It’s no secret that most people go online when they’re searching for a lawyer. Google is easy. Easier than asking friends for referrals. You simply do a local search, and you’ll find any number of options.
And Google looks at all – or at least the vast majority – of law firms as local service providers.
This is why local SEO for lawyers is absolutely critical if you want to attract new clients, grow your law firm, and make more money.
But local SEO for law firms is not a do-it-yourself project.
It’s a complex, sophisticated process that needs to be done well.
We’ve prepared this guide to local SEO for law firms to help you understand exactly what SEO is, why you need SEO services for lawyers, and what to look for.
What is Local SEO for Lawyers?
What is local SEO for attorneys? Simply put, search engine optimization makes it easier for search engines like Google to find your content. If your attorney blog is SEO ready, it will rise high in the list Google prepares when people search for services like those you provide.
Local SEO readies your content for searches done in a specific area. Say someone types “Duluth personal injury lawyer” into Google. If you’re an attorney who handles tort law in St. Louis County, you want your firm to rank at the top of the list Google comes up with.
If you have a good SEO strategy, that’s where you’ll be.
If you don’t, that’s where your competition will sit.
Why is Local SEO for Attorneys Important?
Because most lawyers practice in a prescribed area, and most people looking for attorneys in that region use search engines, ranking high in local searches is imperative if you want to grow your law firm.
Google’s own ranking system prioritizes location over most other factors.
And your prospective clients do, too. The use of the phrase “near me” in Google searches has exploded in recent years. People type it in to find nearly everything, including lawyers.
This is why you need to have your attorney website content performing as well as possible in local searches.
It’s incredibly important to have optimized content for local searches so that Google sees you as the best law firm in your area for the type of law you practice.
But how do you go about that?
Local Pack: Where Your Law Firm Can Appear in Local Search Results
When a potential client does a search in your area, Google generates a list of highlighted firms that appears above the rest of the results. There are typically three that land here, with a list of their addresses, phone numbers, and other details. And there’s often a map, showing their locations.
This is called the local pack and the map pack.
You want to land here, preferably at the top of the list.
A good local SEO strategy, run by a high-performance digital marketing agency, can get you there.
Caption: Google ranks the businesses with the best local SEO in its local pack and map pack.
Google’s Top Three Local Search Ranking Factors
Google has honed its search algorithm into a highly sophisticated artificial intelligence capable of adjusting and refining itself. When someone types in a topic, it uses a variety of factors to rank sites that it thinks best apply, and the three most prominent are relevance, distance, and prominence.
Google first looks for things that seem to best match the search query. So, it’s vital that the descriptors you use for your firm are as accurate as possible. For example, in your Google My Business profile, you want to select the most specific category. Instead of “attorney” you might select “trial attorney'' if that better describes you.
Here’s where the “local” in local SEO comes in. Google estimates how far it is between the searcher and the results of their query and prioritizes those that are closest. This is different from how the search engine handles other searches, where it weighs links and additional factors just as heavily.
Finally, Google looks at how well known or recognizable a firm is. It likes to see a lot of links, articles, directories, images, backlinks, and reviews. The more of these you can add to your site, the more likely that you’ll make it into the local pack and the map pack.
Main pillars of local SEO for law firm
A high-performance digital marketing agency will know exactly how to position your law firm to rank at the top of the list in local SEO. The following areas are among the most critical.
Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile (GBP) is the highlighted listing that comes up in the local pack search results. It’s the box that includes your firm’s name, address, phone number, hours, and website.
And it’s entirely free.
If you’ve done a good job with your local SEO for attorneys, you’ll be listed on the adjacent map.
Formerly known as Google My Business, these little listings are critically important for a number of reasons:
- This is where potential clients will most likely see you first. If you’re not there, or they don’t like what they see, they will move on.
- Google will reward good profiles with a place on the map.
- Potential clients can find your contact information – and even direct message you.
