Since most of your clients come from nearby locales, having your site appear in Google’s 3-pack is essential. Here is how to rank locally, no matter how competitive your area.
1. List your law firm on Google My Business.
If you haven’t done so already, register your firm with Google My Business. Google My Business is Google’s free business listing.
When your law firm is listed on GMB, Google will prioritize showing businesses that are on their GMB listing which could appear not only on Google Search, but also on Google Maps.
When a user searched for “lawyer santa ana ca,” Google will show you the above results. Notice that the business listings on Google Maps come first when a region-specific search is performed. They also appear when no region is listed if a mobile searcher allows Google to use their location.
We highlighted one law firm there, The Reeves Law Group. Though their lawyer website is unable to make it on the first page of Google’s organic search results, they still managed to appear on Google’s first page (through Google Maps) because their law firm is listed on GMB. Awesome, right?
2. Manage and regularly update your law firm’s Google+ page.
Once you have listed your law firm on Google My Business, it will also prompt you to create a Google+ page. Most businesses don’t care about their Google+ page because it isn’t as popular as other social media networks. Nevertheless, Google+ still boasts of its 300 million monthly active users. So, it is still a helpful platform from which to get an audience for your law firm.
Aside from that, you can also earn some SEO juice from Google when you regularly share posts. Google indexes your Google+ posts and has them appear on the search results of your page’s followers.
Since I’m following the Google+ page of Berman More Gonzalez, Attorneys at Law, their Google+ post showed up on my search results when I looked for the protocols on the treatment of injured California workers.
3. Obtain citations for your law firm.
This is critical. And the more competitive your location’s keywords are, the more citations you will need to appear in Google’s 3-pack.
Citations are listings of your business name, address and phone number on other websites. This is often called as your business NAP (name, address, phone). Though not all citations are linking to your website, they still play an important role for your law firm’s local search ranking because Google use them as a verifier that your business is real.
Among the most popular ways to get citations for your law firm is to submit your business NAP to online directories such as Yelp and Yellow Pages. Other places where you could get citations are press releases, guest post bylines, Q&A sites, and forum signatures.
However, there’s a catch. To make your law firm enjoy the full benefits of citations, your business NAP should be consistently written – abbreviations, spellings, street numbers, punctuations, etc. If you’re not consistent, Google might view your law firm as different entities.
The above screenshots are from two different citation sources. The first one is from Google My Business, and the second one is from Yelp.
At first glance, there seems to be no problem for the law firm’s NAP, but they have actually inconsistencies:
- Business name has a missing period on “Esq” on Yelp
- “Suite” is spelled in full on GMB, but only spelled as “Ste” on Yelp
- Phone numbers on GMB and Yelp are entirely different
While missing punctuations and abbreviations are minor inconsistencies, you should never get your address and phone number wrong. If you have changed your address and phone number, remember to also update them on ALL of your citations.
4. Ask your clients to leave a review.
The more competitive your region’s keywords, the more important that reviews will be to your ranking
Ask your clients to leave a review on your law firm’s social media pages, or online directory accounts. More important, ask them to leave a review on Google Maps, since you are aiming to rank on Google’s local search results.
To help your clients leave a review on Google Maps, give them the following instructions:
- Sign in to Gmail account and open Google Maps.
- On the Google Map search box, search the name of the law firm.
- Click “Write a Review.”
5. Include local keywords in your website’s content.
Local keywords still help. They are not needed when Google knows a searcher’s location, but they do help when a searcher does not provide their location.
Moises Aguilar is a criminal defense lawyer in Santa Ana. So, in order for his target clients to find his services, he included the above keywords in his website copy. If you are going to check the highlighted keywords on Google, you’ll see that his website appears on Google’s first page results.
So, remember that when creating content for your lawyer website, make sure that you somewhere include your target local keywords. If you are not sure what keywords to use for your copy, you could always use the Google Keyword Planner tool for your keyword research.
Do it yourself?
Building citations and obtaining reviews are the two keys to appearing in Google’s 3-pack. In a non-competitive region, you should be able to effectively do the grunt work yourself. Just be sure your citations are 100% consistent. And make obtaining reviews a standard part of closing a case.
If keywords are highly contested in your region, you will need hundreds of citations and dozens of positive reviews, and you will be competing against professional optimizers and a few of the bigger ones will use software to automate the work.
At James we use proprietary software that automates our local optimization work, so are quite successful, even in competitive regions. We also use software unaffordable by all but the largest law firms to assist our organic optimization work.
If you want our help ranking locally and organically, you may apply below. Know that we don’t accept every firm that applies for ranking assistance. The application process takes less than two minutes.