How to gain visibility on SERPs for local law firms
As the world goes online, professionals like lawyers, accountants, and dentists are discovering that not as many potential clients are walking through the door and more are searching for them online first. Internet reviews and word of mouth count for more now and up to a third of people research lawyers in their local area before getting in touch with one or more firms to discuss their needs.
Local SEO helps law firms connect with prospective buyers of their services. Whether that’s through seeing their details in a citation listing, finding them on a map of local lawyers, or via content marketing, lawyers can no longer afford to sit idly by and cross their fingers that new clients will magically appear.
Let’s look now at how local SEO can help law firms get more business.
Local search is a separate way that search engines like Google make it easier for people to find suitable businesses. They’ve hooked up citation information to track where each business is, linked that to a map with a pin for their location, and couple that with contact information, opening times, and customer reviews.
The practice of local SEO is to work with businesses to help them become more visible within Google, Bing, and other search engines. When there’s a law firm in Florida that deals with medical claims, then the firm will want to rank in Google for terms related to medical problems in Florida.
Being one of the law companies shown on the first page for these types of local search terms can drive traffic to their website and increase the number of phone calls to their office during opening hours. It’s like an amped up version of Yellow Pages with everything relevant listed in one place.
Creating Citations to Attract Clients
The first step with local SEO is to prepare the right citations to go on the web. A citation is something that provides the key details about the business. This includes the business name, contact details, and physical address. For search engines and other sites that collect it, they may also want to record the opening hours and what days the business operates too.
The way citations are initially created is to place the main information on every page on the law firm’s website. It’s important that the information stays the same on every page and doesn’t vary due to carelessness. When there’s an older phone number and the current one on different pages, search engines and business reference sites won’t be sure which is the correct telephone number to use.
Google My Business
The aptly named Google My Business is the business section of Google where they keep records of each locally-based company. When looking at local search results, selecting a business creates a display on the right-hand side with all the company information that Google has.
For any company that does business primarily with local customers, being signed up with Google My Business is critically important. Once signed up, by adding the business address, Google puts the business through its verification system. Quite often, mail is sent out to the business address, which once returned, confirms that the business does indeed operate from that location. After approval, the next steps include adding photos, links to a Google+ page, and ensuring all the company information cited is correct.
The NAP refers to the Name, Address, and phone number of the business listing. The information on the website and any citations must be as consistent as possible in this regard. For example, for the AER Law Group, when the firm is referred to in full (not abbreviated as AER), then that could create confusion. It’s always best to be consistent rather than use different versions of a name, address, or contact number.
While this level of fine detail might seem pedantic, most listings are powered by computer and AI, which relies on using pattern-matching to confirm information. When the details don’t match exactly, sometimes the programming is not sophisticated enough to understand that a subtle variation in a name isn’t significant.
Profile Live & Current on Listing Sites
Whether the law firm prefers to be listed on Foursquare, Bing, Yelp, Google+ or on another site or app, a business listing is the opportunity for potential customers to find the company’s information and get in touch. When there’s no profile on key listing sites, firstly, smart people will wonder why, and secondly, it looks a little suspicious these days. As with a social media presence, having an active profile on key business listing sites is expected.
It’s also worth pointing out that quite often, there’s already a basic listing for businesses on listing sites based on public information. Customers past and present may even have commented on the listing, even when it hadn’t been officially claimed by the business. For this reason alone, it’s important that law firms claim their listing (or create one) to ensure the citation information is correct and to be able to respond to public customer comments.
The idea of content marketing may seem like an odd one to a bunch of lawyers. However, written content that talks about how the firm manages client relations and deals with difficult situations (without giving away confidential information) lets potential clients inside the doors of the firm. With potential customers who are deciding which firm to go with, being able to hear the “voice” of the business, its passion and ethics laid bare, is often the deciding factor on firm selection.
From a local SEO standpoint, when writing about legal topics but including relevant local terms that the search engines can pick up on, it helps to rank better when searchers are looking for a law firm with a certain specialty that will be a good match.
When using the suggestions covered in this article, law firms can achieve better results. Search engines are far more likely to take notice of them and show up prominently in local searches. Potential customers will also find it easier to locate a specialist firm that is able to help them. When doing local SEO right, everyone gets some help in finding what they’re looking for, which is a win-win.