Local SEO is a key tool law firms should be using to generate more clients and Google My Business (GMB) is a key asset that lawyers can and should use to propel their firms up the search engine rankings (SERPs).
Google My Business was created by Google to enable companies to share important business information and improve the accuracy of your company on Google.
This makes it easier for consumers to connect with you and to therefore reach new clients.
Having the right Google My Business category can make a big difference in how your firm ranks on Google.
Key Moves. There are some key steps lawyers need to know about using GoogleMyBusiness to get the most out of it.
This FuelPoint Guide is intended to help you do just that.
Don’t just go with the “Lawyer” category — claim a more specific category that says what kind of law you practice (i.e., family law attorney, estate planning attorney, business attorney, company lawyer, immigration lawyer etc.).
If your competitors are currently outranking you on Google, check out which category they are using and try using the same one to see if that moves the needle for you.
Recent Google Changes.
Over the past year, Google has added some additional features to Google My Business, including:
Google Posts look like PPC ads but they are free.
You can include a photo, description, offer, landing page URL — whatever you have to say or promote. You can make offers — a complimentary consultation, a free report, or information on an event you’re hosting.
Customers tab lists all the people who have connected or tried to connect with your law firm using Google tools.
You can respond to reviews, answer questions and even text message from your Google My Business page or app.
Local service areas are sometimes more useful for law firms than a physical address and you can define your service areas on your Google My Business page.
This will help your listing show up in Google Maps and Search when someone searches for legal services in an area where you don’t have a physical office, but you cover.
Home screen analytics in the Google My Business app.
This tells you how you are performing across the Google platform — including how many views, searches, calls, website clicks, direction requests, and more helpful insights.
Local Business Searches.
About 89% of people search for a local business on their smartphones at least once a week, with 58% searching daily.
These searchers are unlikely to find you if your local SEO is poor.
But what exactly is local SEO?
Local SEO is much the same as organic SEO, but with an added geographical component.
Specifically, you’re aiming to rank high in the search engine result pages (SERPs) for local searches.
There’s no point in a New York law firm ranking high in Houston’s local search results, or a London firm ranking high in Birmingham . . You get the picture?
They want people searching for lawyers in New York or London, Singapore or Auckland to find them.
So it’s key to improve your local SEO if you want to increase your organic local traffic.
According to Moz’s 2017 local search ranking factors, proximity to the searcher is the top local pack-ranking factor.
But what is the ‘pack’?
The Google 3 Pack is the top three results that are returned from local search.
However, there have been some changes that have occurred recently that affect how it works.
These changes have mainly occurred to ensure the 3 Pack better suits mobile searches, which are now the predominant search method.
That is where you want your firm to be.
The question is, how do you do it?
There are some key steps.
1. Optimize your website for local search
If your website isn’t properly optimized, it will be hard for you to climb the search engine rankings (the SERPs.)
A good way to start is to join conversations in other local business blogs, law blogs and the like.
You might want to avoid direct competitors, but are there any complementary or related business blogs in your community? You should also contribute content and comments to relevant forums that focus on your areas of specialty – divorce law, employment, tax, DUI etc.
Participate by leaving thoughtful comments or mentioning (and linking) their posts on your blog.
Building relationships with other businesses is a great way to establish your website and attract links back to your blog.
Know who you’re targeting
If you don’t know who you’re writing for, it’s extremely difficult to create valuable content that hits the mark.
Then you can search for specific local directories by using search terms like:
[Target city] directory
Industry-focused directories or blogs
You can also gain citations from industry focused blogs and directories.
These websites are focused on the topics and keywords related to your products and services.
Although these sites don’t always have a local focus, they may be counted as citation sources by local search engines.
Do you have a membership directory for your trade organization or a blog that’s popular among readers in your niche?
Both are likely to be crawled by the local search engines for citations.
You can find law firm directories and blogs relevant to your business by searching terms like:
[your industry] directory
[your keyword] directory
Top [your industry] blogs
Key Google Changes
Google is always changing and evolving its algorthims and there are some changes with Google My Business too, including the following:
Google posts included in GMB gives business owners the chance to write short blog posts, announce new products, list news about the company and so on. Business owners should use this feature along with images or videos to grab the customer’s attention.
Posts can be between 100 to 300 words long and can contain any type of content the business sees relevant. The posts can also link back to the business’s website. A tracking link within the post can give the owner an idea of whether or not the post is generating interest in the business.
Q&A feature: This feature allows customers to ask a business owner questions directly on the GMB listing. The business owner can upvote the good questions with their answers so that they appear first in the profile. Giving informative answers and upvoting good questions is one of the best ways to take advantage of the Q&A feature.
Chat & SMS:
GMB has a chat feature that can be switched on and linked to a phone number. Business owners can select this feature to receive queries via SMS. The feature enables business owners to reply almost instantly to questions. The response time is displayed on the GMB profile; a quick response time can help the profile rank better in a Google search.
The 750-character description should be used to its full extent, permitting you to add your areas of specialty and using the key words that will help ensure good rankings. Make sure your language though is clear and accurate.
The book an appointment feature allows customers to contact the business for an appointment directly from the GMB listing.
The owner of the profile should use this feature to increase customer engagement by adding a URL that takes the customer directly to a landing page.
Fighting to climb the SERPs can be tough for businesses, especially if you’re a small law firm with limited resources.
Online efforts are always a reflection of offline realities. If your business is bad, your reviews will be, too.
SEO continues to change, but establishing a great local SEO base will help hugely in continuing to maintain good rankings and traffic.
Just be sure you’re firm isn’t left behind. Starting with these SEO steps will generate higher traffic (ie ‘clients’) and help your firm establish a great profile online.
For more information about SEO for your law firm you can enquire about a LawFuel Listing on LawFuelList, plus get content published on LawFuel to attract better rankings, online profile, backlinks . . and clients.