One of the strongest trends in digital marketing in 2016 is the improvement in local search. Google is heavily promoting its “Nearby” service and working to improve it. Nearby is just a refinement of local search, so getting good local signals into your online presence will set you up nicely for when Nearby takes over.
The SEO news sites have also prioritized the importance of local search and this week are packed full of articles on the subject. Search Engine Land is particularly rich in local advice. Search Engine Roundtable, and Search Engine Journal also have some interesting local SEO news stories this week.
The opening article covers the SEO Trends number 1 hot tip on acing local SEO – get involved in a local activity or support a local group. You should make sure that your involvement ties in with groups and events that link closely with your legal specialization. This strategy work on all channels of marketing, not just SEO. First off, you get your legal practice publicized to everyone involved with that local organization and their mailing list. Secondly, your name will appear on news of the event on that event’s news page. Thirdly, you should get them to put a link through to your law firm’s site. This strategy wins you free publicity, enhances your reputation, makes potential clients aware of your personality and feel empathetic, and the link will get you local signals for your local SEO ranking.
The hardest part of a social media presence for lawyers is getting content to post. You have probably heard that Instagram and Pinterest are hot, but as they are centered on images, what content can a lawyer put up? That’s where those community and charitable events come in. Not only do they get your name out there on other local sites, but they give you local issues to talk about and photographs to post on social media. This article explains strategies for two lesser known social platforms – Snapchat and Quora.
Google recently admitted that links are one of the top 3 ranking factors in its algorithm, so local links have to be a key element of your local SEO strategy. Getting other sites to link to you is a fraught pursuit and shortcuts can get you penalized by Google’s Penguin algorithm, which focuses on the quality of links. This article has some pretty straightforward advice, such as asking journalists who write local news items about your law firm to put a link through to your web page. The usefulness of this article, however, lies in the links the author has put in to content on his own firm’s website. The writer is a consultant specializing in local SEO, and the items he refers to include lots of link-building ideas.
We mentioned Local Business Cards a few weeks back. There isn’t anything you can do right now to prepare for this development, because it is still in the experimental stage. However, we promised to keep our ears to the ground on the topic, and here’s evidence that we have. An interesting point raised by this author is that Local Business Cards are very good news for small law firms with an actual office in a suburban location over those web-based telephone numbers that advertise nationally and don’t have any actual physical presence.
This article explains a technique that those big national rivals to your local law firm are using to muscle in on your neighborhood. Basically, a lot of companies break the rules and lie about where they are located. SEO practitioner, Joy Hawkins tackled the cheats in her neighborhood and she tells us all about her successes in this article. It seems that Google doesn’t actually check the physical addresses of entries in Google My Business, so Hawkins did, and reported the fibbers. If you fail to get in the local pack because you are squeezed out by bigger law firms that are pretending to be in your area, follow this example and get those companies removed from local listings. That should create room for your listing to rise to the top.
A quick word of caution on managing your listings in Google My Business. If someone manages your law firm’s listing for you, make sure they don’t run listings for all their clients from the same account. Similarly if your law firm genuinely has several locations, manage each location in a separate My Business account. This will ensure that errors made with the listing of one location won’t knock out all your listings through penalties.