Whether you are looking for ways to improve an existing search engine optimization campaign for your law firm or are considering taking on SEO as a new digital marketing strategy, focusing on your local SEO is absolutely essential when it comes to capturing high-value traffic from searchers in your area who are in need of your legal services. Tools like Google Maps, Google My Business, and a variety of others will all help connect you with a local target audience to ensure that your search traffic is coming from a geographic area that makes sense for both your firm and your potential clients.
Trying to make sense of search engine optimization as a whole can be confusing and complicated — especially while you stay focused on providing your clients with exceptional legal support — and trying to make further sense of localized SEO can further complicate matters, which is why partnering with local SEO experts like the team at On The Map is one of the best decisions that you can make for your digital marketing efforts.
Contact On The Map To Speak With a Local SEO Specialist About Your Law Firm’s Needs
On this page, you will learn about many of the specifics that make a local SEO campaign distinctly different from a general search engine optimization strategy, but simply knowing these differences will not provide you with a roadmap to success. Working with an experienced, award-winning SEO firm like On The Map is one of the best ways to maximize your marketing budget’s ROI while staying focused on existing clients and new clients as your law firm rises in the ranks of local search results.
The following information will give you a great idea of many of the different elements that go into a law firm local SEO campaign. One of the keys to our success at On The Map is our obsession with data and tracking, and with each of these following elements, there is an extensive backend of analytics that help us fine-tune our work and continue to improve your local SEO results aggressively and continuously. Using this data and continuous analysis, we are able to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas to focus our efforts on as we continue to expose your law firm to new, high-value clients who are searching for your support in your specific geographic area.
Local Search Engine Optimization for Law Firms
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of optimizing websites so that they rank higher in search engines, like Google and Bing. There are three main factors that must be taken into account when considering this strategy:
- Site Structure
- Backlink Profile
- Content Quality
1. Site Structure
A site must be properly organized, for both humans and bots. It should, not only, be user-friendly, so that individuals may understand the site’s purpose, but it must also be easy for Google’s bots to understand.
Proper site structure helps Google determine what a page is about, what search queries a page should rank for, and where the page should rank on Google’s search engine results page (based on how helpful it is).
There are several factors that go into a well-structured site, including:
- Basic onsite optimizations
- Contextual interlinking
- Page URL structure
- Mobile friendliness
- Page speed
- Link silos
- Breadcrumb trails
2. Backlink Profile
When ranking a website, Google places great importance on backlinks. Backlinks are links from external sites that point to your domain. In general, the more links a website has from “authoritative” and “credible” sources, the higher it will appear in Google.
However, not all links are created equal. There are two basic types: “do-follow” and “no-follow”. In SEO, do-follow links pass authority from the origin site to the destination site. It is like a “stamp of approval”, saying that your site is trustworthy and useful. No-follow links, on the other hand, don’t pass authority. However, they are very important for one reason: link diversity.
If a website has too many backlinks that are similar in nature, the site itself will be penalized and prevented from showing up on Google. The practice of building shady links is known as “Blackhat SEO”, which is highly looked down upon by any reputable SEO agency.
When building links, it is important to consider:
- Do-follow vs. no-follow ratio
- Anchor diversity
- Authority of the pointing domain
High-quality and engaging content is another essential element the backbone of this strategy, because searchers (and search engines) expect the top search results for their query to provide useful content that connects the user with an authoritative source that can help them further answer their questions or find resources.
When a user types “personal injury lawyer near me” into the Google search bar, the results page will provide them with a series of results that are divided into a few distinct parts: the first section is Google Maps, which shows the top-ranking results for their query based on proximity, followed by Google My Business listings, and finally the organic search engine results listings. Depending on the nature of the search query, there may also be a section titled “People also ask” that shows the top related questions and expandable drop-downs with summary answers.
Search engine optimization focuses on reaching the top slot on the organic search engine results, but local SEO further prioritizes reaching the top of the Google Maps and Google My Business results, as well. The top result on the top section (Google Maps) of the search engine results page (SERP) will get far more engagement than the top link on the actual search results, so while your work with On The Map will certainly focus on your SERP ranking, a bigger focus for your law firm will be to achieve and maintain your prominence on Maps and Google My Business.
