In addi­tion to the most impor­tant rank­ing fac­tors we just reviewed, you also need to con­sid­er local SEO for your law firm.

When you trav­el or vis­it a new city, how many times have you googled a phrase like “good Thai restau­rant near me”? How frus­trat­ed would you be if you were in New York and Google showed you Thai restau­rants in Flori­da? Pret­ty annoyed, I guess.

The idea of search­ing for results only in a spe­cif­ic geo­graph­ic loca­tion is known as local SEO and it’s super-impor­tant for law firms.

Law firm local SEO is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tion­al SEO and some­thing you want to get right for your busi­ness if you want to gen­er­ate high-qual­i­ty leads.

For many legal prac­tice areas, your prospec­tive clients want to work with some­one local. Sure, with pow­er­ful legal mar­ket­ing you can get cus­tomers from all over the coun­try, espe­cial­ly as you build your author­i­ty in niche areas, but it’s impor­tant to rank extreme­ly well local­ly first.

Here’s a look at the dif­fer­ent ways you can imple­ment law firm local SEO on your web­site to improve your local rank­ings and increase the num­ber of rel­e­vant tar­get­ed leads that come to you.

Benefits of local SEO for your law firm

Let’s con­sid­er how the major­i­ty of peo­ple begin their search for a law firm. It either involves ask­ing a friend or col­league who they’d rec­om­mend or head­ing to the inter­net to do pre­lim­i­nary research.

Direc­to­ry list­ings, arti­cles, reviews, and web­sites are all com­mon­ly used by peo­ple to find an attor­ney, and they often make use of these resources after get­ting a refer­ral.

If a poten­tial client search­es for “law firm in [your area]” and you don’t show up on the first results page(s), what will they con­clude? That you don’t exist or are not very good, even if they found out about you from a col­league or friend.

If you run a law firm in New York, you real­ly need to take spe­cif­ic mea­sures to ensure your web­site shows up on Google for these spe­cif­ic search terms rel­e­vant to your loca­tion.

When you think about the type of traf­fic that comes through local search, it’s super-tar­get­ed and quite a warm lead. If some­one is search­ing for law firms, there are a range of things they could mean by that. They might be look­ing for a job, they might be look­ing to learn more about the legal indus­try, or they might just be like me, writ­ing about law firm mar­ket­ing.

How­ev­er, when some­one is look­ing for a law firm in a spe­cif­ic area, you can assume a cer­tain lev­el of intent and/or need. You’re unlike­ly to search for law firms in New York if you have no inter­est in hir­ing a law firm in New York.

So, from a mar­ket­ing stand­point, dom­i­nat­ing local SEO gives you a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­vert free traf­fic into pay­ing clients. What’s more, the inten­si­ty of the com­pe­ti­tion is some­what low­er. Rank­ing in the top posi­tion for a search term like “law firm” will be a dif­fi­cult task for most com­pa­nies. There is just sim­ply too much com­pe­ti­tion. But the more spe­cif­ic you get with your loca­tion, the less com­pe­ti­tion, and there­fore, the eas­i­er it will be to rank more high­ly.

Benefits of local SEO for your law firm

Keyword research for local SEO

One of the first steps you should take to opti­mize your site for local SEO is to think about what key­words you’re using. The ben­e­fit of local SEO is that it’s pret­ty obvi­ous which key­words you should be tar­get­ing based on your loca­tion.

Ide­al­ly, you want to let Google know that each page of your web­site is for a local busi­ness. True, you might use your blog or resources page to cre­ate con­tent that speaks to a wider group of peo­ple beyond your imme­di­ate geo­graph­ic loca­tion. But your home page, ser­vices page, con­tact page, and about page should all high­light your loca­tion.

If you focus on fam­i­ly law in New York, key phras­es you might want to use could include:

Fam­i­ly law firm in New York”

Fam­i­ly law attor­ney New York”

If you scroll down to the bot­tom of any results page on Google, you’ll see a range of sim­i­lar search­es that show you just how detailed you can go.

Instead of just using “New York,” you should also go fur­ther by spec­i­fy­ing which area of New York you’re based in, like Queens or Man­hat­tan.

