How To Win the Local SEO Game
Everyone tells you to get local lawyer SEO signals into your law firm’s website. You are probably going to get nearly all of your business from your local area, and it is annoying to check your rankings only to find that companies that aren’t even in your district rank better than you for legal services in your neighborhood. Part of the problem with acing local search is that it is a moving goalpost. Local search is one of Oracle’s chief occupations at the moment and they keep adjusting their formulas. You may find that you used to do well in local search, but now you have dropped out of contention for those valuable top slots on Google’s results pages. You may have missed a tip on changes in the rules, resulting in your local rankings sliding.
The Moz Blog has two very strong guides on the changing face of local SEO this week. Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land also have some useful advice on putting together a local SEO strategy.
Here is the first of the Moz Blog’s two guides on local SEO. It was written by a consultant in local SEO and he has a useful starting point for creating a local search strategy. He walks through his own experience looking for a plumber. Although legal professionals tend to use legal-ese and insider jargon, if you can think like a client and imagine you are searching for your services, you can implement this method. If you can’t de-legal your thought processes, ask a friend or relative who is outside of the legal profession to do it for you and note down the steps. This article has a long comments thread on it. The majority of correspondents think that signals such as reviews and local community events are the best way to go in order to get ahead of all the other law firms in your neighborhood.
This is the second of Moz’s articles on local SEO this week. It highlights how Google has advanced its local SEO strategy over the past year. If you used to do well in local SEO, but have lost that edge, this rundown of the changes could show you how you need to adjust your law firm’s SEO strategy. Even if you are just beginning in local SEO, this review is a good pointer to recent changes. Whenever you read a piece of advice on local SEO, check the date of the article because the tips it gives may already be out of date.
Although this article is phrased to address SEO consultants, you are not barred from reading it. It contains some good ideas on how to get content for your site. You can’t really let non-legal staff post legal advice on your website. You legal team needs to crack on with doing some casework rather than filling up the website with content. However, there is plenty of content that you could get your admin staff to supply, such as facilities in the building, a wider description of each practice area, forms that need to be filled out for various legal application processes, and so on. This article has a useful list of content that you can get other people to write for you without compromising your legal integrity.
Although you are passionate about the law and your area of expertise, you may worry that the average Joe or Josephine will find your interests crushingly boring. What do you do when you need to write something exciting? Unfortunately, a lot of people try to pack out their pages with filler rather than just trying to find something interesting to write about. Don’t waffle. This article has a few examples of keyword stuffing. You may have been told that this is a winning strategy. However, it isn’t – Google changed the rules to make that practice obsolete. Remember, people are actually going to read your website. Your content isn’t just there to amuse the Googlebots.
Local lawyer SEO is a headache for multi-site practices. Lawyers in rural areas particularly need to appeal to potential customers in several small towns. You might have a small office in each of three or four locations just to catch enough business to pay the mortgage. Local lawyer SEO really doesn’t work in these situations. Well, here’s some news – it does. You just need to customize the text on your site for each location and this article has some good ideas on how to do this. Testimonials from customers in each location are particularly good for local SEO rankings.
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.
Finding Local Audiences
Finding a local audience for your site posts is an essential starting point for your law firm’s marketing funnel. You need to get people to look at your website in order to get a shot of converting those visitors to clients for your practice. However, you shouldn’t prioritize traffic volume as a goal. You can get a lot of visitors to your site and get no clients if those visitors are not the right visitors. Targeting the people who live in your neighborhood is an important strategy when attracting people to your site, because most of your clients are going to come from within driving distance. The Moz Blog, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal all have useful tips this week on how to get a local audience for your site.
This Search Engine Watch article highlights the importance of getting into the “Local Pack,” which Google places at the top of its search results. The Local Pack focuses on a map with the locations of relevant businesses in the area the searcher is looking for. The importance of getting into that group got even greater recently when Google reduced its membership from seven listings to three. Getting in the top three entries on search engine results is a key factor in your local lawyer SEO strategy. Google has also introduced a new local AdWord format which mimics the Local Pack layout and has more features, including driving directions.