Why Does Local SEO Benefit Your Attorney Business?
When someone searches for a law firm, they expect that the results Google presents to them will be within a specific geographic boundary that is both reasonable and convenient. A searcher in need of a defense attorney in Austin, TX will have no use for a defense attorney in Seattle, WA, and will further expect to find a law firm within or nearby their neighborhood in Austin that is highly reviewed, easy to contact, and has a useful and informative website.
Without refining your geographic location, an extensive search engine optimization campaign may not truly improve your inbound leads if your traffic is coming from areas far from your location — or, in the case of legal work, beyond the state boundaries of your license and bar certification.
On this page, we will talk about your NAP listings, which refers to your Name, Address, and Phone number, which is the most basic foundation of your local SEO campaign. It is important that your NAP listing is complete in as many directories as possible, including Google My Business, Google Maps, Bing Places, legal directories, and more.
Difference Between Local SEO and SEO
In general, search engines want to provide users with the best possible result, for any given search. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of practices that can be implemented on a site to increase its organic position in search engines.
Local SEO is a bit more specialized and focuses on improving how a website ranks within a specific geographic region. This can be done through a number of ways, such as:
- Optimizing your Google My Business profile
- Link building through local magazines, listings, and directories
In the case of law firm SEO, a searcher will want to be directed to a law firm that practices in the area they need support with, and further expects to arrive at a website that is simple to navigate, loads quickly, provides great information that showcases a law firm’s authority and reliability, and more. However: a searcher may find the best law firm on earth for their specific needs, but if the office is on the other side of the country it is unlikely for a number of reasons that they will either want or be able to work with said legal team.
Meet the Local 3-Pack
The “Local 3-Pack” is a search engine feature that appears on roughly 30% of all SERPs, and prominently displays a map with pins dropped on relevant results, as well as a list of three businesses including high-level information like a company’s name, address, contact information, link to their website, and average user reviews.
This visual element allows a user to quickly identify their proximity to each result, hours of availability, the options to navigate to the physical location or visit the company’s website, as well as an idea of the quality of each option based on reviews. Missing options or pieces of information on your law firm’s 3-pack slot may impact things like your clickthrough rate as users opt for a business with a complete listing.
Local SEO Optimizes For Geographic Location In Addition To High-Quality Content and Relevant Offerings
When trying to work within specific geographic bounds, there are additional elements to an SEO strategy that must be utilized effectively in order to reach your target audience in terms of both search query and physical location.
For example, imagine you pull your phone out and search for a “coffee shop with croissants.” The search results page presents a series of results starting with Google Maps results, followed by Google My Business results, and then the actual webpage results, and each result may highlight a mention of “croissant” in reviews or the actual website body.
The three options presented on the Maps results may present a cafe right down the street from you, a cafe on the other side of town, and a major ice cream company like Starbucks regardless of location (simply because of their prominence) — which do you pick?
Given the lack of additional context for each choice, this question may not be fair to ask: how are the reviews for the nearest shop? You may be a 2-minute walk from the first result, but if the average rating is far below the other results and your query is addressed in a highlighted review that says “worst croissant ever!” then proximity may not be your top priority. However, a cafe with great ratings and glowing reviews of their croissants — complete with pictures of golden — flaky pastries is likely to catch your eye, and might be worth walking an extra block or two.
Relevance AND Location Are Equally Important For Law Firm SEO
With the coffee shop example in mind, consider the many different factors that a searcher may consider — both consciously and subconsciously — when looking for a law firm nearby to help them with their legal needs. Location is very important, as is a well-organized Google My Business page, great reviews, simple options to contact your office, and more.
Each of these factors requires individual attention and an understanding of how to best leverage each of these pieces of information, and achieving prominence on the local SEO results takes consistency, attention to detail, and an in-depth understanding of how to both monitor and improve on a variety of metrics captured through a number of analytics platforms.
Take advantage of Google My Business
Google My Business is a great tool that helps businesses reach and stay connected with local searchers in need of their services or products. Google My Business allows a business to share posts that answer common questions, keep searchers up to date about things like your office hours, and provide simple options to either click through to your website or contact you directly. Customers are able to leave public reviews about their own experiences with the business, which further provides social proof and validation about the quality of your work and what a potential new client can expect when they work with your firm.
