FAQs Answered: Google Local for Attorney Marketing
With Google My Business, Google+ (Google Plus), Google Analytics, there’s a lot to know about attorney marketing on the biggest search engines, not to mention countless places to show up! A huge key to marketing success for most law firms is focusing on local marketing in order to reach prospective clients that live in the local community—basically, the people that are most likely to need and want your services.
That’s easier said than done. Most law firms struggle to keep up with the changing local marketing landscape and develop a strategy that actually lands them in front of their ideal audience, as well as at the top of the search engine results on Google.
If these challenges sound familiar, take a minute to read through these frequently asked questions involving Google Local optimization and utilizing online local marketing to your advantage. You might just uncover the attorney marketing answers you’ve been looking for.
What is a Google My Business listing?
A Google My Business listing is basically an overview of your law firm. It presents information that is pertinent to curious visitors, such as:
- Phone number
- Business hours
- Reviews and an average rating from clients and visitors
- Photos of your law firm
Why is a Google My Business listing important?
First and foremost, a Google local listing provides information that potential clients need to contact you. If your prospective clients are using Google these days (and who isn’t?), then they will immediately type your law firm’s name into their search bar… and one of the first things that will pop up is your Google My Business listing, since Google wants to provide the most helpful information to their users right away.
Providing a full and accurate profile avoids frustrated or misled visitors and creates a direct path from searching a query to contacting your law firm’s website.
How can I make my Google My Business listing more powerful?
A completed local listing ensures more informed and satisfied visitors while playing a role in SEO. Although the ins and outs of Google’s algorithms are never totally known to those outside of the company, major players in the online marketing world such as Moz have found that several factors can rank pages more highly than others.
For instance, if your law firm’s profile has received more client reviews than your competitor’s, it may rank higher on the list, which can mean more visitors routing to your website and converting to clients (this is why online reputation management is one key element of the James Legal CRM—some of our clients have seen incredible law firm marketing success by building their positive online review library!).
Adding photos of your law firm such as the façade of the building can also boost your Google My Business page, as well as having an owner verified profile.
It’s also worth noting that “bread and butter” SEO practices like creating relevant content and designing a user-friendly mobile site are still powerful attorney marketing strategies that go hand in hand with increasing the presence of your law firm’s Google My Business page; the more visitors heading to your website because of its helpfulness, the higher your organic ranking.
How is Google My Business related to Google+?
Google+ is still a separate entity from Google My Business but the two tools are intertwined in some ways. Your law firm can manage your Google+ page from the Google My Business dashboard, including sharing updates to your social media network and adding connections.
This not only makes keeping on top of your Google+ presence quicker and easier, but also ensures that your law practice has one more profile under its control that’s ranking highly on search engine results pages. And reaching an estimated 135 million active members through the Google+ network? That sure doesn’t hurt your attorney marketing power either.
What are a few things I can do today to start improving my local marketing online?
All the information above might seem overwhelming to someone new to Google local marketing. If that’s the case, here are a few concrete steps you can take today to start building your attorney marketing strategy for local:
- Take ownership of your Google My Business page
- Complete your Google My Business profile
- Get active on Google+
- Reach out to a lawyer marketing partner like Optimized Attorney, who has experience with both Google+ Local optimization and streamlining attorneys’ marketing and business processes (while saving money!) with their James Legal CRM
In case you missed it, here’s a recording of our recent Attorney Marketing Webinar: How to Use Google Local to Attract New Clients.
Local search is becoming more and more popular every day, so it’s critical that you optimize your Google Local presence right away.
During this free attorney marketing webinar, you will learn:
- Exactly what Google Local is and how you can use it to attract new clients to your firm.
- About Google Local ranking factors, including: profile optimization, citation building, and reviews.
- Recent developments that will impact your local ranking.
- Why Google Local is important–and here to stay.
We’ll run a comprehensive cost-savings audit of your marketing processes, then provide a customized plan to cut costs. Ask about our James Legal CRM today!