- They can read reviews of your firm – and you can respond if you feel the need.
- You can interact directly with prospects here.
- You can add posts, images, and links to your content here.
- And perhaps most importantly, your GBP alone can raise your business in local SEO rankings.
How to Optimize a Google Business Profile
Because Google uses your GBP in its local SEO algorithms, it’s extremely important that your profile is an accurate reflection of your business. Therefore, you should make sure it is set up correctly – and update it often.
Again, this is free. And your prospective clients will use it.
Below are several tips for optimizing your GBP:
- Be certain you have completed all sections. Google emphasizes that people are 70% more likely to visit if you have a complete profile.
- Make sure everything is spelled correctly and that your address, hours, and website address all look exactly the way you want them.
- Update frequently. If your hours change, and clients try to contact you using old ones, only to find you closed, you could turn them away.
- Pick the pull-down category that is the most specific for the type of law your practice.
- Do the same for the secondary category.
- Select good-quality visuals and add new ones frequently.
- Add a review section. Though it can be scary to think of people commenting on your services in public, reviews engender trust. And you can respond to bad ones if you want.
- Make sure the landing page connected to your GBP loads fast and is user friendly. This, too, is critical.
To learn more read full guide how to optimize Google Business Profile for lawyers.
Local Directories and Citations
Google is by far the most important application for your law firm, with almost 90% of market share among search engines.
But people still do local searches on a variety of apps and legal directories. Off-page citations on sites like the ones below tell Google that your firm is reputable.
And it’s important that your NAP data – name, address, and phone number - is the same across all of them because Google looks at that when it considers prominence. Many tools are available to audit your NAP information, including WhiteSpark and SEOFoxy.
- AppleMaps – You definitely don’t want to forget the IOS users out there.
- Bing Places for Business – Microsoft’s version of the Google Business Profile.
- Facebook – Known for its social media posts, Facebook nonetheless is searched by Google for business profiles.
- Spoke – Another business-oriented directory with more than 100,000 monthly visitors.
- Yellow Pages – Sounds old fashioned but some people still use the online iteration of the old phonebook to look for local businesses.
- Yelp – Many prospective clients will look you up and read reviews on Yelp.
- Also, make sure you’re listed on the top lawyer directories, which include Avvo, Nolo, FindLaw, HG.org, Justia, Lawyers.com, and LegalZoom, among others.
Google wants to see that you have reviews. The more you have, the higher your prominence ranking.
This means that even though it might make you nervous to have anyone and everyone talking about you in a very public forum, it’s still a good idea.
Adding reviews is simple, and if you care about your attorney reputation management, you will most likely get more good ones than bad ones. Of course, the best way to guard against negative reviews is to provide great service to your clients.
Local Landing Pages
If your practice works in more than one area, it’s important to have law firm landing pages for each geographic place that you represent. For example, if you’re based in Chicago but take criminal clients in Oak Park, Evanston, Park Ridge, and Geneva, you should make sure you have attorney website content and pages for each of these communities as well.
This tells Google you are local to all these places.
And it will dramatically improve your local SEO when people search for “criminal attorney Oak Park” or “defense lawyer in Evanston.”
It also will make you rise in prominence because Google will see you as even more of an established, authoritative presence.
You want unique SEO content for each of the places that your law firm represents.
By now, you should know exactly the type of content you need to create.
Good local SEO won’t put you on the map in these places. You’d need to have an office and a physical address for that. But it will improve your rank anytime someone in those areas does a search for a lawyer with your specialty.
If you do have a street address in any of these communities, you’ll want to create another GMB profile with the appropriate NAP for that location.
Local SEO is a vital part of any law firm SEO strategy. It creates a cycle within Google that will help you climb up higher in rankings until you sit at the top of your local market, where you belong.
But this is too important and complex to do yourself.
Contact a high-performing law firm digital marketing agency when you’re ready to dominate your market. SEO services for law firms is what we do.