If you care about attracting search visitors to your website and/or blog, you should learn how to use search data to understand your audiences so that you can speak their language, offer information relating to their questions and problems, and build content around what they’re looking for. Understanding how people use the internet to search for lawyers is the first step to delivering what they’re looking for. And Google Trends can be a very useful tool to do that.
In her Book Marketing in the Age of Google, Vanessa Fox, referencing Geoffrey Miller’s book, Spent, writes:
Miller notes that not all industries have embraced this method of creating products and concludes that those who don’t “bother using market research to shape their services to their customers’ desires, [will] lose market share to those that do.”
The same can be said of search data. Those businesses that don’t realize that we’ve experienced a shift in consumer behavior and that customers and customer data are now centered on search will lose market share to those that do.
With search data, we can gain new insights into our customers, our industry, and our competitors, but many businesses think of it as a kind of arcane magic that they aren’t sure how to best harness. But once you know where to get the data and how to apply it, you’ll find that search data provides clear insight that makes running your business and aquiring customers easier, smoother, and more measurable.
I leave it to you decide whether you use market research to shape your services. However, if you ignore search data to shape your online content, you’re limiting your ability to supply your audience’s demand for information.
What is Google Trends?
Google Trends looks at segments of searches to calculate search volume for selected queries, relative to all the searches done on Google. In other words, it shows you the “what, where and when” people are searching:
Here are some very general reports I pulled for “lawyer” in the U.S. since 2004:
I anticipate that the lawyer-search-cynics will be quick to conclude that the high volume of pro bono, pro bono lawyers and free lawyers renders the entire internet worthless as a business development tool. And guys like Jim Sokolove appreciate the help in keeping the competition out.
And please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not advocating using Google Trends for use to find new iterations of Craptown family lawyer with which to fill your site.
Just in case I was too subtle: Using Google Trends won’t make you rich.
Instead, use it assist you in shaping the content you publish online. You might be surprised to learn that people use the internet in a variety of ways that are much different from how you use it.
Before you start to use Trends to understand search data, spend some time in the Help Center. It’s important to understand what the various tools, charts, tables, filters, etc. are telling you so that you don’t make false assumptions.
Applying Search Data to Your Practice
Search data can give you some insight into the people you want for clients and what they’re searching for. Once you understand more about these people and how they use search, and more generally, the internet, you can shape your web content to supply the demand of those searchers.
Google Trends is only one of many tools that can be helpful. Vanessa Fox lists a bunch in her book and at her site. I also recommend Wil Reynold’s advice to not hit enter on Google. Also, check out ubersuggest.org. Google Analytics can also play a role here.
Of course, you can (and should) identify information demand the old-fashion ways: Ask clients how they use the internet and search to find information, what sites and blogs they frequent, what topics are regularly on their minds.