When lawyers talk to each other outside of work, from different firms, they’re bound to get curious and ask friendly competitors what’s working well for them and what’s not – especially when it comes to how they’re generating new clients and cases. If you’ve ever been in one of these conversations, you’ve probably heard that they talk about SEO, Google or AdWords. 

These are all terms used to describe how client acquisition works through marketing on search engines, whether organically / free (SEO) or you’re advertising in search (AdWords or PPC). The overarching principle of SEO or search PPC ads is keywords. 

Keywords are the terms you’re seeking to target and rank for (either organically or via ads), based on similar or the same search terms contained in searches that people perform.

Many businesses and industries rely on targeting the right keywords in order to grow their top and bottom lines. Legal services and lawyers are no exception. Especially certain areas of law, including personal injury and civil litigation matters.

So what are the best keywords that personal injury and accident lawyers can target? There is no perfect set of keywords. However, rule of thumb for the best keywords for injury lawyers to target will be short and include the city or metro area’s name (e.g. “injury lawyer dallas”).

However, there is no perfect set. It could vary by state and the language that a local market is accustomed to.

So, in this article, we’re going to look at the typically best performing keywords that you can use as a template for your law firm. Then, we’re going to show you how to find new search terms that are very similar and perform well cost-wise (CPC, CPA, etc.) for generating new phone calls and intakes.

19 Rainmaking PPC & SEO Keywords to Target

  1. ltd attorney
  2. ssdi attorney
  3. social security attorney
  4. social security disability attorney
  5. disability attorney
  6. injury attorney
  7. claim attorney
  8. personal injury attorney
  9. accident attorney
  10. car accident attorney
  11. auto accident attorney
  12. malpractice attorney
  13. workers comp attorney
  14. motor vehicle attorney
  15. truck accident attorney
  16. work injury attorney
  17. motorcycle accident attorney
  18. slip fall attorney
  19. premises liability attorney

These are the top search engine terms that most law firms practicing civil litigation and injury claims are going to commonly target cases for. However, each practice is different. Some may not do medical malpractice or worker’s compensation cases. Others may be looking to target even more case types such as dog bites, pedestrian and bicycle accidents and more. Typically these keywords perform well, as well.

How to Build Location-Specific Keywords for Best Results

Now with our best “base” keywords, there are several additional steps to building out our full search queries that you will want to target in our SEO campaigns as well as Search ads such as Google AdWords (now Search Ads) and Bing search ads. This includes what we call practitioner and location modifiers.

We want to target the locations, such as cities and states that people may type into their search query as well as the word they use to describe a lawyer. Let’s suppose this is a for Houston, TX personal injury boutique firm that wants on just the base keyword car accident attorney. 

We can easily build out 12 variations of this base keyword with modifiers that auto accident victims type into the search bar, including:

  • Attorney
  • Lawyer
  • Law Firm

All to describe a lawyer (and keep in mind they may use their plural forms).

Then they may describe their location in their search query as one of the following:

  • Near me
  • Texas (state name)
  • TX (state abbreviation)
  • Houston (city name)

Putting it all together, we can turn 1 base search term into 12 keyphrases that we wish to target as the table below shows:

Base KeywordPractitioner ModifierLocation ModifierComplete Keyword
car accidentattorneynear mecar accident attorney near me
car accidentattorneytexascar accident attorney texas
car accidentattorneytxcar accident attorney tx
car accidentattorneyhoustoncar accident attorney houston
car accidentlawyernear mecar accident lawyer near me
car accidentlawyertexascar accident lawyer texas
car accidentlawyertxcar accident lawyer tx
car accidentlawyerhoustoncar accident lawyer houston
car accidentlaw firmnear mecar accident law firm near me
car accidentlaw firmtexascar accident law firm texas
car accidentlaw firmtxcar accident law firm tx
car accidentlaw firmhoustoncar accident law firm houston

Now, this process could be repeated for all the base keywords listed earlier. Now we can see how we can really understand all of the different keywords and terms we will want to optimize our website for and target in our Organic and PPC search campaigns. 

To be crystal clear, if your law firm were to target all 19 of the keywords listed above with the location and practitioner modifiers shown in the table that would result in a total of 19 x 12 = 228 total keyword combinations to target.

So now we have gone over the best keywords to target for both paid search ads as well as to optimize your website to rank for organically in the search results. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to find more of these keywords and also why some search phrases are more valuable than others.

