Where are your best clients for your law firm? For most law firms the answer is simple: They’re nearby.
You need to connect with people in your neighborhood, in your town, or, at least, in the jurisdiction in which you practice. That’s where local search and the Google map pack come in.
There’s a whole lot that goes into targeting the local market for law firms, and this article really is not meant to cover all of it. What we will be talking about is slightly more specific — using marketing techniques to optimize your position on local searches. The search result above is a screenshot of an actual local search result for one of our law firm clients that we have ranking at the top of their local Google Map Pack.
A broader conversation about local dominance would cover subjects like pay-per-click ads and possibly even offline marketing channels. Call 888-590-9687 to have that conversation now with a lawyer marketing expert at FORWARD Lawyer Marketing, or continue reading for a look at the following topics:
You might already have a mobile-optimized website. However, if you don’t, the likelihood is that you are missing out on a good deal of local search traffic.
Mobile optimization (particularly when combined with other local-optimization techniques) lets Google easily match your firm with people in your area. It’s especially critical for firms with services that are more likely to attract on-the-go searches. Criminal defense, slip-and-fall, and auto accident firms immediately come to mind.
Google has also moved to what it calls mobile-first indexing, which means if you aren’t optimized for mobile they may not even index your website!
Mobile websites also enable smoother communication. For example, a visitor could simply tap your phone number to call your law office on their phone. They might also use your social media chat, your live chat, or other mobile-ready contact methods.
Last but not least, mobile optimization makes your site load faster. If someone is in a hurry to get answers and select a lawyer, this can make a big difference. Speed also increases your search rank.
Structured data is an increasingly important part of Google search rankings, especially when it comes to advanced services like the map pack. This type of data is essentially a list of key pieces of information in a format specifically designed for Google to be able to read.
Using structured data makes your site eligible for (certain) special search results. There are many ways to go about this depending on your strategy. However, as you might expect from the term, structured data requires you to follow specific formats.
You can find these standardized formats — “schemas”, as they are called — online, along with the way to incorporate them into your website. Better yet, let us handle it for you.
Local Services Ads is a lead generation program that specifically targets local searches. We could write (and have written) whole articles about this, but the upshot is that:
Schemas, LSAs, and mobile sites are important, but Google My Business is the true king of the map pack. This is Google’s way of knowing who you are, where you are, and what you do.
GMB is also a place for past clients to review your firm, for you to provide pictures and for many other types of marketing processes. To top it all off, a good review score is a prerequisite for LSAs — something that you can manage through GMB.
To break things up a little, the next few sections will go through some of the essential GMB items.
Business types: Easy, right? You might think that, as a law office, your category will be mostly straightforward. Maybe, but you might find some surprises once you start the process.
For example, let’s say you’re a personal injury lawyer. Do you choose to be a “Personal Injury Attorney” or a “Law Firm” as your primary business type?
It gets complicated quickly. You can choose one main and up to ten total categories. The main one is likely to be the most important. Although it might make intuitive sense to choose the most general category as your main type of business and specify in the subtypes, that is not always the case from a marketing perspective.
Your primary business type choice for GMB has relatively extensive ramifications throughout the map pack and local search. Choose wisely.
Location is another GMB item that seems similar at first glance. Where is your office?
It’s true: Some law firms have a single office near the county courthouse where the community can easily find them for legal advice. But what if you have multiple locations? What if you operate in a co-working space or run an individual practice out of your home?
Location is absolutely essential for both maps and local search. However, putting down the legal address for your business as the public address on Google might not be the best strategy for your specific firm. If you have even a slightly complex situation, you might want to get a professional opinion on this subject. The majority of searches are done on mobile devices these days so Google will show you the closest relevant business to your location.
Listing your schedule on Google My Business is an important step towards capturing local search traffic. However, there are some considerations you need to make.
You’ll need to be available and responsive during your operating hours. For example, if you’re running a car crash injury firm and you want people to contact you at any time of the day, you’ll have to set up some way of receiving the communications. Ideally, you want to set this up before you list your 24-hour, 7-day schedule.
GMB also allows you to customize your schedule beyond the typical open/close format. For example, you could list office hours and after-hours support schedules. The same level of customization goes for temporary schedules, which are often particularly useful for our single-attorney practice clients.
Another widely overlooked aspect of GMB is the question and answer section. If you keep getting the same questions over and over again from prospective clients, it might behoove you to write some of them up on GMB.
This shows that you are engaged with the conversation and that you are willing to provide general information without people needing to contact you directly. When done correctly, this approach can help refine the public image of your law firm and help generate the exact types of leads that you need to grow your business.
Every law firm has a different place in the community. Some employ alumni from local colleges and universities. Some engage with local chapters of charities.
Even though you probably engage with the community out of a sense of civic responsibility, this engagement can also be a source of business for your firm — even online. For example, it is often a simple matter to request a link to your law firm when you are mentioned on the websites of local companies and organizations.
Many firms miss this type of opportunity simply because they don’t know it exists. Become a manifestation of this is when a local provides the name or logo of a donor firm — but not a link to the website. Taking advantage of existing opportunities and proactively creating new ones should help literally put your firm on the map.
Creating localized content is an important part of long-term local SEO. Although you will probably want to mention your location in your articles in certain cases, what’s more important is that you write articles that will be valuable to your local clients.
You want to establish yourself as the authority for the legal issues most common in your community. There are many ways to do this. Local and highly targeted SEO analysis can help generate ideas, for example.
The best local content comes from where your market overlaps your services. This becomes more complicated if you have multiple offices or territories, but the basic principle remains the same. You simply want to provide the local population with the information necessary to make the right choice: to choose your services.
One of the best ways to kickstart your local presence is to run a local optimized pay-per-click ad campaign. Although these campaigns are more expensive than simply publishing content to your website, they give you a better position on the search engine results page and more control over how your results display. They’re best for gaining traction in a territory or promoting an event — a new partner or a new office, for example.
Behaviors have changed so marketing your law firm must change as well. People might not be walking through your front door as often these days but, rest assured, they are still looking for lawyers. Let FORWARD Lawyer Marketing help you find local clients — call 888-590-9687 today.