Local SEO is what it sounds like – optimizing a website for searches related to the geographic location in which you practice law. Almost all people searching for local services do so online these days. And, if someone is searching for a local lawyer, you don’t even have a chance to compete for their business if you do not optimize your website for local search.
Building up your law firm’s local SEO is one of the few digital undertakings you can work on that will be truly sustainable. Google in particular, has focused its search results more locally in order to provide searchers with the most accurate results possible. Most searches conducted online have a local intent, meaning people are looking for something close to their geographic area – and Google wants to serve them up the best possible local search results.
What Your Law Firm Needs To Do To Rank Well in Local Search
1. Provide Consistent Contact Information Without Duplication
One of the most crucial components of local SEO is a “NAP,” a company’s name, address, and phone number information. This information must be precisely and completely consistent across the web. Any inconsistencies among digital citations can have a big negative impact on a law firm’s local SEO. Duplicate citation information is just as bad as inconsistent information; if your law firm has duplicate listings on the same platforms, Google won’t show either one in search results.
Be sure to feature your NAP prominently on your law firm website, as it helps search engines determine your geographic location and the local market you serve. In addition to placing your NAP on your contact page, if you have only one location, consider placing it in the header or footer of your website so it appears on every page. Also make sure your NAP is highly visible and consistent on the mobile-responsive version of your website.
2. Build A Good Website and Continuously Add Local Content
I tell my lawyer clients that good SEO starts with having a good website. Most lawyers think that SEO is Internet voodoo magic that nerdy computer programmers do hidden away in a basement somewhere. They do not realize that building a law firm website correctly is the most crucial first step to take toward building up local SEO.
Creating content for your law firm website that references your geographic area not only sends clear signals to the search engines that your site is designed to serve a particular area, it also makes your content more relevant to readers as people respond better when content is personalized (in this case to their specific area). Write in an informational style, using keywords like FAQ, issues, tips, guide, how to, and solutions.
Website metadata is critical, and you should choose great title tags that include localized SEO information to use on your website’s pages. This piece of code is important because Google does not rank full sites; it ranks individual pages of sites. Therefore, the more of your website’s pages you optimize for local search, the greater impact your business can have in organic search results. A good format to use when crafting each webpage’s title tag is Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name.
In addition to using the correct title tags, you should also include geo-targeted location pages for the top location(s) your law firm serves. Doing this will increase your rank for each specific location over time. Be sure to use the actual location (1) in the URL, (2) in the title tag, and (3) in the content. While your law firm can add as many location pages as you want, it's a better practice to focus and build up local SEO only for your main target area(s).
Just because you built a great website doesn’t mean that it can’t get messed up over time (especially when you work with a variety of vendors). A law firm should routinely run diagnostic queries on its website to look for issues the search engines may have when crawling it.
Some important aspects to monitor include:
- Accessibility and “Indexability”
- Duplicate Content
- Inbound Links (backlinks/broken links)
- Mobile Friendliness
- Optimized Images
- Site Speed
To make things even more locally fantastical, include both information that will help local searchers like driving directions and code-based features that search engines look for like structured data/schema markup. Embedding a Google Map on your website that allows visitors to click for driving directions will also boost your local rankings.
Finally, being old has its benefits.The length of time your domain and the corresponding citations have been live on the Internet will affect your local SEO. While you cannot control third party websites, Google does look at how old your domain is to gauge the authority of a website.
3. Build Digital Citations
Citations are mentions of your law firm across the web. These mentions may or may not provide active links back to your website. You want to get listed in good, high quality online directories used in your industry. These directories help with your local search rankings.
Citations can either be structured or unstructured. In this post, I am mainly referring to structured citations, which present information forced into an organized set format, like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Yellow Pages. Citations to your law firm must have consistency with regard to NAP. The NAP on your law firm website should be the same as the NAP on any other digital citation referencing your business.
No single tool can get your law firm listed in every possible directory. Many citations must be done one by one, manually. Be sure to complete all of the information you possibly can – upload photos and video, descriptions, hours of operation, etc. These citations are additional opportunities to sell your law firm’s services to potential clients and you want to tell them as much as you possibly can. Some directory listings even rank company profiles by how complete they are.
4. Get Happy Clients To Leave Good Online Reviews
We push reviews on our law firm clients hard core. Almost everyone checks out reviews before buying a product or service these days. Those law firms that do what we ask will see a positive impact on their organic website traffic and volume of inbound new leads. How quickly they see it can also depend on other factors including how competitive their geographic market is for their particular practice area related keyword phrases.
Having no reviews or very few reviews is a local SEO killer because it directly correlates to significantly less search visibility. Reviews give your law firm digital credibility with local searchers, which is proven to help them look harder at your business and/or click through more often to your website. One reason reviews are so important is because they provide user-generated content. People who write reviews do so in their own words, and that helps your law firm rank better in search.
Google uses its own user reviews as a big factor in determining which businesses are shown in local search results. Your law firm’s hopefully five-star rating will appear under its name in search results, but not until it has at least five reviews. Additionally, Google now also pulls in reviews from third party sites; the sites it pulls from vary by industry (as we know, lawyers have lots of their own ratings sites) and based on a law firm’s location.
5. Build Up Local Links
Links from local sources like directories, local chambers of commerce, other local businesses all contribute to ranking better in local search. These inbound links give signals to search engines that the firm is relevant to a specific geographic area.
In traditional SEO, links play a huge part in how your rank in the search engine results (SERPS). While not as critical in local SEO, they still play a role. Many links will come naturally as you get citations for your business, but there are other great local sources for you to find links for your website. Many local associations and businesses will gladly add you to their site if you help them as well. One thing you can do is to host a contest to benefit a local charity and let the local media know about it
6. Be Sure To Be Social
Unstructured citations are digital mentions that are a lot less organized, but still important, such as getting buzz on social media. Not having a strong local social presence is an obstacle to ranking well in local search. Popular social platforms have a lot of authority, so when your law firm maintains active accounts, it can help enhance your visibility in local search results. Social media success does yield positive local SEO signals.