local seo for lawyers

Local SEO for Lawyers (2020 Complete Guide)

Today I’ll show you how to rank your law firm website on Google Maps.

And improve your overall position in local search results.

Using this local SEO guide that I’ve tailored for lawyers.

In fact, this strategy is working great for my clients right now.

More exposure, more leads, more clients.

Okay, let’s start learning about Local SEO for Lawyers!

Chapter 1 (Local SEO Basics)

Local SEO Basics

You’ll learn the fundamentals of local SEO for lawyers.

And why it matters.

Then you’ll be primed for success on Google Maps.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is the practice of optimising a business for location-based keywords, such as “lawyer Melbourne”.

This makes it more likely that your website will appear on Google Maps and organic search results.

Why is Local SEO Important for Lawyers?

Considering that most law firms are ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses, it’s essential to understand local SEO.

In fact, 46% of all searches have ‘local intent’.

“Near me” searches have grown 150% faster than traditional, local-based searches

And 29% of all search engine result pages (SERPs) contain a local pack in the result.

For example, here’s our client ‘Hamilton Janke Lawyers’ in the local pack:

local map pack

Time-Saving Tip

I’m assuming you like to be efficient with your time.

So, I suggest you skip ahead to the section called ‘Google My Business’.

Claim your listing.

Then come back here and get started on your keyword research.

Why? It can take AGES for your Google verification code to arrive in the mail.

So, you might as well get the ball rolling.

And work on the other steps while you wait.

But if you’ve already claimed and verified your listing, move straight to keyword research.

Chapter 2 (Keyword Research)

Keyword Research

Let’s get this local SEO guide into full swing.

First up, you’re going to find out what your potential customers are looking for in Google.

The ‘phrases’ that people are searching for are called ‘keywords’.

For example ‘best business lawyers in Brisbane’

This will form the foundation of your keyword strategy.

How do you find keywords?

Use these strategies.

Keyword Tools

law firm keyword tools

Free (or almost free) options include:

Neilpatel.com

This website includes a free tool called Ubersuggest. While you’re there, play around with the other functions (e.g. siteaudit and backlinks).

Keywords Everywhere

You can add this as a ‘browser extension’. It’s really handy. But, you might have to pay a little bit to access all the data.

Lsigraph.com

Use this tool to implement related keywords. Why? Google loves websites that include a variety of related keywords. It’s another indication that the page is highly relevant. Last time I checked, they restrict the data on the ‘free’ version. It’s still useful though.

Paid/Premium tools include:

ahrefs.com

Moz.com

Check out the ‘pricing’ for these tools. You’ll notice it ‘ain’t cheap’.

So you might want to stick with the free stuff for now.

The Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner

After developing a list of keywords, set up an account with the Google Ads platform.

You won’t have to advertise with Google Ads. So why bother?

Well, creating an account will just give you access to Google’s free Keyword Planner tool.

It’s a handy resource for finding more detailed information on the search behaviour of your target audience.

Once you have your list of general keywords, also create a list of “keywords + your area”. Test them against Google’s Keyword Planner to see how local business searches are usually phrased.

Hiring intent keywords vs. research intent keywords

There are two types of keywords that are useful for law firms.

Keywords with hiring intent

These suggest a search is being conducted to take action.

For example, someone who searches for the keyword “family lawyer near me” is likely ready to engage a family lawyer.

Use hiring intent keywords to optimise your homepage and services pages. We’ll get to that below.

Keywords with research intent

Here, your searcher is gathering info about something. For example, they may search “child wanting to live with other parent”.

Why’s this important? Well, they’re just doing research at this stage. So they’re less inclined to become a paying client right now.

But, research intent keywords are still valuable.

Why? Well, they’ll give you ideas for blogs or FAQs. You can use them to build on branding and awareness of your firm. In other words, these keywords are useful for warming up leads into real clients.

Related: 5 ways to boost law firm website traffic

Organise Your Keywords Using Google Drive

local seo guide

Compile your keywords into a list. Ensure you stay organised. For example, try using Google Drive.

I like Google Sheets and Google Documents for keyword organisation.

Many of the keyword tools will include an ‘export’ function. This is helpful for data management.

Now it’s time to optimise your Google My Business listing.

Chapter 3 (Google My Business)

Google My Business

local seo guide

Before you do anything, start here.

Why?

You’ve got to claim and verify your listing.

But, it can take weeks for the verification code to arrive.

So, do this now and work on the other steps while you wait.