When it comes to enhanc­ing your law firm’s key­words with local SEO in mind, con­sid­er updat­ing the fol­low­ing spots. How­ev­er, be care­ful not to “key­word stuff.” If every oth­er word on a page is your loca­tion, not only will it not be an enjoy­able expe­ri­ence for read­ers but Google won’t like it either.

With local SEO you’re going to do many of the same things you learned to do for on-page opti­miza­tion, but this time make sure you include your geo­graph­ic loca­tion.

Opti­miz­ing your home and con­tact pages along with prac­tice area pages for geo­graph­ic key­words will help the oth­er parts of local SEO to kick in. The way to get start­ed is to focus on basics like title tags, H1 tags, body con­tent, meta descrip­tions, and alt text.

Title tag

Your title tag for your web­site should indi­cate the city or region you oper­ate in, as well as your main key­word, e.g., “Fam­i­ly Law Firm Brook­lyn NY.”

H1 tag

You should find at least one oppor­tu­ni­ty to include your loca­tion plus a key­word in one of your H1 tags. Your H1 tags are there to split the con­tent up and pro­vide a hier­ar­chy for the con­tent on each page.

The con­tact page is often a great place to input your loca­tion and key­word into an H1 tag. When vis­i­tors have reached your con­tact page, it seems rea­son­able that they’d like a quick reminder of who you are and where you’re based, and it won’t come off as spam­my.

Just remem­ber that head­lines with a ben­e­fit and unique sell­ing posi­tion — and not just a key­word — will get you more leads every time.

Body content

Through­out the body of your web page con­tent, wher­ev­er it feels nat­ur­al, try to include the loca­tion of your law firm as well as the key­word. The body con­tent is often where law firms should use vari­a­tions of the core key­word phrase. For exam­ple, instead of just writ­ing “fam­i­ly law firm New York,” you might have a sen­tence that looks like this:

We’re pas­sion­ate about help­ing you, the peo­ple of New York, solve issues regard­ing fam­i­ly law. Fam­i­lies are com­pli­cat­ed, your law sup­port shouldn’t have to be.”

Meta description

The meta descrip­tion, even though in recent years it pro­vides less foot­ing for SEO click-throughs, is use­ful for peo­ple who want to check that the link they’re about to click is rel­e­vant for them. In this exam­ple, you can see that Man­del is a law firm spe­cial­iz­ing in fam­i­ly law and they’re based in New York. If this was some­thing you were look­ing for, you’d like­ly click through to vis­it this law firm’s web­site.

Com­pare that to this law firm where, oth­er than the .uk in their domain, it’s unclear where they’re based.

Alt text

If you use images on your law firm’s web­site (and you should), the alt text is a great way to indi­cate to Google where your main prac­tice is based and what ser­vices you offer. Images are indexed by Google, so hav­ing images like these show up on search results is a pow­er­ful ben­e­fit.

All of these images showed up on Google for a search of “fam­i­ly law firm New York.” Each of the pic­tures clicks through to var­i­ous dif­fer­ent New York-based law firms. Don’t ignore your images when it comes to local SEO, and make sure to take pic­tures at your office and at local events. You can then use those images on Google My Busi­ness and on social media.

Mobile-first local SEO

A vast major­i­ty of search­es are hap­pen­ing on people’s mobile phones, more so than on desk­top com­put­ers. This is large­ly due to peo­ple want­i­ng access to infor­ma­tion exact­ly when they want it. Google has updat­ed their own algo­rithm to sup­port this. If your web­site isn’t ready for local SEO on mobile, you’re leav­ing poten­tial clients behind.

When I type “fam­i­ly law firm,” Google under­stands I might be look­ing for a local law firm and the first sug­ges­tion is “near me.” Now, when you click this, Google will pro­vide a num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions for you, locat­ed near where you are right now. It’s a no-brain­er, then, that you should opti­mize your site to sup­port such search­es.

In order for your law firm SEO web­site to rank well for mobile search­es, you need to make sure it’s ful­ly opti­mized with a respon­sive theme. You should also make sure you have includ­ed impor­tant infor­ma­tion such as accu­rate con­tact details, address­es and team mem­ber names. Adding this data will give your web­site more author­i­ty with­in the search results.

