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Google My Business for Lawyers: A Complete Guide

updated
July 28, 2022
22 min
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How do you increase your online visibility, boost your rankings in Google search results, and attract more local clients? Google My Business (GMB) is the perfect tool for improving local SEO for lawyers.

When it comes to local search, Google is going to prioritize pages that are relevant, mobile-friendly, and optimized for local queries. A search engine optimization (SEO) agency for law firms can help you with these specifics for your website.

Once you’ve taken care of those elements, there’s just one more important detail: you have to set up your GMB profile correctly. This setup will increase your brand presence online and allow your law firm to appear in the local Google Map search results at the top of the page. When potential clients search for local businesses, this is where they are most likely to click.

Clearly, it’s worth claiming and setting up your Google My Business profile for your law firm. This guide will help you do it correctly.

What Is Google My Business?

Google My Business, which is now called Google Business Profile, is a business listing and discovery tool that Google offers to businesses. It’s necessary to have a completed listing if you want your law firm to display in location-specific search results and on Google maps.

Additionally, by filling out your GMB information, you can also take steps to promote your law firm and help improve your search engine ranking in local searches. You will also obtain access to Google My Business Insights. This tool provides you with information on the performance of your website.

Use Insights to learn more about your law firm’s performance in search and in the Google maps app. It also tracks your business profile views, direct searches, search queries used to find your business, website clicks, messages, requests for directions, and calls to your firm from your Google My Business profile.

GMB Benefits for Attorneys

There are several benefits to claiming and completing the GMB profile for your business.

Google Maps Display

Google Maps Display

Once you claim your account, your law firm will appear on Google Maps. This appearance will increase the amount of traffic to your website. It may also increase the number of calls you receive from interested clients. If someone searches for “lawyers in [your city]” or “labor attorneys near me,” local law firms that meet those criteria will be displayed on Google maps.

When your law firm is displayed, the potential client will be able to see the distance between their location and your law firm. They will also have access to Google reviews of your firm and your contact information. If they click on the name of your law firm, a second page will open. This page will contain additional information about your company.

All of the information that potential clients see comes from your Google My Business listing. If that information isn’t complete and up to date, you’ll miss out on the GMB benefits.

There are also some verification steps you need to perform to complete your GMB account setup. If these aren’t done, your law firm will not show up on the Google Maps listing.

Local Three-Pack Display

Local Three-Pack Display

The "local three-pack" is the term for the top three listings that show up on Google maps in a local search. Your business has to have a location-optimized Google My Business listing to show up in this grouping. Additionally, you need to take other steps to optimize for local SEO. This work will improve your ranking and help you earn top-of-page placement.

The local three-pack shows at the very top of the page above any organic search results so that the potential client who conducted the search will be more likely to see — and click on — your listing.

Rating Indication

When you have a Google My Business listing, your Google rating will appear along with your business name and other information in search results. Your potential clients will be able to see right away that you have earned top ratings from satisfied customers.

Potential clients are going to prioritize law firms that have high Google ratings. These are signs of quality and credibility. Some clients will even use ratings to make a short list of attorneys to research further.

Traffic Improvement

When your Google My Business profile helps your law firm appear at the top of organic search results, your website will receive more traffic. This increased traffic could lead to your turning more prospects into clients. Of course, this will increase the revenue your law firm earns.

Google Free Ads

If you are interested in lawyer pay-per-click (PPC) management or other paid advertising, Google has several options for your law firm. If not, your Google My Business listing also acts as free advertising.

Most internet users use Google across their various devices. So the free advertising you get through Google my Business is undeniably beneficial for your law firm. But if you don’t claim your Google My Business profile, you won’t appear in any relevant listings.

How to Set Up and Start Working with Your Google My Business Account

First, you have to make sure that you have a Google account. This account is going to be linked to your Google My Business listing. If you have already taken care of this, you can move ahead and skip this part.

