Last year, SEO was all about mobile search. Mobile and local search go hand in hand, because people searching on the move are usually looking for goods or services that they can access straight away. This move is going to heat up through 2016 with Google focusing on “nearby” results. As most small and middle-sized law firms get all of their clients from the immediate vicinity of their offices, this move is very good news for the legal profession. The big firms downtown won’t be able to win the rankings race against lawyers based in suburban strip malls who are physically closer to the homes of potential customers.
Nearby search will be the great leap for 2016, but the only difference between this and local search is that the search engine detects the searcher’s location. The location data held on the results entries are exactly the same for both nearby and local. Therefore, it is essential to get up to speed on local search in order to succeed in 2016. Search Engine Land, Moz Blog and Search Engine Journal have some good advice on local search tactics this week.
If you haven’t formulated a local search strategy for your legal practice yet, this guide is a good place to start. Nowadays, Google pretty much takes care of all the local search signals just as long as you have notified them of your precise location. This guide covers that method and gives you other tips on attaching local signals to your law firm’s website.
Putting a video on YouTube is a very good idea for establishing your authority, or that of the specialists in your partnership. You can then embed that video in your own website with a reference to the YouTube video. This is preferable to just putting the video in your firm’s site because YouTube is a great source of clients and videos posted there will also pop up in Google search results. The big problem is always the issue of what topics to base your videos on. This article explains a new tool that enables you to learn what other people in your area are talking about. You can find out what your local rival law firms are posting, and see what subjects get locals ranting.
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This is another sign that Google is ramping up the local/nearby functionality of its search engines. We will keep an ear to the ground to see whether this experiment translates into core policy. This is another way that local businesses can get ahead of big corporate spenders on their results pages. Whether it gets fully implemented or not, this shows that things are looking up for small local law firms in SEO.
Moz Blog has two in-depth articles on local search this week. Moz tends to post very long articles and they have introduced a new feature, which is an estimate of the time it will take to read each article. They think this one will take you 13 minutes. This is a very thorough guide for all sizes of law firms to follow because it also includes advice for multi-location businesses, which is a tricky situation for local search. The action plan in the guide includes social media strategies, which is now becoming more feasible because Facebook and LinkedIn are both taking steps to increase the visibility of local businesses.
This article has a good reminder that a law office in a small town can pull in customers from nearby towns. So expanding your catchment area to surrounding towns needs to be implemented in a similar fashion to local search strategies for multi-location law firms. The advice includes the warning not to try to fool Google into thinking you also have offices in other towns by providing fake addresses in those locations. It won’t work. Neither will opening up PO boxes in those towns to give you a real address, but a virtual office in those towns. Ditch the tricks and follow the solid strategies contained in this article.