When a law firm markets to an online audience, its goal is not to reach the entire country but rather to reach potential nearby clients. Though some firms do have a global reach, most target more local clients, and local SEO for lawyers helps reach those clients specifically. This means your law firm SEO strategy needs to include plans for local SEO.
Yet local SEO is not just using local search terms as part of your overall keyword strategy. This type of SEO is highly complex and requires careful strategizing to work well. This guide will explore what local SEO is and how lawyers can use it to market to their specific clients and reach them more effectively.
When marketing your law firm, you want to reach people in your target market, not the general public. You need your website readers to be from your geographic area.
Google understands this, and the search engine also understands user intent. When someone searches for a law firm, they usually want legal services, and as such, they need a firm near them geographically.
Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that focuses on getting your law firm to appear in local search results. It is a combination of tactics that helps your site rank well for searchers in your target market.
For most businesses, local SEO is important. However, for law firms, it is essential. Your goal for your website is to reach potential clients, and those potential clients are local to you.
Statistics show that customers who need legal services will search online first before ever picking up the phone. In fact, online searches are the second most common way people find a lawyer, falling behind personal referrals. The National Law Review reports that 96% of people use search engines when seeking legal advice, and your website needs to be among those they see. No matter where the customer is in the decision-making process, your site needs to be visible.
To understand the importance of local Google search results, you need to consider the search journey of a potential client. Here’s what it might look like:
In each of these results, except for the paid ads, location is essential. Location determines which firms show up in a local pack, and it determines which local firms are shown on page one of the SERPs. Local SEO becomes even more critical if the prospective client narrows down the search terms by geographic location.
Finally, local search is critical to having an effective local reach for your search engine marketing campaigns. When you are effective in reaching the people in your firm’s geographic area, your SEO efforts will lead to a higher number of clicks. More clicks on your search engine links mean more potential conversion, and more conversions mean more leads and potential income for your firm.
If you are going to have a solid online presence in your local demographic, your firm must pay close attention to location as part of your SEO campaign.
A Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, is a Google listing specific to your business. It takes time to build, but this is vital to local SEO. Getting started with a GBP is not difficult. Simply claim your business on Google, and then wait to get the postcard that Google will send. Use the information on the postcard to verify your business, and you are ready to start building your page.
Your Google Business Profile needs some specific features to work for your optimization efforts. Be sure to include critical business information, such as:
Fill in as much data as you can on the Google Business Profile listing, and ensure the information matches your website. A Google Business Profile that is 100% optimized will have a significant impact on your website’s presence in local search results.
Once your GBP listing is live, encourage your customers to leave reviews. Positive reviews on this listing not only look good when potential clients view it, but they also tell Google that you are relevant and prominent among lawyers in your area. Negative reviews can also help because they show your business and its web pages as actively working with clients.
While other factors also play a role in your local law firm’s marketing results, your Google Business Profile listing is one of the most critical, so spend some time making sure it is accurate and a good representation of your firm’s focus.
Beyond acquiring as many Google reviews as possible, you’ll want to ask your client for reviews on other platforms where your NAP information is also located, like Yelp and AVVO. The more reviews and ratings you receive, the more relevant you appear to the search engines.
While you typically don’t have any control over this, your law firm’s location directly impacts the search results related to local keywords. Google considers proximity to the searcher as one of the factors in determining which sites to show on the first page and in the local pack.
You can tell Google your location in several ways. Your address is the most important, but you can also use a phone number with a local area code. Local terminology on the page, such as references to local attractions or roads, also helps.
Local and lawyer directory citations can help your law firm in two ways. First, local citations can show up in the search results before actual law firms do. Claiming and optimizing your firm’s NAP increases the chance of reaching potential clients.
Second, directory listings are a distribution source for the local business data for your law firm. The more places Google sees this data, the more relevant you seem to the search engine. Having backlinks on these directories makes your firm’s site appear more authoritative.
Several on-page signals impact your local SEO. Relevant keywords that point to your local community are vital, so spending time on keyword research is key. Avoid the temptation to simply throw in the city and state without context. Look for ways to incorporate local or geo-specific terminology to the site to help you stand out.
Schema markup helps a website rank well for local search terms. This back-end code tells the search engines what they are crawling. Add schema markup to the local factors on your website, such as its:
Schema markup code communicates with Google and the other search engines, like Bing, that you are a local law firm or local business worth considering in the local search results.
Finally, make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) appear on every page, not just the home page and contact page. Make sure it matches your NAP on your Google Business Profile.
