Why “Local” SEO/Visibility Matters For Law Firms
A quick explanation of “local” SEO for law firms: local optimization is the process of increasing your rankings for local searches using Google’s “Map Pack”.
The Google Maps algorithm is different from the regular Google search results in that it the result is a different property/asset than your website, and it relies on different information, and proximity is a ranking factor. If your firm is located within a few miles (that’s an arbitrary measurement) of a person searching for “injury lawyers near me,” you can rank in the Map Pack for that phrase, even if you don’t rank on the first page of the regular organic SERPs.
The map pack really levels the playing field when it comes to SEO for personal injury lawyers, criminal attorneys, and other types of consumer-based practices. It is generally easier and faster to rank in the map pack than organic search phrases in Google search. Depending on how competitive your market is, it can take months to rank on the first page for a phrase like “criminal defense lawyer in [insert city],” but you can rank in the Google Map Pack fairly quickly if your site is optimized, have citations and reviews, and if a web searcher is located near your business.
Furthermore, a very high percentage of mobile users include “near me” in their search — and this number grows every year. You may find that you get more leads from your GMB listing than you do in the organic SERPs, even if you’re ranking well on the latter.
A Short Guide to Local SEO Ranking Signals for Lawyers
Your website, content, and backlink profile do matter for local SEO – firms with more authority on the web will rank higher, and if you have locally relevant content on your website, you’ll have a better chance of ranking in the map pack.
As previously mentioned, your proximity to a client’s location also matters, so choose your address carefully.
Your Google My Business profile will also need to be properly optimized if you wish to rank well. Practice areas need to be spelled out, your NAP needs to be consistent with the information on your website and across the web, and you shouldn’t spam your business name with keywords.
Most law firms that have websites know how important search engine optimization is. One way to increase your law firm’s search rankings is to get your law firm listed on Google Maps. When law firms appear in Google Maps, people viewing the map pack know that those businesses are in close proximity to them; this increases a user’s chances of picking up the phone and calling one of those law firms.
To get your law firm listed on Google Maps, you’ll have to:
- Create a Google My Business listing
- Make sure your website is aligned with your Google Maps listing
- Build “Citations” for your firm
We’ll explain how to do all of this below.
How to Get Your Law Firm Ranked on Google Maps
To get your law firm ranked on Google Maps, take note of the following:
1. Get Your Law Firm Listed on Google Maps
First, you’ll have to submit your business to Google My Business.
If your business is brand new, go to business.google.com, sign in with a gmail account, enter your business name, and follow the prompts. If your business isn’t new, Google will ask you if the business name it has on file is yours — if it is, just follow the instructions to “claim” your listing. Here’s what you’ll see when you first start:
Claiming your listing or verifying a new one is simple: you can opt for Google to send a postcard to your business address with a verification code, or you can receive the code via text or call.
2. Complete Your “Google My Business” Listing
You can only get business through Google Maps if you have a complete and accurate Google My Business listing, and the more information you include in your Google My Business listing, the better equipped Google will be to rank your law firm in your results.
To rank your law firm higher on Google Maps, make sure your Google My Business listing has all of the following information: your law firm’s phone number, website url, hours of operation, business description, business categories, images, reviews from clients, and Q & A.
3. Optimize the Information in Your My Business Listing
To increase your Google Map rankings, it’s important to make sure the information you provide is optimized to meet Google Maps’ algorithms. When you enter your law firm’s phone number, it helps to use a local phone number – this will confirm that your business is located within the area shown on Google Maps.
You should also refrain from using a unique tracking phone number for your GMB listing – the phone number needs to match the number on your website. Also make sure your business hours are always up-to-date — if a potential client is led to believe your law firm is open and they call and find out it’s not, they’re likely to move on to another law firm.
It’s also important to make sure your business description is brief but thorough and includes relevant SEO keywords (don’t “keyword stuff” your description, but do include a phrase like “personal injury law firm” and the like). The type of law you do, your speciality, and your location are the most important information to include in your description.
Photos are another important part of your Google My Business listing. High-quality photos can make your law firm stand out among other law firms, especially if the photos show potential clients that your offices are comfortable and accessible.
You can also improve your law firm’s rankings on Google Maps by including good reviews. Be aware that allowing people to leave reviews of your law firm does carry risk, since it is possible to receive bad reviews. But the risk is usually worth it, since good reviews have the ability to significantly boost your Google Map rankings. And if you do get a bad review or two, you can mitigate the damage by responding promptly and professionally. Encourage past and current clients to review your firm on Google by sending them a link to your GMB listing — that makes it as easy as possible for them to leave reviews.
4. Optimize Your Website to Boost Google Map Pack Rankings
Make sure that your website is optimized for local search – include your name, address and phone number (called “NAP”) in the footer of your website and on your contact page. Better yet, embed your Google My Business map location on a visible section of your site.
Also it’s VERY important that this information matches the info in your Google My Business listing exactly; you can’t afford to send mixed signals to Google.
Here’s what Majux’s NAP looks like in our footer:
5. Build Citations on the Web for Local SEO
What’s a “citation” in local SEO speak? In short, a citation is an instance of your business’s name, address, and phone number. This is called your “NAP”, and for reference, here’s what Majux’s looks like:
211 N 13th St #601, Philadelphia, PA 19107
You will want to build profiles on every business directory you can find (especially local directories) and include your NAP info, along with your website address. The more high quality citations you have, the higher you’ll rank in local search. Your firm will rank higher in the Google Map Pack if you acquire a high volume of local citations: instances of your business name, address, and phone number across the internet. You don’t need a backlink for a citation to help you rank higher in local search.
To find citation opportunities, try Google searches like this one:
Then proceed to build as many profiles as you can. It’s a time consuming process, but it’s more than worth your time.
Local SEO is Proximity Based, in Part
Many web users are searching for “near me” terms, so if you are the closest law firm to a person searching for a particular query, you will probably rank in the top three map positions, even if you don’t have a great deal of backlinks or citations. So in that regard, local SEO levels the playing field. Keep this principle in mind when you are searching for a law firm office location.
We Know Local SEO for Lawyers
Getting your law firm ranked in Google local search is straightforward, but it’s far from easy. If you’re looking into getting ahead of the marketing game and hiring an expert for SEO for criminal defense law firms or other law practices, call us today. We’re always happy to chat if you have questions or would like us to lend a hand. Call us at (215) 309-1631.