Today more than ever, it’s essential to be search engine-savvy. Without a strong online presence, it becomes more difficult for your prospective clients to find your law firm when they need it most.
It used to be that people cracked open a phone book when searching for a lawyer in their local areas. While there are still some hold-outs, most people look for legal help online. They generally type in a keyword, such as "divorce lawyer" or "injury lawyer," and they often add their location to the search as well—such as in the query "workers' comp lawyer in Los Angeles."
Is your law firm popping up in search results when someone in your city is looking for legal help? And better yet, does it appear in the top 3 local search results at the top of the page? In Google, that group of top 3 local results is called the “Local Pack.” They appear with a map and basic business information, which may or may not include a website link.
Here’s what the Local Pack looks like for a query for “Burbank criminal defense lawyer”:
Placement in the Local 3-Pack benefits your law firm because it gives it greater visibility in local search results. It also benefits people searching for local attorneys because it quickly connects them with the law firms near that match their needs.
If your law firm isn’t being featured in the Local 3-Pack, you can bet that you’re losing some of the spotlight to competing law firms in your area.
How to Get Your Law Firm in Google’s Local Pack
In order to get your law firm featured in the Local 3-Pack, you need to meet certain criteria.
Google’s 3 main local SEO ranking factors include:
- Relevance: Whether your services appear to match the types of services the searcher is looking for
- Distance: How close your business is to the searcher’s location or the location included in the search query
- Prominence: How well-known and reputable your business is both online and offline
While your law firm’s location, services, and business details may be a given, there are things you can do to help Google access this information so it can match with the right local searchers (distance and relevance). There are also a ton of things your firm can do to boost its online reputation (prominence).
Start with these 5 steps:
1. Use Local Keywords
Google doesn’t want to give its users search results that aren’t a good match. That’s why it looks for signals such as local keywords, or search terms that include geographic areas. This is why it's important to use local search terms throughout your website content, including your H1 headings, page content, meta data, and more. Incorporating the name of your target city into your SEO helps Google know where you are so it can send local searchers your way.
2. Set Up & Verify Your Google My Business Profile
Be sure to set up a Google My Business profile for your law firm, verify the information on the page, and keep it up-to-date. Your Google My Business page is a crucial aspect of your local search rankings, so be sure that it is fully filled out with your current contact and location information, as well as a keyword-optimized description of your firm’s services. Doing this helps keep Google informed about how relevant and close your business is to the searcher.
3. Actually Use Your Google My Business Page
Make sure to stay active on your Google Plus page, as this helps boost your online presence and your prominence in Google’s eyes. All it takes is a few minutes a day. You can write posts about your business and photos on your Google+ page, send more traffic to your page by sharing links, respond to online reviews, and more.
4. Keep Your Firm’s Contact Information Consistent Across the Web
When your law firm has different business and contact information in various places online, this serves as a red flag for Google. In contract, when you have the same firm name, address, and phone number listed on numerous sites, Google sees this as a sign of your firm’s credibility and prominence, which can serve as a boost to your local SEO rankings.
5. Get More Positive Reviews
Your online reviews are a major ranking factor in local search results. First, high star ratings and positive reviews help Google see that your firm is well-known and reputable, which can help you in the “prominence” ranking area. That, in turn can make your firm more likely to get listed in the Local Pack. Second, a 5-star rating may be just what you need to make your firm stand out. Getting that star rating to show up next to your Google+ listing happens sometimes after getting 5 business reviews and is even more likely if you get 10 reviews. Are you ranking in the Local Pack but constantly positioned next to firms with better reviews and ratings?
It's perfectly acceptable to encourage clients to leave honest reviews. And when you do get reviews, be sure to respond to them… without giving away sensitive information about the client or the case you handled. Even if the review isn't positive, you can use that as an opportunity to show clients and potential clients that you are receptive to feedback and that you handle things in a professional manner. Aim for getting more reviews on your Google My Business page, as well as on sites such as Yelp and Avvo.
Is your law firm missing out on potential clients right in your own community? You could be if you aren’t making it into Google’s Local Pack. It’s time to get serious about your local SEO so you can be one of the top 3 law firms featured in local search results!
If you would like to learn more about how to manage your law firm’s online reviews, check out this free guide.