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Law firms without dedicated personnel — either in-house or an outside agency — to perform in-depth keyword research and search trends may find it increasingly difficult to stay on top of the online search behavior of prospects and ideas for generating content that will speak to these prospects.

That’s where Google Trends comes in.

Google Trends is a fantastic tool for gaining valuable insights into search trends relevant to your practice area, and can help you generate ideas for content for your blog, website, and social media. Plus, you don’t need an engineering degree to use it — it’s simple!

Here are some ways law firms can use Google Trends:

Keyword comparison. If you’re a personal injury attorney, you are probably competing with lots of other PI firms for common keywords like “car accident lawyer,” “personal injury attorney,” etc. But do you know if those are words people are using to find you? Would you be surprised to learn that the term most used over the past year on Google to search for PI attorneys is “injury attorney”?

But let’s get a little more granular. Google Trends lets you see what search terms are dominating by region. As you can see below, people who live in Rhode Island use the search term “personal injury lawyer” the most, while people in Idaho use “injury attorney.” Fascinating!

Trending topics. When you do your search on Google Trends, the site will provide you with a list of “Related topics” for each search term. If you sort by “Rising,” you will see topics that have seen a recent increase in demand:

In this search, notice that there are three potential content topics a PI attorney could exploit: autonomous car accidents, whiplash injury, and pain and suffering.

Trending searches. This is another good place to find content ideas. Google Trends offers two options for Trending Searches: 24-hour and real time:

As I write this, the #1 real time trending search is about a shark bite off Cape Cod. If I was a PI attorney, I might write a quick blog piece or social media post with a link back to the article about liability issues. Can a beachside municipality be sued for a shark bite? How about a diving boat company? This topic seems ripe for a discussion on how assumption of risk figures into a PI claim.

So the next time you’re disappointed by how your keywords are performing or are stuck for content ideas, check out Google Trends. It’s hard to come away from the site without learning something you can use to your advantage to improve your content marketing and SEO.