Eerily, Barry Schwartz posted a very similar article over at Search Engine Land this week. His angle is slightly different and he writes about a recent study by seoClarity. The report explains that being in the Local Pack also boosts your rankings in the organic search results. Before the Local Pack was reduced from seven to three, the top Local Pack entry came top of organic search 25 per cent of the time. Now that top Local Pack page gets the top organic position 93 per cent of the time. So, not getting into the Local Pack will really hammer your visibility. Not only do you have the Local Pack box and the local AdWords group ahead of you, but you will also place behind the Local Pack jocks in the organic search pit. Although, as explained in the first article this week, people don’t trust paid entries, if you can’t get into the Local Pack, maybe you should consider paying for a local AdWord entry for your law firm. The new format is difficult to distinguish from the Local Pack and includes direction and location information that may improve the negative impression of paid search.
Although this article is not specifically about local marketing, it is included in this list, because it offers a great idea about how to piggyback onto local issues and enter the mindset of potential clients for your law firm. You could analyze your data on past clients and the profile of a typical subject in each of your practice areas to tailor your content towards different mindsets. Once you identify those mindsets, look for local groups and campaigns that would attract people that fit into each mindset. You could then write content for your site tailored to each group and contact each group either by newsletter, or by direct involvement, to get their members aware of your alignment.
Review sites are an important source of backlinks for your law firm’s site. This report explains that the importance of good reviews is heightened for audiences looking for local services. A peculiarity of SEO is that you don’t really need to worry about the ratings you get on review sites in order to boost your rankings on Google. In this instance, quantity is more important than quality because Google automatically assigns a quality ranking boost to all links coming from review sites without reading the reviews. However, the score that reviewers award your law firm’s services counts for getting click-throughs from the reviews and for sales conversion.
Directories offer a great source of backlinks, but not all directories are equal in local search. This report offers some very good advice for a source of local directory listings, which is often overlooked. Many directories go through the phone book, or download other directories and post partial entries for businesses even though those businesses haven’t registered with them. If you do a search for your business, you may find an entry from one of these directories ranks highly. You obviously need to register with those high ranking directories so that you can complete your law firm’s entries in them.
Local Marketing Tips
As small businesses, law firms are more likely to get their customers from their local area. Even large law firms need to have offices and staff close to their major clients. So, local marketing is very important for the legal profession and local search is an integral part of digital marketing. Although we have covered the topic of local search on SEO Trends before, the industry keeps moving forward with new ideas and techniques, so it is necessary to review your law firm’s local search strategy periodically, as with all other aspects of your digital marketing effort. This week, SEO Trends will show you useful tips on local marketing that are currently appearing in Search Engine Land, Moz Blog and Search Engine Journal.
The two central pillars of rankings are keywords and backlinks. As commercial strategies for getting links into your site (ie paying site owners) are frowned upon, content has become a tool for attracting links from other sites. Content is also the main vehicle for including keywords and key concepts on your sites, so content marketing is a major tool for local marketing. This article outlines how content marketing ties into the marketing funnel. As a lawyer, you might get excited about what’s happening in Washington, but try to avoid talking about national issues in your blog.
If a new piece of legislation is going to bring you work, try to mention your local area when you write about it. Giving local organizations a name check in your blog posts is also a good idea for attracting links from the websites of those groups. This article includes a suggestion about guest blogging on other websites. A couple of years back, Google intimated that it was going to penalize guest blogging, so everyone stripped that out of their digital marketing strategy. However, the search engine got so diverted by its focus on local and mobile search that it completely forgot its dislike of guest blogging, so this is a good strategy to go back to and one that few people are using right now.
This article has a pretty interesting graph. The author tends to ignore the elephant in the graph, which is that search engines are still by far the most popular starting point for people looking for local services. Bernadette Coleman sees this as a reason to focus on all other channels of local search. It is true that some area of marketing that only gives a little boost can give you those few extra points you need to push your visibility ahead of your rivals. However, the real lesson of that graph is that if you mess up lawyer SEO, you have to do an awful lot of work on many other channels to make up for the loss. For example, if you don’t get the 36 per cent that look for services through search engines you have to ace all the other categories in the graph to make up for it. That says that you should focus your local digital marketing budget on getting rankings in search engines through content strategies, such as those outlined in the article above. If you have spare cash left over, you could add to that with effort in other channels.