Local content is another factor that impacts your local SEO visibility. If your law firm website has a blog, occasionally post relatable, community-based content. For example, a car accident law firm in Los Angeles could post a blog post about LA’s most dangerous intersections. This post will have many geographic terms, which will boost your overall local search results.
Your site’s backlink profile will help build its rank. While link building is not new among online marketing strategies, it remains crucial. However, when it comes to local SEO, the best type of link is from local citations.
Local citations are links from sites local to your target market. For example, your local chamber of commerce can be a strong backlink for your law firm. A guest post on a local news station or blog can also help boost your local SEO.
Building a strong backlink profile takes time, but it significantly impacts your local search results.
Finally, the mobile-friendliness of your website directly impacts its local search results. In fact, since 2020, Google has chosen to crawl the mobile version of a site more often than the desktop version when presenting local results.
Having a mobile-friendly website will also help you get more organic traffic. Over half of all web searches for legal services now take place on mobile devices.
This change is due to the fact that many users who are ready to contact a law firm are going to search on their phones—a mobile-friendly website will reach potential clients when they are prepared to pick up the phone and call for legal advice.
The impact of local SEO on organic search results is due to Google’s focus on search intent. When a potential new client searches for your legal service or practice area, Google assumes they want to see local law firms. Thus, most of the sites they will see on the first page will have high local rankings.
Therefore, focusing on local search ranking factors will boost your overall SEO effectiveness because you will better target potential searchers to become leads or clients.
If you feel that your site does not rank well for your target keywords in your local area, you can take measures to improve your local SEO scores.
When you have the opportunity to add tags to your law firm’s website, try to incorporate local keywords. For example, your title tags need to include your main practice location along with your practice area, as in:
This meta title tag will show up as blue linked text on the search engine results, so make it relevant and locally optimized. Remember that only the first 50 to 60 characters will show, so it also needs to be short.
Other tags on your page can also include local search terms when applicable, so don’t forget to add them to your H2 and H3 headings. Also, add a meta description on each page that includes your target local search term to improve your local rank better.
One factor in the local search results that you can target is the frequently asked questions section, which appears above the organic search results. Fill your site, especially your blog, with FAQs to target these results.
When local clients search for a question, such as “do I need to hire a car accident attorney after my crash?” your site might be the one that gets to display an answer.
To ensure that the search engines notice and display these FAQs, add FAQ schema markup to your website.
Make sure your online listings all match your NAP information on your website. Typos are common when listing in directories, and they can hurt your local SEO strategy. Consistency is key in this area. Also, when something changes, like updated business hours or a new phone number, change this across these platforms.
Your law firm’s pages on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn provide both a backlinking opportunity and the opportunity to appear in the search engines. Though this is not your website’s home page, your social media pages have your contact information, and they can draw in potential clients if they show up on the search engine results. Make sure the contact information on your social media pages matches your law firm’s website. Once you build the page, keep it active to promote the right branding image for your firm.
Request reviews from satisfied clients as part of your work with them. If you help someone find success in their legal matter, chances are they will be more than willing to leave a review. Work review requests into your email and paper follow-up process, and then add those reviews to your website or directory listings.
Build a specific page on your legal website to serve as a landing page from your GBP listing. This page should be an optimized location landing page for each office your firm may have or a link to the home page if you have just one location.
Optimize the location page and make it a positive reflection of your firm and your offerings. Add client reviews and case studies so that this is a strong page when people come to it. Not only will this help with conversions, but it will also help with your local SEO efforts.
Local SEO is about conversions and getting your law firm’s name in front of actual potential clients. Yet all of the factors that make up local SEO can get confusing, and it takes time to build your online presence to support your goals correctly. For most law firms, the time factor is the biggest hindrance in achieving effective local SEO. That’s why partnering with a legal marketing expert is essential.
Array Digital offers a complete list of SEO services, including local SEO. Our team of legal SEO strategists will build an effective campaign to help you reach your target audience so that you can turn searchers into new clients and new cases.
Array Digital is a knowledgeable SEO firm that works exclusively with law firms. Our award-winning team understands the importance of local search marketing and what it takes to increase your online visibility. We take the pressure off of your shoulders, so you can focus on helping your clients while we work on your optimization needs.
The team at Array Digital has proven strategies that assist with all aspects of your digital marketing campaign. We help with website development, SEO, social media campaign management, and advertising, so you can create a brand image that is consistent and compelling while effectively reaching your targeted local market with your law firm website and social media presence.
Local search marketing for law firms is complex. It takes time and practice to do well, and that is something your firm may not have. Array Digital knows how to do it well. Let us help you transform your online presence into one that brings in conversions and helps you grow your firm effectively.