Local search is a crucial part of a law firm’s SEO strategy because their market is constrained geographically. A large part of what local searchers see is due to their physical location (which is out of your control), but there are many other factors influencing rankings for local search that can be optimized.
Google relies on things like consistent NAP (name, address and phone number), complete and accurate information in GMB (Google My Business) listings, as well as robust review data to rank websites in local search.
Law firms can also use strategies such as competitor analysis to determine how to improve their online presence based on the websites of their competitors. Want to discover how competitor analysis works? This article explains Why competitor analysis is important in SEO.
Here is what Google looks at to rank law firm locations in maps and other search products.
Completeness of Data
Profiles that have complete and accurate information are easier to match with queries. For example, if a law firm has only their name and hours in a Google My Business listing, that is all Google has to go on. If another listing is relevant to the searcher’s query and has more information, it may show up ahead of yours.
Take some time and fill out your profile completely. Add as much information as Google will allow such as:
• A detailed description containing keywords you want to rank for
• Links to other social accounts and websites
• Your law firm category
• Make sure your name address and phone number are listed in the same way as they are in other properties online.
The more lawyers can complete their GMB profile, the more information Google has to go on when someone is searching for legal services in their location.
Verification is a sign of trustworthiness both in the eyes of Google and that of consumers. Once you have set up a Google My Business listing, take the time to work through the verification process. Another perk of verification is that only the verified owner can make or approve changes to the GMB listing.
Verifying locations becomes even more important for law firms with multiple locations. Ranking multiple GMB profiles can be very challenging if they are unverified because they may be seen as duplicates or the information may not be trusted.
Enter Accurate Hours
This is crucial as many consumers trust the data they see on Google. Make sure your hours are accurate, and whenever they are changed, they should also be updated on Google My Business. There are few things worse that making potential clients lose faith in you because they traveled to your practice when they thought it was open when it wasn’t.
Google also allows for the addition of special operating hours such as being closed on holidays. You can enter these hours without changing the core times that your practice is open and Google will show that your firm is closed automatically during these times. That saves you from having to remember to change your hours for routine days throughout the year when you know you’ll be closed.
Add Photos, Categories and other Information
Whatever options there are in your Google My Business account, you should take advantage of them. Upload images, select appropriate categories for your firm and add any other information you can. The idea here is that the more robust your profile is, the more likely a query will be matched to it, and the more likely users will find it helpful.
Uploading as many photos as you can to your profile can be very beneficial. These images show up in Google image search and provide a ton of things for users to look at and get a more accurate idea of what your firm is all about.
Google has done a lot to update this section of GMB profiles adding areas to upload exterior shots, interior shots, product shots, images of your team and branded photos. You can also add a cover photo.
Get Reviews and Respond to them
User-generated content in the form of reviews on your Google My Business page generates lots of activity. One study of local search ranking factors showed that reviews played a strong role in helping GMB profiles rank well in search. Make a habit of asking your current and previous clients to leave reviews for you (whether it’s on Google or someplace else). Respond to reviews on your profile promptly (especially if they are negative). Reviews also play a large role in organic search.
Ranking a GMB profile is a lot like getting your site to rank well in search. It takes time and attention to detail. Those attorneys who take more care in adding information for users and making sure it is consistent will eventually enjoy better rankings in local search.