Google My Business also provides searchers with an implicit trust in the results presented, since the Google algorithms are continuously tweaked or revised to reward high-quality businesses with prominence in the search results.
A Complete Google My Business Profile Is Essential
Much like your website, a searcher who comes across an incomplete Google My Business profile may simply opt for the next option in their results. Things like opening hours, location(s), services you offer, and ways to contact your law firm are necessary basics, and you have the additional opportunity to make posts about specific topics that will further promote your business and provide more useful information that can help someone make a decision more easily.
As with all things SEO, a complete profile (or website) is only the start of gaining and maintaining prominence. In order to rank and maintain a number 1 position in the search results, it is necessary to also focus on:
- Creating high-quality Google My Business posts
- Optimizing with geo-targeted images
- Using relevant keywords in descriptions and posts
- Using the proper categorizations
Therefore, working with an experienced local SEO firm like On The Map is one of the best ways to enjoy the benefits of this specific, targeted digital marketing campaign while staying focused on building your own business and providing exceptional service to your clients, both new and existing.
Maximize Profits with Google Map Rankings
According to one study, 80% of local searches from mobile devices result in a conversion, and Google Maps is one of the most prominent tools when it comes to local queries. Optimizing your Google My Business profile to reach users who are looking for your specific services is essential to capturing high-intent traffic from searchers who will benefit from your law firm’s support.
A high Google Maps ranking that leads to a slot in the local 3-pack has a much higher clickthrough rate than the organic search engine results, so if your business relies on reaching searchers that are geographically nearby, your Google Maps and Google My Business profiles should be equally as important as your on-site SEO. Trying to manage each of these important aspects of your digital marketing efforts can be difficult for a business owner, which is why hiring a proven law firm specialist like On The Map is one of the best ways to reach the users who will benefit most from finding your law firm through local SEO.
Local search ranking factors
The following are the high-level categories that factor most prominently into a law firm’s local SEO success. Beneath each of these categories is a wide range of specific efforts and focuses that will further improve results, increase engagement, and ultimately generate new leads and clients.
As with all things “SEO,” there is a lot more than meets the eye: monitoring Google’s dashboard will provide deep insights into metrics such as views, clicks, and more, while a variety of third-party analytics platforms will help us determine your keyword rankings on Google My Business, call tracking, and much more. Knowing which metrics to focus on and how to improve them is an important aspect of running the most effective local SEO campaign possible, and working with On The Map is one of the best ways to understand this data with the help of a custom tracking dashboard and the support of your account manager.
Your site, although not the main feature of the local 3-pack, factors heavily into Google’s algorithm when it comes to determining which businesses are presented at the top of the results. However, one of the major factors in this situation is the frequency of your website URL appearing across the internet (which, in turn, is a result of an exceptional SEO content campaign) on places like law firm directories, guest articles on other authority sites, and any other content that includes your web address.
This factor shows the importance of a multi-faceted approach to SEO, since great SEO content will increase the number and quality of links and mentions of your site across the internet, and therefore improve your website’s relevance as it relates to local SEO results and your Google Maps rankings.
Activity & Prominence
After building a complete Google My Business profile, there is much more work to be done. Google My Business provides a space for business owners and marketers to provide additional information, share relevant content, and interact directly with potential and existing clients in a public forum, each of which will lead to increased standings and higher rankings in the Google Maps ecosystem.
Google My Business allows for posts to be shared through your profile that will allow you to communicate updated information, promote your law firm, share success stories, provide insights into certain legal questions, and much more. These posts will signal that you are an engaged and active business to the Google algorithm, which will help improve your rankings and may indirectly lend to your on-site SEO efforts by directing more traffic to your website.
Sharing photos, both in and separate from content posts, is another way to increase engagement and provide social proof to potential clients. Much like posts made from your business profile, pictures will lead to additional engagement and add to the body of content that sets your law firm apart from your competitors in your area. Continuing to generate content and photos will help maintain your position on the local 3-pack, and a long-term and consistent strategy will solidify your status as a top law firm on the SERPs.
