Law firms need local SEO. When a search engine like Google receives a search query, it uses various indicators to determine the results that are most compatible with the search terms. Those indicators will influence how a search engine ranks and presents its search results.
Ranking in search engine results is extremely competitive. Focusing on local SEO gives Google the information it can use to identify a particular law firm as a high-ranking search result in response to a localized search query.
- Organic (Local SEO) Search Results are More Credible
- Three Factors Most Important for Local Ranking
- Top 5 Marketing Practices for Local SEO
- Maintaining Consistent Local SEO Rankings
Why Law Firms Need to Optimize for Local SEO
Law firms that optimize for local SEO will greatly improve their chances of being found by persons looking for an attorney within a particular city or geographic area. Consider the following statistics compiled by HubSpot about searches for local information.
- 97% of people learn more about a local business online than from any other source
- 92% of people searching for local information will pick a business from page one of the search results
- 88% of people who search for a local business on a mobile device call or visit the business within 24 hours
- 72% of consumers who do a local search visit a business within 5 miles
- 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information
Organic (Local SEO) Search Results are More Credible
When someone types a search query into Google, page one of the search results will feature a combination of paid advertisements and organic search results. The paid advertisements appear at the top and bottom of the page and the unpaid search results appear in between.
Despite being positioned further down the page, more people are likely to scroll past the paid advertisements and choose to click on one of the top organic results. According to HigherVisibility:
- Organic search results generate 53% of website traffic while paid advertising generates only 27% of website visits.
Why should non-paid results appeal more to searchers than paid results? First, people may feel more like services are being pushed on them with paid ads which can result in some initial distrust. Second, organic results (properly optimized) can be a more specific match to a searcher’s inquiry making an organic result the more relevant choice.
Three Factors Most Important for Local Ranking
When determining how to rank results in response to a search for a local business, Google considers the following three factors:
- Relevance – Relevance is how closely Google believes a law firm’s content matches a search query. Google determines relevancy from information in a law firm’s Google Business Profile.
- Distance – Distance is how far a search result is from either the location term used in the search or from the location generating the search (if no location term is used).
- Prominence – Prominence means brand authority. Google will access information about a law firm from sources all across the web to determine prominence.
Top 5 Marketing Practices for Local SEO
Attorneys and law firms can greatly improve their visibility and credibility with local audiences by taking a few basic steps to optimize local SEO.
1. Google Business Profile
When a searcher is looking for a lawyer or law firm in a specific location Google uses information from the firm’s Business Profile to determine which local results most closely match what the searcher is looking for. The Business Profile provides an opportunity to do more than just list a few facts about a business. If optimized appropriately, it serves as a strategic resource to bolster consumer confidence and boost local rankings.
Google offers some guidelines for completing a business profile that can help improve local rankings. After completing a business profile, it needs to be verified before it is authorized to be displayed in search results.
- Complete all parts of the profile. Be accurate, consistent, and as specific as possible.
- Under business description, use all 750 characters to provide the name of the law firm and lead attorney, the main location, primary practice areas, years of experience, and any notable peer or industry recognition.
- Use as few categories as possible to describe what the core business is. For attorneys and law firms, the category will usually be law firm – though a few available categories describe particular types of attorneys. Once a category is selected, the various types of law that are practiced can be added as offered services.
- Add photos to provide a look inside the firm at the attorneys both at work and in the community. People are visual and will connect more easily with appealing pictures that give them an idea of what they can expect.
- Create posts to share news about the law firm and the people in it. Announce community events local people might be interested in knowing about or that the law firm is participating in.
2. Business Citations
Law firm listings on directory sites give search engines more information to learn from and can increase a law firm’s local ranking potential. BrightLocal has compiled a list of some of the top citation sites for lawyers. Many sites offer free as well as paid listing options.
The most important thing to remember with business citations is to be consistent with your NAP (name, address, and phone number) from listing to listing. Discrepancies in NAP information leave a search engine uncertain about the credibility of search results. Less certainty about a search result means lower rankings because a search engine cannot be sure the result is a good match for the search.
3. Client Reviews
Positive reviews not only help law firms earn the trust of new clients, but some of Google’s most significant local ranking factors come from customer reviews. Law firms that want to get the most local SEO mileage from client reviews should have an active strategy for soliciting and responding to reviews.
Popular platforms where law firms can collect reviews include:
- Martindale Hubble
While good reviews can be very beneficial to a law firm, negative reviews can quickly damage marketing efforts. Negative reviews should be responded to quickly and with genuine empathy for a client’s bad experience. A good response to a bad review can actually help potential clients understand more about working with a particular attorney or law firm.
For content to perform well in local search results, it must be optimized with the keywords that searchers are using to find a local business. Try to incorporate geographic location information in as many forms as people generally use to refer to a particular area or region.
Make sure that all of the critical on-page SEO elements include keywords – URL, title tag, meta description, headings, and body. Using longer-tail keywords (5+ words) with more specific detail can produce more targeted results and will usually be easier to rank for.
For instance, instead of the rather generic ‘Portland personal injury attorney,’ a more targeted keyword might be to focus on a Portland suburb or nickname and a particular type of accident or injury – ‘Hillsboro car accident injury attorney’ or ‘Traumatic brain injury lawyer in Rose City.’
5. Inbound Links
Inbound links or backlinks are links to your website from another website. Having other popular and authoritative websites link to your website is a positive sign to Google, and it increases the prominence ranking factor of your content.
Investigate options for getting some easy inbound links such as professional organizations, alumni associations, and the chamber of commerce. Other options for increasing inbound links might include:
- Sponsoring a local event
- Donating to a local cause
- Writing an article for a local or industry publication
- Being a featured guest on a local podcast.
Remember, quality counts with backlinks. Try to obtain links from sources that are legitimate and relevant.
Maintaining Consistent Local SEO Rankings
A good local SEO strategy is dynamic. After the initial pieces are put in place, regular updating is necessary so accuracy and consistency are maintained. Fresh content must be added on a regular basis so that Google continues to index variations of local search terms.
At Blue Seven Content, we know it can be quite a challenge to consistently produce quality legal content that is well optimized because it’s all we do – and we’re not trying to practice law at the same time. We write about the laws to educate. We write about local news and events to inform. We create engaging legal content helping lawyers and law firms get noticed by the clients who need their services.
Written by Mari Gaines – Legal Content Writer