See If Your Listing Already Exists

See If Your Listing Already Exists

Your account has been set up. Now you need to see if there is already a Google My Business listing for your law firm. Don’t be alarmed if there is. That can happen even if you didn’t create your own GMB profile.

Somebody else may have suggested your law firm to Google. Also, Google may create a listing for you. It’s easy to check on this. All you have to do is go to the Google My Business Profile Manager. Look for your law firm’s name there.

Do you see your law firm’s name? If yes, go ahead and click on it. If nobody has claimed the listing, you will be able to do that. It will ask you to review and update your law firm’s data. Make sure that your physical address is correct for verification.

If you don’t find your law firm listed, select the option to add your business to Google. There will be more instructions in the next section.

What happens if someone else has claimed ownership? You will have to submit a request for ownership.

Make Your Law Firm GMB Profile

Make Your Law Firm GMB Profile

Your law firm doesn’t have a Google My Business listing. No problem. You just need to create one. Fill in the following fields with the correct information:

  • The name of your law firm
  • The business category for your law firm’s main area of practice
  • Whether you want your location shown
  • The physical address of your law firm (complete one office at a time)
  • Your website address, email, and phone number

Ensure that all of this information is accurate. Accuracy is important for verification and to ensure that potential clients can find your law firm.

Of course, Google can’t just allow anybody to claim ownership of law firms. There is a verification process.

Do you have multiple law offices with separate URLs? Create multiple Google My Business listings. Then attach a different URL to each local business listing.

Verify Your Law Firm GMB Profile

Before it can display your business listing, Google must verify that the information you have entered about your law firm is accurate. The process is simple, and Google has some different options for verification. However, you will only be able to choose the method that's valid for your business type.

Most law firm owners will verify their Google My Business listing by agreeing to receive a postcard that has a PIN code. The postcard will be sent to your company's physical address. When you get it, just enter the PIN code into your GMB profile. This method is the most common, even though it takes the longest.

You may be able to complete verification over the phone or by email. However, if you choose phone, ensure that you can receive a call or text from the search engine. This call or text is how you will receive your PIN code.

Google has its own way of determining how you will be able to verify your Google My Business listing. You may have several options provided to you or just one.

Whatever you do, don’t change any of your Google My Business account information before it has been verified. Once you have received verification, you will be the owner of your account. Now it’s time to optimize.

Google My Business Optimization for Lawyers

You want to share information about your firm with potential clients. However, if you want to compete with other law firms, you must optimize your GMB profile.

That’s fairly simple. You have to ensure that all of the fields are completed correctly. There really aren’t too many ways to make mistakes. These data points are simple, clear details about your business, where it is located, how you practice law, your contact information, and ratings from other people.

All you have to do is follow the suggestions here. Then, your Google listing will be set and ready to appear at the top of search engine results.

Specify Your Law Practice Areas

Specify Your Law Practice Areas

When you complete the Google Business Profile for your law firm, the category you choose is critical. It’s how Google understands the specific services you offer. So it will impact Google search. It also helps your potential clients understand exactly what you do. Choose the best-fitting primary category for better search rankings.

Google already has defined categories for law firms. It’s up to you to select the ideal one for your Google Business listing. Think of this as your focus keyword. It should reflect your primary area of legal practice.

Here are some of the categories for law firms:

  • Criminal justice 
  • General practice
  • Personal injury
  • Bankruptcy
  • Family law

There are also secondary categories you may add after you have selected your primary category. These provide even more detail about your area of practice. For example, you could add “Trial attorney” if you selected “Family Law.” This secondary category may also be available for other main law categories as well.

A secondary category is not displayed on your GMB listing. Instead, Google uses it to return better results in Google searches.

Add Your Law Firm's Physical Location

Add Your Law Firm's Physical Location

It isn’t mandatory to include a physical address for your GMB listing. If you choose not to, your business won’t show up in Google Maps searches. Also, when you give an address, people will be able to select directions to your office based on various transportation options.

If you do use your business address, make sure it is complete. Add your suite or floor number if you have one. Also, review existing listings. Google will provide you with instructions to follow if there is already a business at the address you listed.

