Have you ever been looking for something online, and used the search query “near me” or added your city to your search? If so, you’re not alone. Recent studies show that almost 50 percent of Google searches have local intent – that is to say, the searcher is looking for a business or service geographically nearby.
Based on that stat, it’s not hard to understand why law firms are paying special attention to Local SEO recently. As most searches are done through Google, we pay the most attention to Google’s service for local search, called Google My Business.
WHAT DO PEOPLE LOOK FOR ON GOOGLE MY BUSINESS?
No. 1: They want to know if you’re open. People search for your firm to find out if you’re open. They don’t want to visit your website or may not even want to make a phone call. They want an immediate answer.
No. 2: They want to know how to find you. People who want to visit your firm will most likely search for you online and use the convenient directions button to use the navigation app of their choice to get to your firm.
No. 3: They may want to call you. Is there a question they have that can’t be quickly answered via your website or Q&A? Make it easy for them to call you and get the info they’re looking for.
No. 4: They want to know if they can trust you. If they aren’t already familiar with your firm, and they are looking for a lawyer near them that practices in a certain practice area, building trust and establishing social proof is even more critical than normal.
HOW CAN YOU MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM?
No. 1: Keep information up to date. Keep information (hours, address, phone number, etc.) current on your online profiles, including Google My Business, Facebook, Bing Places, Avvo, and more.
No. 2: Have a process to get reviews. Reviews are critical in building social proof and trust for your firm. Have a process in place to get reviews on Google from your clients. When you do get reviews, professionally engage and respond whether the review is positive or negative.
No. 3: Use photos. Having photos of you, your team, and your office helps build trust with potential clients.
No. 4: Question & Answer. Google My Business has a section of your listing where potential clients can ask questions and you can answer them. Monitoring and interacting with clients here can help build trust and also answer questions for other potential clients that may have the same question.
No. 5: Use Google Posts. You’re generating regular content for clients on your blog (right?). Publish that content through your Google My Business listing to get more visibility to the great content you’re creating and generate more traffic to your website.
No. 6: Don’t spam. Always use your firm’s actual name in the business name field. Never use something like “Raleigh Personal Injury Attorney – Firm Name.” That’s asking to be flagged and lose any credibility your listing has built up.
MEASURING RETURN ON INVESTMENT ON LOCAL SEO
Great, you’ve got a solid, optimized Google My Business presence. Now what?
As you continue to research what clients are looking for and further improve your listing, you’ll want to know what is working and what isn’t so you can optimize the dollars you’re spending on marketing.
Although Google has a tool in the Google My Business portal called Insights, it has its limitations. We recommend using additional analytics tools such as Google Analytics and call tracking numbers to get full visibility into where clients are coming from and how they’re contacting you. With Google’s Insights function, calls can only be tracked with people who use the “click-to-call” function, and not the ones who physically type your number in their phone.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
If you’re marketing state-wide, or even in a large metro area, digital marketing for law firms is one of the most difficult verticals to compete in and requires specific expertise. Traditional SEO efforts in these situations are very competitive and usually require significant sustained spend in order to stay at the top of rankings.
However, there are relatively quick wins to be had on the local SEO side of things, as many attorneys either aren’t focusing on local SEO at all or aren’t embracing best practices. By making it easy for your clients to find the information they’re looking for, you can give your firm an advantage in the competitive legal marketplace. Brian Craig