Are you a lawyer or a partner wondering if it’s possible to rank your law firm in local search results? Ranking high in search engines for local queries is one of the best ways to attract clients organically. That’s where local SEO for lawyers comes in.
By optimizing your website, citations, and listings, you can improve how far up the search engine results page (SERP) your firm appears, making it easier for potential clients in your area to find and contact you.
In this article, we’ll cover the key elements of local SEO for lawyers and provide practical tips to improve your rankings.
From understanding Google ranking factors to optimizing your website and Google Business Profile, we’ll cover everything you need to know to successfully rank your law firm and attract qualified leads organically.
What is Local SEO for Lawyers?
Local SEO for lawyers refers to the process of optimizing your law firm’s online presence to rank higher in local search results.
This is important because when potential clients search for law firms in their area, they’re more likely to click on the top results that appear in the local pack/map pack.
You may be wondering the the local pack is. Well, it looks like the image below. You’ve definitely seen it when looking for local businesses on Google. Think about the last time you selected a business through the local pack. You likely narrowed your selection to the top businesses, read their reviews, maybe checked their website, and then decided to choose them.
Why is Ranking in Local Search Results Important?
Ranking in local search results can significantly impact the success of your law firm by increasing visibility and driving qualified leads.
When potential clients search for legal services in their area, they’re more likely to choose a law firm that appears at the top of the local search results. The number 1 position of Google gets 27.6% of all clicks for that query, with position 2 getting 15.8% of clicks according to Backlinko’s study of 4 million search results.
By implementing local SEO strategies and optimizing your Google Business Profile, you can improve your rankings and increase your chances of being clicked on by potential clients.
It is also important to consider how valuable these clicks can be for the right query. If someone searches for “car accident lawyer in Chicago”, you can almost guarantee that the searcher is looking for a lawyer and is ready to convert into a client.
Creating local listings and citations also plays a crucial role in local search rankings, as they provide additional information about your law firm and help establish its credibility, we will cover this in greater detail further in the article.
Can Your Firm Rank in Local Search Results?
Wondering if your law firm can rank in local search results? Location, search intent, and other factors play an important role in determining rankings.
Google now considers a person’s proximity to a law firm when displaying search results, so your firm’s visibility may vary depending on the searcher’s location.
Traditional rank-tracking software can be misleading, as it often uses a single GPS location to determine rankings.
It is also important to have an optimized website and Google Business Profile (GBP) as Google won’t rank poor quality sites and GBPs.
To maximize your firm’s visibility and attract qualified leads, focus on dominating one geographic area rather than spreading your efforts too thin. Once you start ranking for one area, you can start expanding to areas surrounding your main targeted area. The same idea applies to law firms with multiple locations in multiple cities. Pick the locations that perform the worst and focus on ranking for those first.
If you’re a lawyer looking to rank your law firm in local search results, determining your firm’s potential to rank in a specific location is crucial. Geographic targeting plays a significant role in local SEO for law firms.
To rank higher in local search results, you must optimize your law firm’s local pack. This involves focusing on proximity and relevance factors that Google considers when determining rankings.
For example, it will be harder for a law firm to rank in St. Petersburg, FL if their main office is located in Tampa, FL, even if the two cities are not that far from each other. This is especially true if the website and Google Business Profile are optimized to rank for Tampa.
Additionally, mobile optimization is crucial as more and more people are using their smartphones to search for local services.
Tracking local rankings is also important to evaluate your firm’s performance and make necessary adjustments.
After determining your law firm’s potential to rank in a specific location, it’s important to understand the search intent of potential clients and whether your firm can rank well in local search results.
If a user searches for “how much do lawyers make in Canton”, your website may not rank for that query, and that is okay. You only want to rank for queries that are relevant to your firm and will attract clients.
Another example is if a client searches for “car accident law firm in NYC” and your firm specializes in intellectual property. Your firm may not appear for that user in the search engine results page (SERP) because your firm is not relevant to their query.
This is why optimization is important. You want to optimize your site and GBP for the correct keywords that are truly relevant to your firm. The last thing you want is to rank for something your firm doesn’t do and have to deal with leads that are not qualified.
Google uses a variety of factors when it comes to ranking. It’s not entirely clear what exact factors Google uses to determine rankings, but we know it likely uses backlinks, user signals (ex. time spent on page), content quality (using EEAT), website structure, and more.
Also, you should focus on mobile optimization, as Google also crawls the mobile version of your website. Make sure your website loads quickly on mobile devices to provide a good user experience.
Reviews are also important when it comes to ranking in the local pack. We will cover getting reviews and their importance further in the article as it deserves a section of its own.
Creating and Optimizing Your Google Business Profile
There is almost nothing as important as having an optimized Google Business Profile when it comes to local SEO for lawyers.
