May 18th – May 24th, 2015
If you worked on getting a mobile-friendly version of your law firm’s website last month, you should now be looking for ways to optimize your website’s visibility for local searches. Mobile search and local search are closely tied and mapping applications, such as Google Maps, offer a great method to get your firm noticed by potential clients. Small and middle-sized law firms in the USA get most of their clients from their immediate neighborhood, so getting noticed in local searches is really important. People who want emergency legal services in a hurry are going to prioritize lawyers who have offices close to their current location. Google Maps and Apple Maps are emerging as the front runners in local search and both companies are now investing a lot in their map services. Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land have some very interesting news this week about mapping with Google and Apple.
The first article to read this week covers the broader issue of local SEO and puts mapping into that context. This article gives some very simple tips on how to get started with promoting your law firm’s site with local SEO and includes advice on how to get onto Google Maps. This is the ground floor of getting started with maps and local search strategies.
This story gives a very interesting insight into how Google associates search terms with map locations. Although the subject of the news item is scandalous, it does highlight a method you can use to promote your law firm in local searches. Negative SEO experts worked out that they could insult people, or cast derogatory comments on rivals by associating negative words with particular people or businesses. This method originally used negative words in the text of links that pointed to the victim’s website. This is called a “Googlebomb” and it forced Google to remove link text as a signal in its ranking algorithm.
Now the Googlebomb has been applied to map-linked searches. In this case, racist terms and insults were directed against the President and the White House. This story has been covered by the mainstream media and all the SEO news sites produced articles on the topic this week. However, Search Engine Roundtable is the only site that worked out how this map-related Googlebomb was performed. You can use this information to get your law firm’s site to the fore in map searches – Google uses comments in review sites to find keywords with which to index businesses. The company states that they are going to adjust this factor to try to eradicate the new map-based Googlebomb. However, they also frequently state that they intend to amplify the signals they use from social media, so this marketing opportunity will only get better.
Here is some really good news for law firms trying to get noticed by potential clients in their immediate vicinity. Google has introduced a ranking factor that answers queries for “nearby” services. This Search Engine Land article explains the system. You will notice that it is only available for paid adverts. That is, for businesses that are registered with Google AdWords. However, it would be well worth the outlay.
This is Search Engine Roundtable’s take on the “nearby” facility. The Search Engine Land article above is easier to read for non-technical SEOers. However, the Search Engine Roundtable article gives more practical information on how to implement the “nearby” feature. This explanation contains a link to Google’s help pages that guides you through enabling “location extensions” on your law firm’s AdWords account and get the nearby feature working for you.
This article explains a new traffic congestion feature on Google Maps. Although this is not particularly an SEO tool, it could prove useful to you if you have to get across town to the courthouse at rush hour. It might also be a nice feature to integrate into your law firm’s website in order to help clients get to your offices without getting stuck in traffic. This new feature also highlights the fact that Google is spending a lot of money on its mapping system right now.
There have been a lot of news stories this week about Apple’s development of its Apple Maps facility. This Search Engine Land article covers most of those issues all in one place. The important point about this piece however, is that it illustrates that Apple is getting really serious about its mapping utility and is ramping it up to rival Google Maps. Indoor mapping would be a particular boon to help guide clients to the right door in the courthouse. Apple’s investment in mapping means you need to be sure your law firm appears on Apple Maps.