The legal sector is already highly competitive, and small and mid-sized law firms have very little chance of ranking on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) without help. This can be a huge issue, as 75% of Internet users never even check out the second page. This is where local search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.
Local SEO for lawyers is a multifaceted but effective strategy for obtaining new clients in a specific region, and ignoring it could result in the loss of many potential clients, and subsequently, potential revenue.
We've prepared this guide to help you understand exactly what search engine optimization is, why you need local SEO services for lawyers, and what to look for.
What Is Local SEO for Lawyers?
Local SEO for lawyers is an important element of online marketing for law firms. It involves optimizing content for local searches, such as using city or state names in titles and meta descriptions. This allows your content to reach potential clients in your area and increase their visibility within the legal community. Prospective clients are likely to type in 'personal injury attorneys near me,' and your lawyer website could appear on the SERPs.
Additionally, a lawyer local SEO campaign allows you to target specific geographic areas with tailored content, helping you attract more interest from people in your local area. You can also use local SEO for lawyers to ensure your firm is listed on local business listings such as Google My Business and Yelp.
Why Is Local SEO for Attorneys Important?
With prospective clients increasingly relying on local search engine queries to find legal services, attorneys must ensure they are visible to those who need them most. Local SEO for lawyers can help build trust with prospects searching for legal services near them and establish credibility and authority in the eyes of local customers. With proper local search optimization, your law firm can be one of the first few options listed when someone searches for a lawyer in your area.
In addition, having a well-optimized website can help ensure that you're found more easily in organic search results, which will lead to more qualified leads.
- Organic results: These are results that appear on a search engine results page without paying for them. The results are determined by variables like domain authority, incoming links, and the relevancy of the results to the user's search query.
They may feature search snippets like Google Maps, images, articles, or the knowledge graph but do not contain advertisements.
- The local pack: Any search query with local intent will have the SERP feature known as the Local Pack displayed on the first page of the results. Google's Local Pack listings come from the Google My Business directory, unlike organic search results from Google's website index. Three local law firm listings relevant to clients' searches are included.
- The local finder: It targets local customers and increases visibility in their area with a “View More Businesses” option. It uses Google's algorithm to identify the most relevant local listings for a business and displays them in the local pack on Google.
- Local Service Ads (LSA): LSA connects you with individuals looking for your services on Google. Unlike PPC advertising, which is charged per click, LSAs are charged per lead generated. This requires potential clients to take action, such as contacting your law office by phone, text, or email.
- Paid ads: Using the auction-style bidding system, paid ads allow you to compete for ad space on Google and draw in potential customers. You are charged each time a visitor clicks on your ad. Although Google will place your ad there, you must create compelling, high-quality ads to avoid wasting your budget.
- Answer boxes: Whenever users enter questions into the Google search field, Google searches its database for the closest answer relevant to the query. It often includes the website URL, the page title, and content excerpts obtained directly from a certain website.
- Featured snippets: A Google search result page's featured snippets are highlighted excerpts of text that are shown at the top. Users can get a quick response to their search query from them.
- FAQ schema: This specific markup, known as FAQ schema, informs search engines that your law firm website has Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages. A rich snippet is then produced by Google using the code of the webpage.
Why Should Law Firms Consider Being "Google Screened"?
In essence, Google aims to showcase relevant, verified, and reputable businesses to users searching for specific services. Screened results enable Google to highlight the most reliable businesses based on reviews, eliminating the need for searchers to visit review or legal directory sites like Avvo, Martindale, and others.
Both firms that choose not to utilize Google Ads and those that engage in paid advertising can achieve Google Screened status in organic search results. To enhance your firm's local SEO, you must undergo a procedure to become Google Screened. Begin by exploring Google's information page.
Google's Top Three Local Search Ranking Factors
Google is consistently evolving its local search ranking algorithm to provide users with the most relevant results to their queries. According to industry experts, there are three main factors that Google considers when dermining local rankings: relevance, prominence, and distance.
Relevance refers to how closely the content on a website or listing matches what a user is looking for.
Prominence looks at whether a law firm has established itself as an authority in its local market by creating content, building citations, and receiving positive customer reviews.
Distance relates to how close a law firm is to the user's location and if they are within a certain radius of the user.
Of course, other factors influence your ranking. For more information, see our guide on SEO for Lawyers: The Ultimate Guide to Grow Your Law Firm.
Main Pillars of Local SEO for Lawyers
A high-performance digital marketing agency will know exactly how to position your law firm at the top of the list in local SEO. The following areas are among the most critical.
Google Business Profile for Law Firm Local SEO
Google Business Profile (GBP) is the highlighted business listing used in the google's local pack search results. The box includes your firm's business name, address, phone number, hours, and website.
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. They will move on if you're not there or they don't like what they see.
- Google will reward good profiles with a place on the map.
