For many businesses, search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t just a smart marketing move; it’s necessary to raise awareness for your brand and draw in more customers. An average of over 3.5 billion searches occur on Google every day, and if you aren’t taking strides to capitalize on that, you aren’t doing your business any favors.
For lawyers and law firms, general SEO is a great first step in a comprehensive digital marketing plan — but that plan wouldn’t be complete without local SEO. Defined as “the effort to claim, control, and optimize your company’s online citations,” local SEO involves improving your position in the search engine results for a local or regional audience. This way, you’re more visible to people in the same geographic area, and people can reach out to you for legal services, either offline or online, more easily.
Even if you’re already familiar with general SEO or law firm marketing, that knowledge may not be enough to help you when it comes to local SEO. Optimizing for local search is completely different from global search optimization, and listed below are a few of the unique best practices you should follow to make sure your local SEO efforts are successful:
Update Your Google My Business Profile
Before anything else, you should update your Google My Business profile — and if you don’t have one, you should make one. Google My Business allows you to control how your law firm is presented in Google’s various services, including search results and reviews. Taking charge of the narrative and online presentation of your firm is incredibly valuable, and some of the biggest benefits of using Google My Business include additional analytics data, customer review management, and improved web visibility.
When updating or creating your profile, provide as much information as possible and make sure it is accurate, specific, and up-to-date. In addition, include plenty of images and videos. Not only do they provide a better, more aesthetically pleasing experience for human users, but more images and videos on your Google My Business profile can also capture the attention of more customers. According to Google’s own research, businesses with pictures receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their website than businesses without pictures. Post a variety of images to your profile, including photos of your business, employees or coworkers at work, and exterior images of your location.
Google My Business is a free and highly useful tool that facilitates direct connection with users. It is only one aspect of local SEO, but it’s an important one. It greatly benefits your ability to improve your visibility for local searches, while building trust between your brand and your potential clients.
Reply to All Reviews
Next, get into the habit of replying to all of your reviews on all of your different platforms. Reviews aren’t only important for restaurants or retail businesses; as a lawyer, you can reply to reviews to show past and future clients that you actually care about their experience with you. Replying to all reviews humanizes you and your firm, gives you a chance to respond to any negative reviews, and further expands your online presence.
Google states that “more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.” You can’t control how many customers leave reviews, or what they say in them, but you can show your customers that their reviews matter to you by responding to them. After all, why should a customer take time out of their day to write to you if you aren’t willing to do the same for them?
Additionally, if you have high enough ratings, you just might be able to rank for “best” or “top” related searches, like “best personal injury lawyers near me.” This shouldn’t be your primary goal when it comes to replying to reviews — these search queries can be difficult to rank for even if you have great ratings from your customers — but it can be a beneficial side-effect of your efforts.
Best Review Sites for Attorneys
You have more chances to receive positive reviews if your firm can be found on more than one review website. Generally speaking, the more sites you’re on, the better. However, there are a few sites that are particularly helpful for attorneys and law firms to be visible on:
- Avvo: Avvo is a platform specifically designed to help users find legal information and help, including lawyers. On top of user reviews, you can post your credentials, academic and employment histories, and legal content you’ve written. You can also make and receive peer endorsements from other lawyers to help increase your Avvo score or rating. Because it focuses exclusively on law, Avvo is one of the most important review sites for any attorney to be on.
- Better Business Bureau (BBB): This nonprofit organization has been around for over 100 years, making it an authority on trustworthy businesses of all types. If you are accredited by the BBB, it can help make your brand seem more reputable. As an added bonus, the reviews on their site only show the reviewer’s first name and the first initial of their last name, providing some amount of anonymity to the user and allowing them to give more honest feedback.
- Facebook: This social media platform does it all, and even allows customers to leave reviews on a business’s profile page. With over 2.7 billion monthly active users, there’s a higher chance that your customers have an account on Facebook than on any other platform. Plus, with that many users, there’s a greater chance that more people will see those reviews and your replies to them.
- Google My Business: As discussed above, Google My Business is crucial to local SEO. Google’s search engine crawler will almost definitely see the reviews left on this profile, making it one of the most important sites where customers can review your business. The only issue is that customers must have a Google account to leave a review, which can limit the number of people who can review you, and may deter people from doing so altogether.
- Yellow Pages: Yellow Pages have been a popular way of finding businesses well before the advent of the Internet, and they remain so today with their website. They have different categories for lawyers, so customers can better find the type of attorney they’re looking for.
- Yelp: Yelp is the classic review website, and you’re definitely missing out if your business isn’t on it. Yelp has strict policies against review solicitation, which makes the information shared in reviews appear more trustworthy to other potential customers.
Optimize for Mobile
Your site must be friendly to mobile devices to have any hopes of ranking for local SEO queries. Since 2017, Google has used mobile-first indexing to rank websites, meaning that they use the content from the mobile version of a page to index and rank it. This helps provide a better experience for mobile users and allows them to find the information they want more easily.
Optimizing for mobile is a simple way to improve your site, and it’s critical for local SEO purposes, as over half of all organic visits to search engines come from mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile users, you could be missing out on a large amount of local search traffic and neglecting a huge audience. Mobile-friendly features include responsive website design and alternative text for all images and videos. Google even provides a free tool that you can use to see if your site is mobile-friendly.
Get on Directories
Finally, do your best to get your name and website onto online directories. There are many popular lawyer directories, such as Nolo.com and Lawyers.com, that appear in the results for local searchers. This way, even if you experience difficulty ranking in local search, you can still gain visibility from online directories and profiles. You should continue to optimize for local search in your own right, but this can help give you a boost in the meantime.
You don’t have to be a marketer to do local SEO for your law firm. All it requires is purpose, energy, and patience. Successful SEO takes time to do well, and, rather than doing a rush job, it’s better to spend more time doing it correctly to see your efforts pay off in the end.