Being a “top choice” for your service on Google will bring more potential clients to your doors and will help your firm in its growth. But you cannot just walk into an SEO company with the request to get to the top of Google search results. If you are planning on hiring SEO experts, there are certain aspects of optimization we recommend you to get familiar with, so you can communicate better with your SEO team and craft a successful SEO strategy together.
Before we start discussing the ways to be a top choice for your service, we must say you need a website. Believe it or not, 40% of small law firms do not have websites. Having a Facebook page, LinkedIn account, or even Google My Business is not enough if you want to appear in the local results. So, just make sure to build a website to target the top positions on Google.
Search Engine Optimization is a process of optimizing a website so it can appear in particular Google search results. To find companies and content using Google, users use queries. But queries differ as well as results. Google tries to understand the intention behind the users’ search so that it can deliver relevant results. If someone is searching for “how to make a will online” – it’s clear that the searcher does not wish to visit an office. Therefore, the results are going to consist of online platforms allowing users to create a will online. But let’s say someone searches for “what does law school look like,” then the results are going to consist of blog posts talking about law schools, mainly, and experience of being a student at a law school. But let’s say someone searches for “property lawyer near me” – this is a different scenario. The user gets a list of three businesses that are close to the location of a searcher. Because, again, the intention of the user is clear – to visit a lawyer nearby.
A section in Google’s search results that shows local businesses related to a query is called a Local Pack. Local Pack is also referred to as Local 3-Pack, as Google displays 3 best local results in the list. Then a user can hit “more results” to see more businesses on the list.
Being in the Local Pack brings more potential clients to your office, so it’s not a surprise you want to appear on the list. But before you tell your SEO team you want to be on top of the results (most likely your SEO team will be targeting the Local Pack even without you mentioning it), we have some things to tell you first.
Appearing in the Local Pack is not something that can be achieved overnight. It requires an investment of time in the local SEO. It means optimizing your website to rank in search engines for the location-related queries. Local SEO is close to traditional SEO, but with an added geographical factor to it.
When choosing the Local Pack, Google uses 3 major factors for ranking: relevance, distance, and prominence. But to appear in the top results, you need to help Google understand the relevance of your business to the search. Even though the distance is among the main factors for ranking, there might be businesses farther away that Google considers more relevant to search queries.
“Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.” – writes Google.
When you want to have top positions in the search results, you should optimize your website for search engines. Besides, 70% of law firms have generated new cases through their website, and having a website designed for a better user experience should be among your top priorities.
One of the first steps we take in the local SEO is creating local content.
Local content is important to rank in local searches. And local searches are crucial as over 33% of clients start looking for a lawyer online, and 96% of people seeking legal advice start online. When users search for local or any kind of content, they use words and phrases in their queries – these are called keywords. And the more content you create, the more keywords you can target. Keywords we target in local SEO are connected to the city and the area where the business is located. We have seen many businesses that are not aware of the importance of the local content for their local SEO. But we like to say that SEO without the content is like a restaurant without a menu. How do you communicate with Google what your website is about? And how do you describe to your visitors what you serve? Without content, there is no foundation for any further SEO steps. But again, creating local content that is going to help your performance in local searches isn’t achieved overnight.
To create local content, you need to determine the topics to write about. Besides creating articles about law-related topics, you can create articles that are both – law-related and local. Write about something that you know your clients will visit when they are in the city. This can even be about a public library; you can write how to navigate in the building, where to get a pass, how to locate the books, and how to find law-related books. If you have a law library in the city, even better!
To make the process easier, put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Think about what their issues might be and how you can help them with the problem.
Keywords – the words and phrases used to perform a search is crucial in any kind of search. For a successful SEO strategy, you should target the keywords you think clients will be using to find your company.
“Words like “near me,” “closest,” and “nearby” are increasingly common across the billions of queries on Google every month.” – writes Google.
This means many of your clients are going to use these words in their queries, and to appear in these search results, you must have a local SEO and local content. To trigger location signals to Google, you might want to write a paragraph about the location of the office in relation to the main points of the city. Write about directions from the popular museum, mall, park, etc. This is going to help your business to rank for the “near me” searches when your office is in the area or close to the area, where the searcher is situated.
Optimized Google My Business Page
But once listed there, the job is not done. It’s crucial to keep the information up to date. Make sure to update the opening hours if there are changes to it, or for holidays if those affect the opening hours.
If you appear in the local results, then you should expect to have reviews and hope to get many of them. Having reviews is essential to businesses and very beneficial for ranking in the Local Pack. Unfortunately, not all reviews are good reviews, but we recommend our clients to respond to all of them, including the negative ones. Others should see it’s worth investing time in writing one. Reviews give credibility to your firm and are important in your overall local SEO strategy. Having positive reviews is extremely important for local SEO. 48% of prospects will visit a website after reading current, positive reviews, and over 65% of law firm prospects found online ratings/reviews to be “extremely or moderately influential in their decision.” To have even more credibility, we advise you to add photos, so clients can see what your firm looks like.
Page Speed for Local SEO
Another critical aspect to keep in mind for having top positions is Page Speed. No matter how relevant your business is to the search query, if Google scans your website and it loads slow, it will not perform well. Page speed has been a ranking factor for desktop searches since 2010, and for mobile searches since 2018.
50% of local search takes place on mobile devices. It’s not a surprise Google uses mobile responsiveness as a ranking factor. Appearing in the top results would be pointless if users need to leave the website because it’s not mobile-friendly. One of the first things you should know about local SEO is that the technical part of your website is not any less important than the content on your page. It’s the matter of the order – we might start with the content, but our team will make sure your pages load fast and are designed for a better experience for mobile users. According to HubSpot Marketing Statistics, 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly website.
Having a website for your firm without a contact page is like making a manual without having a product. There is no point in building a website without a contact page on it. This might seem like an obvious step in the process, but we’ve seen many websites without contact information. Once you create a contact page, you must keep the number, address, and all the information about your firm consistent across all platforms – website, social media, Google My Business.
Want to Become a Top Choice Law Firm in Your Area?
Here at Black Fin, our SEO team specializes in ranking law firms around the United States in the top locally. If you are struggling to rank in the Local Pack or in the top 5 in the search results, give us a call and let us put together a winning strategy for you. Call us today!