Include Contact Information

Include Contact Information

Use your GMB dashboard to customize your Google My Business account and optimize it for Google search. You will be able to add pictures, hours of operation, descriptions, and contact information.

You want to ensure that your name, business location, and phone number are always consistent. This consistency should include information that is located offline. Also, if your law firm goes by a nickname or abbreviation, this name must also be used consistently. All of this is necessary for better SEO and lead generation for lawyers.

Include the Link to Your Law Firm Website

This part is quite easy. Select your website URL and add it to your Google Business Profile. If you have more than one website, choose the most authoritative one. Should you need help, website services for lawyers can make this determination for you. The selected site will show up on your GMB listing for people to click.

Write an "Optimized for Search" Description

Write an Optimized for Search Description

Many lawyers make the mistake of loading their Google Business Profile with plenty of keywords but not enough useful information. The description field that is provided to you is the ideal place to share helpful information with potential clients.

It’s okay to use some keywords, but if you are interested in optimizing for keywords, it is best to seek out SEO services for lawyers.

Your description will be a maximum of 750 characters. It should be as informative as you can make it. Consider what you want your potential clients to know, how you are different from other lawyers, and what you can do to take care of their problems. You can add your focus keyword to the top of your description.

Specify Opening Hours

Specify Opening Hours

You will need to add opening hours to your Google Business Profile if you allow clients to meet with you at your offices. This mode of operation is going to be true for most law firms.

Add your hours of operation to your Google Business Profile. If they ever change, make sure that you change your listing as well. For example, if you close for a holiday or vacation, update your listing with that information, so your clients stay informed.

Google has also started to include a note about COVID in law firm listings.

You will be able to add your opening hours for every day of the week. This flexibility is helpful if those hours vary. For example, you may have evening hours once a week to accommodate your clients. You might also close early on Fridays. Some lawyers choose to say they are open 24/7 if they offer an around-the-clock service line.

Choose what works for your firm as long as it is accurate. It’s very easy to update this part of your listing, so there is no reason for it to ever be incorrect.

Use High-Quality Photos and Videos

Use High-Quality Photos and Videos

Legal clients will feel better about doing business with you if they are familiar with you. Law is a sensitive area, after all. One way to create this familiarity is to upload high-quality videos and photos of your legal team to your Google Business Profile.

These elements will also make your profile more attractive and engaging. Visuals cause people to pay more attention and spend more time on your profile.

If potential clients click on your GMB profile, you are more likely to get leads. Additionally, those clicks indicate to Google search that your listing is relevant for those particular search keywords.

For pictures, you will get the best results by sharing a picture of your law firm logo, team photos, and images of your office space. Try to get over any sense of being camera shy, and tell your associates to do the same. These photos can really impact your profile in a positive way.

Create Practitioner Listings If Necessary

The primary category you choose for your Google Business Profile is important for local search results and for letting people know what you do. However, you might wonder what you should do if you have more than one key practice area.

If so, you can use Google Business Profile practitioner listings.

Think of this as a profile listing for individual attorneys. The lawyers who work for you will be able to set their own primary categories that best describe the services they offer. For example, you might have an attorney who specializes in contract law and another who works in litigation. Each can create their own listing and choose a category that fits.

When you have Google Business Profile practitioner listings, you will be able to rank in search results for those keywords. Just understand that every attorney will need to optimize and maintain their own listing. If not, things could be confusing for clients.

This strategy works well with firms that are very diversified, especially if there are lawyers in your firm who want to attract clients in service areas that aren’t the firm’s primary offering. If this isn’t the case, then it is usually better just to create a listing for each physical branch of your offices.

Answer the Reviews

You will receive email notifications for all of the Google Reviews posted to your profile. When that happens, make sure to respond immediately. There’s no need to go into detail. Just add a quick note saying, "thank you for the feedback."

Add a little detail that shows you read their review as well. You can ask for further details but never argue with negative reviews on a public forum like your GMB listing. Google does list responsiveness to reviews as a ranking factor in local searches and map results.