Are You On The Map? More Than 60% Of Your Calls Should Come From Local Search
Google My Business, often called “GMB” for short, lets you manage the way your business appears on Google Search and Maps. Your GMB listing appears any time someone searches for your law firm or types in a term that might possibly be related to your business.
It’s important that the information presented in your GMB listing is accurate and up to date. In fact, your GMB listing is one of the most important marketing tools at your disposal. Read below to learn more about what your Google My Business listing can do for you.
Your GMB listing takes up the most attractive real estate on a search engine results page
When someone searches for your law firm by name, your GMB listing will show up prominently on the search engine results page (SERP). This listing will provide searchers with a summary of your practice, clients’ Google reviews, your contact information, and other information that you can monitor and edit in your account. Your GMB profile will serve as the first impression for potential clients.
You can verify your contact information and link to your website on your GMB listing
Your GMB listing will provide Google users with basic information about your law firm. It’s therefore important to make sure your law firm name, telephone number, address, and other contact information are correct. You can also link your website to your GMB listing so potential clients and directly link to your site.
Your GMB listing will populate the local pack listings
When someone searches your geographic area for a law firm, a map will appear along with what is called a “map pack” or “local pack,” which will list the GMB listing information of the top three law firms in that area. Keeping your location and contact information up to date is crucial, as Google Maps will use that info to provide directions to your office, if available.
You can use GMB to make posts about your law firm
Google My Business has gone through a lot of changes recently, one of which includes the ability to post information about your law firm directly to your My Business listing. These posts can include information such as:
- firm events,
- community service and charity work done by the firm,
- speaking engagements,
- leadership possessions in professional organizations, and
- information about your practice areas or legal services.
You may also use the GMB posts to highlight information you post on website’s blog.
GMB allows clients to post reviews about your law firm
One of the most effective legal marketing uses of GMB is the reviews feature. Your clients can post reviews about your services and rate your work (one to five stars). If you know of a satisfied client or if you recently closed a successful case, request reviews from your client and encourage them to rate you on GMB. You can later create a post from positive reviews that will be highlighted on your GMB page.
You can communicate directly with potential clients through GMB
Google My Business has a messaging feature that allows you to directly communicate with people who find you on Google. You can make it easy for consumers by highlighting the message function and encouraging them to reach out to you through Google My Business. You can configure the messaging system to directly link to a smartphone that has text capabilities.
You can answer clients’ potential questions directly on GMB
GMB has a question and answer function that allows potential clients to ask questions and get answers. But anyone with a Google account can post a question or answer, so it’s important that you are proactive about reviewing questions and providing answers.
While you should encourage people to ask you anything, you should also avoid getting questions dissatisfied clients whenever possible. Negative reviews can result in Google hiding a location. If one person asks about the status of their case, others may assume you are difficult to contact. The best way to avoid this is to provide all clients with exceptional service and answer all questions as promptly as possible.
You may soon be able to post videos to GMB
Video posts may soon be available through Google My Business. You will be in a position to record a message for potential clients and upload it directly to Google. This will ensure your clients receive direct messaging about topics that will encourage them to link to your website, call your phone number, or otherwise contact you on GMB.
GMB may soon offer a business booking button
Another new feature that GMB promises to launch for law firms is an option for clients to book an appointment through Google. Many other business categories have this option already. Your booking button may allow clients to directly book an appointment with you, or it may link to your contact page. The easier you make it for clients to book time with you, the higher chance you have of gaining new business.
You can track GMB listing data through Google Search Console
It’s important to keep track of how your clients arrive on your website, access your telephone number, obtain your email, and finally arrive at your business. GMB provides analytics data that allows you to track information such as linking to and from your site, use of your GMB listing, and more. You can use this information to figure out what to invest in more to obtain more clients.
