Location, Location, Location!
In this digital and mobile world we live in, a swipe, tap and a couple of clicks are the way many clients find their law firm.
That’s why it’s so important for your firm to be digitally savvy, which means being easy to find online and readily identifiable as a local, nearby firm.
Local SEO is the way to go!
It’s All About the Map
The Maps results with your Google My Business (GMB) page appear in search results for almost all major practice area queries. Not only that, but mobile searchers – a large portion of your potential clients – are significantly inclined to select a law firm from the Maps results. This means that managing and optimizing your local SEO should be a high priority when creating digital content and building marketing strategies.
As we’ve read before, mobile users are a particularly impatient and tech-savvy bunch who don’t want to spend a lot of time searching for what they want. They spend a handful of seconds in their digital quest to find your services before bailing ship and looking for someone else.
What Is “Local SEO”?
Local SEO is a strategy that both integrates keywords in your website content and maximizes your online law firm directory listings to highlight the location of your firm. Consistent and repeated use of your firm’s address in web content and directory listings reinforces that you are a local firm. Think about it, someone looking for a lawyer is searching for someone nearby. Generally, they don’t want an attorney 50 miles away (unless they live in a very tiny town with few or no lawyers). They want an attorney who is close and easy to meet with in person. That’s why your location needs to be readily apparent in digital searches. When it comes to online law firm marketing, local SEO is the way to go!
Why Is Local SEO a Big Deal?
Local SEO counts, and counts big, because not only does it play an important factor in GMB pages, but it also sways results with your Bing Listing, Yelp, and many other local directory listings. If you want to succeed against other brick-and-mortar businesses like 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 consistent and correct information.
Hey, we don’t have to tell you that it’s a competitive and crowded field out there. So, anything you can do to incrementally increase your visibility in local search results and nose out your competition should be a priority. Sometimes the smallest SEO adjustments can make the difference between your firm being displayed in searches rather than the next guy or gal’s firm. It’s not impossibly difficult, and it generates big dividends.
If you need help with maximizing your local SEO and creating an online strategy with local SEO at its core, our Gladiator professionals are glad to lead the way. Feel free to call anytime.
Factors in Maximizing Local SEO
In addition to getting your firm listed on multiple directories, there are steps to take that boost your presence in local searches. Keep the below in mind when shaping up and enhancing your local SEO:
- Take stock of your website’s SEO, particularly inclusion of location mentions in your content.
- Engage with your GMB page often. Did a client leave a review? Show Google you care. Respond and respond quickly.
- Make sure any directory listings for your firm are consistent in their address information all across the Internet.
By examining these three tactics, and taking appropriate action, you’ll make a big leap forward in strengthening your local SEO. Let’s explore them in greater detail:
How’s Your Website SEO?
Sometimes when we’re creating content about topics we know best (read: your own law firm), we strive to provide information about the most minute details but leave out or rarely mention some of the most obvious information. It’s the whole “forest for the trees” kind of thing. Here’s an example – a law firm website might go into detail about legal citations for personal injury cases but entirely forget to mention (or list only once) that the firm is located in Dallas.
When reviewing website content, conduct a little experiment. Choose any page and count the number of times your location is mentioned in headings and text. Is it obvious which city you’re located in? What about the county (if that is relevant)? By taking a visual snapshot of your website content, you can take advantage of some local SEO “low hanging fruit” by simply increasing the mentions of your location. Remember to do this in text, headings and sub-headings. To give site visitors a visual cue, mention your location in graphics, too.
Are You Responding Promptly to Online Reviews?
This is an area that often gets overlooked. In good times and bad times (i.e., good reviews and bad reviews), keep the lines of communication open with clients and former clients. Even if they post a review complaining about something or browbeating you, be prompt and polite and write an answer to their review (here are some tips on how to respond to negative reviews). Thank them and invite a phone dialogue. This is not only the right thing to do, but it also soothes the reviewer and bumps up your Google ranking. GMB reviews are particularly important because they are left on Google’s platform. Google likes to see your firm engaging with clients (and Google’s local platform), and currently, response to reviews is one of a myriad of ranking factors. It’s not hard and takes little time, so why not take the step?
What if you don’t have many or any online reviews by clients? Then get out there and start asking clients with successful cases to write a review! They are often happy to do it.
Claim and Verify Your Online Listings
Claiming and verifying your online listings means searching the Internet for places where your law firm is mentioned and making sure that your address and location are listed correctly and consistently. Not only do you need to claim and verify your listings on Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yelp, but do the same thing on lawyer-specific listings like Avvo, Best Lawyers, SuperLawyers and Martindale-Hubbell. While many legal directories require payment for a listing over which you have editorial control, they can be worth the money to lend your firm credibility and to provide a backlink from a legally relevant site.
Remember, focus on consistency. A “local citation” is any reference to your firm’s name, address and phone number (NAP). Typically, we group website URL as part of a citation, too. Use your GMB listing as your landmark. Ensure other directories follow suit. If the street address is spelled out in one listing, rather than abbreviated as it is in GMB, make sure it is abbreviated in all listings. If your address includes a suite number, then make sure the suite number is included in the address on all listings. Check phone numbers. Does an old number appear in some listings? Did you change your firm name or site URL in the past? Check those, too. Haphazard NAPs in listings can result in inefficient searches and lower Google rankings.