One great channel for attracting customers is the recommendation. This category is divided into two sub-sections – influencers and reviews. In this article you will read about influencers. These are people who head organizations that cater to people who may need your legal services. Other types of influencers would be local celebrities, such as radio jocks. A mention from such people on their Twitter feed or Facebook page will help you attract visitors to your website and get potential clients into your law firm’s offices. Content marketing is one way to attract local influencers, but it is important to actually contact those people, establish a rapport, and notify them when you have content on your site that would interest them.
Loyalty is a difficult concept for many lawyers, because with a lot of legal specializations catering to the general public, you are unlikely to get repeat business. People don’t get divorced or run over by hit-and-run drivers on a weekly schedule. There isn’t much point in law firms running loyalty programs – which are the topic of the first part of this Moz Blog post. However, loyalty ties into the old word-of-mouth marketing strategy, which online translates to reviews. One piece of good news for the legal profession is that loyalty schemes don’t seem to attract many mentions on review sites. So you’re not missing out on good reviews by not running one. However, going back to Bernadette Coleman’s graph, 4 per cent of buyers first look at professional reviews and 5 per cent look at product and service reviews when they start searching for their needs, so that extra 9 per cent of the market available through reviews sites could be very lucrative.
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.
Mobile friendliness and local search have been the big development issues in SEO so far this year. However, multi-location businesses shouldn’t feel cut out of the trend. Although Google slated its drive towards local results as a chance for the little guy, clients of multi-location practices and advocacy groups still need to get directions to offices and are just as likely to discover your law firm through a mobile search. Bigger organizations don’t need to concede defeat to the single-office law firms. They can use local search tactics as well. Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land all have advice on the developments in local search and mobile over the past week, and multi-location practices can benefit from these tips as well.
Having several offices does not make a law practice remote. In fact, multi-location organizations open up branches in order to be closer to more of their target client base. So, those offices need to have local visibility and compete on an office-by-office basis with equivalent single location law firms. So, multi-location practices should examine local search tactics when promoting each individual site. This article gives you pointers on how to start formulating that strategy.
Bing has come out with a new tool that can help campaign planners explain varying expenses across multiple locations. The boss may not understand why one location needs a greater investment just to gain an average throughput of clients. This new site categorizes each location and illustrates the different types of devices that access search and their rate of importance in each state. Click through rates vary from state to state and so some of your law offices will have to invest more in attracting site visitors than others. The site also illustrates different “cost per click” levels in each state. This information will help you to vary your budget across locations to ensure each office gets a fair chance of attracting new clients.
Multi-site law firms need to attract mobile searchers just as much as single-location practices. This article contains a link to a webinar explaining how multi-location firms can target mobile search users to win new clients. Don’t worry if you missed the live date. You can download a recording of the lecture by following the link in the article.
Google has reduced the number of businesses that appear in the “local pack” on its results pages. The lucky local pack members get top billing on the page, and so the reduction in this list from seven businesses to three, makes elbowing your way into the group a harder task than it was before. The local pack gives map-located businesses an unfair advantage. So, step one in getting into that group is to make sure that each of your law firm’s locations are marked on Google Maps.
Marcus Miller injects marketing theory into his advice on local lawyer SEO tactics. There is nothing in the tactics Miller outlines here that could not be applied by multi-site law practices when aiming for a local search strategy. This article is a long read, so print it off, or bookmark it on your iPad, and read it when you have some time to kill.
So far this month, the James Attorney Marketing blog’s SEO Trends feature has focused on upcoming changes to Google’s algorithm to benefit mobile-friendly websites. The big advantage for US lawyers from this trend is that potential clients on the go are likely to search for a lawyer through their smartphone or tablet. Local search goes hand in hand with mobile search, because usually, those searching through a mobile device are looking for services in their neighborhood, and that’s where most lawyers get their clients. The basics of acing local search are fairly straightforward. All search engines created local search services by tying their search engine algorithms to their mapping services. So, step one of getting your law firm’s local profile active is getting your location registered on Google, Bing and Yahoo maps. After that, things get a little more complicated. Some news stories over the past week in Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal will help you grapple with the task of getting your legal practice visible locally.
