Local SEO Speaks to Nearby Consumers
We’ve all done a quick search on our smartphone looking for a nearby Indian restaurant or dry cleaner, and when we did, up popped a map and Google’s list of choices. With a couple of taps, we can find out a business’ hours, phone number and directions to the location.
In only 10 minutes, we’re relaxing at a table enjoying our curried chicken or picking up our clean shirt to wear to the office tomorrow. This fluid, mobile, very localized experience is the way we live now.
That’s why “local SEO” is so important. Local SEO allows you to optimize your website so that potential clients can effortlessly find you in local search results. By optimizing your title and meta description tags and by creating web pages that include consistent references to your location, you can increase your chances of being high on the list that Google offers up to would-be consumers.
Google algorithms consider location when providing search results. Proximity to the searcher influences results (are you 1 mile away or is the potential client 15 miles away on the other side of town?) But SEO plays a role, too. So, control what you can: have strong local SEO.
Search Engine Journal explains this in an article titled What Is Local SEO & Why Local Search Is Important:
“Basically, local SEO is a strategic process that focuses on emphasizing the optimization efforts of local brick-and-mortar businesses. Content, on-page optimizations, and link building all with a focused, localized intent are part of these efforts.”
Keeping It Local
A Think With Google research study titled “Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior” summed it up this way:
- Consumers are searching for local information everywhere, on every device, at every point in the purchase process.
- Local searchers are ready to act. Many visit a nearby location within a day and complete purchases at a higher rate than consumers who conduct non-local searches.
- Consumers prefer location-based ads and expect ads to be relevant to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings.
All of this means that while consumers may conduct wide, sweeping internet searches to look at vacation destinations or read about current events, their searches become much more local when they’re about to purchase a product or service. This is especially true if they want to buy something or hire someone within the next 5 minutes to 24 hours.
Need convincing? Here are some of the Google study’s most important findings:
- 72% of consumers who search for local information on their smartphone visit a business within 5 miles
- 68% of smartphone users use the Get Directions or Call Button in Google listings
- 73% of smartphone users say Get Directions is important and 70% say the Call Button is important
- 1 in 3 searches on smartphones happen right before a consumer enters a store
- 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a business within a day
- 18% of local searches on smartphones lead to a purchase within a day vs. 7% of non-local searches
- 4 in 5 consumers want ads customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings
- More than 60% of consumers have used location information in ads
What Are Local Consumers Searching For?
Many times, local residents who are ready to make a purchase decision are looking for very specific information. The easier you make it to find this information, the greater your firm’s chances are of being the provider they choose. The Google consumer study offered these tips:
Top 3 Things Consumers Use Smartphones to Search for Locally
- Business Hours (54%)
- Directions to local business (53%)
- Local business address (50%)
Most Common Places People Use Their Smartphones to Search for Local Information
- Home (53%)
- Car, bus, subway (51%)
- In-Store (41%)
- Workplace (33%)
- Restaurant/bar (33%)
- Hotel (25%)
- Airport (20%)
What immediately jumps out from these findings is how important it is to have your law firm’s basic information easily accessible – your address, phone number and other location info. This might seem like an obvious thing to have on your website, but it’s surprising how difficult it is on some law firm websites to simply find the firm’s street address.
Also, this data clearly shows that potential clients are always on-the-go and often in transit, so make sure your law firm website is mobile friendly and can be easily viewed on smartphone and tablet screens. Need some tips about how to create a mobile-friendly web design? Read our Gladiator blog here.
So How Do I Strengthen My Local SEO?
There are tested and true methods for strengthening the local SEO of your law firm’s web site. By following these steps when creating and posting online content, your firm will increase its local SEO performance and attract a greater number of potential clients nearby who are looking for an attorney.
- Claim and Verify Google My Business (GMB)
- Legal Directories
Many businesses don’t realize that Google gives you a FREE listing on their search engine. Who doesn’t like free? Your competitors do, and so should you.
Take the time to fully develop your GMB listing with accurate information — name, address, phone, URL, correct category selections, description and pictures. Make sure you upload interior and exterior photos of your office, including signage in the exterior shots so Google Street View can confirm your location. If your firm has them, upload videos – this is icing on the cake. Also, share links to your firm’s content, including your blog posts.
Remember that Google Maps results are right at the top of search results, and there’s nothing better than having your firm listed along with a map indicator of your location. These can sometimes be accompanied by a Get Directions tab and a Call Button, which make arriving at your front door a cinch.
What is it that sets apart the firms in this Google maps list? CLIENT REVIEWS!!! There are two major reasons to continually seek reviews: a) a high score and high number of reviews will make you stand out as the best option on the list, and b) the number of reviews is a ranking factor used by Google (though the numeric rating doesn’t matter to Google… yet). To learn more about how to consistently ask satisfied clients to post reviews, read our Gladiator blog here. And if you want to learn how to respond to that oh-so-unfortunate negative review, read our Gladiator blog here.