Start by creating a new profile for your law firm, ensuring that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate and consistent with your real-world information and other citations you’ve created (if you have already created others).
Once you create your profile, it is time to optimize it to target the location and keywords you want your firm to rank for.
Creating a New Google Business Profile for Your Law Firm
Here is a step-by-step guide to walk you through setting up your Google Business Profile correctly:
- If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll need to create one. If you already have one you can simply sign into your Google account.
- Visit Google’s BGP Sign-up page.
- Click the blue “Manage Now” button.
- Enter the name of your firm in the text bar. If your firm pops up as already existing, you’ll have to request verification to claim the Google Business Profile for your firm.
- Choose your business type. In the case of a law firm, you’ll select the service business and local store option. Make sure you only select the service business option if your firm doesn’t have a physical location for your clients to visit.
- Select categories that best describe your firm. We recommend that your primary category be law firm and then you can make your other categories more specific to the types of law your firm specializes in. You’ll select secondary categories later when you optimize your profile.
- Enter the address of your office.
- Select your primary service areas. You can select up to 20. We recommend you completely cover your office and surrounding areas, but focus on areas where you know you have a large client base.
- Enter your phone number and website URL
- Click “Finish”
- After setting up your profile, you’ll need to verify your firm with Google. This typically involves receiving a verification code by mail, email, or phone. Follow the instructions provided to complete the verification process.
Once you’ve gone through all of these steps and verified your Google Business Profile, we can start working on optimizing your GBP to help you get top rankings on the local pack.
Optimizing Google Business Profile NAP
The most important items when optimizing your Google Business Profile or any other citation is keeping accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information.
Consistency is key when it comes to NAP information. Make sure that your contact information is accurate and consistent across all online platforms to avoid confusion and improve your rankings. Implementing best practices for NAP consistency, such as using the same format for your address and phone number, can help search engines understand and index your information correctly.
Good practice is to implement your firm’s NAP on your website’s contact page and footer, as well as utilizing schema markup to provide search engines with structured data. Monitoring and tracking your NAP’s performance will allow you to identify and address any inconsistencies or inaccuracies promptly.
The Importance of Reviews
Having a strong reputation is one of the main factors in attracting potential clients and standing out from your competition.
Here are four key points to consider:
- Positive reviews can build trust and credibility, while negative reviews can damage your reputation. 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses, so it’s essential to manage your online reputation effectively.
- Instead of ignoring negative reviews, address them promptly and professionally. Responding with empathy and offering a resolution can help mitigate the impact of a negative review.
- Actively ask your satisfied clients to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile. You can send them a follow-up email or include a review request on your website. Positive reviews can enhance your online reputation and attract more clients. You can get a review link from your GBP to send to clients to reduce the friction for them to leave a review.
- Showcase your positive reviews on your website, social media platforms, and other marketing materials. Testimonials from satisfied clients can be a powerful tool for attracting new clients and building trust in your services.
Google Business Profile Keyword Optimization
You may be wondering, “How can you optimize a Google Business Profile with keywords to improve local SEO for lawyers?”
Keyword optimization plays an important role in improving your law firm’s rankings on Google. You can optimize your Google Business Profile by using keywords related to your firm. For example, if you are a law firm that specializes in personal injury, you may consider adding “personal injury law firm” as a secondary category for your GBP.
You should also include relevant keywords in the description of your GBP. Make sure you highlight what makes your firm unique and let your potential clients know what your firm specializes in. This can help you rank higher if someone searches for your law firm’s specialty in their area.
Additional GBP Factors
Apart from NAP, reviews, and keywords, there are a few other elements on your Google Business Profile you can optimize to get the most out of your listing…
Including high-quality and relevant photos and videos can attract potential clients and improve your profile’s visibility. By posting images somewhat regularly, you let the search engine know that you’re an active business.
Providing accurate and up-to-date information about your law firm’s operating hours is also really important. It helps Google understand when your business is available to serve potential clients. It also gives your clients accurate information so they don’t waste their time reaching out to your firm if you’re not open.
Clearly listing the services your law firm offers on your profile can help Google match your firm with relevant search queries. This can improve your rankings and attract clients who are specifically looking for the services you provide.
Take advantage of the update feature on your profile. Regularly posting updates about your firm’s news, events, and promotions can keep your profile fresh and engaging for potential clients. This is also another way of including relevant keywords on your profile.
Creating Local Listings and Citations
In addition to your Google Business Profile, you should also create local listings and citations for your firm.
Local listings are business profiles on directory websites that include your firm’s name, address, phone number, and website details. Some examples of popular listings are Yelp, YellowPages, Bing Places, etc.
Citations can be structured or unstructured and help increase your visibility in search results.
