Your Google Business Profile is one of the key elements of your performance in local searches — and local search matters for your business. This post will go into how you optimize that profile so your law firm ranks higher (or appears in the first place).
FORWARD Lawyer Marketing is a Google partner, so we’re getting this information straight from the source. First, though, we’re going to back up and look at local search — what it is, why it’s important, and a few search engine basics.
If you just want the meat and potatoes of Google business profile optimization for lawyers, skip to the final sections of this article. Better yet, contact us directly by calling 888-590-9687, and we’ll schedule a consultation. Here are the topics we’ll cover:
Search engines are backed by powerful, complicated technology, but the overall goal is simple. The idea is to connect people with relevant information.
In their first iterations, search engines found files (web content, in contemporary terms) after indexing the content or titles of those files. They would match the words searchers provided with
corresponding resources. Soon, they could tell if the words were placed in positions that implied relevance, such as in titles or section headers.
The idea was the same as it is now — to connect people with what they’re looking for. To do that, you have to provide relevant information.
It can be difficult to know exactly what “relevant” means when you’re setting up a web presence for your law firm. In fact, it’s even a challenge for search engines to determine which websites might be relevant for which searchers — hence the powerful, complicated technology. That’s one of the reasons Google My Business exists.
Your Google My Business profile provides organized, easily accessible information to Google. This helps the search engine match you with people who might want to engage the services at your firm. In other words, they can use the data you provide in your profile in addition to automatically combing your site for keywords.
Local search is more or less the default these days, although it depends on the exact phrase people enter into a search engine. For example, entering “white house” would still return results about the United States government building — Google wouldn’t show a list of white houses in your area.
For terms like “divorce law firm”, however, you’re likely to get local results. It’s gone so far that you’ll often have to specify a location if you don’t want information about businesses near you.
Local search is even more important on mobile — especially when searchers are using apps like Google Maps. Your firm should show up prominently if it’s one of the best results based on a combination of these factors:
Every law firm needs to focus on local search. This is because local search (as opposed to non-local) is the primary way that prospective clients will be finding your website.
Backing up a bit, it’s probable that you have two general categories of visitors to your website. One will be people looking for legal services in your area, and the other will be people looking for reliable information about the law.
Intending to capture both of these types of traffic is probably a good idea strategically in the long term. However, to see some increased incoming leads from your website and increase your return on investment, local search is the priority.
If you think about it, this makes sense. Someone in New York searching for “divorce lawyer” probably represents a more valuable lead to an NYC law firm than someone in Chicago searching for “divorce law NY”.
To sum up, it’s a great long-term strategy to provide valuable information to a wide audience. It helps your firm become more prominent online. However, focusing on local search first should help you provide that same quality of information — albeit to a more focused audience and with the intent of generating new clientele for your firm.
Now that you know what local search is and why you need it, let’s look at Google’s recommendations on optimizing your Google my business profile. As always, please feel free to call us directly at FORWARD Lawyer Marketing (888-590-9687) or reach out through our website.
The first recommendation to increase your local search rank is to enter complete, accurate information. You will have to manage your business profile via the Google dashboard to do this.
You’ll want to make sure that your information matches any verification you have to do, such as verifying your address. Additionally, be sure to match the information people will find on your website or, if applicable, on your local-optimized pages.
Google Business Profiles let you enter a variety of different types of data. Here’s what Google explicitly mentions that you should include:
Chances are that your firm might have some other opportunities to share information. You’ll want to think of everything you can possibly include. Being as complete as possible here is the first step towards increasing your rank in local results.
Location verification is an important step, especially when it comes to showing up in search results on apps like Google Maps. Verification might take some time, however. Depending on how your business is set up and some other factors, you might have options to verify by mail, phone call, email, Google Search Console, video recording, or bulk processing.
Before you verify, however, you will need to add or claim your profile. Don’t worry — chances are that you’ve already done this if you have been entering information about your business.
Google wants you to be open when you say you are. Businesses with accurate hours posted get better positions in search results. Note that it doesn’t matter what your hours are as long as they are accurate. Many types of businesses still show up in search results even when closed for the day — don’t feel tempted to exaggerate your office hours.
One of the nice things about the Google Business Profile is how flexible the scheduling is. You can set up recurring holidays, one-time vacations, and any other regular or irregular modifications to your business hours extremely easily, and the information updates relatively quickly.
The reviews of your business on your public profile are important because they give potential clients an idea of what current and former clients think about your firm. Additionally, people can leave opinionated reviews — ideally positive opinions.
Google reviews also have a number of other benefits. Here are some examples:
Most robust business development plans include some type of process that collects client feedback. Google My Business reviews provide a familiar way for your clients to review your business while simultaneously improving your rank on local searches. Since the interface is simple and user-friendly, you can see at a glance what people are thinking about your firm.
If you operate a larger firm and need to automatically compile and analyze review data to meet your business goals, there are even ways that professionals can do this through the Google My Business back-end interface. Feel free to contact us directly at 888-590-9687 for more information.
The last item on Google’s list of recommendations for business profile optimization is to add photos. For some types of businesses, this is one of the easiest steps. However, law firms often have difficulty choosing the right photos.
Although it might seem like the most practical option, do not use stock photography. This is against Google’s guidelines.
The best approach is to tell a visual story of what your clients can expect when they retain your firm’s services. Photos of the entryway to your building, group shots of your staff, or pictures of the interior of your office could all be good choices.
Your business profile is probably not the venue for highly professional photography, although there are exceptions. Professional shots of your team can work when they’re taken during community events, holiday parties, or openings of new locations, for example. If you’re committed to hiring a photographer, try to find one who’s skilled in adapting and reducing formality for social media and web publishing.
That is the end of our post on what Google specifically recommends for most businesses looking to optimize their profiles. For a more in-depth look read Google Business Profile Best Practices. To understand exactly what your unique situation demands, we would recommend you work with a marketing professional. Contact us at any time to get started — call 888-590-9687 or reach out through our website.