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Lawyers are missing the boat on search engines

According to this mornings Seattle Times, Google was the top search engine in March, with an estimated 65.1 million users, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, the Internet research company. Yahoo! Search ranked second, with 48.1 million, and MSN came in third, with 44.9 million. Being in Seattle now, as opposed to La Crosse, Wisconsin where I practiced for 17 years, we get this stuff served up in the morning’s newspaper like other places get the morning’s sports.

But this is okay because this news tells me things like how many times “divorce attorney chicago,” “chicago divorce lawyer,” “divorce chicago,” “divorce lawyer in chicago,” “divorce in chicago” and “divorce attorney in chicago” are getting searched on the big three search engines. About 2,610.

How did I figure that? Well Overture, which runs the ads on Yahoo!, has a site which tells me the number of times the above phrases are getting searched – 783. (Overture even runs the related phrases for me so I do not have to figure out the various ways Chicago and divorce is being searched.) Being that Yahoo/overture represents 30% of the searches on the “big three,” means Chicago divorce lawyer and terms thereabouts got searched about 2610 times in March. Throw in about 300 or 400 hundred searches on other search engines and you’ve got about 3000 searches for Chicago divorce in March.

Why does that matter to me? Well I try to get lawyers in front of people who may be looking for their services. I’ve come to to know the Internet is the most cost effective way to get this done. Look at an amazing example using Chicago divorce lawyer. Doing a search at Google for the phrase “chicago divorce lawyer” I did not find one, not a single law firm, in the first two pages of the search results. In fact there was only one in the sponsored adwords. The other listings were directories, firms not doing divorce or divorce law firms from thousands of miles away from Chicago.

So over 36,000 times this next year a search for Chicago divorce lawyer will be done. Folks doing the search will find little of value. If I get my client into the top ten in the major search engine results, they are going to get clients. It’s like having the only full page ad in the yellow pages under divorce law. My guess is that would cost about $60,000 while something like a niche blog site updated multiple times a week by someone you hire will cost less than $1,000 a month. You tell me what is a better buy.

Do some of this same testing for your practice areas and your locale. I think you’ll be amazed at the opportunities lawyers are passing on – I can only assume out of ignorance.

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