If you run a small law firm, chances are most of your clients are local and they live in the same general area as you do. When people search for a lawyer online, they’re usually looking for someone nearby. This means that determining how to show up in local search results is an important part of your online marketing strategy. The good news is, optimizing your website for local SEO is not as complicated as building a wider-scale national or global SEO campaign because there is significantly less competition. Here is our 5-step guide to local SEO for law firms to help your law firm website show up in local Google search results.
1. Set Up A “Google My Business” Page
If you’ve ever searched Google for a local business, you’ve probably seen the results at the very top of the page, listing several nearby businesses along with their phone numbers, websites, and their locations on a map. These are probably the first businesses that potential customers will contact, so this is where you want to be.
The data in these search results comes from your Google My Business page, so filling it out is a critical step in your local SEO efforts. Here are some tips to optimize your law firm’s listing in Google:
- Include a long, keyword rich description of your law practice and the types of services you provide
- Upload as many photos as possible
- Choose the correct categories for your law practice
- Include a local phone number
- Include a link to your website
- Include your complete address, in the exact same format as you have it listed on your website (more on this later)
- Make sure the info is accurate and always kept up to date
Once you’ve created your Google listing, Google also provides some helpful stats on how many website visits you get from it, how many people call you by directly clicking the phone number you have listed, how many reviews you’re getting, and more.
2. Optimize Your Website With Local Keyword Data
The next thing to focus on in your local SEO campaign is optimizing your law firm website. You want to add local keyword data to each and every page so that Google knows your website is for a local business.
For example, if you are a criminal defense attorney in Seattle, you should use the words “Seattle criminal lawyer” and similar terms strategically across key areas of your website.
This step may require some technical skills, but you don’t necessarily have to be a web developer to update your website, especially if you use one of our recommended do-it-yourself website platforms.
Here are the key things you should optimize with local keywords:
- The “Title” tag for your website should include your city/region and a keyword, e.g. “Seattle criminal lawyer”
- Have at least one page with an H1 tag (primary heading) that includes your local keywords
- Include your local keywords several times throughout the content on all pages (but be sure the content still reads naturally and don’t abuse your keywords, or you’ll be penalized)
- If possible, have your location and keyword in the URL, e.g. “www.seattlecriminallawyer.com”
- Include images with “alt” tags that include your local keywords, e.g. use the filename “seattle-criminal-lawyer.jpg”
- Include an embedded Google map on your contact page (read this to learn how)
Another important step is to make sure that your website is mobile friendly. Due to the increased search volume on mobile devices these days, Google has started to rank websites that are mobile optimized higher than websites which are not.
3. Make Sure NAP Citations Are Consistent
NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone, and it is a critical component of your local SEO plan. It is imperative that your NAP citations are consistent across each page of your website, and on all other web pages such as your Facebook page, LinkedIn, etc.
Consistency means they should be formatted exactly the same way and have all the same information. For instance, don’t use the abbreviation “Ave.” in your address in some places and spell out “Avenue” in others. It may seem minor, but to web crawler bots that index and rank your website in search engines, these inconsistencies can be a big deal.
Another suggestion regarding your NAP is to use Google’s recommended Schema.org markup for local businesses. Without getting too deep into the technical details, Schema.org essentially provides a list of accepted properties you can include in your website’s HTML code to let search engines know what the NAP information on your webpage means. In other words, Google will know that your address is your address, and not just some other random text without any meaning.
Optimizing your NAP with Schema.org markup is another way to improve your law firm website’s local search ranking because Google can use that information to precisely locate your firm, and display information to potential clients when they search.
4. Generate Client Reviews on Google, Yelp, and Avvo
Google naturally favors the websites of companies that use Google tools, and one of them which has become very important to local SEO is Google Reviews. So building up some positive, authentic customer reviews on your Google My Business page is the next step in our guide on local SEO for law firms.
It has been shown that Google reviews directly impact a local business’ ranking in search results, so getting client reviews on Google should be your number one priority. Google isn’t the only search engine on the web however.
Yelp and Avvo are two common directories where people search for lawyers. Because they are major websites with very high pagerank, local searches are also likely to have some results from Yelp and Avvo. For this reason, it is a good idea to get reviews on Yelp (which is also used in the iPhone Maps app) and Avvo too.
Positive reviews are not only good for SEO, they’re also a great way to establish credibility for your firm. Testimonials from happy clients provide social proof that you are a quality service provider worthy of consideration, and that’s why showing off your reviews is a key part of your overall online presence.
5. Get Backlinks from Other Local Websites
The final (and often the most cumbersome) step in our local SEO guide for law firms is to create incoming links to your website (called “backlinks”) from other local websites. Backlinks always play a key role in SEO, but they are not quite as prominent of a factor for local search as they are for global search, which makes your life easier.
Ideally, these other websites linking to yours should have some keywords related to your law firm, as well as a consistent NAP citation along with the link. There are countless different strategies for building backlinks, but here are some ideas specifically for your law firm’s local SEO campaign:
- Contact the organizers of local events about sponsorship in exchange for a listing on their website
- Organize your own local events on Meetup.com and link the event page to your website (this is also an effective marketing strategy to interact with potential clients)
- Donate money to local charities or foundations that offer donors listings on their websites
- Publish an article for a local oriented blog or news outlet
- Join HARO or a similar service and participate in press outreach about legal topics
- Offer a scholarship or internships for local students and get a link from the university website (links from .edu and .org websites are worth bonus points in SEO!)
The possibilities are endless, but the more local websites you can get to list your NAP and a backlink, the higher your Google rank will be for local attorney-related searches. So it is well worth the effort.
As you now know, local SEO is a powerful marketing strategy for small businesses that target customers in their area. Unlike wider-scale SEO campaigns, the factors that determine your ranking in local search results are more based on location based data such as your address/phone number listings, your Google My Business page, and reviews from local customers.
We hope you have found this 5-step local SEO guide for law firms useful, and that you can implement these strategies in your online marketing efforts to get more customers from local oriented searches online.