Mobile-first local SEO

Legal directories

With the dom­i­nance of the inter­net, peo­ple are using print direc­to­ries like the Yel­low Pages less often, but this doesn’t mean direc­to­ries aren’t still used online. In fact, online legal direc­to­ries are a great way to improve your local SEO rank­ing as well as improve the domain author­i­ty for your site. Just don’t go over­board on this, because it could hurt your tra­di­tion­al search engine rank­ing if you start get­ting dozens or hun­dreds of low-lev­el direc­to­ry links.

If you want to increase your domain rank­ing fur­ther, you need peo­ple from author­i­ta­tive sites to link to yours. This isn’t an easy task and usu­al­ly involves guest-blog­ging on a high lev­el and the best legal-relat­ed sites. This is a time-con­sum­ing task and is more a long-term strat­e­gy, but it is more pow­er­ful than the basic direc­to­ry list­ings that are used in local search.

It’s very reveal­ing to search Google for your main key­words and see what direc­to­ries come up.

If Google is rank­ing cer­tain direc­to­ries well, they might be worth get­ting list­ed in. But if they have no vis­i­bil­i­ty and have stu­pid names like “lawyer-link-directory-SEO.com,” then you want to run in the oth­er direc­tion.

Updat­ing “data providers” with your cor­rect name, address, and phone num­ber can also be a good idea. Infogroup, Acx­iom, Fac­tu­al, and Neustar/Localeze are the four major providers that push infor­ma­tion across hun­dreds of web­sites online.

Be sure to update indi­vid­ual list­ings on sites like the fol­low­ing

  • Google
  • Face­book
  • Bing local
  • Yelp
  • com
  • Your local Cham­ber of Com­merce
  • Your local Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau

Even mak­ing sure a small num­ber of the best list­ings have your accu­rate infor­ma­tion can go a long way.

NAP citations

NAP cita­tions are impor­tant for your local SEO. NAP stands for “name, address, phone num­ber.” If you want to increase your local SEO rank­ings, be sure to include your firm’s name, address, and phone num­ber on your web­site. But more impor­tant­ly, the way you address these details should be con­sis­tent. For exam­ple, if you use “road” in your address in one instance, don’t then use the abbre­vi­a­tion “Rd.” in anoth­er instance. Remem­ber to peri­od­i­cal­ly mon­i­tor your list­ings, espe­cial­ly if your firm’s address changes.

Google My Business

Although it’s impor­tant to make sure your web­site is opti­mized for local SEO results, you also need to make full use of your Google My Busi­ness account.

You’ll notice Google shows you not only the com­pa­nies’ names but their reviews, con­tact details, open­ing times, links to their web­sites, and direc­tions to the firms.

To get start­ed, search for Google My Busi­ness and set up a basic account.

You’ll then have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to input your details. Be as com­pre­hen­sive as pos­si­ble.

When adding your law firm’s details, it’s impor­tant that the infor­ma­tion you pro­vide is con­sis­tent with what you show on your web­site. Make sure that if you’re pro­vid­ing phone num­bers, you use local area codes to indi­cate to Google that you are actu­al­ly a local firm. You should also make a Bing local page.

Reviews

It should come as no sur­prise that Google favors com­pa­nies that use its tools, and one spe­cif­ic tool rel­e­vant to local SEO is Google reviews. When you gen­er­ate reviews on Google, you can increase your search rank­ings. Google reviews direct­ly impact a local busi­ness’ rank­ing with­in the search results.

Pos­i­tive reviews are not only good for local SEO, but they can help estab­lish your law firm as an indus­try leader.

Mak­ing use of Google reviews and reach­ing out to your top clients to request a review is a great way to increase your rank­ings and pro­tect refer­rals.

Make note of how many reviews your com­peti­tors have, because that will par­tial­ly deter­mine what you need to do to impress poten­tial cus­tomers and sat­is­fy Google.

What­ev­er you do, don’t get fake reviews or pay for them. It’s far bet­ter to email your cus­tomers or send them a post­card with instruc­tions on how to post an online review. You might say some­thing like, “Please avoid using words such as ‘best’ or ‘guar­an­tee’ and sim­ply explain what you liked about work­ing with us.”