It’s Important to Abide by Google My Business Guidelines
When using GMB and optimizing your Google listing, it’s important to know and abide by User Guidelines. Keep in mind that these have been developed to prevent fraud and encourage healthy business relationships between organizations and consumers. You must:
- Use your real contact information
- Don’t keyword stuff your name or other GMB listing fields
- Use specific categories for your practice areas
Many other law firms may not be abiding by GMB User Guidelines, and they may face consequences as a result. Firms that do not use their real names or who input fake addresses can be reported to Google and removed indefinitely. It’s also possible to have your entire GMB listing removed if you aren’t following the Guidelines.
5 Foolproof Ways to Improve Your Local Ranking
Since most of your clients come from nearby locales, having your site appear in Google’s 3-pack is essential. Here is how to rank locally, no matter how competitive your area.
1. List your law firm on Google My Business.
If you haven’t done so already, register your firm with Google My Business. Google My Business is Google’s free business listing.
When your law firm is listed on GMB, Google will prioritize showing businesses that are on their GMB listing which could appear not only on Google Search, but also on Google Maps.
When a user searched for “lawyer santa ana ca,” Google will show you the above results. Notice that the business listings on Google Maps come first when a region-specific search is performed. They also appear when no region is listed if a mobile searcher allows Google to use their location.
We highlighted one law firm there, The Reeves Law Group. Though their lawyer website is unable to make it on the first page of Google’s organic search results, they still managed to appear on Google’s first page (through Google Maps) because their law firm is listed on GMB. Awesome, right?
2. Manage and regularly update your law firm’s Google+ page.
Once you have listed your law firm on Google My Business, it will also prompt you to create a Google+ page. Most businesses don’t care about their Google+ page because it isn’t as popular as other social media networks. Nevertheless, Google+ still boasts of its 300 million monthly active users. So, it is still a helpful platform from which to get an audience for your law firm.
Aside from that, you can also earn some lawyer SEO juice from Google when you regularly share posts. Google indexes your Google+ posts and has them appear on the search results of your page’s followers.
Since I’m following the Google+ page of Berman More Gonzalez, Attorneys at Law, their Google+ post showed up on my search results when I looked for the protocols on the treatment of injured California workers.
3. Obtain citations for your law firm.
This is critical. And the more competitive your location’s keywords are, the more citations you will need to appear in Google’s 3-pack.
Citations are listings of your business name, address and phone number on other websites. This is often called as your business NAP (name, address, phone). Though not all citations are linking to your website, they still play an important role for your law firm’s local search ranking because Google use them as a verifier that your business is real.
Among the most popular ways to get citations for your law firm is to submit your business NAP to online directories such as Yelp and Yellow Pages. Other places where you could get citations are press releases, guest post bylines, Q&A sites, and forum signatures.
However, there’s a catch. To make your law firm enjoy the full benefits of citations, your business NAP should be consistently written – abbreviations, spellings, street numbers, punctuations, etc. If you’re not consistent, Google might view your law firm as different entities.
The above screenshots are from two different citation sources. The first one is from Google My Business, and the second one is from Yelp.
At first glance, there seems to be no problem for the law firm’s NAP, but they have actually inconsistencies:
- Business name has a missing period on “Esq” on Yelp
- “Suite” is spelled in full on GMB, but only spelled as “Ste” on Yelp
- Phone numbers on GMB and Yelp are entirely different
While missing punctuations and abbreviations are minor inconsistencies, you should never get your address and phone number wrong. If you have changed your address and phone number, remember to also update them on ALL of your citations.
4. Ask your clients to leave a review.
The more competitive your region’s keywords, the more important that reviews will be to your ranking
Ask your clients to leave a review on your law firm’s social media pages, or online directory accounts. More important, ask them to leave a review on Google Maps, since you are aiming to rank on Google’s local search results.
To help your clients leave a review on Google Maps, give them the following instructions:
- Sign in to Gmail account and open Google Maps.
- On the Google Map search box, search the name of the law firm.
- Click “Write a Review.”
