The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the marketing of legal services in many ways. COVID-19 has caused profound shifts in search behavior. Campaigns and keywords that were relatively predictable only months ago can no longer be expected to perform as they always have.
This brief report, compiled from a variety of sources, is intended to provide the reader with a broad overview of how search traffic has been altered, specifically for bankruptcy attorneys. It goes without saying that your individual performance will vary, according to the success of your own SEO and/or PPC initiatives, as well as the impact of COVID-19 in the marketplace you serve.
Beginning in early March, internet traffic changed. How much it changed and, in fact, whether or not it increased or decreased, depended on one’s perspective. Some verticals saw marked increases in search traffic while other categories saw steep declines.
By and large, such changes were predictable. Simply put, activities that could be done inside the home (ecommerce, home improvement, etc.) saw immediate increases in traffic, while outside of the home activities (travel, restaurants, etc.) saw strong decreases.
Bankruptcy attorneys were not immune to these shifts. Beginning in early March, Google Trends data shows search interest for terms such as “bankruptcy attorney” and “bankruptcy lawyer” saw a decline when compared to data from the previous 12 months.
The declining search trends have been less severe than what was experienced by other verticals, but nonetheless reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though the exact reasons for this difference are unclear, it should be noted that among Web Talent Marketing’s entire portfolio, nearly all verticals saw such dips in the early stages of COVID-19.
Since that time, much of our portfolio’s traffic has regressed to the mean. Most strikingly, among the 47 NAICS codes served by Web Talent Marketing, such facilities – as of this writing – are ranked eleventh when comparing traffic to a year ago, and – most important – were ranked second among all categories that would not be grouped within the obvious verticals of food and home improvement.
As stay-at-home and business closure orders were issued across the U.S., bankruptcy searches “near me” saw a resulting increase in search activity. However, much as the parent search term hasn’t seen dramatic changes in volume, the resultant long-tail terms “near me” haven’t been as dramatic as other verticals examined.
Still, firms seeking local clients will have noticed a year-over-year increase in search interest from terms such as these:
- “Best bankruptcy attorney near me” (+160%)
- “Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney near me” (+80%)
- “Bankruptcy lawyers near me” (+60%)
Further, and most indicative of the shifts in search behavior, are the examples of high-specificity geographic queries, including:
- “Dallas bankruptcy attorney” (+120%)
- “Bankruptcy attorney seattle” (+80%)
- “Bankruptcy attorney san diego” (+80%)
What this means for bankruptcy attorneys:
Data trends currently indicate a strong shift to proximity as search criteria to a higher degree than ever. Your strategies should account for this shift by pivoting marketing tactics toward local executions.
Though search traffic changes for “bankruptcy attorneys” and related terms have only seen a relatively mild impact, there is little doubt that the legal industry will see a multitude of adaptations to their services and marketing strategies in the coming months.
SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES FOR BANKRUPTCY LAWYER
During this time, it’s essential for bankruptcy attorneys to promote their continued legal services and capabilities. In many cases, law firms are moving to virtual consultations, via phone, email, and teleconferencing software, to communicate with their clients.
Additionally, further emphasis should be placed on local search marketing – as data trends clearly show the rise in users who are acutely focused on proximity during this time.
Multiple digital marketing strategies can be deployed to help your firm in this endeavor:
Website Banner: Place a site-wide sticky banner at the top of every page on your website. Use this banner to communicate your current COVID-19 response to users that visit your site. Given that responses have been highly localized across the country, it’s important to keep your clients updated on your firm’s response and procedures. It’s also vital that users know if you are accepting new clients and offering legal services via teleconferencing technology.
Google My Business: Update your Google My Business (GMB) listing with relevant, short-term information. Google My Business now allows many businesses to include links to their COVID-19 update pages. Given the importance of proximity in legal services search behavior, keeping your GMB listing up-to-date should be a high priority.
Content Marketing: As internet activity increases as a result of the pandemic, now is an opportunity to shore up your digital content efforts. Blog posts, newsletters, and guest articles are ways to leverage your firm’s expertise and drive traffic to your site.
Geographic Targeting on Search and Display Ads: It’s also important to adjust the geographic targeting on search ads in response to the shifts in local search demand for legal and bankruptcy services.
You might want to experiment with different campaigns that target narrow, highly localized audiences. Or, you may want to adjust your bids to focus on more general “near me” searches that have seen such an increase lately.
From an economic standpoint, the “supply” of time for attorneys and courts to handle bankruptcies are currently highly impacted by stay-at-home orders. This natural slow-down is creating an even larger backlog for the industry. Moreover, such cases won’t merely go away; and will need to find their way through the court system when restrictions relax.
At the same time, despite aggressive intervention by the government, bankruptcies — both corporate and personal — are certain to increase in the coming months. When they do, the resultant search traffic will certainly increase.
At that time, bankruptcy attorneys will likely find themselves in a similar situation as “comfort food” manufacturers were early in the COVID crisis: with more demand than they can serve given the supply restraints of the vertical. Those whose digital marketing helps to attract the most attractive cases will stand to gain the most.