How to Find High-Value Keywords to Target

Your law firm is going to have its own unique strategy when it comes to case and client acquisition, which geographic areas it serves and types of cases it desires and types it wishes to avoid.

There are several tools you may want to use in order to find your target keywords that will make your phone lines ring and keep staff busy filling in intake forms and signing up clients. The best free tool to use is included in Google Ads known as the Keyword Planner

By typing in the region you want to target and some starter keywords, this will give the Keyword Planner tool a good idea of related terms to display to you that you can browse through and decide which you may want to target and add to your paid search ads campaign. While this tool is designed to help advertisers select their ad keywords, nothing prevents you from using the Keyword Planner to develop a list of keywords best suited to optimize your site for in organic search results (i.e. SEO campaigns).

Scrolling down the page, the tool will suggest other keywords that you may want to target. You can select specific keywords and add them to a plan, which you can come back to later. Alternatively, you can download all of the keywords into a spreadsheet to analyze in Excel or Google Sheets.

There are many paid tools that can help you find excellent keywords and search terms to target as well. Some of the most popular tools available today include:

  • Moz
  • SEMRush
  • Ahrefs

Our favorite tool at Zahavian Legal Marketing is Ahrefs.

It gives you multiple angles to approach keyword research. This includes using their Keywords explorer tool (shown in the screenshot above).

However, we can use the tool to also check out what competing law firms are ranking for in our local market and piggyback off of their existing SEO results and search ads to build a list of laser-focused keywords and quickly.

By clicking on their keywords, we can see what they are ranking for and generate a list of keywords that our law practice also desires to rank for.

From here, it’s simply a matter of looking at the keywords that a competitor ranks for (according to Ahrefs, Moz, etc.) and add it to our own list.

What Makes Some Keywords Better than Others?

However, at this point, you may be wondering how to choose your keywords. Which ones are gold and which are lead?

A general rule of thumb is that any keywords including your area of practice are good. But not all are created equal. While your SEO campaigns may want to target all keywords with your practice areas and case types, you won’t want to use all of these in your search ads. This is because different classes of keywords have different search intents. Some keywords are research-intent while others are purchase-intent. In other words, when someone searches for a purchase-intent keyword, the chances that they will pick up the phone and call a lawyer after performing that search are much higher than if they searched for an answer or information regarding a legal question they have.

This is illustrated from the graph above. A well-written blog post will rank for the long tail keyword term such as “Are disability benefits taxable in texas?”. However, the odds of a person calling a lawyer after searching for that answer are much lower than a person searching for a head term (aka short tail keyword) such as “disability attorney texas”. 

So, here is the simple matrix that shows you which keywords to target for organic and paid search ad campaigns.

Short Tail Keywords (aka Head terms)Long Tail Keywords
Example“Disability attorney tx”“Are disability benefits taxable in texas?”
Target for Organic search? (i.e. Search Engine Optimization)YESYES
Target for Search Ads?(i.e. pay-per-click, Google AdWords, Bing Ads)YESNO

Another way to think about short vs. long-tail keywords is regarding the searcher’s intent. Is this person looking for information (such as an answer to a question they have) or are they searching for a lawyer to call and hire, as if they were searching for a law firm’s phone number in the phonebook?

By asking this question with each search term you’re evaluating for your firm’s marketing, you’ll be able to know whether you should bid on it for paid search ads or just write a helpful article or page on your website to organically rank for these search queries.

Use Tools to Evaluate Paid Keywords from Organic search only
You’ll notice in the Keyword Planner and Ahrefs that there is are bid columns or a CPC column.

The bid and CPC (cost per click) columns indicate estimates of how much advertisers (i.e. lawyers or even their law firm marketing agencies) are willing to spend to acquire a search visitor using that keyword in their search query in Google or Bing. Typically, the higher the bid or CPC is, the more valuable the keyword is for converting a person visiting a law firm’s website into a client. While the data isn’t always accurate (Google Keyword planner is more accurate than Ahrefs in this aspect), it lends a strong indication of which keywords generate more clients over others.


There are many different keywords that personal injury lawyers can target and run highly profitable search engine marketing campaigns (whether organic, paid ads or both). Above, we went over the best keywords to target for both search ads and organic results. By best, we mean keywords that are going to generate phone calls and open up new files for your law firm.

Using these as a starting point, combined with your local modifier keywords and practitioner modifiers will give you tons of terms to rank for. Additionally, there are great keyword tools that we discussed to go far beyond the search terms listed above. Use them to find out what your competitors are targeting as a starting point to building out a set of your firm’s desired search terms.