Local SEO Attracts Nearby Clients
We’ve all done a quick search on our smartphone looking for a nearby Italian restaurant or gas station, and when we did, up popped a map and Google’s list of choices. With a couple of taps, we can find out a business’ location, phone number, hours and address. We can even find pictures of the property.
In just 15 minutes, we can be ordering veal parmigiana with a nice glass of chianti or be pumping our tank full of gas. We may even purchase a quick car wash. This fluid, mobile, highly localized experience is the way we live now. That’s why “local SEO” is so important. Local SEO involves different factors and differs from general SEO techniques. To properly improve local search ranking, you need to have a strategic plan to ensure your efforts won't be in vain. One of the most elemental areas to cover is having your Google my Business page with updated information and with as many recommendations as possible.
All SEO Is Not Created Equal
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is specially designed to attract clients who are only a mile away or just on the other side of town. Google’s algorithms are designed to identify and list in search results those businesses that are in close proximity to the user, whether the person is speaking or typing a query into a smartphone or laptop. This is particularly true when people ask for directions, recommendations or use the words “near me” in their queries. In fact, Google will sometimes offer auto fill text for searches by adding “near me.” This shows just how much Google wants to provide users with businesses that are close by. Added proof of the importance of local search results is that the map results, known as the “local pack,” regularly appear at the top.
Local SEO allows you to optimize your website so that potential clients can effortlessly find you in local search results. By optimizing your title and meta description tags and by creating web pages that include consistent references to your geographic location, you can increase your chances of being high on the list that Google offers up to would-be consumers.
A highly skilled SEO practitioner can help you optimize your law firm’s website content so that Google recognizes you as a local firm. Gladiator Law Marketing specializes in just this kind of work. It’s true that proximity to the searcher influences results (are you 1 mile away or 25 miles away?). But the quality of your local SEO plays a role, too. So, control what you can: have strong local SEO.
Keeping It Local
A Think With Google research study titled “Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior” summed it up this way:
- Consumers are searching for local information everywhere, on every device, at every point in the purchase process.
- Local searchers are ready to act. Many visit a nearby location within a day and complete purchases at a higher rate than consumers who conduct non-local searches.
- Consumers prefer location-based ads and expect ads to be relevant to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings.
All of this means that while consumers may conduct wide, sweeping internet searches to look at vacation destinations or read about current events, their searches become much more local when they’re about to purchase a product or service. This is especially true if they want to buy something or hire someone within the next 5 minutes to 24 hours.
Here are some of the Google study’s most important findings:
- 72% of consumers who search for local information on their smartphone visit a business within 5 miles
- 68% of smartphone users use the Get Directions or Call Button in Google listings
- 73% of smartphone users say Get Directions is important and 70% say the Call Button is important
- 1 in 3 searches on smartphones happen right before a consumer enters a store
- 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a business within a day
- 18% of local searches on smartphones lead to a purchase within a day vs. 7% of non-local searches
- 4 in 5 consumers want ads customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings
- More than 60% of consumers have used location information in ads
With these trends of user behavior, if you don’t have a good local SEO strategy, you could be missing an opportunity to land potential clients.
What Are Local Consumers Searching For?
Many times, local residents are looking for very specific information. The easier you make it to find this information, the greater your firm’s chances are of being the provider they choose. The Google consumer study offered these tips:
Top 3 Things Consumers Use Smartphones to Search for Locally
- Business Hours (54%)
- Directions to local business (53%)
- Local business address (50%)
What immediately jumps out from these findings is how important it is to have your law firm’s basic information easily accessible – your address, phone number and other location info. This might seem like an obvious thing to have on your website, but it’s surprising how difficult it is on some law firm websites to simply find the firm’s street address. Also, potential clients are always on-the-go and often in transit, so make sure your law firm website is mobile friendly and can be easily viewed on smartphone and tablet screens. Read our Gladiator blog about mobile design here.
Quick Ways to Increase Your Website’s Local SEO
Here are some important ways that you can increase your law firm website’s local SEO. Many potential clients looking for a personal injury, bankruptcy or divorce lawyers conduct Google queries to find law firms. Techniques to improve your local SEO include:
1. Claim, Verify and Build Out Google My Business (GMB)
Many businesses don’t realize that Google gives you a FREE listing on their search engine. Who doesn’t like free? Your competitors do, and so should you. Your GMB profile is central to local search, so be sure that you provide all the information you can, including images of your office.
Citations are websites that list businesses and can range from local Better Business Bureaus to Chambers of Commerce to lists created by local newspapers and television stations. Most of these include a business’ name, address, phone number and URL. If you’re unsure where your law firm might be listed, then do a citation audit and see what turns up. In every case, make sure that each listing contains the identical name, phone, address and URL for your firm. If they don’t, you’ll create confusion for consumers and Google’s algorithms.
3. Mention Your Location in Headings and Text
When creating your website content, be sure to mention the name of your city frequently. Naming your city helps send Google regular indicators not only that you’re, say, a truck accident lawyer or an estate planning lawyer, but that you’re a Houston truck accident lawyer or a Los Angeles estate planning lawyer. Also, your firm’s name, address, phone and URL should always appear in both your footer and on your contact page.
4. When You Appear in Maps, What About Reviews?
What is it that sets apart the firms in this Google maps list? CLIENT REVIEWS!!! There are two major reasons to continually seek reviews: a) a high score and high number of reviews will make you stand out as the best option on the list, and b) the number of reviews is a ranking factor used by Google (though the numeric rating doesn’t matter to Google… yet). To learn more about how to consistently ask satisfied clients to post reviews, read our Gladiator blog here. And if you want to learn how to respond to that oh-so-unfortunate negative review, read our Gladiator blog here.
5. Legal Directories
Professional legal directories are relevant to your field and indicate expertise and authority to Google when it creates its rankings. It’s worth paying to have your law firm listed in them. Major legal directories are currently favored by Google and dominate first page search results. Some of the most visible legal directories include Avvo, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, Nolo, Martindale Hubbell, Justia, FindLaw, American Bar Association and many others.
6. Relevant Local Backlinks
Local organizations’ websites often list members or community partners, and it can be valuable to promote your support of local organizations by having links to them. More important is that your website gets a link from that local organization’s site. This indicates to Google that your firm is a local organization. For example, United Way, Juvenile Diabetes Research Association or Toastmasters chapters in your city might link to your website if you are a sponsor. Local sports leagues or events, like a 5K races, are also great options for your firm to sponsor and to get listed on their website.
Part of local SEO, particularly in large cities, is that your office is near a user performing a search. If someone on the far east side of Dallas searches for a divorce lawyer, those firms located on that side of town are more likely to show up in search results for that user. This doesn’t mean you should forego local SEO on your site. While the adage, “location is everything” is fitting, it’s not the end-all be-all. If you don’t have strong local SEO, your office could be 30 feet from a Google user and not show up in the local pack or top search results.
Optimizing for local SEO can make the difference between landing local clients or losing them to the law firm down the street. By taking proactive steps to strengthen your website’s local SEO, you can nose out your competition in both Google search results and brand awareness. If you need help implementing a plan to strengthen your firm’s Local SEO, our Gladiator professionals would be glad to help. Call us at (888) 683-3212.