This is a 2-part series. Read the first part here.

Google Trends is an extraordinary tool for legal content marketers. It can be used to see quickly what topic or query is trending at nearly any given time and in nearly any location in the world.

Step 5: Compare Related Queries

Given how “whistleblower” is a general query, it does not speak specifically to someone who might be in need of help. We need to find the search queries that a prospective client might be using when educating themselves about whistleblowing or even deciding whether to seek representation.

Google Suggest shows the following terms related to whistleblower:

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I’ll highlight “whistleblower cases”, “whistleblower protection” and “whistleblower retaliation” as queries that a prospective whistleblower might use.

Plugging all three into Google Trends shows that “whistleblower protection” has the highest popularity by far among the three:

Drilling down further, looking at Regional Interest we see which states have the greatest activity for “whistleblower protection”. Again — information that can be used to target our marketing.

Step 6: Building the Buyer’s Funnel

With the goal of leveraging queries that speak to a prospect at the various stages of searching, the above queries would most likely fall in the awareness phase (typically the first phase of a prospect’s search behavior).

What queries would fit with the consideration phase (typically the second phase, when we’re considering a law firm)?

These would most likely be those queries that indicate someone is looking for an attorney or legal representation. Let’s explore how we would find those terms.

Given our familiarity with whistleblowing, we know another popular and related term is “qui tam”. Including “qui tam” into Google Trends changes the results considerably:

Clearly, “qui tam” is the dominant query in terms of popularity. Looking at Related searches we see that the top query is “qui tam lawsuit” (as of May 2016):

Likewise, looking at Rising searches, we see that “qui tam lawsuit” is increasing 50%+ (as of May 2016), which is enough of a lift for us to know the term is trending up.

Furthermore, looking at Regional interest we can see which states have the highest popularity for “qui tam lawsuit” searches and where we might focus our marketing efforts:

Step 7: Using “Lawyer” vs “Attorney”

As for the perennial consideration whether to use attorney or lawyer, in my experience it’s helpful to look at the search volume and trends for either term in conjunction with the target practice. For example, “family attorney” versus “family lawyer”, or “qui tam attorney” versus “qui tam lawyer”, or “whistleblower attorney” versus “whistleblower lawyer”. Consider the following Google Trends results:

As of May 2016, the most popular query is “whistleblower attorney” (at 100%) with “whistleblower lawyer” (at 56%) a distant second. Interestingly, both “qui tam” queries are declining downward.

What’s more, notice how the popularity by state changes based on the term. Here’s the Regional Interest for “whistleblower attorney”:

Compared to the Regional Interest for “whistleblower lawyer”. Note which are the top regions for both and how much they correlate, or differ.

Again, helpful information to take into account when creating content and selecting marketing channels when implementing a campaign. Likewise, you might adjust any AdWords or Facebook campaigns regionally based on the greatest popularity for these queries.

Step 8: Forecast the Trends

Here’s the same chart from above. Notice the term “Forecast” to the far right. Forecast predicts what the trend will be going forward. Sort of like predicting the future, based on historical activity. While we all know that the past is no indication of the future, it’s still fun to see.

Alas, for this set of queries Forecast is not available (at least in May, 2016). This typically means there’s not enough data for Google Trends to offer a “reasonable forecast” (Google’s quote). I tried to find results with Forecast available but have not had success. Who knows, perhaps even Google can’t predict the future?

CONCLUSION:

Google Trends is a powerful tool for understanding what practice areas are trending and in what geographic areas. It also can be useful for understanding related queries that your target audience uses to search for a case or issue. It takes a bit of drilling down to get the full picture. Start with a goal and give yourself some time. As you get the hang of Google Trends, it might just become your go-to source for evaluating an online market potential or strategy.

To learn more about how Google Trends and how online marketing can help your firm, contact us.  We’d enjoy visiting with you.

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