Effective Local Search Engine Optimization for Law Firms: Why and How
A quarter of all Google searches today are specifically local, and that share is growing. Those who perform local searches consistently prove readiest of all to seek out products and services.
Even users who omit local terms, in fact, increasingly receive a number of local results. Google knows where its users are based, and delivers local maps and results even to those who enter such general terms as “personal injury attorney” or “dui law firm.”
For lawyers who depend on new business, these facts are especially significant. While some few attorneys may be able to rely on word of mouth and repeat clients, most work hard at finding new ones. Because local searches are so common and fruitful, local search engine optimization for law firms can be one of the best ways of generating new business.
Proven Local SEO Tactics for Law Firms
Fortunately, there are many proven ways of boosting search results standings and online traffic for law firms. While not all will be appropriate in every particular situation, some combination will inevitably deliver gratifying results.
- Start Small With Keywords: Being competitive, many attorneys are inclined to insist that their SEO efforts aim as high as possible right out of the gate. In reality, most law firms do better by initially targeting very specific local keywords and then building on the results. Instead of trying to take over the rankings for “personal injury lawyer Boston,” for example, it will normally be more productive to aim first at becoming more prominent for a particular neighborhood. That helps to build momentum that can be leveraged later on.
- Get Listed Everywhere: One of the key early steps in any local SEO campaign for a law firm will be filling out as many online directory listings as possible. Google+ Local listings are used extensively when delivering local results to users, so completing or claiming an entry there should be a high priority. Free legal directories can help, too, both by producing traffic and contributing to SEO efforts. Specialized services like Aviv.com are often worth working with, assuming that they rank in the results for a particular local market.
- Encourage Clients to Leave Reviews: Where allowed by a state’s bar association, seeking positive reviews from clients can be helpful. Although Google does not weigh these heavily in its own calculations, Internet users tend to trust them. Figure out which review sites Google uses to deliver summaries in a particular market, and then either mention that satisfied clients could contribute one or leave hints to do so on a website or in an office. Even a few reviews a year can be enough.
- Seek Good Links and Citations: Building a collection of quality links to a firm’s website is a cornerstone of SEO. For local search, even concrete mentions of a practice that do not include links help influence Google. Something as small-seeming as getting a practice’s phone number mentioned on a highly regarded website can pay dividends.
- Produce Locally Oriented, Specific Content: Links and citations are important, but Google insists that content is king. For the kind of local SEO that pays dividends for lawyers, that means publishing a steady stream of interesting, locally relevant posts that reflect an area of practice. Even alone, that can propel a given firm’s website to the top of the local rankings.
- Conventional Marketing Matters, Too: Don’t neglect the potential impact of traditional marketing efforts, either. A new legal scholarship or a charity drive that merits mention in a local paper can contribute greatly to local SEO efforts.
- Make Sure the Firm’s Website is Effective: There is no point in driving visitors to a legal website that fails to provoke them into action. There are many ways of measuring how effective a site is at converting visitors into clients, and some of these will be part of any good local SEO strategy.
Common Local SEO Challenges for Attorneys
Of course, there can be some bumps in the road. All of these challenges can be met, though, and being aware of them beforehand helps to ensure victory.
- The Legal Field is Competitive: Local legal markets are often some of the most competitive when it comes to SEO. For newcomers, obtaining the desired results can, therefore, seem like a difficult goal. In fact, though, there are many effective strategies and local seo services for law firms, and having grounded expectations can help ensure that they have a chance to work.
- Lawyers, Too, are Competitive: Most lawyers are driven, ambitious people, and this can be a real asset when it comes to search engine optimization for attorneys. On the other hand, this drive and competitiveness can also result in a counterproductive focus on intermediate results like rankings for particular keywords. Many attorneys, then, do well to remind themselves that the ultimate goal is to produce more business and use this as a way of maintaining perspective.
- Bar Associations Have Their Own Ideas: Many SEO experts are used to resorting to whichever in a large quiver of tools makes the most sense in a given situation. When it comes to optimizing local search for law firms, though, the options are often constrained by a state’s bar association. Even many attorneys are not aware of every bar-imposed restriction, which sometimes results in unpleasant surprises. This is one reason among many that attorneys often have better luck working with SEO consultants who focus on helping those in the legal field.
Given a realistic, strategic mindset, there are many effective ways of improving search engine placement for law firms with a local focus. The benefits of local seo for lawyers can be so great that they can transform even a relatively slow practice into a market leader, given enough dedication. As local searches continue to make up an ever-greater portion of overall traffic, this kind of work will only become more rewarding.