Competitor Analysis for Personal Injury Lawyers

This is one part of our SEO process that I’m sure other people might disagree with. To be honest, there’s been times I’ve doubted this part of this process because it’s inefficient, slow and could be automated.

I still strongly believe that the lead SEO on a project or the project manager, or someone involved needs to not only know the project domain’s website and backlinks thoroughly, but also their competition. If you don’t know the top 20 competitors with a degree of familiarity that’s obvious – it’s my opinion that you’re not entrenched enough.

To be clear, there’s always exceptions. If you’re paying $999/month for SEO or if you’re in a tiny market and crushing it or if your goal isn’t to dominate the competition but rather just increase visibility – fine. You’re off the hook. But we don’t charge $999/month, we don’t service tiny markets and our only goal ever is to dominate the front page of Google.

Preambles aside, a part of our process is to go through and populate a spreadsheet with some basic metrics for the competition that ranks for main keyword search terms. We do this manually. We do it manually because getting in the weeds is the only way to retain the information. If you ran a quick report and skimmed through it, 30 minutes later you wouldn’t remember what was in the report.

When you do this kind of work manually not only do you retain the information, but you spot things you wouldn’t otherwise have noticed.

How do we go about the competitor analysis for our personal injury clients?

First things first, you need to open up the spreadsheet template by clicking here.

(If you’re not familiar with Google Sheets, you need to go to File -> Make a Copy so that you can edit it.)

Now that you have the spreadsheet open, take note of what sheet you’re on. Let’s start with Car Accidents, and for this example I am going to do Phoenix. So if I Google “Phoenix Car Accident Lawyers” the first result for me is Phillips Law. I start by copy/pasting the page on their site that’s ranking for this keyword. I also have the Ahrefs toolbar installed, so I make note of the DR, RD and UR of this site and populate all of those into the spreadsheet.

I also have the Chrome Extension SEOQuake  installed in my browser. The next step is to open SEOQuake and go to Page Info.

How many words of content are on the competition’s page?

Once you click that a page will open in a new tab. Scroll down just a bit and you’ll see it says how many words are on the page, pop back into the spreadsheet and enter that in the word column. I forgot to highlight it in the screenshot below but I’ll also grab the domain age which you can see beside ‘Age’ in the ‘Domain:’ section. I do this because I want to know how long the competition’s firm has been around and their domain age is generally indicative of this although obviously not foolproof.

Does the competition use Schema? Which ones?

Now scroll back up and beside the Page Info tab is the Diagnosis tab, click on that. On the following page you’re going to go down to where it says and take note of the types of Schema that they have installed on the page.

In this case it’s BreadCrumb and LegalService, so copy that and paste it into the Schema column in the spreadsheet.

Does the competition have good content?

Now I go to the site and read the content. Is it full of fluff? Does it answer the basic questions of what someone who got into a car accident would be looking for? What’s your overall impression of what you read? Keep in mind, some of these pages can be extremely lengthy. I won’t sit there and ready 2000+ words, I’ll simply read a couple sentences here and there to get a feel for the quality of the content and then scroll the page looking at the headers to see what general topics are covered. Once I’ve done that I’ll mark down how I rate the content, usually just Good, Okay or Bad.

How many attorneys does the competition have?

While I’m on the site I’ll also check their about us or attorney profiles and check to see how many attorneys they have. I started taking note of this because I had a client who had a small firm with only two attorneys, but when I went to visit their office they had a ton of office staff and it was a really busy office. Paralegals, receptionists, interns etc running around all over the place. I thought it’d help the image of the firm to show that it isn’t just some guy working out of his basement, so we did a photo shoot and included head shots of all of the staff and added it to the website and simultaneously we saw a sharp increase in traffic.

Granted, we were doing a lot of other things at the same time and so this was hardly a controlled experiment but it got me thinking. In eCommerce Google loves Amazon, in informational searches they love Wikipedia, perhaps a signal is how much staff a firm has? There’s plenty of reasons to cast doubt on this crackpot theory so please take it with a grain of salt but I definitely started taking notes of how many lawyers and staff each competition has.

Checking the referring domains of the competition

Last but certainly not least, I’ll open up the referring domains in Ahrefs by clicking on the toolbar.


On the page that opens up I want to scan the referring domains for anything interesting.

So for example, we ain’t new to this, we true to this. So we all know and don’t need to investigate further on how to get backlinks from there. However since I don’t live in Phoenix/Arizona I don’t know what is and I don’t know why they’re linking to this firm’s website 8,729 times. I hit the drop down button by the #5 highlight in the above screenshot and take a look at the pages that link to this firm. In this example, it’s a radio station and this firm has sponsored them so they have a link from what looks like every blog post.

I didn’t do it in the above screenshot but I’ll usually sort the page by DR from highest to lowest and take a look at anything that’s interesting. Again, Justia, etc if you’ve done your directory submissions for personal injury lawyers, you should already be familiar with those. We’re looking for domains that we don’t know, unique opportunities or at least to get a better idea of what kind of link juice they have.

Final notes on the competition…

I’ll then go back to the spreadsheet and write my notes/thoughts on the site.

I’ll then repeat this process for the main competitors for the major keywords, usually the four with sheets already in the spreadsheet (Car Accidents, Personal Injury, Slip and Fall and Truck Accidents). If I get to page 2 and it’s a bunch of doo doo websites then I might skip out on them, I’m not doing this to punish myself. But if you’re on page 2 or 3 of the search results and you’re still finding interesting stuff, perhaps sites that should be ranking higher but aren’t or sites with unique backlinks, then keep going.

This whole process can take me 20 hours which I’ll usually pound out in 2 days or so. By the time I’m done doing this, not only do I know my client’s website from the SEO audit and backlink profile analysis, but I also know all of their competitors. If we’re talking shop and they mention a competitor, I’m not scrambling to Google them, I know them.

I don’t want to keep babbling on but a good analogy is when you drive somewhere every day vs when you walk there once. If you’re driving you might miss 90% of what’s on the road, by walking just once you pick up on so much more. That’s my thought process on this, I’m not suggesting you walk 2 hours to work every day, just once during your first week and you’ll know what’s along the route so much better. The rest of the time you can drive and be there in 30 minutes.

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