Search Engine Usage during the Attorney Search Process
Last month, we blogged about the results of a new study — the Attorney Selection Research Study by The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG) — which seem to document that we've reached a tipping point in consumer behavior: Online resources are now on par with personal referrals for how consumers find attorneys. We promised to break down some of the specific findings from that landmark research report in a series of blog posts this fall, and that series kicks off this week with a deeper dive into how and when consumers use search engines to find a lawyer.
TRiG identified a sample of individuals who represent the 32 percent of consumers who went online to search for an attorney in the past year (approximately 58 million people). The survey asked these consumers to break down how they used various resources on the Internet during four distinct stages of the attorney search process:
- Gather information about my legal issue.
- Find a lawyer.
- Validate a lawyer.
- Select a lawyer.
The survey found that consumers were most likely to use search engines when gathering information (39 percent) and nearly as many turned to online search engines when finding a lawyer (35 percent). Approximately one in four used search engines when validating a lawyer (23 percent) and one in five when selecting a lawyer (20 percent). At each stage in this process, Google was by far the most frequently used search engine, followed by Yahoo! and Bing, then AOL and MSN.
Survey respondents said that search engines are a great tool for finding information about legal options, obtaining basic contact information about a law firm, understanding legal terminology, finding legal forms they can use themselves, and checking ratings and reviews for law firms.
The clear lesson here is that the heavy use of search engines by consumers — particularly in the early stages of the process when they're gathering information about their legal needs and prospective lawyers who can help them — highlights the importance of an effective online marketing program with a strong search engine optimization (SEO) component.
Next week, we'll take a closer look at the role that social media plays in consumer research when Americans are looking for a lawyer.
To learn more about how our Law Firm Marketing Solutions can boost your online presence, contact a LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Specialist.
Source: Based on a survey of 4,000 adult Internet users (Internet users comprise 78% of the U.S. adult population** and the U.S. adult population comprises 235 million according to the U.S. Census 2010) conducted by The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG), March 2012, which found that 32% of U.S. adult Internet users sought an attorney in the past year, equating to an estimated 58.5 million people. **According to The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project's Spring Tracking Survey conducted April 26-May 22, 2011.
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