While the importance of citations has diminished slightly over the years, they still play a role in increasing your share of search and providing some link equity. If anything they give your Google Business Profile a slight boost since Google can see that your firm is also listed on other platforms, therefore increasing the chances that your firm is real and they should rank you.
Local Listing Tools
To create local listings and citations for your law firm, utilize reputable companies like Semrush or Brightlocal. These companies specialize in local listing management and offer citation building strategies that improve local SEO for lawyers.
Using these tools, you can optimize your Google Maps listing and implement effective local search optimization techniques.
Reputable companies like the ones mentioned before have extensive knowledge and experience in local listing management. They understand the intricacies of citation building and can ensure that your law firm’s information is accurate and consistent across different platforms.
Building and managing local listings can be time-consuming. These tools allow you to outsource the work of creating listings one by one. Instead of creating listings, you can focus on other aspects of your law firm’s marketing strategy while knowing that your local SEO is being taken care of.
These companies use reliable data sources and follow best practices to ensure that your law firm’s citations are optimized across the board. These tools also allow you to update all of your citations at once in the future if anything in your firm changes.
What Citations Are the Most Important?
Focus on the most important citations for your law firm to improve local SEO and attract potential clients. These include the standard citations like Yelp, Google, Bing, YellowPages, and more.
Additionally, leverage legal-related directories such as Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, and Hg.org to maximize your visibility in the legal community.
Don’t forget to include local directories like the Chamber of Commerce, Bar associations, and city directories that are specific to your area.
Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO
An optimized website is a critical aspect of local SEO for lawyers. Having an optimized Google Business Profile is great, but your website will likely be carrying most of the ranking weight. It is important to focus on your website when it comes to any kind of SEO, whether its local or not.
First, we recommend that you create location-specific pages that target keywords related to your practice areas and the cities you serve.
Secondly, focus on on-page optimization, ensuring that your website is technically sound, loads quickly, and is mobile-friendly.
Lastly, regularly update your website with fresh and informative blogs and content that address the needs and concerns of your local audience.
Create Location-Specific Pages
location-specific pages are arguably the most impactful in local SEO for lawyers. These pages make a huge difference when it comes to getting relevant traffic from specific geographic areas.
Here are some best practices for creating location landing pages:
- Customize each location page with relevant information about the area, such as local laws, regulations, and testimonials from clients in that location. The goal is to make the page entirely about the specific location you are targeting. You should avoid mentioning other locations.
- Understand the search intent behind keywords and tailor your content to meet those needs. This will increase the chances of ranking high on the SERP. An important part of the search intent is the area you’re targeting and the specialty you’re targeting in that area.
- Related to #2, you want to focus on the keywords of the page. Make sure your page title includes the location and the specialty you’re targeting. You’ll also want to mention the location and specialty a few more times in subheadings and in the text on the page.
- Focus on obtaining backlinks from local directories, industry associations, and other authoritative websites in your area. We will discuss backlinks in more detail further in the article.
Here is an example of a website that uses location-specific pages:
This is a page from Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Each one of those boxes includes a specific location that they have an office in and are targeting. Each box links to an individual page where they have information about the office and the specialties they practice in that specific office. They include some historical information and content relating to the location. This practice helps this firm rank in each of these locations.
Blogs and Content
When creating blogs and content for your law firm’s website for local SEO, focus on providing valuable information that addresses your potential clients’ needs and concerns.
Here is how we like to think of content:
- Develop a content strategy: Determine the topics that are relevant to your target audience and align with your law firm’s expertise. This will ensure that your content is valuable and resonates with potential clients. Consider creating “silos” around general topics, for example a silo can be “trademarks”.
- Keywords: Research and create a list of keywords relating to the overarching silo that can be used in articles. You can use free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or paid tools like Semrush and Ahrefs to conduct proper keyword research. These keywords should guide the specific topic of the article.
- Blog creation: Use headlines, subheadings, and bullet points to make your content easy to read and scan. Make sure you include your primary keyword in your main heading and in at least one subheading. We recommend using RankMath, a free SEO tool that provides a checklist for each article to make sure you’re hitting all of the SEO basics while creating your blog.
- Content optimization: Optimize your blog posts by including relevant meta tags, such as title tags and meta descriptions. RankMath makes it easy to create these. Use internal and external links to enhance the user experience and provide additional resources or references.
- Promote your blog content: Share your blog posts on social media platforms, email newsletters, and other relevant online channels to increase visibility and attract more potential viewers to your website. Google uses traffic information as a signal for rankings.
Although there is a lot that goes into creating compelling blogs and content, it is important that your firm focuses on it. Each blog post is a page that has a chance of ranking and bringing in traffic. Make sure you cover topics that are relevant to your firm and work on optimizing the pages over time as you get more data from Google Search Console.