- New 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 Google business profile 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 attorney Google Business Profile in its local SEO algorithms, your GBP must accurately reflect your legal business. Therefore, you should ensure 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 Google Business Profile:
- Be sure you have completed all sections. Google emphasizes that people are 70% more likely to visit if they 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.
- Ensure the landing page connected to your GBP loads fast and is user-friendly. This, too, is critical.
- Make posts about your GBP (law firm updates, valuable content, links, etc.)
To learn more, read the complete guide on how to optimize Google Business Profile for lawyers.
Legal Directories as a Part of Local SEO for Lawyers
Local directories can help you improve law firms local SEO campaign and get in front of potential clients searching for legal services in your area. They include information about a lawyer or law firm, like practice areas, badges, qualifications, etc. Past clients can also leave reviews on them, while fellow lawyers can leave peer reviews. There are various online directories like Justia, Avvo, FindLaw, and Martindale-Hubbell.
There are a few things to keep in mind when listing your law firm in local and legal directories, though.
- Make sure to claim your listing and complete all business information completely and accurately. Incomplete or inaccurate listings can hurt your lawyer local SEO efforts.
- Take advantage of all the available space by adding photos, videos, and other content that will give upcoming clients a sense of your firm.
Local Citations to Improve Local SEO
A local citation is simply an online mention of your business name, address, and phone number. But unlike a traditional mention or link, a local citation also includes a link to your attorney website. Getting local citations can be a bit of a tedious process, but it's well worth the effort. Not only do local citations help improve your attorney local SEO. They also help potential clients find your lawyer firm when they go to Google search:
- City name + your law firm
- City name + your law firm listing
- City name + your legal directory
- State name + your law firm listings
- State name + your directory
- State name + chamber of commerce
Enhancing your law firm's local search result visibility requires considering more than just Google reviews. While many consumers depend on Google reviews, it's important not to overlook Yelp, Yellow Pages, and other local and legal directories that can influence their choices.
According to BrightLocal's 2022 Consumer Review Survey, consumers use the following apps to assess local businesses:
Link Building for Local Search Engine Optimization
Link building is critical for any law firm's local SEO strategy to rank in the search engines. But how do you go about building these links?
There are many different ways for law firms to build links. Still, the most important thing is ensuring that your links come from websites relevant to your content and industry. If you have links from spammy or irrelevant websites, it will hurt your local search rankings rather than help it. Then you:
- Get links from high-ranking websites
- Obtain the links that your competitors use
- Find and restore Broken Links
- Make locally relevant content
- Obtain local citations
- Grab other local link opportunities
- Reference unlinked mentions
- Buy quality links or websites
- Use outreach and guest blogging to market your law firm to local searchers
Online Reviews and Local Search
Online review not only builds social proof and help you attract new customers but can also be a major ranking factor for a law firm's local SEO. First, let's look at how online reviews are used in local SEO for lawyers. When people search for a business online, they often read reviews to get an idea of what the business is like. Google and other search engines take this, especially positive reviews, into account when they are ranking law firms in search results. This means that if you have a lot of positive reviews, you're more likely to show up higher on a search result page.
Reviews containing target keywords and locations also improve rankings. They will automatically appear in reviews; a lawyer does not need to ask the clients to add them to the review.
Local Landing Pages
If your practice works in multiple locations, you must have law firm landing pages for each geographic place you represent. For example, if you're based in Chicago but take criminal clients in Oak Park, Evanston, Park Ridge, and Geneva, you should ensure you have attorney website content and pages for each of these communities.
This tells Google you are local to all these places.
And it will dramatically improve your attorney local SEO when people search for 'criminal attorney Oak Park' or 'car accident lawyer in Evanston.'
It will also increase your own local rankings and SEO prominence because Google will see you as even more of an established, authoritative presence.
Local Landing Page Best Practices
Your law firm's local landing page is the first point of contact between your law firm's website and upcoming clients, so it's essential to make a good impression. After all, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, while 47% of people click on one of the first three local search results.
There are a few key best practices you should keep in mind when optimizing your local attorney landing pages.
- Make sure your pages are mobile-friendly. The pages should display properly on all screens (mobile, tablets, and desktops) and operating systems.
- You should include customer testimonials and trust signals to build credibility with your local audience.
- Prioritize the landing page load time. Visitors will leave a page if it loads slowly, negatively affecting your local SEO for lawyers. Test your pages' speed, check for potential fixes, make sure it is mobile-ready, and modify the page if needed.
- Include relevant local keywords that showcase your services, like practice areas and location, in title tags and headings (H1-H6).
Your meta descriptions should include keywords and no longer than 160 characters.
Local Keywords for Law Firm Local SEO
Local keywords are terms or phrases that include your city or region. For example, 'personal injury lawyer Los Angeles' is a local keyword. When people in your city or region search for terms related to your practice area, your law firm will be more likely to show up in the local search results.
