How Australians Search For Legal Services (and what you should be doing as a law firm)

Quentin Aisbett, SEO Lead, Searcht

Last updated May 25, 2022 Clock Reading time: 4 minutes

Google has identified that 76% of Australians who used professional services in the last six months found their provider with their smartphone.

That finding highlights the role that our smartphones play in the customer/client journey.

Further, Google’s study into how Australians search for legal services uncovered three key micro-moments. Moments that your law firm can optimise and leverage to attract more clients.

What are Micro-Moments?

Inspired by the wealth of their search data, Google coined the term ‘micro-moments’ in 2015. They defined them as:

“Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.”

The three micro-moments Google has identified as part of the legal customer journey in Australia are:

1. What are my Options?

2. Who is the Right Fit?

3. Let’s Talk.

Small to mid-sized Australian law firms that are visible and engaging during these micro-moments will be well-positioned to attract more clients.

Let’s discuss them in more detail and explain what you should be doing to optimise each one for your law firm.

What are my Options?

Something has happened in a person’s life that has triggered their need for legal services. It’s not something that happens regularly, so they probably have little understanding of the issue and what they need to do.

So, they turn to the web to find general information and some clarity. Google’s study found that 50% of Australians turned to their smartphone at this first stage.

Once they find a few answers to their initial questions, they start looking for local law firms. The role of the smartphone becomes even larger, with 76% of Aussies turning to their mobile.

Trust is a concern at this ‘What are my options?’ stage. The potential clients turn to their friends and family for their opinions and references (if they have any). They are also looking to establish trust while browsing law firm websites.

TAKEAWAY: The potential client is looking for general information on their situation. They need clarity. You can establish goodwill and trust by being the source of that information and clarity. This will give you the best chance to win their new business.

Identify your target client profiles and understand what they are searching for online around their situation. Create blog posts that help to answer their key questions. Aim to make these posts the most valuable resource on the web. If you have fact sheets or other resources that will provide value to the potential client, then offer them in return for their email address.

You can also make your website look trustworthy by:
– placing client reviews on key pages;
– displaying accreditations and memberships in your site-wide footer;
– ensuring that its design looks professional.

Who’s the Right Fit?

When they have a little more clarity around their situation, potential clients begin to create a short list of law firms that fit their needs.

Again, the role of online smartphone research plays a significant role. Google found that 75% of Australian smartphone users said that the information they found online helped them to decide which firm they would contact.

These potential clients know that they will need eventually to meet face-to-face with a lawyer. They are looking for convenience – a firm that is either close to home or work.

Part of their online research is digging deeper into the firm’s website to get an initial feeling of what they are like. They tend to focus on the web copy of the specific services they need and staff bios.

TAKEAWAY: Potential clients tend to use search engines on their smartphones to create a shortlist of firms. This is a competitive space, which is why you will be better placed if you have engaged with them in the first ‘What are my options?’ moment.

So, the initial important step is to get on their radar. This will involve optimising your local SEO. Here are some general tips for how to do that:
– ensure that you have claimed and optimised your Google My Business profile.
– initiate a process of asking your clients for reviews (particularly on Google).
– establish your online local presence. Get a directory listing on local trade associations, etc.
– provide commentary for local media websites when possible.
– donate to local charities (ensuring that you get mention on their website).

It’s also important that your website helps them feel comfortable with your organisation. Ensure your web copy clearly communicates benefits, is transparent, and doesn’t use jargon (i.e. use less ‘legal-speak’). Staff bios are also influential at this stage, so provide your potential clients with an insight into the ‘humans’ behind your lawyers.

Mobile search is playing a significant role, so ensure your website delivers a great smartphone experience.

Live chat might also be something you want to provide, provided you can respond promptly. This will give your potential client another opportunity to validate that your firm is one they should be contacting.

Let’s Talk

Google identified that 2 in 3 Australians feel that that is either extremely or very important to be able to call a firm directly from search results. This highlights the need to make the whole process easy and seamless for them.

You may be on the short-list if they do call, but you’re not a lock! They’re not necessarily looking to engage your services just yet, but they are wanting to add a human element to their research. Asking you for advice and then using this experience to help them make their final decision – a try before you buy! This is an opportunity for you to build a relationship – putting your firm in a good place to secure the new business.

TAKEAWAY: Identify the different paths to contact your firm, particularly from a mobile. Is it easy for them to contact you from a Google smartphone search? This needs to be addressed when you initially optimise your Google My Business listing.

On your website, do you make it easy to find your phone number? And is it clickable? You could add a ‘callback widget’ on your site to make the process even easier. Make sure you put them in contact with people in your firm that are best placed to establish an initial relationship.

Further reading: We analysed 150 businesses (incl law firms) ranking in Google’s local pack across Australia. Find out what we learned and how it might improve your local search rankings.