Thinking Locally, Not Legally: How Potential Clients Find Law Firm Websites

by Mar 18, 2018

Most attorneys who succeed in their online content marketing efforts have a good understanding of user behavior — in particular, the mindset and search behavior of their potential clients. These attorneys are able to take their potential clients’ mindset into account as they write content that directly targets these individuals.

Sometimes attorneys write content that’s too general to be applied to the particular geographic area where they practice. As a result, that content isn’t likely to be found by — or resonate with — potential clients in that region.

Your potential clients search with a local focus

There are several elements that make for good local pages. But, as our VP of Content Operations Rachel Chalot has pointed out, one of the things to consider is that people tend to “think locally, not legally.”

Here’s what that means.

While something might be governed by state law, for example, your potential clients tend to think — and search — with a local focus. (This is especially true if they don’t have a legal background.)

An example of how potential clients think locally, not legally

Let’s imagine that there’s a potential client for a family law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This potential client is thinking about getting a divorce.

This person is likely to use a search engine to do more research about their problem, but the searches they conduct aren’t necessarily going to be something such as “Pittsburgh Divorce Attorney.”

However, they might do searches such as “Pittsburgh grounds for divorce,” or “Pittsburgh divorce law,” or “Can I get divorced in Pittsburgh without an attorney?”

Even if divorce is governed at the state level, your potential clients may not know that or may not think about that as they’re conducting searches related to their problem.

The same is true for a number of practice areas. Someone might search for “The penalties for a second DUI in Pima County,” or “Who is at fault if I was bitten by someone’s dog in Charlotte?”

Your potential clients may not be familiar with the law, and they’ll make searches that might not be an accurate representation of the legal terminology and structure of the law as a result.

However, by targeting concepts that reflect your specific geographic location and the words your potential clients are likely to use, you can capture the attention of a greater number of potential clients in your geographic area.

Here’s why you should make sure that your local pages have a specific focus.

The importance of creating specific local pages

Let’s say that you’re a family law attorney in the Pittsburgh area. If you’re writing your content with all of your geographic indicators pointing toward Pennsylvania in general, rather than a more local, granular focus, you may not attract the potential clients that you’re looking for.

By taking the statewide approach, you’ll put yourself in direct competition with all of Pennsylvania, including somewhere such as Philadelphia, which has a much more competitive, saturated market.

“What you want to do is get very specific,” Chalot says. “A great way to do this is through the use of local pages. You can target cities, counties, municipalities, and even neighborhoods.”

Chalot notes that attorneys can write about things such as the local rules of court and what potential clients need to know about local courthouses, just as an example of how to use local pages effectively.

I worked in dependency court in a couple different counties,” she says. Continuing with the family law example, she notes: “So many counties have a different procedures. They might require a particular kind of counseling with a particular name and particular facilitator in a particular location, whether it’s the law library of the courthouse or ‘Group B on the third floor.’ CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), GAL (Guardian ad litem); There are a lot of acronyms that can be thrown around.”

Chalot says that there are a number of local quirks and different ways that people describe something. She says that people might talk to their friends who have been through a similar process and hear something about “family group decision making.” They’ll wonder what that is, whether they need to do it, etc. 

“And [they’re] going to Google it,” she says.

Chalot goes into greater details about the do’s and don’ts of family law local pages in our webinar: “Creating Compelling Content For Your Family Law Firm Website.”

Local pages are useful for attorneys in a variety of practice areas to craft unique pages that resonate with potential clients in particular geographic area(s).

To learn more about local pages and writing content that drives potential clients to contact your law firm, see our Creating Compelling Content webinar series.

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