More and more people are searching for professional service providers “near me.” This type of search activity led to the development of local SEO which can be considered a sub-discipline of traditional SEO.
Estimates put nearly half of all Google searches in the local category and that’s why it is critical that you develop a complementary local SEO strategy for your law firm to support the growth of your law practice.
To meet local search demand, Google created its Google Business Page product and now those listings are returned as part of the larger search engine results when a query shows local intent.
By paying attention to and optimizing for local search you can attract more clients and cases.
Benefits of Local SEO for Your Law Firm
Chances are you have a solid SEO strategy in place to drive traffic to your website and establish your firm and its principals as thought leaders in your primary practice areas or niche specialties.
But local SEO takes your business from the broader internet right into your local community or even as hyper-local as your neighborhood or office building.
Having a great local SEO ranking may also accelerate your traditional SEO efforts to get your web pages ranking higher, faster.
Better local search rankings typically result in higher conversion rates, too. Meaning more Google searches that result in more clients.
People who are searching for a business online are often much further along in the hiring process, having already completed the research phase. In fact, most people who perform a local business search transact business within 24 hours of initiating the query in Google.
At this point in their process, people want a professional they can speak to now and your local SEO makes it more likely your listing will be returned in a top position in the search results.
5 Reasons to Put Effort into Improving Your Law Practice’s Local SEO
- Hyper-local searches that have the qualifiers “near me” or other neighborhood or landmark driven have grown nearly 150% and show no signs of slowing.
- Two-thirds of all searches are performed on mobile devices and by using the features and benefits of a fully optimized Google My Business page, you can easily provide information about your business and remove barriers to contacting you.
- Google My Business makes it easy to deliver a great mobile experience to potential clients.
- With nearly 29% of search engine results pages featuring map listings, it’s critical to provide the information on your Google My Business page that makes your firm eligible to be featured in the Google Map Pack (“local 3-pack”).
- Nearly 20% of local Google searches lead to a consumer making a purchase that day. By focusing on local search, you’re three times more likely to get the call from a potential client who is ready to book a consultation.
What are Google’s Top 3 Local Search Ranking Factors?
Perceived search intent has quite a bit to do with how Google determines the local 3-pack display results.
Because Google actually favors local businesses, it is going to return local results for many of your broader legal keywords, but the algorithm also understands when to return even more localized results.
To accomplish this, Google uses relevance, distance, and prominence to determine the local ranking position for law firms.
For relevance, Google is measuring how well your Google Business Page listing matches the current search query. To win on relevance, make your Google Business Page listings as specific to your practice areas and specialties as possible.
Make sure your category is the most appropriate one to reflect your practice area. Don’t be broad thinking that you’ll gather up every potential prospective client. It is far more effective to use the most specific option. If you’re a bankruptcy attorney, make sure that’s clear and consistent on your Google Business Page listing.
Further enhance your Google Business Page page with content. Photos, videos and other posts help Google understand your practice and what you can offer to searchers of legal services.
Complete and optimize all the service sections on your profile using all the available characters to cover what you do and to include all your primary keywords, including your hyper-local search terms.
Verify that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent on your Google Business Page as well as across the web. Differences in your NAP can cause Google to throttle your ranking or to miss returning critical pages if it can’t easily verify those are your firm’s pages.
Proximity is the #1 ranking factor in local search. Google determines proximity by using IP addresses and other methods to figure out literally how close a searcher is to your location. Make sure you establish a clear local service area on your Google Business Page listing.
You want to show up in the search results for people who you can serve, and people tend to want to do business with providers in a small local radius.
This is where your traditional SEO comes into play in your local rankings. Prominence is determined by the relative competition in your area so the more ways and well-respected places you show up online, the more competitive you can be in this category.
This can be the single most challenging part of winning at local search for law firms.
We’ve covered the most effective ways to improve SEO for law firms here and these will directly affect your local ranking when it comes to establishing prominence against other firms in your local area.
Another way to increase your prominence is to use more imagery than your competition on your Google Business Profile page. Avoid stock photos. Make sure the images you use are high-quality, professional photos that present your firm’s professional reputation well.
Law Firm Reviews Are a Ranking Signal for Local SEO
The more recent positive reviews you have, the more quality clients you will attract. Even neutral reviews can attract prospects to your firm.
And the more reviews you have, the less critical it is that every review be glowing.
Consumers are more educated than ever and have more choices than ever before.
Having a lot of reviews allows clients seeking representation to read and determine what working with you will be like and the types of results you typically get for clients.
And this user generated content is considered more reliable than anything you say about yourself or your services.
Respond to reviews when appropriate and in accordance with state and local bar guidelines. Think of reviews as additional content. Your response to a review is another way potential clients determine if they want to work with you.
If you aren’t currently requesting reviews of every client, there are tips to create a review culture that helps you attract more clients while streamlining and improving the client experience.
When it comes to local search, the reality is that the law firm with the highest star ranking is better positioned to rank in the local 3-pack for those coveted superlative searches like “best personal injury attorney in Atlanta” or “top divorce lawyer in Phoenix.”
If you aren’t asking for reviews, you’re essentially handing cases to your competition.
Reviews are critical not only for the social proof and trust signals they provide, but when it comes to local search, they absolutely affect your ranking position for some of the most desirable queries.
Local SEO is the Key to Google Search Success for Your Law Firm
Most small to medium firms struggle to compete against big firms who have bigger advertising budgets to attract quality clients. After all, legal search terms are some of the most expensive pay-per-click terms.
Without a clear digital marketing plan that includes attention to local search, many small firms will struggle with trying to build a robust practice with low quality clients.
With a strong local search strategy using your Google Business Profile at its foundation, small firms can compete on traffic-producing keywords that bring higher quality prospects to appointment pages.
Smaller firms can increase their visibility and reputation by producing quality content for their Google Business Profile pages, strategically using their traditional SEO, and decreasing overall advertising costs by highlighting trust signals and social proof through reviews.
If you’re interested in increasing your firm’s revenue and think a focus on local search is the right move for your practice, consider speaking to one of our local law firm marketing specialists. We have been getting results and rave reviews from our legal marketing clients.