Always respond to the reviews you receive, even if they are negative. This approach demonstrates that you are willing to engage with all of your clients. Some law firms will only respond to positive reviews, while others just acknowledge the negative ones. Our experience is that the firms that respond to both rank the highest with search engines.

Add Posts and Services to Your GMB Profile

Your Google Business Profile allows you to create posts and write detailed service descriptions. While these are beneficial in other ways, they aren’t going to have a big effect on your local search results ranking. You’ll have to engage a law firm content marketing to really improve that.

When you do add posts and service descriptions to your profile, you communicate with your clients about exactly what you offer them. This communication can give your listings a slight advantage in ranking.

Remember that the overall level of detail and quality in your business profile will improve its performance. Searchers will find your listing to be more engaging, which will increase your visibility.

Here are some topic ideas to consider:

  • Notable cases you’ve worked on
  • News about your business
  • Insights on newsworthy legal topics
  • Information about changes in the law

When you write your descriptions and posts, use keywords. This approach helps Google to better understand what your legal firm does. If they are relevant, Google may pull keywords from your service descriptions to add to your GMB profile.

A justification is a small piece of information that Google displays in bold on your Google Business Profile. These justifications are used to show users why your company listing is relevant to the search they just conducted.

How to Track Your Results Using Google My Business

When you go into your Google My Business dashboard, click on the Insights tab. This tab will pull up helpful data about your business.

How Clients Find Your Law Firm

How Clients Find Your Law Firm

This report will give you insights into the number of people who found your firm online and how they did that. You can click on the chart in the dashboard, and it will show you a breakdown of the customers and which percentage of them found you by:

  • Direct business name or business address search
  • A discovery search of your services or location
  • A branded search for your company brand or related brand

Branded search does not apply to all law firms. It will only show up if your law firm has appeared in a branded search.

You will also see a total of all searches in these categories.

The numbers you see reflect impressions, not clicks. Google tracks every time that your listing appears in search results in local or map listings. The report does not count instances when your firm appears in organic search listings, Google Ads, or Google Local Services Ads. You can find that information in Google Search Console or Google Ads Dashboard.

You can also check our guide: Google Ads for Lawyers.

Where Clients See Your Law Firm

In this section, you will be able to see how prospective clients discovered your firm using Maps or Google Search. You can see the total number of views that your Google Business Profile received through each service individually.

When someone finds your business using Google Search, that will show up as “Search views” on reports. If they find your business through Google Maps, it will be displayed as “Maps Views.” "Total views" displays the summary of views from both sources.

There is a drill-down function that allows you to see how many people found your business on a specific day or by searching for a particular product. To use it:

  • Choose the day that interests you
  • Click or tap on that day
  • Use the checkboxes on the right side of the graph to turn your filters on and off

This view provides insights into searches done through both maps and regular search. So if one person viewed your profile from both places, that would show as two views in the report.

Clients Actions

In this section, you will learn how people act once they have found your company’s Google Account Profile. In the graphic, you will see the details regarding how many people have taken the following actions after viewing your GMB profile:

  • Requested directions to your location: Will show as “Directions Actions” on reports
  • Called your business: Will show as “Phone Call Actions” on reports
  • Visited your website: Will show as “Website Actions” on reports

Total actions on this report reflect the sum total of all three of those metrics.

You can also view the number of people who completed an action on any given day. To do this:

  • Select the day you want
  • Use the checkboxes to the right of the graphic to change the filters

This view will show the total number of times that somebody clicked on a particular action. For example, if somebody taps to call your business twice in a single day, that will be reported as two separate phone calls.

Calls

Calls

This section is where you can see when potential customers contact your law firm and how often. It only records the calls that are made through your Google My Business entry.

You can review the total calls graph to identify trends in the phone calls you receive for particular days of the week or by the time of day. This analysis will reveal exactly when people are calling your firm most often.