5. Include local keywords in your website’s content.
Local keywords still help. They are not needed when Google knows a searcher’s location, but they do help when a searcher does not provide their location.
Moises Aguilar is a criminal defense lawyer in Santa Ana. So, in order for his target clients to find his services, he included the above keywords in his website copy. If you are going to check the highlighted keywords on Google, you’ll see that his website appears on Google’s first page results.
So, remember that when creating content for your lawyer website, make sure that you somewhere include your target local keywords. If you are not sure what keywords to use for your copy, you could always use the Google Keyword Planner tool for your keyword research.
Do it yourself?
Building citations and obtaining reviews are the two keys to appearing in Google’s 3-pack. In a non-competitive region, you should be able to effectively do the grunt work yourself. Just be sure your citations are 100% consistent. And make obtaining reviews a standard part of closing a case.
If keywords are highly contested in your region, you will need hundreds of citations and dozens of positive reviews, and you will be competing against professional optimizers and a few of the bigger ones will use software to automate the work.
At James we use proprietary software that automates our local optimization work, so are quite successful, even in competitive regions. We also use software unaffordable by all but the largest law firms to assist our organic optimization work.
If you want our help ranking locally and organically, you may apply below. Know that we don’t accept every firm that applies for ranking assistance. The application process takes less than two minutes.
In case you missed it, here are recordings of our recent webinars pertain to Local SEO
Optimized Attorney Attorney Webinar: How to Optimize Your Google Local Presence (Part 2)
Before viewing the webinar, please use the following link to save a copy of the Google Document that’s used in it.
Included on this document:
• Competition Analysis
• Citation Building “To-Do” List
• Law Firm Information “Cheat Sheet”
All three topics will be covered in-depth during the webinar.
Here’s the link to the document, hosted on Google Drive: Google Local Webinar
To save a copy for your personal computer, simply find the “File” tab, navigate to “Download As”, and select “Microsoft Excel”. This will quickly be covered in the beginning of the webinar.
Many lawyers have not yet grasped the importance of Google+ Local. Many don’t know what it is, and only a few know how to optimize for it. Currently, 30 percent of all web searches are local, and that number is expected to top 50 percent within the next two years.
So, it’s critical to optimize your legal website to improve your local ranking as soon as possible.
In case you missed it, here’s a recorded version of our recent Attorney Webinar: How to Rank for Local Google Searches
We can do the work for you
If you don’t have the time, interest, or expertise to create and optimize your Google + Local listing, we will do the work for you.
Top Citation Sources:
Google My Business: How to Crush the Competition
What is Google My Business?
Google’s new My Business feature puts you right on the search engine map (literally), in organic results, and on Google+ so that your clients can find you quickly and easily—no matter what sort of device they are using.
The new tool goes beyond the simplistic features of your hours and phone numbers. Now it is easier than ever for clients to use thanks to on-demand information that generates driving directions to your firm and even allows prospects to call you directly from the listing. Are you starting to see why this is such an important tool to be utilizing?
Here is a recording of our recent Attorney Webinar: Google My Business – How to Crush the Competition.
You will learn:
- What Google My Business is and how to use it to grow your law firm.
- What a top-notch local SEO campaign looks like and how it can be easily implemented.
- How to optimize your Google My Business page to start seeing results right away.
- How to identify duplicates and verify your listing.
- How to attach your Google My Business page to your domain email address.
- The easiest ways to create citation consistencies across the web.
- Much, much more!
Lawyers: 9 local search tips
0% of desktop searches are local, while 50% of mobile searches are local. Combined, 30% of all searches are currently local.
With mobile searches expected to overtake desktop searches in 2014, local searches should within two years outnumber non-local searches.
This means that the local search ranking of your website will soon become more important than your site’s organic ranking.
What is the difference?
Optimization for organic position focuses on content, title tags, site architecture, rich snippets, and inbound links.
Optimization for local search focuses on verification, citations, categories, and reviews.
