When people search for a lawyer online, they are looking for someone nearby. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the leading marketing strategies for businesses, including law firms, that help bring in more clients and cases. This means that an important part of your marketing strategy must consider how you and your firm show up in local search results. Local SEO helps your firm increases visibility to potential clients by promoting your business and telling clients where they can find you.
Google often shows local results at the top of the page, listing several nearby businesses, including their phone numbers, websites, and locations to the user. Those businesses at the top are likely to be the first businesses potential clients will contact, so you want to make sure that your firm is within that section.
The days of Yellow Pages are long gone. Today, when people are searching for attorneys, they do so online. If potential clients do not find you there, the assumption is that your practice doesn’t exist.
According to Google:
Also, according to Hitwise, approximately 58% of these searches in the United States are done on a mobile device.
Ranking at the top of these search engine results pages (SERPs) creates an opportunity to convert free visitors to your website into paying clients. The constant flow of organic (free) traffic makes local SEO one of the best marketing strategies for your law firm.
Positive results also come much faster through local SEO. Ranking at the top of SERPs for national or international businesses can take 6 months or more, while local SEO makes it much easier to see growth. The reason for this is because many attorneys do not pay attention to local SEO. Those who do often don’t follow best practices, which is why local SEO is so important for law firms looking to increase local business.
Local SEO does more than increase your visibility. Along with greater community visibility, local SEO boosts your online presence throughout your city or area of practice. It can even provide visibility statewide.
This increase in online visibility often results in organic search visibility. This means that the higher your website ranks for local search results, the more likely your law practice will rank in a search engine’s organic listing, without the potential client having to add “near me” at the end of their query.
With an increase in online visibility in general, a properly executed local SEO campaign will also lead to higher conversion rates for your practice. Often, when a person reaches out to your business after finding you online, they are much more likely to engage you for or your firm for legal services. This makes it easier to convert a lead into a client. A potential client rather engage a practice that is local vs one that isn’t.
An often overlooked benefit is online reviews. Reviews is often the deciding factor in helping convince a potential client to reach out to your law firm and engage you or your practice for legal services. Local SEO puts your practice in front of local people from your community, and even neighboring cities, which increases the chances of your business receiving positive reviews. These positive reviews strengthen your firm’s reputation and help convince a potential client to hire you.
Data shown in the SERPs are pulled from a business’ Google My Business (GMB) page. The first step to getting your firm noticed locally is by creating a Google My Business account. Whether you’re a new firm looking for clients or a well-established practice, we can help you create and maintain a profile that converts more visitors on your website into clients. A well-optimized GMB listing ensures your practice stays on top of Google search results.
Any lapse in maintaining your GMB listing results in a decrease in visibility for your firm. It can also affect your listing on local search results and Google Maps. The first step is claiming your business by creating a GMB profile. Constant maintenance and updates have a huge impact on your visibility and how potential clients view you. We also offer assistance in maintaining your listing so that you can focus on your practice without the worry of losing visibility over time.
In order to optimize and edit your profile page, you must first claim your business and verify it with Google. Your practice is verified when it shows a checkmark and the word “Verified” is next to your business name on the GMB dashboard. If your practice has not been verified yet, click the “Verify Now” prompt on the GMB dashboard. Google will then deliver a verification code via phone or email.
It is important to check for an existing GMB profile for your business before you create one. Sometimes, Google auto-generates a profile based on information it gathers about your business online. This includes a listing to find your practice on Google Maps. If you have ever moved, changed phone numbers, or changed the name of your firm, you should also check for possible auto-generated listings using outdated information.
Verifying your practice is only the first step in optimizing your profile. Another factor to consider when optimizing your GMB profile is consistency. This means that the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of your practice must be consistent across the Internet, including your Google My Business page. Your website, other web pages, and directory listings (such as a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile) should match the information on your GMB profile. Business hours are another factor that require consistency.
This means that this information should be formatted identically and contain the exact same information. For example, do not use the abbreviation “St.” in your address in some places and the word “Street” in others. Though it seems like a minor difference, the bots that index and rank your website in search engines consider these to be much larger differences. You are signaling to the search engines that you do not care about the integrity and consistency of your data, so they shouldn’t either.
Consistency between various online profiles helps ensure search engines are listing the most up-to-date information on your practice. Nothing is more frustrating to potential clients than finding incorrect or inconsistent information about your business. Using the official address of your business, as well as an area code with your phone number act as location indicators, which Google uses to make sure you have a local presence.