Using local keywords in combination with other strategies concerning local SEO for lawyers ensures that your website is more likely to appear in local searches. You should use these local keywords in your website's title, description, headings, and content to help drive traffic. Additionally, you need to ensure they are used in the website URL, anchor text, and meta descriptions to increase the chances of being found in local search results.
Your Website Should Be Optimized for Local Search Results
Maintaining and optimizing your attorney website's on-page SEO is crucial to your local search efforts.
For optimal results, focus on these on-page SEO aspects:
- Make sure your meta titles and descriptions are up to date: Meta titles and descriptions tell Google and users what your website is all about.
- Incorporate primary keywords in various forms across multiple pages:
- In your meta description, put in a few keywords that outline what users can expect from the page (stay within 155-160 characters, including spaces).
- Make sure the city name/targeted location is before the business title in the meta title, and include the state if it fits within the 50-60 character limit.
- You can add phrases like "near me" and "near you" to some title tags.
Incorporate Google Maps with Your Legal Business Location
It's also worth considering the integration of Google Maps into your law firm's website as a beneficial practice. Many law firms already incorporate maps in the footer of each page or on the contact page of their website.
To find your business on Google Maps, simply visit the Google Maps website. When you click the "Share" button, a pop-up window will appear, providing an option to embed the map. Select the option and then click "Copy HTML" to obtain the map embed code.
Finally, insert the copied code into your website's source code.
One of the most important aspects of local SEO for lawyers is what is known as NAP data. NAP stands for business name, address, and phone number. This data is crucial for your law firm's local search visibility, as it is used to verify the accuracy of your firm's local business listing.
Your NAP is one of the main signals Google and other search engines use to determine your law firm's location and contact information. So if your NAP is incorrect, Google may think your law firm is located elsewhere, or your phone number is no longer in service. This can hurt your law firm's search ranking and visibility.
To ensure your attorney firm's NAP is listed correctly, you should:
- Make sure your NAP is listed on your lawyer website and that it matches the NAP listed on other directories and listings sites.
- Use a consistent format for your NAP across all your law firm's business listings.
Create Local Content
By creating content that is specific to your city or region, you can show potential customers that you understand their needs. You can also use local search keywords associated with your area to boost your law firm's website search engine rankings and attract local customers. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating attorney local SEO content. Make sure that your content is relevant to your target audience. Since you are a law firm, you might want to:
- Write about local industry trends
- Create blog posts or articles on legal topics
- Share case studies that feature cases from your area
- Share legal news outside your area you know will be relevant to those in your area
You can create content promoting local events and activities or highlighting local attractions. Additionally, you can use local influencers to create content that a larger audience will see. You can also create legal-specific videos or podcasts highlighting cases or frequently answering related questions unique to your location.
Post Your Content on Social Media Channels
The importance of social media continues to grow, and having a strong online presence can boost awareness and indirectly help local search engine optimization efforts.
The best social media strategy for lawyers involves focusing on channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn, which tend to yield the highest ROI. The regular sharing of content on these platforms can supplement your law firm's local SEO efforts and keep your community engaged.
Check out our comprehensive guide on social media for lawyers for more information on how social media can elevate your law firm.
Participate in Local Events
Local events help you support your community and give you a chance to network with other local businesses and get your name out there. You can participate in local events in various ways, such as sponsoring an event, exhibiting at a trade show, or hosting a workshop.
No matter how you choose to participate, make sure you are prepared. Have your lawyer local SEO marketing materials ready, such as flyers and business cards. And if you're exhibiting at a trade show, ensure you have a professional and eye-catching display.
Add Schema Markup to Improve Your Law Firm's Local SEO
Schema markup is a standardized language that helps search engines understand the content on your website, making it easier for them to categorize and rank it in local search results. This can lead to increased visibility for your business locally. Adding schema markup to your website can help improve attorney local SEO performance, as it makes it easier for search engines to understand the information on a website.
Additionally, schema markup can help your business appear more prominently in local search results, as schema-enhanced websites are often given priority over those without markup. This is typically done by adding the markup code to the HTML code of your law firm website.
To add Schema Markup to your website, you can use tools like Google's Structured Data Markup Helper to generate the code you need. Once the code is added to your attorney website, you can use Google's Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure everything is working properly.
You can also use a plugin like Schema Pro to add the schema markup if you don't want to mess with the code.
Wrapping Up: The Impact of Local SEO for Lawyers
As the world continues to move forward in the digital age, it is more important than ever for lawyers to have a strong online presence. As this guide to local SEO for lawyers has shown, it is a great way to ensure that your firm's website appears at the top of search results for prospective clients in your area. However, for most law firms, local SEO is a complex and time-consuming process. For this reason, you can choose to hire a professional digital marketing agency like Grow Law Firm (GLF) that offers local SEO services for law firms.
At GLF, we design websites and make them search engine-ready, optimizing the content to fit law firms' local areas. Additionally, we take advantage of the strategies mentioned above to generate leads, create successful local search marketing campaigns, and increase ROI.