For law firms that operate within a specific local area, Google My Business is, hands down, one of the most efficient and effective SEO strategies out there. Instead of competing for those coveted few top spots on Google’s main search page, firms can compete for clients in their local area that need legal help now.
Google My Business for lawyers can produce excellent results, as long as you approach it in the right way. At SMB Team, we focus on the top 5 ranking factors, which we’ve found to bring in 82% of the SEO results!
What is Google My Business?
If you search a location-based term on Google, such as “family lawyers in Philadelphia,” you’ll see a few different kinds of results. The top result is usually a Pay-Per-Click ad, but just below the ads, you should see a map. This is the Google My Business (GMB) section.
While you can use ads within Google My Business for even better results, it’s not essential. What is essential is filling out a profile with your firm’s name, location, niche, and contact number so that it’s eligible to show up on the map of local businesses.
Reviews of your firm will also show up in your GMB listing. That’s huge because studies have shown that people actually trust online reviews more than recommendations from friends and family!
Because the GMB listings are placed above the other organic search results, small and medium-sized practices can use local SEO to compete with larger firms and attract local clients. These clients are in the buying state—treat them well on intake and they’re likely to choose your firm over others in your area.
Top 5 GMB Ranking Factors
1. Proximity, Category, and Keyword
Google is designed to serve the end-user. Therefore, it will reward results that are most relevant and valuable to the person performing the search. For this first ranking factor, there isn’t much effort involved. You simply need to have proximity to the local area that someone is searching for, and you need to have a category/practice area and keyword that is related to the search.
As long as you’ve completed your profile, there’s not much more you can do to rise above your competition with this ranking factor. However, it does make up about 25% of SEO clout, so it’s important to ensure that you’ve got the basics covered.
2. Inbound Links
This ranking factor evaluates how many sites are linking to your law firm website and the legitimacy of those sites. Generally, the best way to build quality link signals is to create valuable content that people want to link to.
One of the best ways to boost your link signals is to do some guest blogging. If you offer to create some valuable content for another site in exchange for the site linking back to you, you’ll start to build up more link authority over time. Finding guest blogging opportunities and creating content can be time-consuming, so many law firms hire marketing firms like SMB Team to take over and facilitate this process.
It isn’t complicated to increase the number of quality backlinks, but it’s not a strategy that will get you instant results. Google has to “catch up” and notice the new links, which can take some time. Long term, though, inbound links can significantly boost your SEO success.
The success of Google My Business for lawyers depends a lot on the reviews. Although they may not be the number one ranking factor, they do play a major role in SEO—and an even bigger role in prospective clients’ evaluations.
At first glance, the importance of reviews on GMB might seem confusing. Why do some firms rank above others if they have fewer reviews?
It has to do with the complex algorithms Google uses to keep people from gaming the system. Sometimes, people take unethical steps like “review stuffing,” which artificially inflates the number of excellent reviews.
However, the algorithm also considers the quality and velocity of the reviews. Organic reviews ebb and flow, and will usually include comments, instead of just a star rating. In short, quantity matters, but so does quality. A large number of positive reviews all at once won’t help if there are very few reviews in the months or years that follow.
While you can’t directly control the reviews on your Google My Business listing, you can guide the right people to review using reputation management software. Essentially, the software directs satisfied clients to leave a review while giving dissatisfied clients another way to provide feedback that won’t impact SEO rankings or affect prospective clients’ perspectives.
4. On-Page SEO
When most people think SEO, they usually think of keywords. Though many other factors affect rankings, choosing the right keywords is still absolutely crucial. Small to medium-sized firms will have a hard time ranking for major, high-volume keywords and phrases, but using longer, more specific keyphrases in local search can yield great results.
It’s important to be involved in creating your keyword strategy, even if you hire a marketing firm to handle your SEO activities. Your chosen keywords should be on your website (especially in headings) and in your blog posts throughout the year.
There are lots of third-party sites online where you can list basics about your firm, like name, address, and phone number. You’ll get a boost in your GMB SEO rankings if you make sure that all these citations are accurate and consistent across the internet.
Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do, thanks to software that scans all your listings automatically. Instead of manually searching and correcting each listing, the software can do the job quickly and easily. It’s an investment that quickly pays off.
Google Maps For Lawyers: The Competitive Edge You Need
Google My Business for lawyers can offer an incredible return on investment if you use the simple strategies outlined above. Your GMB listing offers access to your local market and provides a new way to gain a competitive edge over other firms in your niche.
If you haven’t yet set up your GMB account, then now is the time to start! If you need any help with getting your listing up and running or you just want assistance with optimization, SMB Team can help. Give us a call at (866) 747-1336 or reach out on our website and our law firm SEO experts will help you get started with a free consultation.