Whether or not you think of your law practice this way, the fact is that you are a local business owner. Even if you have offices in multiple locations, you run a local business in those communities. Since you undoubtedly draw a majority of your clients from your market area, the ability to show up in local search is key to attracting prospects searching the Internet for legal services.
These days, people don’t even need to enter their location in order to find local businesses. Google reads the IP address of the searcher and automatically serves up local listings in what is known as the Google Local Snack Pack. You have probably done many searches where the listings you see are in your geographical area. There’s a map with three local listings, star ratings, addresses and phone numbers. This is where you want to be. Here are the steps to get you there:
Step 1: Set up your Google My Business page.
Setting up a Google My Business page is free and is the foundation for your local SEO efforts. It will take you less than a half hour to do this. Having this page puts your business address, phone, hours and directions into Google Search and Google Maps. To enhance your listing, be sure you include some photos of your office and write up a great description of your practice so prospects can learn about you from your Google My Business page. Once you have finished, Google will send you an email to verify your listing so watch for that.
Step 2: List your business on local directories.
The good news is that submitting your business to local directories will get you listed on other sites like Yahoo Local, FourSquare, MapQuest and many others. The bad news is there are hundreds of local directories you should be submitting to. But not to worry, there’s an app for that! Well, not really an app, more of a service to automate the process. It will cost you about $30 per month, which is money very well spent. Check out Moz Local, Yext or Aabaco Localworks for this service.
A word of caution: it is very important that your business listing — name, address, phone, etc. — be consistent across all directories! You can run a test on Moz to check your listings for consistency.
Step 3: Obtain online reviews.
Google believes that consumer reviews are a good indicator of a brand’s authority. We know that good reviews deliver more highly qualified leads to businesses. So for these two reasons alone, they’re important.
Most consumers these days don’t have to be clued in on how to give a review; they just need to be pointed in the right direction. If you don’t already have a process for getting reviews for your firm, institute one ASAP by:
- Reviewing your client database for clients who were happiest with your service and have the person they worked with at your firm call and ask for a review. Follow the call up with an email with links to your Google My Business, Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
- Set up an autoresponder series of emails to email clients after a case is closed to request a review.
- Incentivize your employees who are in constant contact with clients to request a review and follow up with an email with links to your review sites.
Another word of caution: don’t send out a blast email soliciting reviews or it could raise red flags with Google if you suddenly get an onslaught of reviews. Make it a natural process.
Step 4: Seek out local backlinks.
Link building continues to be important to local SEO, but you must have high quality links pointing back to your site to avoid penalty. This is best achieved by contributing content to quality sites, getting quoted by reputable news sources or being mentioned on sites with high domain authority.
To help with your local SEO, it’s important for you to get quality local backlinks. Sponsoring local organizations or event is a good way to obtain local backlinks, as these groups will provide them to you on their sponsor pages. Ask vendors, corporate clients or business affiliates to link back to your website as well.
Step 5: Improve SEO on your law firm website.
To signal to Google that you are a local business, you need to optimize your law firm website for local search. Be sure you have your business name, address and phone number on your site. Include a map and directions on your Contact page. Reference your local market in the title tag of your website (i.e., “Chicago Divorce Attorney”) and in your content, but don’t overdo it.
Taking these five steps will ensure that Google knows you are a local business and that you are definitely open for business. Your search rank should also improve, which will in turn deliver more qualified prospects to your firm.