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When it comes to SEO, every word seems to matter. Is that the case when words are basically interchangeable?

Nobody really thinks there’s a difference between “attorney” and “lawyer” any more. Some people say that, oh, once upon a time a lawyer was somebody who had gone to law school, and an attorney was actually licensed. (See here.) I don’t know if we can really say if this is true or not because today, as this neat Above the Law Blog post points out, there is no difference between the two any more.

But is that still true on the internet?

When people jump on to google or yahoo or bing and start looking for legal counsel, what do you think they type in? Well, some type “attorney” and some type “lawyer.”

Certainly google and the other search engines are smart enough to recognize that these two words are essentially the same thing – but strangely, they don’t return the same results!

You can try it out yourself. Type “SEO for attorneys” and you’ll see a whole different order of results when you type “SEO for lawyers.”

Weird, right?

So if you want to bring traffic to your law firm, you need to do a little bit of research. Do you think there might be other words or phrases people type in when searching for a lawyer? Should you be targeting people searching for “lawyer” as opposed to “attorney?” If you do personal injury, should you also be trying to rank for “car accidents,” or “car accident attorneys?”

Google offers some neat tools to help you get a bit of a grip on your SEO efforts. One is called Google Trends More people tend to use the word “lawyer” over “attorney.” You may decide to pursue that keyword in your website. You can also see that more searches are made for “personal injury lawyer” than “car accident lawyer” by far.

Your impulse will certainly be to go after the most searched-for keyword. But keep in mind: everybody else is after that one too. You might find you get quicker results, and possibly more business, by focusing on a less competitive keyword.

Each page on your site can contribute to your search rankings and the flow of clients. Make sure you or your SEO team has a plan for every single page of your website. What keywords is that page after? Will you refer to yourself as an “attorney,” or as a “lawyer?” Implementing these kinds of decisions can make the difference between ranking somewhere on the first couple pages of google, and ranking number one.