other words, you conclude that most of your potential clients search in a pattern something like this:

[city] + [personal injury] + [lawyer]

And many most certainly do. However, in aggregate, the other end of the spectrum holds much more opportunity.

At the other end of the search query spectrum, we have long-tail keywords. As defined by WordStream:

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase. They’re a little bit counter-intuitive, at first, but they can be hugely valuable if you know how to use them.

In our context, the long-tail might include a search like:

[How do I file a claim for lost wages in Illinois?]

Unfortunately, searches like this won’t even show up in Google’s Keyword Planner tool so it’s difficult to assess search volume for terms like this. In terms of competition, Google returns around 2,370,000 results for the example query. That’s only around .8% as many pages competing as the head term [lawyer].

Typically, when I explain long-tail keyword searches to lawyers, I am met with considerable skepticism. “No one searches like that,” is a common response.

But they’re just wrong. There’s really no other way to put it.

Many people use search engines to perform research. While users are becoming a bit more sophisticated, most still search in very basic ways. This includes typing full questions, even paragraphs (sometimes including punctuation) right into the engine.

Hopefully it’s obvious that these are only some of the most basic examples. The point here is that your target audience of injury survivors isn’t limited to those who merely search for those highly competitive head terms.

Again, the point here is to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand the types of questions they have to which they might turn to search engines for answers.

Further, keep in mind that it’s very unlikely that most of your potential clients will search the way that you, a plaintiffs’ lawyer, would.

First, you probably know a lot of lawyers and would never even consider turning to the internet to research a lawyer. Second, you have acquired knowledge and language that has vastly influenced your perspective.

Even the way that you hypothesize about the way that people use search engines has been shaped by your education and experience.

Therefore, it’s fantastically difficult for you to accurately imagine how your target audience uses search. Combine that with the fact that around 15% of the questions people ask of Google every day are questions the search engine has never seen before. Whoa.

This is one of the reasons that audience research is so imperative before launching into a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. If you don’t understand who your audience is, what issues they are facing and how they use search engines, you are likely to miss out on a lot of targeted traffic. Further, even if you are able to earn traffic, without audience research, it’s likely that traffic won’t have meaning to your practice. In other words, you’ll attract visitors who aren’t potential clients.

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