Local SEO for Lawyers [2020]

Using Google Maps to Generate Cases for Your Law Firm

Written By: Bill Hauser

What would you do to get your firm onto the first page of Google’s search results? The first page is critical for bringing in new clients, but you’ll probably have to start thinking about your SEO strategy differently if you want a real chance at ranking.

Here’s the deal: if you’re trying to rank for generic, high-competition terms like “lawyer” or even “family and divorce law,” then it’s probably going to be next to impossible to show up on that coveted first page. And that’s okay! You can still drive people to your website and phone lines using Google Maps.

When it comes to law firm SEO, you have to be realistic and prioritize the strategies that will get you the most traction and traffic, based on your firm’s size, competition, and practice area. If you run a small firm, then the most important strategy you can focus on is local SEO: getting your firm featured in Google’s “map pack” when people search for local keywords.

Local SEO for lawyers is much more powerful than traditional SEO, simply because of the geographic advantage it provides. Google Maps is a great tool for smaller firms, due to the way the search engine prioritizes local results in an effort to give searchers the most relevant results. Here’s why getting your firm featured in the map pack is so important—plus tips for making it happen.

The Realities of SEO for Lawyers

“When it comes to law firm SEO, you have to be realistic and prioritize the strategies that will get you the most traction and traffic, based on your firm’s size, competition, and practice area”

– Bill Hauser

 

Why the First Page Is Important

When someone searches for a keyword, the goal of any business targeting that phrase is always to show up on the first page of the search results.

Google actually wants to keep users on the first page if possible, which leaves law firms in a tough spot—lots of competition and very few available front-page spots.

The search engine’s goal is to help users find the information they need as quickly as possible. In theory, if a user has to get to page two (or beyond!) in order to find what they’re looking for, then Google isn’t doing its job very well.

In competitive law firm SEO markets, it can be very difficult to land your website on page one, even if you’re doing everything right. Again, Google’s main goal is to make searches as helpful as possible for the user—not to make the lives of marketers easier!

There’s some great news, though: Google Maps gives local businesses an extra chance to make it to page one because they recognize that some searches should prioritize proximity.

Currently, Google’s map pack appears above all other search results, with its own list of local businesses. If you can rank for local keywords, like “estate attorney in Los Angeles,” you’ll have the opportunity to appear in the map pack search results.

 

Benefits of Map Pack Ranking

One of the best things about the map pack is that it gives small law firms the chance to compete with large legal sites like avvo.com and lawyer.com. Because the map shows up at the very top of the page, people who are looking for legal help and want to get in contact with a firm right away will see those listings first. The map pack also takes up the most real estate on page one, making it even more desirable overall than the more traditional first page spots.

There are other benefits to the map pack as well. In addition to offering basic information like business hours and location, the map lists each business’s Google reviews and phone number. It’s an endorsement and a call-to-action all in one!

Searchers who use devices with location services turned on don’t even necessarily have to search with a location-specific term to get the map pack results to pop up. Simply searching terms like “personal injury law firms near me” will use the device’s location to populate the map pack.

Small firms can generate more cases simply by ensuring that their Google My Business (GMB) listing is complete and up-to-date and by consistently asking for reviews from satisfied clients. A high star rating builds trust and will drive more business to your firm. You can generate even more cases by focusing your SEO strategy on local keywords and links.

 

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How to Optimize Your Law Firm SEO Strategy

To really leverage the power of the map pack for your firm, you need to optimize your Google My Business listing and create a strong local SEO strategy for your law firm Some factors are more important than others in determining search rankings, with the following five “signals” combining to make up 80% of the ranking criteria.

Google My Business Signals

Having great Google My Business signals is a simple, but important ranking factor. Basically, it means optimizing your GMB listing to include relevant information like your firm’s practice area, your address, and contact information. Other firms will easily tie with you in this category, which is why you need to focus on other factors as well.

Link Signals

Link signals refer to links back to your firm’s website from other sites. Google views these links, known as backlinks, as evidence that your organization has a certain amount of authority and is a legitimate source of reliable information. However, they also take the other site’s authority into consideration, so you need to ensure that any link signals come from quality sources.

The best way to get strong link signals, especially locally, is to do guest blogging. You can pitch a blog post to a reputable publication, and when they publish it on their site, they will place a link back to your site on the post. There are other ways to get great links too—you could sponsor a local university sports team and get your link on their page or pitch yourself as a podcast guest.

Ethical link-building takes time and consistency. So it’s a good idea to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. If you don’t have time, you can always hire an agency or freelance writer to help you!

Review Signals

Your Google reviews are among the top factors in determining local search rankings, but it’s not just a matter of how many 5-star reviews you have. The algorithm looks at three different review signals: diversity, quantity, and velocity.

Google wants to make sure that your firm’s reviews are authentic, of course. So the algorithm prioritizes reviews that have unique text; reviews that were clearly written by a human. This is what’s known as review “diversity.”

The search engine also takes into account the number of reviews. Obviously, it’s better to have 250 reviews rather than two! With that said, the review velocity is important as well. A natural ebb and flow of reviews is best, rather than a huge number all at once and then nothing for months. Good review signals have to do with authenticity!

It’s important to consistently ask your clients to leave a Google review. The best way to do this is to set up an automated system that will remind clients and make it easy to leave a review. Reviews are absolutely crucial to generating new cases off of Google Maps!

On-Page Signals

Keywords still matter, since that’s how people perform their searches. You need to do thorough keyword research and ensure that the “on-page” signals on your website are optimized. It’s best to choose long-tail keywords with lower competition to focus on, especially in competitive markets.

Citation Signals

Google only wants to recommend the most legitimate and up-to-date information, which is why they prioritize consistency in third-party citations. This means that you should ensure your business’s listing information is up-to-date on any third-party sites, like YellowPages.com and avvo.com, so that Google recognizes your GMB listing as legitimate and helpful to searchers.

Remember: Be Patient!

The Google map pack can massively boost local SEO for lawyers, but it’s not going to start generating cases instantly. Consistent content marketing with keyword optimization and link-building, a solid review strategy, and time are all necessary for building a law firm SEO strategy that brings in new business each month. Be patient and realize that there’s no overnight success in marketing. Good things take time!

Put Your Law Firm’s Local SEO on Autopilot

There’s no doubt about it, getting results from a local SEO strategy takes time and consistency. If you’re like most attorneys, you probably don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands and could use some help with execution. That’s where we can come in.

SMB Team specializes in local SEO for lawyers, and our expert team members can help you to build an SEO strategy that brings in new cases every month.

We can get your SEO on autopilot and leverage Google maps and local SEO so that you don’t have to worry about where new leads are coming from.

To schedule a free consultation for local SEO strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BILL HAUSER

Bill Hauser is CEO of the SMB Team, the fastest growing Google Ads & Landing Page management company for lawyers in the U.S. He is the author of PPC for Lawyers (Not Dummies) and hosts a weekly Lawyer Mastermind Webinar where he connects growth-minded lawyers from around the country to help them learn from the brightest minds in the legal space. Additionally, he is the host of the Lawyer Marketing Lab Podcast which aims to arm lawyers with the marketing knowledge that they always wish they had, but never had the access to.