Send them some­thing like this:

Short­ened URL to your Google My Busi­ness page

facebook.com/attorneyprofile

avvo.com/attorneyprofile

In addi­tion to Google My Busi­ness, you should also ask for clients to post reviews on Face­book and AVVO. Yelp and City­search are oth­er places where you can get reviews. Set up a Google alert or brand-men­tion track­ing tool and respond to any neg­a­tive reviews.

The future of local SEO

So, now you know that you need to opti­mize your website’s pages for local search, cre­ate a Google My Busi­ness page, get into some high-qual­i­ty online direc­to­ries using a con­sis­tent name, address, and phone num­ber, and ask for some reviews from your clients.

What if I told you that doing these things wasn’t enough? You’d prob­a­bly be mad at me, but I have to tell you it’s true. Search engine opti­miza­tion firms have been doing most of these things for years, so Google has to get way out ahead of it and find ways to pre­vent only the com­pa­nies that get good at these tac­tics from rank­ing high in search­es.

Add to that the fact that there are plen­ty of unscrupu­lous lawyers and attor­ney SEO agen­cies that are will­ing to cre­ate and post fake reviews and fake pro­files in order to game the sys­tem. Not only are such efforts bound to fail, but they can pose an ethics vio­la­tion prob­lem (not good for a law firm!).

Cur­rent­ly, local search com­pris­es about one-third engage­ment, one-third local data, and one-third tra­di­tion­al SEO like the on-page key­word plus geo­graph­ic tar­get­ing and back­links.

Get more engagement with a few of these tactics

Add these items to your local SEO check­list:

Check your Google My Busi­ness time­line to see if peo­ple are ask­ing ques­tions of your busi­ness. You might not be get­ting noti­fied and you will look like you are miss­ing in action if you don’t respond.

Review your knowl­edge pan­el, which is the lit­tle box that comes up to the right when peo­ple search for your com­pa­ny name. It’s your respon­si­bil­i­ty to keep that updat­ed. If it’s out of date, peo­ple won’t engage with the brand they can’t find.

Google can see if peo­ple are open­ing your emails in Gmail, so do a good job engag­ing instead of sell­ing cus­tomers, just in case Google uses this in the algo­rithm for the local map list­ings.

Work on your social media engage­ment met­rics, even though we are not 100% pos­i­tive whether Google will use these direct­ly as a rank­ing fac­tor.

Set up your major search terms in Zapi­er for any­one who men­tions your key­words in your loca­tion, and if there is a way to engage them online, pro­vide help­ful infor­ma­tion. Make it clear that peo­ple can send texts to your busi­ness.

Pro­vide clear trav­el direc­tions to your firm, so peo­ple can vis­it and meet with you eas­i­ly. 

Takeaways

A local SEO cam­paign is a great way to increase your over­all organ­ic search rank­ings and make the most of the hyper-tar­get­ed traf­fic you can gain from good local SEO rank­ings.

Steer clear of gam­ing the sys­tem and pre­pare for a day when engage­ment met­rics are used even more for local map list­ings than mere­ly fill­ing out a busi­ness pro­file, man­ag­ing direc­to­ry list­ings, and get­ting reviews.

There aren’t too many law firms that are mak­ing seri­ous efforts to get their local SEO right, giv­ing you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to become the indus­try leader.

For the best results, fol­low the steps we’ve list­ed above and watch your rank­ings increase.

SEO is pow­er­ful, but have you heard that some blog­gers have paid lit­tle atten­tion to it and yet still man­age to have famous blogs? That is because they do advanced and unique con­tent mar­ket­ing.

Many of these same blog­gers have also admit­ted that they missed a few SEO steps. This result­ed in them miss­ing the even bet­ter results that the blogs offer­ing valu­able con­tent with smart link and SEO strate­gies were able to get.

If you can stay the course and fol­low through on the con­tent mar­ket­ing tips in the next sec­tion and use what you have learned about SEO, you will be well on your way to dom­i­nat­ing your niche and get­ting con­sis­tent leads.

SOURCE: Legal Mar­ket­ing Review