What is Google My Business?

This is how you get featured on Google Maps.

Also known as ‘The Top 3’ or ‘The Local Pack’.

It’s an essential component of local SEO for service-based businesses.

The key strategy here is convincing Google that your business is in close proximity to the user.

And, the most relevant to their needs.

Here’s how you do it.

Claim Your Listing

Go to: https://www.google.com/business/.

Sign in and create your listing.

Finish all the steps.

Then Google will send you a postcard with a verification code. It may take up to 4 weeks (or more). Be patient. It will arrive if you’ve added the correct mailing address. Yes, I wish it was a bit faster!

Once the card arrives, follow the steps and verify your listing.

Then it’s time to optimise.

Optimise your listing

This will set you apart from the pack.

Google My Business (GMB) will naturally prompt you to complete all the steps.

But, there are a few other things you can do.

Name, address and phone number (NAP)

Ensure this is consistent on your GMB, website and all citations. More on these shortly.

Law firm name, office address, mailing address, phone number, etc.

Always use a local phone number as your area code.

Why? This will be one of the signals that Google uses to confirm you have a local presence.

Remember, ‘proximity’ is key.

Add Keyword To Business Name (optional)

Consider adding your main category name to your business name to enhance ranking. But, some might think this looks ‘spammy’.

e.g. ‘Law Firm Name – Keyword’

Whatever you call yourself, make sure it’s consistent across the web.

That’s why most law firms usually avoid this step.

Choose categories

Correctly list your business under the right service category. Choose three to five categories that best describe the services offered by your firm.

Not sure what to choose? Check out the current ‘top 3’ on Google Maps. What have your competitors chosen?

Create an optimised description

Last time I checked, you can write 750 words here. It’s called the ‘description’ or ‘info’.

What should you write?

Ensure the first sentence includes your primary keyword.

Briefly introduce your firm, highlighting your services and credentials.

Optimise it by including your hiring intent keywords, category keywords and your location.

Don’t forget a call to action!

Business hours

Your business hours need to be consistent across the web.

Just like with your NAP, any mention of your business hours should be in exactly the same format.

List after-hours services or different contacts separately.

Add geotagged images

What’s this all about?

Well, you can ‘geotag’ photos.

This tells Google ‘where’ the photo was taken.

How to geotag photos

Go to geoimgr.

Drag and drop images in, adding your business address and hitting download. Change the file name and add a keyword.

Then upload the images into your Google My Business profile.

Ensure you provide a variety of different photos.

This is indicated by GMB (e.g. team, logo, cover photo, office, etc).

Add Q&As

Anyone can ask or answer a question on your Google Maps listing. Pre-empt this and take control by creating your own Q&As.

Optimise them for local SEO by including your keywords and location.

Use the Post Function on Google My Business

Many law firms are neglecting this feature.

But, it can be incredibly effective in attracting more clicks to your website.

Why? Google promotes listings that are ‘actively’ using their platform.

So you might as well have a go. After all, it’s free!

Use this feature to create events, make announcements or promote new products and services.

Then optimise your Google My Business posts for keywords and location.

Ask Your Clients for Reviews

Google my business reviews are still a critical ranking factor.

In fact, they’re possibly the best way to make a listing stand-out.

And when a listing stands out, it gets more clicks.

Thus enhancing its ranking.

So I suggest you treat this as a priority.

Considering that some clients might take a while to write a review, you might want to start this now.

How do I get Google reviews?

Click on your Google reviews (the blue font).

local seo guide

You’ll see a page similar to this:

local seo guide reviews

See the long URL in the search bar.

And use a free URL shortener to condense the URL

I use a Google Chrome extension that does a great job.

Once you’ve copied the link, contact clients directly.

Email or SMS.

Include the link to leave a review on your Google My Business page.

I suggest you ‘hyperlink it’ like this:

Here’s the direct link to leave a review

Always monitor reviews and respond where necessary.

You can even promote positive reviews via GMB posts, social media and your website.

That brings us into the next part of our beginner’s local SEO guide for lawyers…

Chapter 4 (Your Website)

Your Website

It’s time to bring it all together by optimising your website for local SEO.

Mobile-friendly

The latest thinking is that around half of local business searches are now done on a mobile.

Check if your law firm’s website is mobile-friendly here and make any necessary fixes. 

Proudly Serving

Include a “Proudly Serving” section that lists the cities or neighbourhoods you service.

Then link each city name to that city’s official website.

