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Attorney vs. Lawyer: What's Better for SEO?

SEO scrabble tiles
Andrew Adams

Have you ever wondered if the title attorney or lawyer gets more results on search engines? Did you know that even though the titles attorney and lawyer are interchangeable, they actually have slightly different meanings?

According to “Black’s Law Dictionary,” a lawyer is someone who learned and trained in the law, while an attorney is licensed to practice law as an agent for another. In other words, not all lawyers are attorneys, but all attorneys are lawyers

So which title should be used on websites and social media to capture more clicks from online searches? In the attorney vs. lawyer war being fought, search engine optimization (SEO) helps settle the score.

Semantics and SEO

SEO is a strategy to help websites show up higher on Google and other search engines when people search for specific terms. Including words on your website that potential clients are most likely to use in searches are part of an effective SEO strategy. The same principles apply to searches on social media, especially with people searching for and following topics using hashtags. SEO strategies applied to your website content and social media posts are proven to drive more traffic to websites and followers to a social media platform. That’s why knowing which title to use on website content, including practice area descriptions, biographies, and blogs, and on social media is important when competing for attention online.

In online discussions and blogs, legal marketers have offered a variety of anecdotal answers to the attorney vs. lawyer question. Some say the title lawyer is more recognized globally and that there are differences even within the U.S. with, for example, lawyer is preferred in the South. Other legal marketers say it depends on the practice and what “sounds” better, i.e. people are more apt to say and search for “personal injury attorney” and “workers’ compensation lawyer.”

While observations from those in the trenches are helpful, we like data to help guide strategic marketing decisions.

The Victor: Attorney

Luckily, when it comes to SEO, Google Analytics helps define the winner.

In the Google Trends chart above, attorney (the blue line) as a search term is the clear winner, and has been for a long time. Even when comparing the plural forms of the two, attorney fares better than lawyers in SEO. This outcome wasn’t isolated geographically, as every U.S. state showed more searches for attorney than lawyer.

Ensuring your website and social media posts are optimized for search by using the right key words will help more people find you and see your content, which is the ultimate goal of any marketing strategy. The more people who read your thoughtful articles or learn about your attorneys through their professional bios, the more likely your firm is to generate leads for new clients, keep you top-of-mind among referral sources and even lead reporters to interview you as experts in your practice. SEO strategies like this aren’t difficult to include, but should be done thoughtfully, strategically, and consistently across all online content.