How often do you consider the difference between “attorney” vs. “lawyer,” “DUI” vs. “DWI,” “accident” vs. “injury,” etc., when it comes to how you create your messaging and strategies for new client acquisition? You may know the critical differences between these terms. Still, I can guarantee that the average consumer does not, nor may not even care, even if you explained the differences in detail.

There is a disparity between how we think people search for our services and how they actually search for them. If you run Google Ads, you’ll have some hard evidence as to the impressions and clicks for the variations of your terms and better appreciate where you should dedicate your focus (alongside conversions, if they are set up correctly). If we’re a bit more SEO/tech-savvy, we can take a deep dive into Google Search Console. But for ease of use as far as quick comparisons, Google Trends may be your best friend.

Which Search Terms Are Used Interchangeably?

What brought me to write this article—which I’ve done variations of in the past—is a consideration surrounding which terms are most often used interchangeably when perhaps they shouldn’t always. For example, we can rely on Google to understand associated words so we don’t have to make so many variations of the same pages on any given website. For example, we shouldn’t have a motor vehicle accident page, an auto accident page, and a car accident page. We can work all these terms into one page while optimizing and emphasizing the term that will get the most volume. In most cases, this is “car accident.”

Is “DUI” or “DWI” the Preferred Search Term?

Here’s another common example I see often: I saw multiple instances of DWI being used in a state where three out of four people were more likely to search using DUI. In Texas, those who search using DWI and those who search using DUI are almost entirely split 50/50. Though a lawyer may say that it is more accurate to use DWI in Texas, should DUI be completely neglected if the average consumer is just as likely to type in “DUI lawyer” as “DWI lawyer,” and does this present itself as an opportunity for everything from our website content to Google Ads?

Florida was almost 100% DUI for quite some time. If you asked the average Floridian about a DWI or DUI, I’m sure the response you’d get would be if it were a new type of bath salt (I couldn’t help myself, but I’m a former Floridian – I’m allowed). Over the past year, we’ve seen considerable shifts in populations to new areas, and with that, people bring their new vernacular and colloquialisms. Because I’m seeing that DWI is popping up in Google Trends in Florida now, what does that say about population shifts and their ways of doing things?

Though the difference is marginal from the looks of it over two years, Ft. Myers-Naples has the most instances of the search “DWI,” where Midwesterns have been migrating during COVID. Though this may not be anything significant just yet, all it takes is a few more years for there to be a substantial community that warrants a potential focus.

Your potential clients want a qualified and competent lawyer with social validation. But they also want to make a connection and feel heard and understood. If you’re a lawyer in Naples, FL, who practiced for 30 years—first in Illinois before moving down—and now thousands of people are moving from Chicago and Milwaukee to the Naples region, there are ways of standing out from the crowd based on your commonality of origin and speaking their language, so to speak.

Austin, TX, which has consistently been one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States year after year, gets new residents from all over the country:

How would this region have searches for “DWI,” even for how marginal it is? As populations shift through this country now and in the future, considering the origins and destinations along with behaviors and habits can help you carve out a nice niche, easily executed via some creative targeting and messaging.

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