[author: Noreen Fishman]
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is important for many businesses, including law firms. in fact, 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information, and that number is only likely to be higher for regionally operating practices. There also tends to be a strong correlation between organic website traffic and local searches. What does that mean for your firm? It means that if you can improve your website traffic through local search engine optimization, you’re likely to get more website traffic and leads overall. Here are some simple tweaks your law firm can make within your local SEO strategy for better local visibility.
The Benefits of Local SEO
Local SEO refers to a search engine optimization strategy that focuses on improving search rankings in local search results. So, if someone searches ‘Pennsylvania law firm’ this indicates to Google that they’re searching for a law firm in a specific location.
With all the information Google has to look at with web pages, one of the most important ranking factors is geolocation.
Local SEO is about marketing your firm to those that are specifically looking at your location. If you’re a law firm, especially a smaller or mid-sized firm, local SEO is very important. For law firms operating at a regional level local SEO is essential, it allows firms to lessen the advantage of bigger, national firms that can rank for more broad keywords, while also gaining traffic from a more relevant audience.
15 Local SEO Tips for Law Firms
1. Take a Look at Overall Speed and Performance
Before you dive into other tactics, you want to make sure everything you’re driving traffic loads properly. Website performance studies show that for your site to retain visitors, its page load time should not exceed three seconds. Before you focus on driving additional people to your site, make sure they won’t bounce once they get there.
2. Ensure You’re Using the Right, Local Keywords for Your Services
It’s important to make sure the descriptions of your services on your website reflect what people are actually searching for in your area. Use a keyword research tool like Semrush or Ahrefs. These let you determine the most popular search phrases for law practices like yours — and how difficult it will be to rank for them locally too.
Follow these steps:
- Choose whichever is relevant, local keywords you’d like to target. You can use one of the above tools and try typing in relevant keywords based on location into Google.
- Integrate the keywords throughout your site, including on relevant pages and blogs
- Optimize pages for keywords by including them in titles, in the body copy, and in the URLs
3. Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Your law firm’s profile on Google My Business is your local listing that appears in Google Maps, the local results of Google Search, and even the right-side Knowledge Panel on Google Search. Just as with websites and ads, Google ranks Business Profiles according to their relevance to the search term and overall quality. This means that by optimizing your Business Profile, you can rank higher in local search, show up for more search terms, stand out from competitors, and even win more clients.
4. Ensure Your Location is Referenced in Key Parts of Your Site
You should make sure that your home page and any other important pages containing information about your services reference your location in four key places:
- Its title tags
- Body copy
- Its meta description
Plus, it’s worth adding the location in the URL where relevant. For example, if you have offices in three different towns in New York, I’d suggest creating three separate pages with three separate URLs. Keep in mind that each page should have distinct copy, as Google doesn’t like duplicate content and can penalize it in search results.
5. Use Schema’s Geographic Markup
This set of microdata was created as part of a collaborative effort by the major search engines: Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Schema is a foundation for markup data that allows search engines to better understand location-based structured information, enabling them to yield richer search results. There are different ways to create and display schema markup – check out this article for a deeper dive into schema markup.
6. Optimize for Voice Search
This functionality has been growing over the last couple years, and it will continue to do so. It allows people to search faster, as well as multi-task, which users love. Think about the keywords commonly used in voice search as opposed to just search engine inquiries. For example, it’s important to keep in mind that people typically ask a question using voice search, such as “Is there a personal injury attorney in Jackson, Mississippi?” Consider long-tail keywords that use terms like where, when, and how.
7. Submit Your Site to High-quality Local Directories
Submitting your firm’s website to quality local directories can significantly boost your position in search results. Google indexes the directory entries — and if the directory is reputable, it may return the directory entry in a high position in search.
So even if you are struggling to get a high ranking for a particular keyphrase, you may still get visibility for your law firm via search results from other directory sites.
8. Ensure your website performs well on mobile devices
Whether or not your law firm’s website is mobile-friendly can significantly impact local SEO. The majority of searches are now carried out on mobile devices; and according to HubSpot, 88% of consumers who search for a local business on their phone call them in a day. This means if your site doesn’t work well on mobile, then you’re missing out on a lot of leads. Google also prioritizes websites that work well on mobile phones too. So, if your website doesn’t perform well on a smartphone, you stand to lose out when it comes to local SEO.
9. Integrate Local Keywords Into Meta Data
Alongside referencing your keywords in titles, body copy, and other relevant places mentioned above, also make sure to integrate the keywords into your metadata, including meta descriptions, HTML codes, and URLs.
10. Make a Location-Specific About Us Page
Your About Us page is the perfect place to make your location clear and include local keywords. Focus on including local information like your address, your commitment and engagement in your community, and local news and events.
11. Local Link Building
Reach out to local organizations in your area and make connections. This is one of the easiest ways to gain valuable and credible backlinks that send strong link signals to Google to confirm your site is credible for this location.
12. Gain Online Reviews
Consider creating an online review campaign. Reach out to clients via email, a social media group, or in person, and ask if they’d be comfortable reviewing your firm on Google. Consider gifting something in return, like a gift card so they’re enticed to leave a review. Or, you can use a service like Birdeye that does this for you.
13. Actively Manage Online Reviews
Just gaining reviews isn’t enough. You must also actively manage them. Make sure to monitor and respond to all reviews, whether they’re good or bad. Pay extra attention to negative reviews, and work to mitigate the issues being brought up in the review. Hopefully, your efforts will guide the reviewer towards deleting the review.
14. Use Geofencing Advertising
With PPC ads on search engines, you can control who you’re targeting with your ads. Try targeting your audience based on location in order to drive local traffic.
15. Regularly Check Your Site for Issues
Take the 2 minutes to run a free SEO audit of your site so you can see where you stand on search engines and get a clear picture of the on-site issues you may want to fix in order to rank higher.
Since law firms tend to operate on a regional scale, it’s critical that they have a local search engine optimization strategy in place. Employing a few of these tactics can be effective in getting found and driving even more traffic to your firm’s website. Put this list into action to get in front of your local audience, and you may just get a few new leads as well.
This post has been edited and republished from Sept. 22, 2021.