A common mistake made by businesses when creating their GMB profile is not claiming their proper primary category. If you are a criminal defense attorney, you should be claiming “criminal justice attorney” rather than the generic “law firm.” Similarly, if you are a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases, your category would be “personal injury attorney.” Claiming the right category sets your firm up for success under its specific legal niche.
The Services Section: The services section is a newer feature of GMB. It offers a great place to explain what you do and how you can help a potential client. By adding your specific area of practice, you can showcase your expertise and ensure you only attract relevant clients looking for your specific services.
This section can also be used to insert keywords or phrases to increase your ranking for those terms. It is an added bit of content that boosts your law firm’s visibility.
Accessibility: This section is meant to list the physical features of your practice. Here, you can select the options relevant to the building where your office is housed, such as wheelchair accessibility options and amenities. This is also a good section to highlight such features as a “veteran” or “women led” firm.
While this section may not seem relevant, it can boost your reputation in the local community. Having a law firm that accommodates certain groups leads to more potential clients.
Generally, business owners place little emphasis on image and video regarding their practice. While Google’s algorithm is fairly smart, it may sometimes incorrectly interpret images and assign them to your practice. You want to ensure the photos Google features for your listing are accurate and relevant to your business.
Images or videos of your office, such as an office tour, help increase your reputation. A potential client’s first online impression often comes from images of your practice, as much as it does from reviews and your website. You want to make sure those images show the best side of your business. If images are blurry or inaccurate, it will negatively affect your online reputation.
Adding images is one of the three main factors that Google considers when choosing to rank your website. Websites with more images tend to rank higher than their competitors. Take advantage of this easy solution to boost your practice’s ranking.
We can check for any auto-generated listings for your firm. If you do not already have a profile, we will set it up and use the most relevant categories that represent your practice. We will write a keyword-rich descriptions and optimize your videos and images to make sure your business is well-represented online.
Google uses a specific set of categories to determine local rankings for law firms. They are:
By managing your firm’s performance in each category, you can ensure better visibility in your local communities.
Similar to SEO, local SEO, including your GMB profile, must be optimized using keywords, phrases, photos, and relevant information to ensure potential clients can find you. When Google is choosing search results, it looks for how well a GMB listing matches an individual’s search query.
Attorneys can boost their relevance by selecting the right category and images, but there are other optimization factors that contribute to overall rankings. If done correctly, a law firm’s description can incorporate keywords and phrases into the description section of the GMB profile. This adds relevance and gives Google keywords to determine your firm’s rank in SERPs.
Within the GMB profile, Google also provides sections to give further descriptions of your practice area. A key tip is to try and use all 1000 characters allowed when possible and include keywords and phrases to ensure maximum relevancy.
It also helps to use local keywords relating to your area, such as the name of your city and the words “law firm.” Google and other search engines are always looking for relevancy to the user’s search query, especially if it includes “near me” or related location indictors. Optimizing your keywords in descriptions helps your law firm rank.
When determining how to rank your website, Google considers your firm’s distance from the searcher. Unlike organic search results, where links along with other optimizations determine the rank of a business, proximity is a main factor in local search results.
Google determines your firm’s proximity to the individual by comparing location of IP addresses, actual address, and area code, among other factors. Therefore, it is important to make sure all addresses are accurate and up to date, so that Google can accurately determine the distance between you and your potential client.
Keep in mind that when searching from a mobile phone, as most users do today, it’s more likely Google is using the exact GPS location. Sometimes, however, it defaults to a wider area, such as a city. On a desktop or laptop, Google does not determine the exact GPS location. Instead, it may default to the neighborhood a user is searching from. This can affect the results Google displays in the local results.
Simply put, if your business is too far away from the client, the search engine won’t show your law firm’s listing regardless of how well optimized your GMB profile may be. Attract local clients by keeping your page up to date, with your information clearly displayed for Google and users to understand.
The authority of a law firm is measured by its overall performance. There are several strategies to consider when it comes to establishing authority, including the authority of backlinks, the number of articles published on your website, and the number of ratings and reviews.
Links are one of the most important factors in determining authority. Having authoritative backlinks can build up your practice’s reputation online. This means that other reputable organizations, such as news articles or other law firms, have links within their own content to your website. Publishing articles on external sites tend to incorporate links of some kind, which creates a beneficial relationship between your business and others, boosting your authority.