More Tips for Optimizing Local SEO
Let’s drill down into the nitty gritty now and find more ways to optimize your local SEO. These tips are small but mighty, and by following them to the letter you will optimize your local SEO. Get ready, get set, go!
- Determine your keywords related to local SEO.
- Optimize your keywords on your major (and competitive) practice area pages to target locations + practice area. Don’t forget to include reference to your location in your title tag and meta description.
- Most firms use their city, but some will target a state and occasionally a county, depending on the city size or location (if in a small town, we may optimize for state/county). Tip: think about competition at each level: it may be hard to rank for a state term.
- This is code on the backend of your site with clear and specific indicators to search engines of your location.
- Think about those sites you come across that require you to pinch and squint to read; and those tiny links you can’t tap without jumping to a different page instead. Ugh! With a mobile-friendly website design, your site will be easy to use, read and engage with for users on smart phones and tablets (learn more from our team about mobile site design).
- Mobile friendly design also increases your website loading and navigation speed. If your site takes too long to come up, impatient users will click the back button and move on.
- Strengthen the SEO of your core pages by facilitating links from other websites, (aka “backlinks”) particularly those that are of high quality. These backlinks give search engines indicators that your pages have strong enough value to other sites that they are willing to link to your content. Backlinks not only help the pages to which they direct, but they also help your domain’s strength overall.
- If your business has offices in multiple locations, you will need to target your SEO to all of these cities. For some practice areas, you may need to build out several individual pages on that practice area specific to each location.
- At a minimum, you need to include all locations and local phone numbers for each on your site.
- And, as a foundation, you’ll need to build out directory listings, starting with your GMB, for all locations.
- Tip: Avoid using a virtual office. If you found it with an online search, Google can, too. Check out the “Learn more” part of the Address section in Google’s guidelines for GMB listings.
Whew! We know this is a heady and long list, but most of this effort costs little or no money, just some elbow grease and a bit of your time. Remember, set aside time to work on your business, not just in your business. You’ll be thrilled with the ROI! Absolutely no time to do it? Let Gladiator’s professionals help. Call us at 1 (888) 683-3212.
Suggestions for Your GMB Listing
Here’s a little step-by-step coaching that can help you strengthen your Google My Business listing. By implementing these for GMB, you will enhance your local SEO.
- Fill in details for all options available that apply to your business. This means not just the basic contact and website information but also hours of operation, amenities such as ADA accessibility, links to social media accounts and videos (if you have them).
- This advice also applies to online directories, to the extent their functionality allows it, but it is a “must” for GMB.
- 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 well.
- Develop a longer description that uniquely sets you apart from other firms with any discriminators, such as awards or memberships, but that also identifies your core practice areas. If you have dug into clearly identifying your brand differentiators, this (and your tagline) is the place to use them.
- Include photos of the exterior of your building, including signage containing your name. Also include interior photos.
The Run Down: Essential Tips for Directory Listings and Local Citations
Sometimes these online listings are an afterthought for us, something we figure we’ll get to eventually but never really do. Set aside 10 minutes and review your listings today. By doing this, you’ll enhance your local SEO and check this task off your to-do list!
- It’s best to indicate to search engines that you have a local business by creating business listings across all major legal and generalized directories. Be sure to have listings for mobile device maps related mobile searches, to include Apple Maps. Your SEO agency can set those up for you.
- As with GMB, it is essential you have a consistent presence related to your firm’s name, address, phone number and website URL (NAP) across all directories.
- TIP – Do you have a change to your NAP? Be sure to update that on all listings. Also, be sure there aren’t dual listings for your firm with both old and new addresses, firm names, etc.
Here’s the Takeaway on Local SEO
Sometimes edging out your competition is a matter of degrees and inches rather than yards and miles. The smallest changes in online content can mean big results where local SEO is concerned. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to plan your marketing strategy, but the old “eat an elephant one bite at a time” adage is particularly relevant here. Rather than feeling stressed about a small marketing budget, focus on marketing techniques that are free, like those mentioned here that impact your local SEO. By doing this, you will increase your firm’s online visibility and Google rankings and likely see an increase in your website traffic and leads. What could be better!
Tips to Optimize Major Business Listings for Local SEO
- Reviews – be sure to ask for these continually. Your reviews, number of stars, and total number of reviews will impact Google algorithms. Not only that but they also influence whether a user clicks your listing or not. The same is true for Yelp. Major legal directories, like Avvo, also provide numeric ratings for businesses.
- Be certain your address format off-site matches the format on your website.
- Confirm that your local address and local phone number are both located on your site, typically in the footer and on the contact page.
- Make your listings as complete as possible. Always upload photos when it’s an option.
- Take advantage of business descriptions to include your firm’s brand discriminators.
- If you use a call tracking service, ensure that your local number is also visible next to your address, but this can be in smaller font. When in the footer, it is less likely a visitor will use it to contact you. It’s not only OK, but advisable to use a dynamic call tracking number in your banner, sidebar contact form and in the content.
- Ensure your site has local schema markup.
- If your business has multiple locations, all of the above will apply to each location and its separate business listings.
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