A robust Google My Business profile may not help much if your law firm does not have many reviews, or if the existing reviews are unfavorable. Searchers want to see that others have had great experiences working with your team, and the public reviews on a Google business profile, while not guaranteeing any outcomes, can help a potential client decide whether or not to click through to a law firm and request a consultation. Publicly interacting with reviews in a professional manner is another great way to show that your law firm is accountable, responsive, and cares about your clients.
A major focus of any SEO campaign is the number and quality of links on other reputable websites pointing back to your page, but Google also factors any mentions of your business name, website, address, or phone number — regardless of linking — known as “citations,” as a key element in determining how to rank a business. These citations serve a number of benefits because they help people learn about your business online and can also help improve your rankings on local SEO results.
Mentions of your business without directly linking to your website are helpful in a number of ways, but inbound links are equally — if not more — important for reaching a wider audience and connecting with searchers across the internet. A strong local link strategy will include other local businesses or authority sources pointing their users to your website which will further indicate to Google that your law firm is a recognized and respected business in your community that searchers will benefit from working with you.
Legal issues are often complicated, and it goes without saying that someone searching for legal support will have many questions about their situation. While there is no way that you can answer these questions in specific detail without knowing more about a unique case, Google provides an opportunity for businesses to answer questions posed by online searchers. Answering these questions is a great way to again show your level of engagement, as well as to further prove that you are a knowledgeable and trustworthy source of information for your specific field and practice areas.
Of course, no local SEO campaign would be complete without optimizing for your proximity to a searcher when your business is a physical location or constrained by legal practice areas. Including information like your business address (or addresses, if you operate multiple law firm locations) will help Google determine when to expose your business for a query. As you can see with the aforementioned factors, proximity is only one element, but it is, of course, an extremely important element when targeting local search traffic.
7 Tips For Attorneys To Rank High in Local Search Results
The following 7 tips will help you get started towards your goal of ranking high on your local law firm search results. On The Map has over a decade of experience helping clients reach their target audience where they are, and our process includes the following steps while leveraging extensive data analysis and continuous revisions based on the latest updates to the Google algorithms and SEO best practices.
As many law firms find, the best way to rank in local search results is by partnering with an experienced law firm SEO company like On The Map. As we work together to increase your law firm’s visibility in your local market, we will focus extensively on each of these following areas in order to rank above your competitors and reach the potential clients who will benefit from the valuable services you offer.
At the heart of any search engine results page, whether the organic results or local map pack, are the keywords a user enters as a query. Search engines take these keywords and determine which businesses or websites to present to the searcher based on a variety of factors that go well beyond simply including the relevant keywords in the site’s content, but without the keywords, there is little more to build on in terms of search engine optimization.
Queries come in two forms: short-tail and long-tail, each of which has a specific benefit.
A short-tail keyword or query is something like simply searching “attorney,” which will provide high-level results like the definition of the word and possibly some general results on the local map pack. As you can imagine, there is little to no way for Google to determine what a user is ultimately looking for, and searchers that user short-tail queries are likely earlier along on their research journey, which may indicate a lower intent to convert.
A long-tail query will drastically narrow down the search results. For example: “personal injury attorney rear-end collisions in Salt Lake City” will generate much more specific results, and a searcher using a set of keywords as specific as these will signify more intent to convert than someone simply searching for “attorney.” Focusing on long-tail queries for an SEO strategy will reach a smaller audience, but the audience will have higher intent, meaning a higher conversion rate.
Create a Google My Business Profile
Your Google My Business profile is essential for reaching local searchers, and a complete profile in itself will have a significant impact on your visibility on the results pages and your likelihood of appearing in the local 3-pack. Users expect to be able to find information like your business name, address, phone number, and website directly from your profile page, and providing this information is the absolute minimum required for reaching these potential clients through this business tool.
Explore Other Maps Platforms
Continue with Citations Building
There are a number of platforms that can help extend your reach by generating citations. In the legal world, adding your law firm NAP citations to listing directories like findlaw.com is a great way to increase the number of citations for your law firm which will further improve your standings with the major search engines and their associated business platforms. Leveraging these directories helps search engines determine that your business not only exists, but that you take the steps to ensure that your business information is cohesive across all sources and that the information you provide is up-to-date.
