Good SEO is a long term investment in your attorney brand. When I talk to people about search engine optimization (even in the simplest of terms), I often draw a blank stare. That is mostly because optimization for search is a highly complex and ever-changing practice that not a lot of people do well. Local search is a huge piece of that puzzle (as is mobile within that). Google recently conducted a study (in partnership with Ipsos Media CT) to understand user behavior in search when it comes to mobile. Out of that research, here are some statistics that lawyers should be paying attention to.
53% of consumers searched on mobile for local information during the research phase of the purchase process and 83% on a desktop or tablet
This stat highlights two trends in consumer behavior online. One is that people are connecting with and/or researching brands in multiple channels before making a purchase. The other is that people are using search in general to look for information before they make a purchase (as opposed to using social media).
Lawyers need to be discoverable in many different places online (and offline as well). For example publishing helpful blog posts, being active on forums, getting reviews and being active in social media are all effective ways of being out in front so consumers can learn more about you as a legal professional. Couple that with any offline advertising you do such as in industry publications, radio, television and other channels. Most notably though, attorneys need to be a part of the local landscape in search in order to be considered relevant.
Consumers are searching for local information on every device at every point in the purchase process
This is one of the main take-aways from the study and is a huge reason to invest in local SEO strategies. Anything that can help a law firm show up prominently in local results increases the chances that potential clients will be able to find it. The reality is that we live in world with many more channels for consumers to find out about companies.
A person may do quick searches for attorneys on their smart phone during work and then do more research once they are in front of a larger screen. This behavior emphasizes the importance of having a website experience that is seamless and high-quality across devices. Information relevant to local search should also be prominent across devices.
Location and phone number are the primary pieces of information sought by local searchers
Makes sense right? People searching for local companies are hoping to find local results and are most likely ready to buy. There are a few ways that lawyers can take advantage of this trend and make it easier for people to find what they are looking for.
Call-only Campaigns: Google launched call-only campaigns in AdWords specifically targeted at the limited real estate on mobile devices and behavioral nuances of mobile users. No this is not a local SEO strategy but a good tactic to attract local searchers. Phone call conversions are better for attorneys than form fills making call-only campaigns a great strategy to meet the demand of mobile users for contact information. Bing also features call extensions for its ad products.
Schema Markup: Schema is html that makes content machine understandable. Lawyers can add schema to information like phone numbers, firm names, addresses and opening hours. All of that helps search engines display relevant information to their users. Note that schema will not help a site rank better but could help increase click through rates on pages indexed in search.
Citations: Building out citations for your law firm helps consistent and accurate information get disseminated throughout the internet. This increases the chances that consumers will find the contact and/or business information they are looking for. If your website happens to not rank very high in search, chances are a Yellow Pages or Yelp.com listing will.
88% of Local Searchers Say a Purchase Decision was influenced by an online review
The experience of others has never been easier to access as it is today. Many consumers look for reviews on businesses before they make a purchase decision. A study performed by Zendesk on customer service and satisfaction revealed that 88% of respondents were influenced by an online review when making a buying decision.
For lawyers, that means that almost 9 out of 10 people looking for legal services online are also looking at reviews in their decision of who to go with. At the very least, if an attorney has no reviews they may be at a disadvantage compared with those that have lots or even a decent amount of reviews.
Getting reviews for your firm is not that difficult. You can send out an email blast using an email marketing program like Mail Chimp to get reviews from your existing clients. Use a template like the one below to try and get reviews on powerful sites like Google and Yelp.
More than 60% of internet users value local information in ads
This includes things like address, phone number and call buttons in ads (like Google call-only campaigns). People find this information useful even if they were not inclined to click on an ad. Aside from the newer mobile calling features on ad platforms, lawyers can enhance advertisements with local information to help increase conversions. For example Accor Hotels was able to increase conversions by 9% using call and location extensions on AdWords campaigns.
82% of local searchers initiate an in-store visit, phone call or purchase (TMP / comScore)
People searching from a local point of view often have different motivations. They are using the internet to gain information that they will act upon immediately. Local searchers still perform research but for the most part they are ready to reach out to a limited number of local choices.
Lawyers who can enhance their presence in local search increase their chances of getting contacted. It is especially important to rank well for your respective practice area. Here are a few ways to accomplish that:
- Claim your Google Places listing and fill it out completely
- Claim your Bing Business listing
- Use local citations and fill out profiles on other business listing websites (Yext or Moz Local are great tools for this)
- Make sure name, address and phone number are consistent across the web
- Get links from local relevant directories
- Include contact information on your website