Every task requires a plan. This article from Search Engine Watch covers strategies for implementing local search visibility. It combines a range of media and explains where it is worth paying for search results positions and advertising, and where you should focus on your on-site presentation. The article will introduce you to a digital marketing concept called the Local Marketing Adoption Curve. Thinking strategically will help you get your law firm’s local marketing beyond a pin on a digital map.
This interview with local SEO guru, Greg Gifford is basically a promotion for a Search Engine Journal summit on local SEO in Dallas at the end of the month. However, if you are really trying to focus on your local lawyer SEO strategy right now, it might be worth going along to the event – the expense will be tax-deductible. If you can’t make room in your diary for a trip to Dallas, you can read through Mr Gifford’s opinions on local search in this article.
One big advantage of getting your law firm registered on Google Maps is that Google will then display it in a group of local results at the top of the search results page alongside a map. This article explains that Google is currently playing about with the “local pack” block. Usually, when Google starts fiddling about with an element of its layout you can bet something big is about to happen to that aspect of SEO. Google has announced a mobile-friendly adjustment to its algorithm scheduled for April, so there will probably be a big element of those changes that derive from local lawyer SEO.
Here is more evidence that Google is focusing more development on local SEO signals. This Search Engine Roundtable article explains a change in the layout of local business displays on Google Maps. This should make it easier to notify Google when your law firm moves to new offices.
Search Engine Roundtable reports that Google seems to be cutting back its support services on Google My Business, which is the place you have to go to organize your law firm’s listing on Google Maps. Maybe they are spending less on support because they are blowing all their budget on development. However, you now have only between 7 AM and 12 PM PDT to contact support by phone. The American Heritage Dictionary defines 12 PM as noon. “PDT” means Pacific Daylight Time.
Local Marketing Tactics
With Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm change now fully rolled out, you should be able to test your new mobile site’s rankings and get an accurate evaluation of its ongoing performance. Google reports that the new algorithm did not cause the extreme re-ordering of search engine rankings that had been expected because so many businesses got their mobile version ready in time – thus everyone retained their rankings. Now you can put that mobile version of your law firm’s website to good use and focus on local search as a source for winning clients. You will read about tips that are currently live at Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land.
Search Engine Land is one of the main SEO news sites. However, in addition to topical events, the site also promotes a library of guides covering various specialist SEO subjects. This guide is Search Engine Land’s latest briefing on methods for success in local search. It tells you where to register your site in order to get those all-important local signals added into your rankings. Work through this guide with the aim of getting your law firm’s website listed in the “local pack,” which appears at the top of search engine results alongside a map of the local area.
Once Google calculates relevance to keywords of all the pages on the Web, it applies other factors to adjust those rankings. These second-round factors of ranking calculations are called “filters.” The most famous filters are named Panda, Penguin and Pigeon. The Pigeon filter focuses on local signals and so this is the ranking algorithm you need to study in order to succeed in local SEO. Neil Patel explains the different factors that will get your law firm’s website up into that all-important local pack.
If you specialize in personal injury, immigration or criminal law, your new clients probably contact you in a hurry. In these circumstances, speed of access and quick response are more important to the distressed individual than slick website presentations. The Call-Only Campaign of Google AdWords is ideal for this type of contact. It displays your contact details in search engine results so the person in need of help doesn’t have to click through to a site and look for a “Contact Us” page. This is a very basic internet presence which is little more than a telephone directory listing. However, for certain types of legal practices, this method of advertising is much more effective for winning business than an expensive, trust-building website and is particularly effective for the small screens of mobile devices.
Wow, Apple just made local search a whole lot harder. If you struggled to make your website legible on smartphones, imagine what a chore it will be to squeeze enough information onto a watch display. Hopefully, this latest technological breakthrough will be a Google Glass-style flash in the pan. Getting your law firm’s presentation down to watch size will be a challenge. However, if the Apple Watch takes off, it will be a major source of traffic for law firms’ websites. People often lose their phones, but their watches are fixed to their wrists, so emergency cases may come from customers with Web-enabled watches some time soon.
Reputation management is a key topic for lawyers. This article covers the art of gaining customers through online reviews. Recommendations from friends are major influencers when choosing legal representation and the Web extends that word-of-mouth power beyond immediate friends and family out to everyone with an Internet connection. You could base your entire digital marketing campaign around online reviews.