Reviews are also important for boosting your law firm’s visibility. No law firm wants the best cases to go to their competitors. A higher number of total reviews and a higher rating boost your firm’s credibility and gains the local community’s trust. Google also uses these reviews to determine the prominence of your law firm based on overall performance.
Google naturally favors businesses that use Google tools, one of which is Google Reviews. Building up positive, genuine client reviews on your GMB page is a key component to establishing prominence in local SEO. Google Reviews directly impact a local practice’s ranking in the map pack.
Yelp is another review directory commonly used by businesses and clients alike. Because it is a major website with a high page rank, local searches are very likely to have some results from Yelp. For this reason, your law firm should also consider getting reviews on Yelp, which are used for Apple Maps.
Our approach to optimizing your website makes sure to account for these three factors. We use the best practices for local SEO in order to maximize the benefits. This includes using local keywords to boost community visibility and increasing your prominence so your law firm can gain more paying clients.
Positive reviews are a great way to establish credibility for your firm. Testimonials from happy clients provide proof that you are a quality service provider worthy of consideration. Reviews can make or break your online visibility, so you need to monitor your online presence.
Consider the quality of the reviews you receive. Again, positive reviews are important in determining where you rank. Google’s algorithm understands what others say about your business. Any keywords or links mentioned on review sites or directories boost your local SEO efforts. It also helps Google understand your relevance and authority in your specific legal niche.
Positive reviews do more than just help locally. With an increase in positive reviews, your law firm has the chance to rank for “top” or “best” law firm locally. Potential clients, especially in important cases, want the best attorney.
There is a common misconception that you only need to reply to negative reviews. It’s understandable that you would want to defend your practice in public but replying to reviews ranging from positive to negative has its benefits.
It is easier to understand if you consider reviews as content. Websites with longer form content tend to rank better. Reviews act as content, strengthening your position in local SERPs. Every review is an opportunity to create additional content and make your firm’s online visibility stronger.
Responding to all or most of your reviews also makes you look like a human being. Simply put, it is difficult to convey empathy or establish a relationship digitally. By acknowledging and replying to all reviews, you add to your clients’ experience. They may be more likely to recommend you to others in need of legal services in the future.
GMB reviews generate a notification when you respond to a user’s review. This keeps you and your practice in the forefront of your clients’ minds. When looking to boost your firm’s business, you should take advantage of any brand advancement strategies that you can.
Once your GMB listing is live, it is important to build citations for your law practice. Though the value of citations has diminished in 2020, they can still give your law firm an added boost of visibility. Your business is more likely to show up for potential clients through these citations.
Citations are essentially your firm’s name, address, phone number, and website details listed on directory websites such as FindLaw and Avvo.com. Citations are also commonly referred to as NAP (name, address, phone number).
There are two types of citations: structured and unstructured. Structured citations are when your NAP shows up in a structured list format, like it would on Yelp or another directory. Unstructured citations are when your NAP shows up at the end of an article or press release.
The most important citations are those that apply specifically to your law firm. Legal-related or local directories are especially useful for law firms that only practice within a certain area or region. Top business directories such as Yelp can be useful as well. Though directories such as Yelp are nationwide, the website is built to offer local services.
When creating your citations, there are a few things to look out for.
First, be sure to fill out profiles completely. This includes logos and any photos of your firm’s office, as well as any other media that relates to your practice. The more unique and filled out a citation is, the more likely it is to drive traffic to your website.
Pay close attention to categories as well. Like GMB, many directory websites allow you to choose a specific category for your law firm. Others may also allow you a secondary category to increase the specificity of your services, such as specifying your personal injury practice as legal services for brain injuries.
Your website links on these citations should lead to the same page you listed as your website in your GMB profile. These links count as backlinks, too, increasing your website’s authority. You should also check to see if the directory website will allow you to link to social media profiles and add any relevant channels.
Finally, like your GMB profile, avoid creating duplicate profiles. Not only does that not boost your rank, but it can also create issues with the data aggregators search engines use to gather information on your business. Check with a website for a profile. Even if you have not manually created one, sometimes search engine data aggregators are able to provide enough information for a directory to auto-generate its own listing for your business.
Managing off-site optimization is a time-consuming process. Our team monitors your firm’s profile for you, so that you can focus on serving your clients. We create directory listings for your business and make sure they are consistent with your GMB profile. We also help manage any citations and backlinks, so your website develops online authority.
