In terms of building relationships, some of the most overlooked opportunities are right in our local communities. Over at Attorney at Work, Ruth Carter talks about thinking locally:
I love it when law firms sponsor community events and little league teams, and when their associates and partners serve on the board of directors for charities. It’s wonderful when law firms are dedicated to supporting their local community. But I wonder how many law firms—even those with offices in multiple states—know how much they can do as an organization to give back to the local community on a daily basis.
Bloom Where You’re Planted
If you are a locally owned law firm, consider joining your state’s equivalent of Local First Arizona (just Google “Local First”), or start your own if there isn’t one. It’s a great place to build your reputation within the community, save money and get referrals.
No doubt, local community involvement is one of the most effective ways to build professional recognition with people who will become new sources of business. But there's an additional benefit to thinking locally that might not have occurred to you. And that's increased visibility in local search results.
Thinking Locally in Search Results
It's no secret that people are turning to the web to find local businesses. And the lion's share of that traffic is going to local search engine results. But how can law firms increase their visibility within these results?
The first way is straightforward. Simply, pay for local search advertising with programs like Adwords Express. But this won't help you gain visibility in local organic search results. To increase visibility there, you need to think locally.
There are a variety of factors that go into local search rankings. And taking Ruth's advice of "thinking locally" can have a huge impact.
How Thinking Locally Impacts Local Search
Let's take a couple of Ruth's examples to see how they impact local search results.
Sponsoring Community Events - If you sponsor a local community event, chances are that the hosts are going to publicize the event. One of the ways that they might do this is through their website. Often times, organizations will create event pages that link back to their sponsors' websites. Voila, link from a trusted local site.
Volunteer & Leadership Positions at Local Charities - Again, these organizations often list volunteer and leadership profiles on their sites. Links and business citations from local charity sites are very powerful in terms of increasing visibility in local search results.
Furthermore, if you volunteer to speak or provide valuable educational materials at a local event, people are likely to spread the word online. This can come in the form of social shares and mentions. This positive local social sentiment is good for business. Plus, some of the people in your audience are likely to review or rate you. Getting positive online reviews is another key factor in local search rankings.
Of course, local search rankings probably aren't (and shouldn't be) your main motivation for thinking locally. But there's no reason not to connect the online dots to maximize the value of thinking locally in the context of your law firm's visibility in local search results.
(Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/loozrboy/3692313709/)