Local SEO should be a focus for attorneys because most of the time people don’t look for legal services outside of their geographic location. Unfortunately, this often results in many firms fighting for visibility within a limited amount of online real estate.
You can be sure that your competition is constantly working to outrank you in search, so here are 4 essential tactics you can use to help increase your rankings.
1. Get a GMB (Google My Business profile)
Google dominates location-based search (mostly because they dominate search in general). If you haven’t claimed your GMB profile, which stands for Google My Business – also known as the local 3 pack – then you’re working at a major disadvantage. GMB profiles are some of the first organic listings people see when searching for law firms.
By default, many firms already have a GMB profile created by Google. Walk through the following process to claim it:
- Search for your firm in Google
- When you see the Knowledge Graph card for your firm, click on the ‘Are you the owner?’ link near the bottom.
- Start the process of verifying the firm’s ownership.
Note that Google will want you to verify ownership in one of two ways – either by phone or through regular mail. Typically, firms that have had a physical address for a long time and/or a more robust web presence will choose the phone option.
Once you’ve verified ownership, you can edit your GMB profile.
2. Add images to your GMB profile
Above all else, make sure your GMB profile is complete and contains accurate and consistent contact information. Beyond that, adding as many images as possible of your firm can help it rank far better in the local 3 pack.
In many cases, we’ve seen a correlation between higher rankings and having a significant number of photos in a GMB profile. By significant, we mean 20, 30, 40 photos or more. That may seem challenging for a law firm, but it’s okay to get creative.
Here are some image ideas to get you started:
- show your offices (both inside and out)
- show your team, partners, and yourself
- describe the areas of law that you practice
- show your logo
- include tag lines, quotes, or other marketing messages
It doesn’t matter what the images are, as long as they are somewhat relevant to your firm or the areas of law you practice.
3. Onsite optimization: Adjusting website elements
Onsite SEO (the things done to your website structure to make it rank well) is one of the most meaningful tasks you can do to achieve good local rankings.
Start with a location-based page: Create a location-based page for the keyword phrases you want to rank for. An example could be ‘personal injury lawyer Philadelphia’ or ‘Detroit car accident attorney.’ Here are some tips:
- Include the location in the copy of the page
- Include the keyword phrase in the title, the headings, meta description and URL of the page
- Include the keyword as an image file name of any images on the page
- Include the keyword in any alt attributes of images on the page
Add NAP (name, address, phone number) to the header: Your firm’s name, address and phone number should be on the header of every page, but especially on location-based pages or pages that link to your GMB profile. This should also be the same information used in other listings around the web. Make sure it’s all consistent.
Improve page load time: If the page doesn’t load in less than a few seconds, improve the page speed. Leveraging technologies like AMP pages can significantly improve page-load time.
Substantial content: Include a lot of useful content on your pages. There’s no rule of thumb, but articles longer than 500 words is a good start. Do a search using the keyword phrase you want to rank for and look at what your competition is doing. See how much and what kind of content is on their pages and how it’s framed.
4. Citation signals: Mentions of your firm name across the internet
Along with the other tactics mentioned in this article, building citations is one of the most influential strategies for ranking well in local search. Citations are just mentions of your firm’s name on other websites such as directories, social media profiles, business listing websites, and data aggregators.
You can fill out profiles on your own or use a tool like Yext, which is a powerful citation-building tool. A subscription costs about $399 for a year; in return, Yext will disseminate your firm’s name, address, phone number and other information across hundreds of prominent websites.
Best of all, any changes you need to make can be done once, through one interface. The changes will be pushed to all the other sites online via Yext.
In addition to Yext, attorneys should seek out legal industry-specific directory listings. One of the most influential profiles to claim is your Avvo profile. These listings carry a lot of authority in search and often rank first for various practice area keyword phrases.
Building citations like this help create a consistent online presence for your firm. And according to Moz’s annual study of local search ranking factors, consistency is a huge ranking factor in local search.
Many attorneys serve local markets, so performing tasks like these on your web presence can help you rank on page one for relevant keyword phrases. The more you increase your visibility in local search, the more client leads you will obtain.