It’s just one more indication that your website is legit.

Youtube

Embed a Youtube video on your page.

And write a title that includes: “Business Name: Category Title, City,
ST, Postcode”

Why? Google owns Youtube. Thus, it’s important to optimise Youtube videos for SEO.

And Youtube is one of the largest search engines on earth.

So, you might as well use it to your advantage.

Fundamentals

Add your geographical keywords throughout your website.

Such as…

Title tag

Meta description

On-page copy

Alt text

Heading tags

Read this helpful guide for more info on law firm SEO.

Schema Markup

First, what the hell is it?

Schema markup, found at Schema.org, is a form of microdata.

Once added to a webpage, schema markup creates an enhanced description (commonly known as a rich snippet), which appears in search results.

Like this…

First here’s a normal snippet:

Now here’s a rich snippet:

Schema Markup

Added features include photo, star rating and a more detailed description.

It basically stands out…a lot.

This attracts more clicks.

How do you get a rich snippet?

For WordPress sites, add in the Local Business Schema Lite plug-in. And all websites (including WordPress) can use the Schema Creator Tool.

While we can talk more about Schema Markup in this local SEO guide, we’ll focus on rich snippets for now.

Footer

Reinforce your local SEO efforts by making your website footer repeat all your info (business name, keywords, category title, phone number, address and business hours).

You should also include an embedded Google Map and a link to driving directions.

local seo guide footer google maps

Optimise your blog content

Business blogging helps boost your standard SEO. But well-optimised business blogging can also boost your local SEO.

Google favours fresh and useful content and regular posting. Aside from those fundamentals, local SEO is also boosted by frequent posts about local news and information. Posting local news helps Google understand your authority as a local business. 

Chapter 5 (Building Citations)

Building citations

You’re’ moving along nicely in our local SEO guide.

Now it’s time for citations.

So, what are they?

Citations are any mentions of your brand online. These usually come in the form of directory listings (like Yellow Pages,) or social media profiles.

Remember to be consistent with your GMB listing (e.g. name, address, phone, opening hours, website URL, etc).

What’s the difference between citations and backlinks?

Citations are any mention of your company or brand online, with or without links. It can be any combination of your company name, phone number, address, state and postcode.

Backlinks are simply links on other websites that link to your website.

Citations Audit

Start with an audit.

Why? This will make sure any citations you already have are complete and
consistent by visiting.

You can do this free at Georanker.

Or use a premium tool at moz.com/local/search

Fix any inconsistencies. And finish any that are showing as incomplete.

Use Our Guide

You can stay right here.

Because I’ve developed the complete guide for building law firm citations in Australia.

Check it out:

Top 39 Australian Lawyer Directory Websites

Once you’re done, come back to this local SEO guide. There’s one more step to cover…

Chapter 6 (Backlinks)

Backlinks

Here’s the final step in our beginner’s local SEO guide for lawyers.

It was once assumed that backlinks only mattered for organic SEO. But, it’s actually a ranking factor for the map pack.

Here are a few tips for backlink rustling:

#1 Begin with filling out company profiles on the directories mentioned above. The good news is, some of them offer a ‘follow’ link. This is better than the more common ‘no follow’ or ‘no-referrer’ link. Not sure what type of link is being offered? Highlight the link and hit ‘inspect’.

#2 Offer to guest-post (with links back to your site) on other blogs.

#3 Check your offline affiliations, collaborations and memberships to see if you can gain a link. For example, you may refer clients to a preferred forensic accountant—why not have your websites link back to each other? This could go on your ‘Recommendations’ or ‘Resources’ page.

#4 Snoop on your competitors’ websites using a tool like Moz Link Explorer to see where their backlinks are coming from. Add yourself to directories you might have missed and be alert for other linking opportunities.

#5 Written a new blog post? Make a call-out on Source Bottle. Talk about the article and ask people if they have a relevant article you can link to. Of course, this must be reciprocated.

Just remember –

Getting high-quality and relevant links ain’t easy. In fact, it’s the hardest part of SEO. That’s why most SEO agencies ‘glaze’ over it. But, here at legalsites, it’s one of our top priorities.

READ ALSO: Getting Started With Law Firm SEO

 

What Now?

Thanks for reading my guide about local SEO for lawyers.

I hope it’s helped you understand more about law firm local SEO!

I want to hear from you.

What’s the first tip you’re going to try?

Leave a comment and let me know.

Or if you’d like help with your marketing strategy, contact us now.

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