Citations are websites that list businesses and can range from local Better Business Bureaus to Chambers of Commerce to lists created by local newspapers and television stations. Most of these include a business’ name, address, phone number and URL. If you’re unsure where your law firm might be listed, then do a citation audit and see what turns up. In every case, make sure that each listing contains the identical name, phone, address and URL for your firm. If they don’t, you’ll create confusion for consumers and Google’s algorithms.
Did your firm make a move or change its phone number in the last couple of years? If so, you definitely need to do an audit to find if that old address and phone are lingering around on lists. If so, change them immediately.
Yes, they’re expensive, but boy are they worth it!
Professional legal directories are relevant to your field and indicate expertise and authority to Google when it creates its rankings. It’s worth paying to have your law firm listed in them. Major legal directories are currently favored by Google and dominate first page search results. If you have a premium or sponsored listing, you may also get leads through that directory listing. Some of the most visible legal directories include:
- Best Lawyers
- Super Lawyers
- Martindale Hubbell
- National Trial Lawyers Association
- American Bar Association
- Million Dollar Advocates
- American Association for Justice
- State Bar Associations
Some of these directories provide rating scores and/or client reviews. As a potential client searches for a law firm, they may do comparative research of your firm and your competitors. You want to stand out among the crowd. These directories can also offer “visual credibility” because they provide not only a rating but also a “badge” that you can add to your website. For example, Martindale Hubbell offers a badge that lets site visitors know that you’re an AV-Preeminent attorney. These can boost your perceived authority and trustworthiness among potential clients. To learn more about how E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) can boost your brand, read our Gladiator blog here.
When creating your website content, be sure to mention the name of your city frequently. (In some cases, your county may be appropriate.) Naming your city helps send Google regular indicators not only that you’re, say, a car accident lawyer or a bankruptcy lawyer, but that you’re a Chicago car accident lawyer or a Miami bankruptcy lawyer. Also, your firm’s name, address, phone and URL should always appear in both your footer and on your contact page.
Local organizations’ websites often list members or community partners, and it can be valuable to have backlinks to these as a way of indicating your location to Google. For example, the March of Dimes, Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity chapters in your city might link to your website if you are a sponsor. Similarly, your membership in the Kiwanis, Lions, Toastmasters or other professional clubs in your town can provide backlinks to your site on their membership page. Not only do these backlinks enhance your local SEO, but such activity also shows that your law firm actively invests in your local community. To learn more about how community involvement can raise your corporate profile and build brand awareness, read our Gladiator blog here.
If you’re a mid-sized law firm with several offices serving multiple cities in your state, consider creating individual practice area web pages for each city. Though it is not always the best choice for every firm, it can give you an edge over your competition when potential clients do local searches. Talk to your SEO team about the pros and cons of having a separate car accident page for each city.
If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming (and it sure can be!), this may be the time to call in the Local SEO professionals for help. Our Gladiator SEO team is happy to review your local profile and guide you on how to strengthen your Local SEO and boost client conversions. Call us at (888) 683-3212.
About those client reviews …
At Gladiator, we’re continually urging our clients to consistently seek reviews from their satisfied clients. That’s because potential clients listen to past clients when deciding whether to trust a firm and whether to hire them. Consider these key statistics from the Local Consumer Review Survey 2019 conducted by BrightLocal, a specialty local marketing firm headquartered in the United Kingdom:
- 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 33% looking every day
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews
- The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business
- Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars
- The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision
- Among consumers that read reviews, 97% read businesses’ responses to reviews
- 67% of consumers have now been asked to leave a review for a local business – with 24% of these being offered a discount, gift or cash in return
This data clearly shows the deep importance of consistently seeking client reviews. If your law firm has few – or no – online reviews, it is important to remedy this promptly. You cannot afford to disregard the 82% of consumers who read online reviews. Nor can you ignore the 53% of consumers who only do business with firms with reviewer ratings of 4-stars or higher. Now is the time to implement an in-house process to get client reviews month-in, month-out.
Here’s the Takeaway
Now more than ever, consumers use their smartphones and tablets to find nearby businesses and organizations that have what they need. With a tap and a couple of clicks, consumers want a phone number and directions to everything from restaurants to law firms. The faster and easier it is to find you, the more you increase your chances of converting mobile searches into paying clients.
That’s why having a powerful Local SEO is so important. When a would-be client searches for attorneys on his or her smartphone, Google algorithms consider location when providing search results. Proximity to the searcher influences results, but so does SEO. Whether your firm is one mile away or across town, the strength of your website’s local SEO could make the difference in whether you are listed by Google in the search results. You can strengthen your Local SEO by enhancing your listings in GMB, legal directories and online citations; creating website content with frequent location references and local backlinks; and continually asking satisfied clients to post online reviews. Consumers listen to other consumers when deciding whether to make a purchase or hire a professional, AND THEY READ ONLINE REVIEWS. So, get as many client reviews as possible!
By taking proactive steps to strengthen your website’s Local SEO, you can nose out your competition in both Google search results and brand awareness. If you need help implementing a plan to strengthen your firm’s Local SEO, our Gladiator professionals would be glad to help. Call us at (888) 683-3212.
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