What to do
Here are 9 tips for improving your website’s ranking for local searches:
1. Google must be able to connect your website with your location. That means your website should at minimum have a local page that includes your contact details in html.
2. If you also mark up your address in rich snippets, you have essentially handed Google your business card.
3. Because of insufficient results, keyword research on the local level is usually impossible for attorneys. Instead, generate national keywords and add a local qualifier (e.g., Sacramento injury attorney).
4. The most important factor in local search is citations – mentions of your business name, address, phone number, or combination of these. The more of these footprints you have around the internet, the higher your site’s local rank.
5. These citations must be consistent. If you have relocated your office, do a search of your company name along with your old address and update any mentions of your old address.
6. The next most important local ranking factor after citations is reviews. And the number of Google+ Local reviews counts more than what the reviews say. In other words, a mediocre review is better than no review.
7. Google also pulls sentiment from Trip Advisor, Zagat, and blog reviews.
8. A few inbound links are sufficient to compete locally, especially if they come from sites which are local in nature.
9. One phenomenal link can be a huge help – for example, a link from a local .org. Volunteer work for a local non-profit can be the route to this golden link.
We can help
If you want our help improving your local ranking, we can do the work for $100/month. We create and maintain your Google+ profile and Google Places page. We find erroneous citations and correct them. And we create four additional citations each month on sites like Yelp and Foursquare.
For more information or to sign up, contact Travis at 714-434-5927.
Google Local for Injury Lawyers
Most injury lawyers have not yet grasped the importance of Google Places. Many don’t know what it is, and only a few know how to optimize for it.
This blog post will explain what Google Places is, why it is important, and how to obtain a prominent position on Google Places.
1. Google Places (aka Google Local) contains the listings preceded by a red pushpin containing a letter, lawyer photo, and address. Sometimes the Places listings appear in the middle of Google page one and sometimes at the top, but the position is always prominent. A map shows the location of each letter, so the searcher can see how close each lawyer’s office is.
More website owners have recognized the value of Google Places, so in many cities it has become harder to obtain a page one position. You can see how many total Google Places listings exist for your city by clicking “More Results.”
2. Importance. Prominent placement on Google Places has become more valuable because Google now devotes so much premium space to Places. Placement and quantity of listings will vary per search and location, but Google Places listings are frequently at the top of the free listings, and sometimes occupy half to three quarters of page one
The photos and addresses mean that each Places listing occupies more space than a plain organic listing, and the photos are eye-catching. Bottom line: a good position on Google Places can drive meaningful traffic to your site.
3. Optimization. Obtaining a top position on Google Places requires a different approach than optimizing your website for good organic placement. Good organic page position is driven by a steady flow of properly-keyworded, high-quality content on your website, along with a regular increase in inbound links from relevant sites.
Optimizing for Google Places, on the other hand, occurs primarily through the placement of hundreds of consistent business listings on directory sites. This is tedious, time-consuming, and ongoing work that has to date not been automated with software. It nonetheless remains important labor, for Google Places will only grow more important in generating traffic.
The sooner you create your listing and start optimizing the easier it will be to obtain a prominent position; the later you start the harder it will be to rise to the top. Why? As is the case with organic listings, (1) the field will only get more crowded and (2) Google rewards longevity. For more information, call Travis Hise at 714-918-1848.
If you don’t have the time, interest, or expertise to create and optimize your lawyer Google Places listing, we will do the work for you.
Our Social-Local-Mobile Product Package
We’re very excited to unveil our latest product offering in our line of attorney digital marketing services: The Social-Local-Mobile (SLM) bundle package.
Attorney marketing is always changing and evolving. Techniques that worked two years ago, like building a website, adding content, and hoping to beat your competitors outright, are not as effective today as they once were. Law firms are gradually beginning to discover that there are other tools available, and the early adopters are going to have an edge moving forward.
Three of the newest trends that you need to be aware of and engage with if you want to be successful in any competitive region are social media, local search optimization, and mobile development. These three tactics are closely linked, which is why we created a package that would address all three needs for attorneys in a swift and comprehensive manner.