The main reason that your law firm has a website is to attract new clients. Small and mid-sized law firms get all of their clients from their local area, and so tailoring your search engine optimization towards local search is very important. Local search, along with mobile search, is the fastest changing area of SEO at the moment. Google’s focus on improving the service for local and mobile searches is being followed by similar improvements in other search engines. This means that you will need to revisit your local search SEO strategy regularly to make sure you are up to date with current trends. The three big SEO news sites, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Watch have some useful articles on local search this week. Take a look at our list of the most important local search news of the week to help you reassess your local search tactics and win clients for your practice.
Google My Business is one of the most important sites that you should register with in order to get your law firm a good profile in local searches. Google uses the information you enter in your Google My Business account to place your practice on Google Maps and also to rank in local searches. You should log into your account periodically and make sure the information about your law firm is accurate, otherwise Google may deactivate your listing and you will lose the benefits that a My Business profile brings to your local search rankings.
You should have a Google + account for your law firm in order to get noticed in local searches. Google + is Google’s answer to Facebook. Although the site hasn’t been a successful challenger to Facebook, it is an important channel for improving your rankings with Google. This article gives some basic advice on making sure you use your firm’s Google + profile effectively.
Some map sites and search engines offer an express inclusion service which will get your new site, or new pages listed a lot quicker. This article explains this system, but also provides alternative strategies to get an improved listing for free. On balance, the article doesn’t recommend paid inclusion services. If you are currently using paid inclusion for your law firm’s local search presence, consider the organic search techniques outlined in this article.
A landing page is the page that a visitor arrives at in your site when they follow a link from another site, or from a search engine. A doorway page is designed to direct people to another part of the website and doesn’t usually contain the information a searcher is looking for. Google is eager that the page a link leads to should contain the information the searcher was lead to expect when she clicked on that link, thus, they penalize sites with doorway pages. You can create several different pages for your law firm’s site to act as separate landing pages for different practice areas, or different locations. However, be careful not to copy the same information onto each page and make sure there is sufficient information on each page so Google doesn’t treat them as doorway pages.
Voice search, which Google calls “conversational search,” is a rapidly developing service that will particularly benefit mobile users. Google has added a location identifying feature to its voice search service which helps people search by tailoring answers to the location of the device making the inquiry. This article contains video examples of the location-aware feature. As more of the public start using voice search on their mobile devices, an accurate local search profile for your law firm will become essential.
Even More Local
Google continues to tweak its wide array of algorithms to benefit local businesses. They do not seem prepared to leave this division of ranking factors alone at the moment and every week reveals another move by the search engine. All of this is very good news for small legal practices, because they get almost all of their clients from their local area.
Now that the driving force of the World Wide Web is working to your benefit, it would be tragic if you missed out on catching the gift by failing to make the few adjustments to your digital marketing strategy. That’s why keeping up on every little local move that Google makes is so important. Search Engine Land has a lot of information this week. We will also take a look at Search Engine Journal and the Moz Blog.
As search changes, Google changes
This article is an easy read and it is a good overview of where we are right now and how we got here. Google’s policies seem to move glacially. On a day by day basis you don’t really notice any change, but when you look back over a year, you can see how much the world of digital marketing has changed. Rather than catch up with all those changes, you should make note of each little shift in the landscape and adjust your law firm’s digital marketing strategy accordingly. As this article points out, mobile and local are the focus of activity at Google right now, so that is where you need to pay the most attention.
How to Fix Your Brand’s Bad Location Data
You probably know that keeping on top of a law case involves not just doing things well, but identifying errors and misunderstandings early on and fixing them. The same is true with search engine optimization. Sometimes digital marketing gets overlooked during the course of some big event, such as a merger, or a relocation to better premises. However, those examples in particular can wreck you local marketing effort. This report draws attention to the various events and mistakes that need to be examined in order to correct any errors in the location information you send out on the Web. You can’t get local customers if you don’t give people your correct location.
