How Local SEO Can Benefit Your Law Firm
The benefits of local SEO for law firms lie in the idea that the legal profession is often highly localized.
It depends on your area of practice, of course, but a large percentage of law firms attract clients from close by, often within their own town or city. When an ordinary person has a slip-and-fall accident, or needs legal representation after a DUI charge, they’re going to hire a lawyer near where they live, not in a different state or region of the U.S.
Therefore, you need to factor this into your law firm’s SEO strategy and online marketing. There are a host of techniques you can use to make your content more likely to appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) for internet users in your area.
What Are the Benefits of Local SEO for Law Firms?
Local SEO is a strategy that uses keywords in your website content to highlight your location and the nature of your service to search engines. If you’re a personal injury lawyer based in Chicago, you want people searching the term “Chicago personal injury lawyer” to find your firm. If you’re showing up on SERPs related to a different practice area in a different state, that’s not going to have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Consistently using your firm’s physical address and other location indicators in web content will show search engines where you are located and what you do, thereby helping Google and others to connect potential clients in your area with your firm. External linking, local advertising, and online law firm directory listings are other ways to build local SEO for your law firm.
If you want to succeed against competing law firms, you must make sure that all the local signals across Google’s local search landscape are working together to produce desired results. This means posting consistent, accurate, and SEO-focused content.
Your Google Business Profile (GBP)
In November 2021, Google announced it was changing the name of the Google My Business tool to Google Business Profile (GBP). The functionality of the service remained largely the same, though there were some changes. GBP remains one of the most important tools for any local business attempting to maximize its SEO performance.
How to Optimize Local SEO for Law Firms
In addition to setting up and monitoring your firm’s GBP account, there are numerous steps you can take that will boost your presence in local searches. Keep them in mind when implementing your local SEO strategy.
1. Using Place Names to Maximize Local SEO for Lawyers
When reviewing website content, count the number of times your location is mentioned in headings and text on your blogs and practice-area pages. Is it obvious which city, county or state you’re located in? If not, you need to increase your website’s use of place names; this is the low-hanging fruit of local SEO. Remember to do this in text, headings and sub-headings. Also, to give site visitors a visual cue, use graphics that feature your location.
2. Are You Responding Promptly to Online Reviews?
It’s no secret that customer reviews are an important marketing tool. A study by TrustPilot found that positive ratings and star reviews were the most effective source of social proof for potential customers, with 82% of survey respondents stating they were more likely to make purchases for goods and services after seeing positive reviews.
Whenever you get a client review, good or bad, it’s essential to respond. When reacting to unfavorable reviews, be prompt and polite. Thank the client for their business and their honesty and invite them to speak to you on the phone to discuss their complaints.
Google likes to see your firm engaging with clients (and Google’s local platform), and Google will reward this type of activity with better rankings. If you don’t have many reviews, you should start asking clients with successful cases to write reviews for you.
3. Claim and Verify Your Online Listings
Claiming and verifying your online listings means searching the Internet for platforms where your law firm is mentioned and making sure that your exact address and location are listed correctly and consistently. You can do this for listings on Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yelp, as well as lawyer-specific directories like Avvo, Best Lawyers, SuperLawyers, and Martindale-Hubbell. Some legal directories require payment for a listing over which you have editorial control; these may or may not be worth the investment. Some can lend your firm credibility and provide a backlink from a legally relevant site.
Consistency is an important consideration when it comes to online listings. A “local citation” is any reference to your firm’s name, address and phone number (NAP). Typically, we include website URLs as part of a citation, too. Use your GBP listing as your benchmark in this regard; ensure other listings mirror it. GBP listings abbreviate street addresses, rather than spelling them out fully, so you should ensure other listings do the same. If your address includes a suite number, make sure it appears on all listings.
The same goes for phone numbers, firm names, and site URLs that may be out of date. If you change them in one listing, change them everywhere. Haphazard listings can result in lower Google rankings.
The Technical Side of Local SEO
There are several important technical considerations to take into account when trying to maximize your local SEO performance. We detail them in this section.
Keywords are the bread and butter of SEO, local or otherwise. They’re the phrases your ideal clients are searching for, and the phrases you need to use in your content to ensure you’re catering to these searches.
First, you need to determine the keywords you’re going to use. You want phrases people are searching for (a high search volume), but you shouldn’t rely too heavily on competitive keywords because you may struggle to displace the law firms that already have the top spots. So, for example, rather than “accident lawyer,” you might focus on “bicycle accident lawyer” or “pedestrian accident lawyer” if your practice does a lot of these types of claims.
When it comes to localizing your keywords, you need to think carefully about how large an area you want to target. If you’re an established law firm in a small state, you might need to use statewide phrases (“car accident lawyer in Wyoming,” for example.) On the other hand, if you’re from a densely populated area, you could be better off focusing on your city or county.
Getting the balance right here can be tricky, which is why the assistance of an expert SEO team is usually necessary.
2. Schema Markup
This is code on the backend of your site with clear and specific indicators of your location for search engines. It helps search engines understand how you want your website data to be interpreted and presented in their listings.
Your law firm’s schema markup might include elements like:
- Business name
- Business type (e.g., “legal service” or “attorney”)
- Contact information
- Operating hours
- Reviews and ratings
- Events (like webinars or open days)
- Personal schema for individual lawyers (their name, job title, areas of expertise, etc.).
3. Optimization for Mobile
Mobile devices have become an increasingly important part of the SEO puzzle for law firms in recent years. Statistics suggest that there is now more time spent online on mobile devices than on laptops or desktops, so you need to ensure your website is optimized for mobile searches.
This means that your site content should be as easy to access and consume on a cell phone as a traditional computer. If it’s not, your website’s rankings and conversions will suffer.
4. Link Building
Backlinks (links from other websites to yours) will strengthen your local SEO. This is particularly true of high-quality backlinks. These backlinks indicate to search engines that your pages have strong enough value to other sites that they are willing to link to your content. Backlinks help both overall domains and the individual pages to which they lead.
5. Multiple Locations
If your business has offices in multiple locations, you will need to cater to all of these when setting out your local SEO strategy. You may need to build out several location-specific practice-area pages for each location, depending on the practice area in question.
At a minimum, you need to include all locations and local phone numbers for each somewhere on your site. Also, as a foundation, you’ll need to build out online listings, starting with your GBP, for all locations.
Last, avoid using a virtual office addresses. If a consumer is looking for a local lawyer in their area, finding a virtual presence – rather than a physical office – may not meet their needs. Virtual office addresses can also confuse Google and hurt your rankings.
Suggestions for Your GBP Listing
There are a number of straightforward, easily actionable steps you can implement to improve the performance of your GBP listing. These include the following:
- Go beyond basic contact and website information. List your hours of operation, amenities (such as ADA accessibility), and links to any social media accounts and videos you have online.
- Make sure your name, address, phone and URL are included exactly as they are listed on your website.
- Identify your business category. Make the most relevant one your primary category and pick multiple categories if possible.
- Develop a brief tagline description that brands your firm, as well as a longer description noting any factors that set your firm apart from others.
- Include photos of the exterior of your building, including signage containing your name. Also include interior photos.
Here’s the Takeaway on Local SEO
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to local SEO for law firms, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s important to remember that this is often a game of inches rather than yards. Each positive change you make can boost your firm’s presence on search engines, and these incremental gains will begin to translate to more business for your firm.
If you’d like help maximizing your business gains from local SEO, Gladiator Law Marketing can provide strategic marketing advice. Reach out to our award-winning team today by calling 1.888.283.4971 to request a free initial consultation.
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