Besides relevance and distance, Google uses thousands of different ranking factors, all of which are weighed differently. Factors related to user experience, such as website speed, well-written content, and relevance to the search query are also necessary to rank, along with other strategies that boost overall search engine rankings.
Here are some strategies you can use when optimizing your law firm’s website for local search.
Your GMB landing page is the website page that you link to from your GMB listing. It is the first page visitors will see on your website if they click the link featured on the SERPs. It is important that the information on your website’s local landing page is optimized for your law firm’s specific location. Not only is this the first page visitors see on your website, but Google also uses this website to determine your authority.
The better optimized your landing page is, the more likely it is to rank well. If you only have one business location, it makes sense to use your main homepage as the landing page for GMB. If you have more than one location, there should be one optimized location landing page per law office location.
If there is one area of your website that should receive the most attention, it should be your local landing page. Potential clients will use this page to determine whether to contact you or not.
The page should be the best representation of you and law firm’s expertise. Do not fill it with generic legal content just to rank higher on SERPs. In the long run, this strategy will not help you get new clients, even if you do increase your website’s organic traffic. Instead, you should make sure your page’s content flows well and that you use relevant text, images and graphics. A local landing page is a great place to display case studies and client reviews.
On-page optimizations are vital for a law firm’s local SEO success. A well-optimized law firm website can be a deciding factor in Google search ranking. Your website or local webpages should have relevant title tags, meta descriptions, body tags, and alt texts. By using target and local keywords, Google will know your website is for a local business.
Examples of optimization include putting your city/region and a keyword, such as “San Diego criminal lawyer” in the “Title” tag of your website. You could also add it to your website’s URL or in the heading (H1) tags. Each optimization will be explored more in-depth below.
Title tags can help with both organization and showing users and search engines what your page is about. The ideal title tag is a short, accurate description of a page’s specific contents. You should use location-specific keywords in order to rank locally.
This title tag is what will show up in SERPs, along with the meta description. The description is exactly what it sounds like, a short summary of the content on the page. You can use this short description to include local keywords as well, boosting your local SEO efforts.
Heading, or H1, tags help structure your page. They also make it easier for Google and other search engines to read and index your content more efficiently. While not necessary, you can also use heading tags to add local keywords in your content.
You don’t have complete control over meta titles. Google may add your brand name or other words without your permission. Regardless, you do not want to stuff your meta title with keywords. Make sure to include location and a relevant keyword or two. Those are the most important.
Alternate Text: Alternate text descriptions can provide another area for you to include local keywords in your content. These descriptions tell Google and other search engines what an image is about. You can include location keywords, such as “A white office building in Los Angeles, California,” in order to re-state your firm’s location.
Clear Site Structure: Your website should look and function fluidly. You should consider the site structure; that is, how easy it is to navigate your website. A website provides a first impression to the user, and poorly designed websites will leave poor impressions. Your website’s organization should make sense to users and search engines alike.
This includes consolidating any redundant pages, such as multiple instances of a “Los Angeles car accident attorney” page or redundant location pages. You want potential clients to easily find what they are looking for.
Keyword Stuffing: With all these options for including local keywords, it is important to keep in mind the dangers of keyword stuffing. Beware of producing content that includes an overabundance of location-related keywords. Website content still needs to be readable and useful to any clients visiting your website. Google can tell when you are overusing certain keywords to try an achieve a higher rank. This can result in your website being penalized and, in fact, lower its rank.
When building your website, you should also keep mobile users in mind. Google promotes websites that are optimized for mobile use. This mobile-first indexing means that any websites optimized to be responsive and fast for mobile users will to rank higher when compared to those that are not.
When it comes to local SEO, the number one action a searcher takes when looking for local attorneys is placing a call via mobile device.
There are a few other factors that make mobile critically important to your website’s local SEO:
‘Near me’ searches are an automated search mechanism in Google’s mobile search app. As a user start typing in a key phrase, such as ‘personal injury,’ Google’s mobile search app will give a recommendation that reads ‘personal injury lawyers near me.’ By tapping this recommendation, a user will instantly see the personal injury law firms in their area. Google gives rewards to law firms who engage in local SEO strategies.
One of the biggest game changers in mobile searches is the increased use of voice search. A user can pull out their phone or mobile device, open the Google search app, tap the mic, and speak their search query. Many voice searches are for local businesses, so law firms using the best local SEO practices have an advantage over any competitors that do not optimize their local business SEO.
