Legal Help Search Audit

What is a Search Audit for legal help websites?

Our group at the Legal Design lab developed it in 2019, with support from the Lazer Lab team at Northeastern University. Using a specialized software, we run thousands of searches on Google (or another search engine), using queries that normal people use when looking online for legal help, from designated zip codes.

The audit software records what the search engine results are. What would a person searching for this legal help query, from this zip code, see as the top result? What would be the top 10 sites that are listed on their first page of results?

The audit records the search results, including the websites, text, ads, ranks, and other details into a database. (Like the one you see below).

Then our team analyzes the results to identify patterns, concerns, and opportunities.

Search Audit results

Below find our November 2019-January 2020 audit results. Our team had queries for 4 legal problems: eviction, debt collection, contractor fraud, and domestic violence.

We collected sample Google searches through user surveys and keyword research.

Then we ran these search queries through the audit software, specifying that the searches were coming from zip codes in Hawaii and North Florida.

The software recorded what Google showed in response. You can see the data in the table below, including:

  • how many ads were shown
  • how many .com, .org., .gov., or other domains appeared
  • how many foreign domains (like or .au or .sg) appeared
  • which websites appeared most frequently
  • which websites don’t appear at all

Audit results 2019-2020