Grow Your Law Firm
Few marketing strategies offer better return on your investment than Local SEO. Every day, potential clients in your region are using Google to search for legal representation.
A properly executed Local SEO strategy will allow your firm to come up for more local searches, both in Google's organic listings and Google Maps results. Once your strategy gains momentum, your practice will be getting valuable new reviews, links, and citations each month, not to mention a steady stream of new clients.
Build a Bridge between You and Your Clients
Local SEO is like a bridge that, if built correctly, will provide a strong connection between prospective clients and your law firm. Your future clients are using their smartphones, tablets, computers, and other devices to locate an attorney with your experience and skills. If you aren't coming up for local searches, then they will cross another bridge – one that leads to a competing law firm.
On the other hand, every component of your Local SEO campaign that is executed properly will help to construct and reinforce the bridge that will lead those clients to your firm.
Years ago, it was possible for a website to come up for local searches simply by including a particular location as often as possible in the site's body content, page titles, and meta data. These days, such tactics are considered spam. Google has improved its algorithm to the point that the search engine knows where people are when they search and which local results are most likely to meet their needs, even when they don't use geographical qualifiers in their searches.
What does this mean to you? You need to build the strongest bridge possible by using the local signals that Google is currently using. If you do, you will significantly improve your firm's chances of ranking well, not only in Google's organic search results, but also on Google Maps and Google+.
Effective Local SEO Strategy
As is generally the case with the search engine giant, Google has been pretty straightforward about what it is looking for in an effective SEO strategy. The most important elements include:
Your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP)
The most fundamental part of your Local SEO strategy is to make sure that your firm's NAP - name, address, and phone number - are consistent across the Internet, down to the finest detail.
For instance, if a firm is listed as "Jagger & Richards, LLC" in one location, it should not be listed as "Jagger and Richards Law Firm" in another. Inconsistencies like these can damage a firm's reputation both with Google and prospective clients.
On the surface, this may seem like a minor, even trivial point. When it comes to Local SEO, however, attention to detail can make all the difference between failure and success.
Your Local Profile
From Google+ and Bing to Yelp and Foursquare, there are hundreds of online resources that provide you with the opportunity to create a business listing. If nothing else, you should create a Google+ Local page for each of your office locations. However, it truly is to your benefit to create local profile pages on as many reputable review and directory sites as possible.
Be sure to keep things consistent with your NAP and other information from listing to listing, and be careful not to create duplicate listings for a single office location on any given website.
In some cases, you may find that listings for your firm have already been created, even though they weren't created by you. This is actually fairly common. You have the right to claim these listings and make sure that they accurately represent your firm.
Reviews from actual clients in your area are among the strongest local signals that can be transmitted to search engines. Honest, legitimate, balanced reviews that are well written and detailed are more likely to be trusted by potential clients than any other form of marketing.
Therefore, Google is more likely to view law firms with such reviews as good resources for local searches.
The more of these types of reviews you have, the more favorably Google will look upon your law firm.
Locally Relevant Content
Your law firm could be located in Dayton, but including “Dayton” multiple times throughout your website content doesn't immediately make that content locally relevant. On the other hand, dedicating blog posts to your participation in local events, the history of your law firm in the community, and new employees who hail from Dayton will signal to Google that your content is of legitimate local interest.
As you create locally relevant content, don't limit it to your website or your blog. Publish it to your firm's Google+ and Facebook pages. Announce it on Twitter. Link to it from your LinkedIn account. Let people in your network and throughout your community know that you have something to say that they will want to hear.
Citations, Citations, Citations
In the early days of Google, the search engine relied heavily on the number of inbound links that website received from other websites in formulating its rankings. Unfortunately, this meant that he results could be easily manipulated. Many companies charged high prices for lowquality inks that, at least in the short term, helped websites to shoot to the top of Google's results for key search terms.
Thankfully, such tactics are no longer effective. These days, Google weeds out lowquality links, relying on legitimate links and highquality citations. In the case of your law firm, citations would basically comprise any instance of your law firm being mentioned on a website other than your own. If that website also includes your NAP information, your logo, and a link to your website, it ill contribute powerfully to your Local SEO.
As with client reviews, the more strong citations you have, the better.
Honesty and Fair Play
Google has ensured that cheaters will not prosper when it comes to Local SEO. Some businesses have tried to manipulate the system by providing false addresses, stuffing keywords into their business names or profiles, exaggerating about the services they provide in their websites or profiles, creating false negative reviews of their competitors and false glowing reviews of themselves, and engaging in other illadvised practices. Eventually, they get caught. Not only do they then have to deal with Google's penalties, but they also have to deal with the negative reviews of actual consumers.
Avoid overoptimization, be clear and distinct in describing your law firm, and respond professionally and courteously to critical reviews while promoting the positive.
Let Google deal with those firms that try to take shortcuts. While they learn their lessons the hard way, you will continue to be found by clients. Google rewards clean hands.
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Benefits of Local SEO Done Right
The primary benefit of Local SEO done right is improved visibility for local searches on Google and, as a result, a steady flow of new clients. However, that isn't the only benefit. You will also be able to:
Strengthen Your Brand
Consumers are more likely to trust brands that are represented consistently across all of their marketing platforms, from print to television. Properly executed Local SEO imposes this brand consistency across multiple Internet platforms, transmitting positive signals to Google and other search engines and instilling confidence in your prospective clients that you are a trustworthy professional.
Manage Your Online Reputation
Google relies on signals from multiple sources to determine not only where your business is located, but also how likely its users are to be pleased that they were directed to your firm. When you take ownership of the social media pages, directory listings, and ratings and review resources dedicated to your firm, you gain real control over your online reputation.
Connect with Clients in Your Area
Many lawyers are led to believe that if they target as many cities, towns, and neighborhoods as they can within as large a radius as possible, they will draw clients from these areas as well as from their local communities. However, law firms that aim big and neglect the potential clients in their own backyard often see such a strategy backfire. Not only do they fail to attract clients from these relatively distant and already wellserved locations, but they also risk coming across as irrelevant as a local resource.
By providing your community with locally relevant blog and social media posts, reviews, and other content, you will create powerful bonds with people before they even contact your firm.
Convert More Users into Clients Than with Traditional Marketing
According to a report conducted by Search Engine Journal, Local SEO leads convert at a rate of 14.6 percent as opposed to a 1.7 conversion rate from leads generated by more traditional forms of marketing, such as print advertising and direct mail.
While this rate varies from industry to industry, this statistic reinforces the fact that Local SEO provides exceptional value for money.
What Is the Cost of Doing Local SEO?
The road to a successful Local SEO strategy can be confusing. The cost of your customized strategy will depend on your answers to several important questions:
- How competitive is your marketplace?
- What type of cases do you want to attract?
- How aggressive do you want to be?
- How effective is your current Local SEO strategy?
- Are you at risk of being or have you already been penalized by Google?