To emphasize the importance of mobile-friendly local SEO, location awareness is a key factor in Google’s search app. Using a user’s exact location via their mobile device’s GPS system, a search engine can find relevant search results, including a law firm’s distance from the user.
The best way to maximize local SEO for your law practice is through direct data. Basically, direct data is the small details associated with your law firm, pulled by Google to determine your rank. The more specific your direct data, the better your local SEO authority.
Examples of direct data include:
Schema, a coded text language, can boost your website’s SEO efforts by making it easier for Google’s bots to understand what your website and content is about. With schema markup, an attorney page describes itself to the search engine, so that it determines a page’s purpose and relevancy to local search queries.
In terms of site speed, the concept is simple. The faster a website loads, the more likely users are to stay on that page and read your content. This includes both mobile and desktop users. With the right tools, you can check your website speed and work to improve loading times. Some examples of improvements include optimizing images by compressing file sizes to make them load faster, reducing redirects, and limiting http requests.
Content should be a cornerstone of your law firm local SEO strategy. This is what drives the success of your firm’s digital marketing efforts. To optimize your website, you will need content that is compelling, relevant to user search queries, easy to read, and tailored to your area.
Content marketing is the process of publishing high-quality content that attracts and engages your audience. It is about creating enough value for your audience that they actively seek out your content and read through it. Content includes your core website pages, blog posts, and whitepapers.
The object of content marketing is to publish enough content in your field that you become a credible advisor, not just to your audience, but to search engine algorithms as well. Building trust in your firm will drive potential clients to become paying clients.
For law firm websites, the most important types of content to include are:
Useful content allows you to incorporate more keywords, especially local keywords, throughout your website, too. Too often, law firms overlook the importance of creating meaningful content which would boost their visibility online. Do not miss out on the opportunity to build your credibility and visibility. By covering local topics, including local laws or legal news, you increase your authority within your own community. When potential clients search for local attorneys, your articles and posts will get you noticed.
The most successful law firms are the ones that understand the importance of an effective local SEO strategy and are willing to put in the work. It is important to remember your law firm’s website is an investment and an important asset to your business. There are no shortcuts to boosting your firm’s local SEO, and you take risks by trying to take these shortcuts.
To review, the best strategies for local SEO include:
Each strategy requires the time, research, and knowledge to implement them successfully. These strategies also build on each other, working together to give your business the best benefits.
All law firms, big or small, require some form of marketing to achieve long-term growth. Unless your firm has a strong ad strategy, local SEO is the best way to increase your business. Unfortunately, digital marketing can take up a lot of time. By working with a marketing agency, you can experience the long-term growth and sustainability you want without having to worry about doing it all yourself.
A great marketing agency will find ways to capitalize on your firm’s strengths and work on its weaknesses to increase your impact. The ideal agency works closely with you and your firm to make sure you are informed every step of the way and builds a strategy that fits your practice. Any good marketing agency will know that each law firm is unique and requires a different strategy rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Marketing agencies can be great choices no matter where your business stands. Whether your business has stagnated, or you are looking to grow quickly, having a dedicated team maintain your online presence helps.
Law firms benefit from the experience a marketing agency brings to the table. With an entire team of marketing experts, the work it takes to build your online presence is easily done. Digital marketing agencies emphasize constant growth in strategies and skillsets, ensuring your practice is getting the best strategies to grow your business.
Imagine how successful your firm could be with the right team putting the work in to make sure your website and online presence work for you and your practice. The team at Just A Web Company strives to achieve long-term, sustainable growth for our clients. We work with you every step of the way to make sure our strategies align with your vision of your practice’s present and future. This includes monthly reports and client meetings to keep you up to date on your firm’s online progress.
Our team can create a Google My Business profile for your firm or claim a profile if you already have one. This includes getting these profiles verified and optimized for maximum benefits. We want to make sure your business can be found online and on a map by any potential clients.
We also do the hard work of maintaining these online profiles, updating each profile or directory listing as needed so you don’t lose visibility. With the use of several tools, we monitor and manage your online visibility and adjust our strategies accordingly. We pride ourselves in using the best local SEO strategies to generate real local business leads that net your firm more clients.
Maintaining a profile can be time-consuming and difficult, so allow our team to do the work for you. Contact us to learn how you can benefit from our services.