Do you know the difference between regular organic and local SEO? Do you know why the difference even matters? Here, we will break down the basics of local SEO for law firms and how it impacts your search engine strategy.
In simple terms, local SEO is where marketers focus to improve search engine rankings and visibility in local search results such as Google’s Map Pack or Local Pack. Local search is important to any SEO strategy targeting people in a specific region, city, or area – and that tends to be particularly true of law firms.
Organic SEO is how marketers improve web page rankings in organic search, and how your website ranks in those organic results can impact your Local Pack rankings too. So, organic SEO and local SEO are interconnected in some ways – but not the same thing. They are both part of an integrated strategy for a firm targeting a strong local presence as well as high visibility online overall. Each element requires its own strategy and tactics.
What is Local SEO for Law Firms?
As we alluded to, local SEO is the practice of search engine optimization for local search results. For example, on Google, this involves helping your firm listing in the Local Pack/Map Pack to rank higher and appear more often when people search. Ideally, your firm’s result will show more often in response to a greater volume of relevant queries.
Remember that Google’s mission is to deliver searchers the answers that they are looking for – hence the enhanced importance of searcher intent. When their algorithms can detect that someone’s “intent” is local (that they are looking for something in the area around them), then Map Pack results will appear more prominently at the top of search result pages. These results might be shown with organic results for other firms or services in the area. Google has also gotten really good at identifying immediate, local needs and catering results to this type of search. They know that making the right information available in local search results – such as firm name, address and phone number is likely more helpful than a simple link.
While a great user experience is important for overall organic SEO, Google also supplies a set of guidelines for local SEO. Following these guidelines is critical for maximizing visibility in the Map Pack and not having your listing suspended for any reason.
Why Does Local Search Matter?
In order to understand how important local search is, take a look at these statistics from an in-depth Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal.
- 99% of consumers have used the internet to find information about a local business in the last year.
- 78% of consumers use the internet to find information about local businesses more than once a week (up from 69% in 2020).
- 21% of consumers use the internet to find information about local businesses every day (down from 34% every day).
Basically, you should assume that people within your community are using local searches to find what they need – including legal advice. For the majority of people, online search engines (particularly Google) are the first place they begin to look for services. The more you can appear in these searches, the better your chances of being found by potential clients.
Furthermore, when it comes to attorneys and law firms, Google will show a “call” button directly in the local search result on mobile phones. When a potential client performs a quick search on their phone for your type of firm, they will see results targeted to their location, along with a dominant call to action in the form of the “call us” button. This is particularly important for areas of the law where people want to set up consultations quickly – for example immediately following an auto accident or a criminal arrest. When done correctly, optimized local search can help your firm to be right in front of people exactly when they’re searching for an attorney.
How to Improve Your Local Search Ranking
According to experts, there are three categories that matter when it comes to local search. They are:
- Relevance – How well a local business profile matches what someone is searching for
- Distance – How far each potential search result is from the location term used in search queries
- Prominence – How well-known the business is, according to Google
To improve these categories, pay attention to the following ranking factors:
- Google Business Profile primary category
- The keywords used in listing titles
- How close the business address is to a searcher’s location
- An address that is physically in the city of search
- High number of reviews and ratings
- Completeness of a Google Business Profile listing
- The quality and trustworthiness of inbound links to the associated domain
- Keywords present in native Google reviews
In addition to specifically optimizing for these local ranking factors, it’s essential to double-check your NAP (name, address, phone number) information across any linking sites, listings, etc. Make sure to follow other SEO best practices like ensuring technical SEO is in great shape, publishing the highest quality content possible, and trying to earn more links across a variety of websites to stand out more in Google’s eyes. For more information on how to implement SEO best practices, download this free eBook on SEO for law firms.
Additionally, don’t forget that many local queries are based on voice search. People may say things like “Find an attorney near me” to their mobile device. Try out keyword variations that include questions as well as such instructions. You can use a topic research tool like SEMrush to see the questions that people are searching for along with volume.
Local search requires a dedicated strategy, but it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Your main goal is to increase your visibility in Google’s Local Pack and have your firm’s information immediately accessible when people search for attorneys in your area. Focus on improving the local search ranking factors we mentioned above.
If you want to take a deeper dive into SEO, start with our free SEO Audit. This tool helps legal marketers to find and fix on-site issues while boosting SEO results.
If you’d like additional assistance improving your local SEO, contact us for a free consultation.