SEO for Lawyers
SEO for Lawyers: Local search has become increasingly prevalent with updates in Google’s algorithm from Pigeon (12/22/14) to Possum (9/1/16). The purpose of these updates have been to make google’s search engine results more relevant to the input from searchers. This means that the core competency of Google is to deliver RELEVANT results to users. Consequently, proximity is one of the primary factors pursuant to that goal. Therefore, it is important to optimize your website to capture proximal searches for areas you serve.
6 Tips to Improve your Firm’s Local Presence
Google My Business
This is perhaps the nexus of your local marketing strategy. While, other search engines such as bing provide location services, 4 out of 5 of total online searches happen on Google.
Claim your location
If you haven’t already, it is important to claim your business location. Doing so allows you to control your brand identity online. The name, address, and phone number associated with your Google My business location should be the data that drives your local citation and backlink strategy.
Choose Your Business Category
Perhaps the most overlooked component of setting up your location, choosing your business category can make a significant difference in terms of your ability to rank in the local maps. Based on my personal experience reviewing thousands of law firms’ business listings, I’ve found that setting the category to the most relevant practice area performs significantly better than generic categories. For example, choose Personal Injury Lawyer or Divorce Lawyer as your primary category as opposed to Law Firm, Legal Services, or Lawyer. While google allows you to choose multiple categories, I don’t suggest using all 5 categories, instead focus on either 1 or two. (for general practice attorneys and firms, this strategy is significantly different).
From location attributes to the associated website with a location listing, it is important to optimize your business listing. It is important that the web page you link to your listing, is properly optimized for your practice area and city. This helps google better understand the relevance of your local listing as it pertains to the needs of local searchers. It is important to understand that every opportunity to add text to your business listing, is an opportunity to improve your keyword density. For example, ensuring that your keyword is nested in the URL, in the description of photos added, and even in responses to customer reviews. All of this will help your business improve its local search presence.
Structured Data Markup
Markup and Schema data is extremely important in terms of local search. If done correctly, this data can provide “signals” for google to better rank your site. SEO regularly make the mistake of assuming structured data will improve the organic ranking of your site, but it is my opinion that it more significantly impacts the local search results. Therefore, if done with “local” in mind, then the data will be configured correctly.
On Page Signals
On page signals include things such as meta data (title tags, H1 & H2 tags, etc…), KML maps, outbound links to local authorities, and more. The goal of developing local signals into your website should be to not only educate viewers on your location, but also to inform google that your website is representative of a local service.
3. Local Citations
Local citations are combinations of location based directories, niche directories, service list, etc. There are several sources that can be used online such as Yext as well as data aggregators such as Acxiom. As stated earlier, all data used for local citations should be consistent with your Business Listing on Google. Local citations can oftentimes be optimized via images, videos, keywords, links etc. Proper optimization of citations can be the difference between 1st and 2nd position in the Local 3 pack.
You should not only encourage reviews, but put a system in place to make leaving a review simple and easy. Reviews are simply a form of providing local signals by showing google the “volume” of impact your business provides to the local market. For example, an attorney that services 20 clients a year versus and attorney that services 200 clients a year would essentially mean that the bigger firm has more opportunities to capture reviews. Fortunately for the small law firm, each client is a potential opportunity to capture a new review, whereas bigger firms are less focused on the process. The best method for reviews would be to automate the process. Integrating the review process into a new client onboard allows firms to develop a great relationship with clients, and capture reviews at the beginning of the relationship. This allows the firm to control the dialogue of the review, as a new client wouldn’t leave a bad review when just starting a relationship. I call this part ‘capturing honeymoon reviews’.
5. Content is King
Content is a crucial component of your website. While a lot of SEO companies ignore the contribution that content provides for location optimization, our philosophy at Local Map is based on leveraging 100% of the content and integrating all other components of optimization into each page. Hyperlinking the Google Location in page, embedding kml data, including the location in the focus keyword, maintaining proper keyword density, alt tagging images with location details, geo-tagging images, geo-tagging the content link, and more. Content provides perhaps the best opportunity for your website to improve its search engine position. Everything matters when it comes to content.
6. Social Signals
Finally, an active facebook can impact your rankings within the maps section. While this is not the most important factor, in competitive markets, it can be the difference between 1st position and 2nd position in the local 3 pack. Though it’s not inherently valuable, any SEO company should do all things to win the first position for their client. At the very least, informing a client to occasionally update their Social Networks is important.
SEO is perhaps the most important component of a digital marketing strategy for law firms. The legal services industry is extremely competitive and requires consistent improvement to be effective. We can help you grow your firm simply from online successes. For more information about our services please contact us for more details. If you would like a free consultation to evaluate your law firm’s online presence, give us a call/ email today.