Top 9 reasons Google suspends local listings
Here’s another way that things can suddenly go horribly wrong. Google My Business seems to be the one place you need to be in order to get your local SEO strategy done and dusted. As with anything in this world that is “essential,” losing it can seem like a disaster. Why would Google suspend your law firm’s account? No one ever plans to get suspended. Sometimes it’s because you tried something a bit cheeky and you got slapped down, sometimes it’s because you misunderstood the instructions, or typed something in wrong, and sometimes it is caused by an administrative error. However, every time you get a penalty or a suspension, it takes a lot of work to get the problem fixed. Read through this run down of what can get you punished and make sure you aren’t doing them.
The 9 Most Common Local SEO Myths, Dispelled
Speaking of misunderstandings, Moz has produced this list of misconceptions that a lot of people have about local SEO tactics. Surprisingly, the answer to most of these mistakes is that they are nothing to worry about. Take a look through this list of myths and see whether it helps calm some of your worries about your law firm’s local marketing strategy.
Why “near me” is critically important for multi-location businesses
Nearby search is the direction that local search is heading in. As local search is a bit of a headache for multi-location businesses, nearby is even more so. Don’t worry if you have several locations for your law firm. Just make sure you only log actual addresses and don’t try to fool the system by putting in fake locations – that way lies ruin. Google My Business allows you to enter several addresses, and you can even open up separate My Business accounts for the same business – one for each location.
Winning Local Clients
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.
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.
Local search factors, driven by mobile access patterns, glide forward almost imperceptibly, every week. Each gradual move is difficult to spot, but in retrospect a big shift can be detected. This week, mobile and global edged a little further into confluence with the definition of “hyperlocal” marketing. This concept takes local signals a little further by reasoning that if your market is locally focused, marketing efforts in the leaks beyond that limited geographical area is just a waste of money. Search Engine Watch carries the definitive report on this new marketing concept this week, and we will also take a read of Search Engine Land in this SEO Trends post.
Here Search Engine Watch introduces us to the idea of hyperlocal marketing through a report on a survey. They measure the degree to which businesses are employing the concept and finds them wanting. However, it is not surprising that few people are taking advantage of this strategy, given that it is a word that Search Engine Watch has only just made up. Don’t write off this idea, though, because in its search for a new buzzword, the site has hit on something important. Reading through this article it seems that the key thrust of the concept mingles in retargeting. That’s a word that gets SEO Trends off the couch. So, we are talking about local with mobile and retargeting. That’s hot. Google Adwords has both a geographical options AND has just introduced a retargeting package. Putting that combination of factors together in your law firm’s digital marketing campaign would really target your ad spend and increase the ROI of your marketing budget.
As with any new concept, hyperlocal marketing builds on what came before it, so you need to get all of your ducks in a row on local marketing signals before you can launch into hyperlocal. Here Search Engine Watch revisits Google My Business to ram home to all readers that you better get on it, and if you are already on it, you better check that you have got your entry right. Do you have a Google My Business listing for your law firm? The writers asked four prominent SEO practitioners for their top tips on local marketing. However, none of the propeller heads seem to have spotted hyperlocal targeting – tut, tut, tut.
Here is another example of those tiny little changes that Google sneaks in without anyone noticing. Fortunately, Barry Schwartz did notice it. The introduction of options to grade search results by proximity is just another example of how local search is sneaking forward, and will one day catch you out if you don’t keep on top of every little change. Make sure you brush up your Google My Business results and try retargeting with geofilters, then you will be using hyperlocal marketing for your law firm.
This article compares planning a marketing campaign to the plot of a sitcom. The link is rather tenuous, and doesn’t really work. However, the marketing tactic they work through is for a law firm, so it might be worth reading and tuning out the bits about The Big Bang Theory. The episode they refer to was funny, but it’s probably better to watch that on catchup, rather than through the animated GIFs in this article. Although they don’t touch on retargeting, the concept of a free consultation offer might be worth looking into.
This article from Search Engine Land is a little bit of a deviation from the route to hyperlocal marketing. However, it concerns that answer box that pops up in Google’s results pages and squeezes everyone’s results down the page. Wouldn’t it be lovely to get that box showing some amazing fact supplied by your law firm? Yes, it would. How do you get that? Nobody knows. However, this piece reports on an error that the writer detected in an answer box and that led him to work out where Google gets those answers from. He urges you all to get into scheme markup in order to fill that golden box.