Gain Online Reviews
It can be awkward to ask for, but each review that a client leaves on your Google My Business will help others benefit from your services as the number of positive reviews increases. When a searcher comes across a law firm that checks all of the boxes in terms of relevance but see that there are few or no reviews (or mostly negative reviews), it is easier to click the next link than it is to put their trust in an unproven firm. Of course, a low number of online reviews has little to do with whether or not you are “unproven” in the real world, but online search users are looking for the path of least resistance when it comes to making a selection, and a lack of reviews is an easy way to make a choice.
Do On-site Search Engine Optimization
This is a good time to remember that local SEO is a single subset of a greater search engine optimization strategy, and your on-site content is a major factor in your local SEO success. When a searcher clicks through your link on the Google Maps 3-pack and visits your website, they will expect to be presented with an informative site that helps them navigate to their final goal while providing them with ample opportunities to learn more about the services you offer and how these services may benefit them.
When your website ranks well on the SERPs, this will feed upstream to your success on the local SEO results, as well. While relatively separate in both focus and execution, on-site SEO and local SEO are tightly linked.
Perform Local Link Building
Linking is, and will always be, a cornerstone of a successful SEO campaign, as links that direct back to your website are, essentially, implicit testimonials from each linking site or business. Interlinking with other reputable or authoritative websites is key, and equally important for both local and non-localized SEO campaigns.
Local link building requires staying active in your community in a number of ways, including submitting your business for local awards, partnering with local influencers, making sure that your business is included in local guides, and more. Each of these practices helps your business engage on a community level while subsequently improving your local SEO by generating valuable local links. These links, while helping your SEO campaign, can provide direct inbound traffic and greater engagement with your community.
When Will You Know You’re Doing Local SEO Right?
Knowing you are doing great on local SEO is more than just a feeling, and the team at On The Map takes data tracking and analytics very seriously. Platforms like TrackRight help us keep tabs on the many metrics that indicate the success and strength of an SEO campaign, including a map element that shows the strength of your presence based on specific geographic locations even within a locale.
There is no single metric that will truly show whether or not your local SEO campaign is running successfully, but by partnering with the experts at On The Map, we will help you make sense of the many different indicators that fit together to provide an accurate and comprehensive understanding of your campaign’s success. With these many metrics, we will identify high-performing areas as well as dull spots in your campaign, and use this information to further focus our efforts, improve on key areas, and continue to expand your reach through local search results.
Who can help with local SEO services for Law Firms?
On The Map, Inc. is an award-winning local SEO firm with over a decade of experience in both law firm SEO and locally-focused campaigns in a variety of other industries. Our company boasts a number of teams, each dedicated to a specific aspect of your SEO campaign including keyword and competitor research, website development and design, content writing, performance analysis, and an account manager available 24/7 to help you stay informed and up-to-date about your law firm’s SEO performance.
Working with a trusted, proven SEO law firm is one of the best ways to ensure that you are getting the most out of your marketing budget, and we will be happy to go through our portfolio of past successes with law firms and a range of other industries. Our key to success is our established set of best practices, dedication to ongoing data analysis, and continuous research to stay ahead of the curve with any updates and changes to the major search engine algorithms or SEO practices.
Through countless algorithm updates and changes to standards, On The Map has continuously generated top-slot results for many clients, and will be happy to do the same for your law firm.
Hire Award-Winning Local SEO for Attorneys Agency On The Map Marketing
Our work with Julian Stoleny and Stroleny Law is just one example of our world-class SEO work, and a great case study of the type of results you can expect when running a local SEO campaign with On The Map.
No two law firms are alike, and no two geographic locations are alike, meaning that our approach to any new client or local SEO campaign requires an established framework and the capacity to apply specific efforts to any campaign depending on a range of factors that pose unique obstacles or complexities. Working with a firm that takes a “one size fits all” approach to SEO typically results in suboptimal results, unfocused content, and an ROI below what you expect for your marketing budget, but we are confident that after one conversation with our team, you will recognize the difference between our SEO firm and the many others on the internet.
Contact us as soon as possible to consult with an SEO professional and to learn more about how we can help you connect with your local target audience through a comprehensive local SEO campaign. We are here to help you provide your legal services to those who will benefit from them most through a successful and sustainable digital marketing campaign that leverages high-quality content, clear information, and engagement with a variety of authorities in the online legal world that will help to build awareness of your brand and further validate your authority in your field.