Check the dropdown in the top right corner. You can choose an option there to adjust the range. You may view call information from the past week, month, or quarter.

Remember that the numbers you see reflected in these insights may not match the number of calls that you receive. For example, if someone copies a phone number and calls it on their own, that won’t be recorded. Calls that terminate before connecting will also not be recorded.

GMB New Profile Performance

Currently, Google is in the middle of migrating your business data tracking to a new reporting system. This system will allow you to segment by date, then drill down into data for a more atomic view. Check the top of your Insights window for an option that says “See New Profile Performance.” You can explore your company data in the window that opens.

  • Can I Add More than One Location on My GMB Listing?

    You can! Also, if you have multiple businesses that qualify for listing on GMB, you will be able to list more than one location.

    To do this, you could go into the Location Groups for multiple firm location management within a single group. You could also create a folder in GMB to store that bulk listing.

    If you want to add multiple locations, go to the Manage Locations tab in GMB. Select the add location option. You will have the choice of entering one location or importing several of them.

    To import bulk locations, you have to create a spreadsheet. It must have these headings:

    • Shop Codes
    • Business Name
    • Business Address
    • Sub-locally
    • Administration area
    • Country/region

    Once you have entered the data into your spreadsheet, you can choose the file option and import. You will be able to review the changes before applying them. New and updated listings will be established on your GMB.

  • Can I Add Q&A Section to My GMB Listing?

    It really makes sense to add questions and answers. People who are looking for a law firm are going to have questions. You could definitely create some goodwill and help nudge prospective clients closer to hiring your firm.

    Fortunately, you can prepopulate your GMB listing with questions and answers. This approach will make it easier for searchers to find the answers they need.

    Q&A is a rather natural addition to your listing because people who are looking for your legal services will always have questions to ask. Questions and answers will be displayed on the knowledge panel that is shown on your GMB dashboard.

    Prospects will often conduct searches by entering questions directly into Google. They may also click the Ask a Question button that appears.

    There is a downside to this. Q&A is great for marketing. However, anybody is allowed to answer questions. You will have to stay on top of this section to correct any answers that are wrong or inappropriate.

  • What Else Can I Add to My GMB?

    One option you have is to add attributes and highlights to your GMB profile. This addition will help to differentiate you from your competition, as it allows you to showcase different characteristics. Some of these include “family-friendly,” “wheelchair-accessible,” and “woman-owned.”

    You can also use call tracking in GMB. This analysis allows you to learn more about your performance as well as the sources of calls you are receiving. You do need to maintain your name, address, and phone number to take advantage of this feature. However, Google has changed its algorithm to make this easier.

  • Can a Rich Keyword Business Name Rank My Firm Higher?

    Yes, this can improve your ability to rank in searches. Google will see a keyword in your business name as a match. For example, if your firm is called "The Labor Law Office," the assumption is that you do labor law. However, this must be the actual name of your law firm. You will be penalized otherwise.

Your GMB Marketing Strategy

GMB is a powerful tool for local businesses, and that includes your law firm. If you set up your account correctly and optimize it to reach your target audience, you will gain a competitive edge over other law offices.

Your profile will attract more interested clients and provide prospects with the convincing information they need to hire you, but also inform people when you aren’t the right lawyer for their needs.

When you fill out your service descriptions and publish posts, you will let people know exactly why they should select your firm.

It may help to think of GMB as a condensed version of your website that appears in map and local searches. Users can glance at it to learn your practice areas, identify your hours, and even read your Google reviews. They can also contact your company on demand — right from the search results page. 

If you’d like to maximize the benefits of your GMB page, our law digital marketing company is here to help. Please contact us for more information or to set an appointment today.

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Top techniques for busy lawyers to bring in more clients in 2022
  • Easy steps you can take to bring in more clients and up this year’s revenue
  • The top website and marketing mistakes holding your law firm back
December, 9th
10 am CST60 minutes
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    Sasha serves as Managing Partner for Grow Law Firm, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency focused solely on specialized growth strategies for attorneys and their practices.

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