When it comes to SEO for your law firm’s website, local listings should be a high priority part of your efforts. The term “local listings” can have slightly different meanings depending on who and what you are talking about, but the basic idea is that local listings help you to reach people and potential clients in your local geographic area.
On one hand, local listings refer to having your law practice and website listed on local directory sites. This could be anything from some of the larger local review sites like Yelp down to truly local directories like pages maintained by your local chamber of commerce.
In the more general SEO sense of the term, local listings are specialized local search results that you will see on Google when you are searching for a local business. For example, if you run a search for lawyers in Austin, Texas, the results you get will have a few ads on top, and then below you will see a small map of the local area with exactly three listings for lawyers in that area. These are the Google local listings, also referred to as the Google local 3-pack.
The local listings 3-pack is one of the most valued pieces of real estate within Google’s search results. If you look at the results in the example link above, you’ll see that these search results do much more than just provide a link to your website. When your law firm is listed in the 3-pack the results show all of the following:
- Your location marked on the map
- You overall Google reviews rating with a link to reviews
- Your firm’s area of practice
- Your firm’s physical address
- Your firm’s phone number
- Your office hours (and whether or not you are currently open)
- A link to your law firm’s website
- A link to get directions to your office
This is obviously much more information than a normal search result shows, which is beneficial in and of itself, but when you couple it with the fact that you’re also appearing on the top of the organic search results, you’ve got a real powerhouse position in Google. So now that you know what local listings and the 3-pack are, how do you get your law firm to appear in these highly coveted search result spots?
Claim Your Listing On Google My Business
The first thing you should do is claim or create your Google My Business listing. This will allow you to give all of your information directly to Google and verify it. It’s the first step in making sure that Google knows about your law firm and has all the information they need to create local listing results for your practice. It’s completely free to claim your listing. Once your listing is verified, it will also show up in Google maps. This means that for people with Android phones and mobile devices, when their device detects that they are at your law firm’s location, the visit will be recorded and Google will ask them later if they’d like to review your firm. Gaining reviews on your listing will eventually help boost your results.
Pro tip: Having Wi-Fi available for guests to use in your office will help make sure mobile devices detect when they are there.
Verify Your Information Wherever It Appears
Your law firm may already appear on any of a virtually unlimited number of local listing and review sites. It’s important to claim and update these listings on sites that allow you to do so. You should be able to find most mentions by simply searching for the name of your firm and/or associated attorneys. Wherever Google sees your name, the search giant will gather and compare information to build a trustworthiness score. The more sure they are that they have the right information, the more likely your law practice will show up in the 3-pack search results. If you find incorrect information on a site that does not allow you to sign up and modify your own listing, do your best to reach out to the site administrators and ask them to correct anything you find wrong.
Submit Listings on Trusted Local Sites
In addition to verifying information that’s already out there, you can give your search results a boost by acquiring more listings on trusted local sites. As big as Google is, they do pay attention to these factors. You can build up Google’s level of trust in your local listings by simply getting more of them. The more closely related a site is to your local area, the better. Think about sites like chamber of commerce directories, local “yellow pages” type sites, or any others that specialize in listing and promoting truly local businesses. In the same way that links coming from other sites will boost the “standard” SEO for your actual website, more listings on locally oriented sites will boost your business within the local listings of search results.
Be Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
The driving force behind Google’s local listings and 3-pack search results is to make things easier for mobile users. Google believes these kinds of results are most helpful for people who are actually out on the street and searching for something from a mobile device. In line with that logic, they are more inclined to show results that render well on mobile devices. It is, therefore, very important that your website is able to adapt and display properly on mobile devices.
Just like any other type of search engine optimization, appearing in Google’s local 3-pack listing is not going to happen overnight. It will take some time to see results, but if your firm takes one of the coveted 3-pack spots, you’ll gain great exposure that can help to increase your client list and boost your online reputation.