Link Building for Lawyers
To rank your law firm in local search results, it’s important to understand the concept of backlinks and link building.
Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your law firm’s website, and they’re a key factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Link building involves actively seeking out and acquiring these backlinks to improve your website’s authority and credibility.
There are several strategies you can use to get more backlinks, such as creating high-quality content, reaching out to other websites for partnerships or guest posting opportunities, and participating in industry directories or associations.
What Are Backlinks?
Building backlinks is an essential strategy in local SEO for lawyers. Backlinks are links from other websites that link back to yours, acting as a vote of confidence for search engines.
Backlinks can be categorized into two types – dofollow and nofollow. Dofollow backlinks pass on link juice and contribute to your website’s authority, while nofollow do not. A regular user will not be able to tell the difference between the two link types, they can still click the link and get redirected to the linked site. Although they do not directly pass on link juice, nofollow links function as a hint to Google that the site being linked to should be considered. Nofollow links used to be ignored in the past but they now have some value.
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for search engines. High-quality backlinks from authoritative websites can significantly improve your website’s ranking. High-quality links typically come from websites that have high “authority”, meaning they rank high for many keywords, have many backlinks, and overall are considered trustworthy by Google.
There are several tools available, such as Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker, Moz’s Link Explorer, and SEMrush, that can help you analyze your backlink profile, monitor new backlinks, and identify opportunities for improvement.
What is Link Building?
Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks from other websites to your own.
There are different types of backlinks that you can obtain, each with varying degrees of value. For example, directory listings are easy to get but may not carry much link equity. On the other hand, outreach link building involves reaching out to website owners and PR teams and requesting them to link to your website, which can be more valuable.
Now most people won’t link to your website just because. You need to offer them something of value. This usually comes in the form of a guest post (you write an article for them), or as a credit for a snippet of information you provide to them.
You can build links through quality content on your website. If you have posts with independent research that you and your team conducted, there may be other websites that want to use that data and research and will give you credit for your work by linking to your site.
Develop informative articles, blog posts, or videos that provide value to your target audience. Engaging content increases the chances of other websites linking back to your site.
Reach out to authoritative legal websites or blogs and offer to write guest posts. Include a link back to your website in the author bio or within the content itself.
Ensure your law firm’s information is consistent and accurate across local directories and review sites. Local citations, such as listings on Yelp or Avvo, can improve your website’s visibility and attract more backlinks.
Connect with influential bloggers, journalists, or industry experts in your niche. Collaborate on content, interviews, or podcasts, and ask them to link back to your website.
Link building for local SEO is crucial because it helps to establish your website’s authority and improve its visibility in search results. However, it’s important to focus on link quality rather than quantity.
Avoid tactics like buying links or participating in link schemes, as they can have negative consequences for your website’s rankings.
Local SEO Tactics That Don’t Work
To avoid wasting time and resources on ineffective strategies, it’s important for law firms to steer clear of certain local SEO tactics. There are common misconceptions about what works in local SEO, and relying on outdated tactics can have a negative impact on your rankings.
One of the strategies to avoid in local SEO is trying to manipulate the system with black hat techniques, as this can lead to suspension and a loss of leads. Instead, focus on overcoming challenges in local search rankings by implementing “effective “white hat” strategies, like the ones discussed in this article, for long term success.
When it comes to link building, make sure you avoid link farms, spammy links, or buying links as they are against Google’s terms of service and can result in a penalty or loss of traffic.
Creating a Local SEO Strategy for Your Law Firm
Now with this information you can go on to create an SEO strategy for your firm. We recommend taking every item step-by-step and making sure you stay focused on quality of quantity of action.
We recommend starting with creating local listings and citations for your firm as described before. Focus on creating and optimizing your Google Business Profile first and then move on to the other listing platforms. Don’t forget to create listings in directories in your local area.
After you get your listings and citations in order, we recommend you work on optimizing your website. Make sure the pages you already have are optimized for the keywords you want to rank for. Research new keywords to use in blog posts and create quality content. If you have multiple locations, don’t forget to create location-specific pages to increase your chances of ranking in those areas.
You should also start working on obtaining backlinks to your website at the same time as you’re optimizing your site and creating these new pages. Generating backlinks can take a long time so make sure you get started on creating those connections with industry leaders as soon as possible.
The most important part of local SEO for lawyers is understanding that the strategy takes time but the results last a very long time once you start ranking. You can generate more leads than you ever imagined, all without having to pay for ads.
If you are stuck along the way, schedule a free meeting with an SEO expert on our team that can help walk you through any problems you may be experiencing. We also offer a done-for-you SEO service so you can focus on growing your firm instead of spending time optimizing all of these elements. If you feel like your SEO is already strong, you can request a free SEO audit from us where we review your website and give you suggestions on how to improve your SEO.