At first glance, it may be difficult to understand precisely why a lawyer would need to utilize these marketing avenues. However, by examining a hypothetical case study, we can easily discern why social, local, and mobile are important.
Let’s assume that I am driving down the street when my car gets hit by another vehicle that runs a stop sign. While I sit on the curb waiting for the police and tow truck to arrive, I decide to find a personal injury attorney who can help me. The Optimized Attorney offices are located in Orange County, Calif., so I get out my smartphone and type “Orange County injury attorney” into Google. The results pop up, and I am provided with a list of links, and also a map of local injury attorneys in my area. Orange County is a big place, so I want someone close to where I live. I see that Attorney Larry Lawyer has an office close to me, as indicated by his map listing on Google+ Local.
I click over to his website, and a mobile version pops up. This mobile site is not complex like his main website; there are no tiny links that I can barely see, and I don’t need to scroll across pages of text that don’t interest me. The mobile site only contains basic information about the firm, like how I can get to the office, what services Larry Lawyer provides, and a link I can click to call him. Before I call, I head to Facebook to see if any of my friends have worked with Larry before, and what rating they gave his business. Using Facebook Graph Search, I see that two of my friends on Facebook have worked with Larry, and both of them were very happy with the results. I decide to call Larry and set up an appointment to see if I might have a claim.
All of this literally takes only a few minutes. In that span of time, I decide whether or not to go with Attorney Larry Lawyer, or move to the next attorney on the list. If Larry had not been listed on the Google+ Local map system, I would not have seen him at all. Had he not presented me with an attractive and easy to use mobile site, I would have departed to look for a site that was more pleasing. If he was not on Facebook and I couldn’t verify results with my list of friends, I would be unsure of his abilities and gone back to searching.
This is how people use the Internet these days. Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, and just about everything is becoming hyper-localized. Mobile websites and local mapping services like Google+ Local contribute to this trend, and social networks like Facebook, with over 1 billion monthly active members, provide a vast wealth of resources for the potential legal claimant looking to find a reputable law firm. Social media searches are going to become ever more popular. Would you rather sign up for a service that your friends had recommended, or one that you find randomly online? That’s the power of social media: tapping into networks of people via connections, and this works seamlessly with local and mobile applications.
For this reason, we decided to create our Social-Local-Mobile package for forward-thinking attorneys. If you want to play ball online, you absolutely need to be using the techniques I just described. None of this is going away any time soon, and it will only become more prevalent in the next several years. Getting on board now will save you heartbreak later when you realize that your competition has already boarded the boat and left you behind.
With our SLM package, we first create a mobile website to accompany your main site. We create a Google+ Local profile for you, along with a rich “authorship” snippet, to get you engaged with Google’s geocentric system. We then optimize your listing monthly by creating profiles on other business sites so Google can verify your information. The more times the system can confirm your business name, phone number, et cetera, the more highly your Google+ Local profile will be valued, and the higher you will typically appear on their map. To top it all off, we create Facebook and Twitter accounts to get you started with social media. We’ll post relevant things to your accounts, engage with your followers, place social media buttons on your website, and more. This package is extremely comprehensive.
We feel our Social-Local-Mobile package is a fantastic value and one that will help attorneys immensely, especially as networks like Facebook and Google+ Local continue to increase in importance for all types of marketing.Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Contact Optimized Attorney for More Information About Your GMB Listing
At Optimized Attorney, one of our primary focuses is to boost GMB listings for our clients. We begin by claiming the listing and ensuring all contact information is accurate. We also upload pictures, solicit reviews from current and prior clients, and monitor posts to keep our clients’ listings up to date.
We know the importance of working with GMB to develop a listing that ranks high in the local pack and looks professional in your SERP. Call Optimized Attorney today at (714) 613-0042 to find out more about how we can help your law firm develop a successful SEO strategy that incorporates a well-managed GMB listing.