Back in October of 2018, Casey Meraz of Juris Digital wrote a blog regarding how well your law firm actually ranks in Google’s Local Pack. It was a terrific study and got me thinking about how law firms or other businesses can rank in the Local Pack outside of their immediate brick and mortar location. What similarities do businesses have who rank in various locations away from their office?
Often a business will spot check their rankings in the Local Pack or organic to get an idea of where they may rank and what competitors are ranking around them. Many times, the business will see themselves in the Local Pack because they are using Google to search keywords from their office. If a potential customer is half a mile down the road, will they see a similar result? Probably not.
It is easy to rank in the Local Pack when you are within a few feet of your office building.
On the map below, you can see Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers ranking well for “car accident lawyer” at their office location and a few short meters away, then the rankings drop significantly.
What strategies can be implemented to help law firms rank well beyond their front door?
To analyze the above, I used LocalFalcon. You can see the LocalFalcon results in the map below.
Competitive Markets & The Niches
I analyzed competitive markets for legal terms in Atlanta, Chicago, and Las Vegas.
In addition, I researched whether there were any similarities or differences in other niches. I analyzed keywords for plumbers in Chicago, and Schaumburg, as well as brewpubs in Cary, IL (my favorite brewpub is located there).
I chose large, competitive cities because there are more likely to be other SEO’s working for clients in these cities – keeping ideas cutting edge, implementing Local SEO basics, and minimizing Local spam.
I only used one business as the search point for each search to make all of the searches as equal as possible. For instance, I queried personal injury lawyer, injury lawyer, car accident lawyer, accident lawyer near me, etc for each city.
In those cities, I chose one business as the “center” for each search. Local Falcon has you choose a business to be the centroid of the search and then performs its ranking magic from that point. As an example, in Chicago, I used Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers. In Cary, I used the Cary Ale House, etc.
The map markers were set at 500 meters apart and I used the 5 x 5 grid on Local Falcon. This means each data point is at least .5km, but not further than 1km away from the business location in each direction.
This gave me a total of 25 local locations for each query. By default, Local Falcon takes the top 20 businesses ranking, thus a total of 500 potential search results for each query.
I compiled the top 5 results for each query (most people won’t care if you are ranking lower than 5 in the Pack, plus the data was easier to handle). All searches and data collection was done from my location.
Things In Common
A few items were nearly universal from all the businesses which ranked in the top 5 of the Local Pack:
- 98% of businesses were not spamming their GMB name (sorry spammers)
- 97% of businesses had at least 1 Google Review
- 95% of businesses had a website – It’s possible to rank without one, but the location/niche/competition must be minimal
- 93% of businesses used some sort of Organization, Attorney, LegalService, LocalBusiness schema. Only 10% of the plumbing companies had Schema implemented. None of the brewpubs had implemented Schema.
- 98% of the websites had a secure website
- Businesses ranking well in the Pack, up to 1km away, on average had at about 190 G reviews of about 4.4 stars, 90k links, and 600 LRDs
- Links, Linking Root Domains, Reviews, and Proximity are driving the Local Pack results
- Keyword’s in the URL had little to no impact on ranking in the Local Pack
- EMD’s had no impact in ranking in the Local Pack
Atlanta law term queries
I searched 6 competitive lawyer keyword terms in Atlanta. The total data points for Atlanta is 750 potential different businesses (6 searches x 5 Local Pack positions x 25 local city locations).
Atlanta had one of the most diverse set of businesses showing in the top 5 of the Local Pack with 16. This is out of a total of 750 opportunities, mind you….so not THAT diverse.
Chicago law term queries
In Chicago, there were 5 different keyword searches for a total of 625 different business possibilities. There were only 7 different firms showing.
What are some of the similarities between business who rank in the Local Pack outside of their office location?
I performed deeper analysis for those businesses which rank in the top 3 of the Local Pack in at least 70% of searches for a particular query. For instance, a business ranking at least 17 times for the query “car accident attorney” in Chicago.
- 51 times a company showed up at least 70% of the time in the top 3 for a search query in their area (28 businesses total).
- 193 Google Reviews
- 4.32 Stars
- 98,648 Links
- 700 Linking Root Domains
- 28.6 Citation Flow
- 21.8 Trust Flow
- 127.2 Google Reviews
- 4.23 Stars
- 64,384 Links
- 299.2 Linking Root Domains
- 25 Citation Flow
- 18 Trust Flow
I also performed a deeper analysis for those businesses which rank in the top position of the Local Pack in at least 50% of searches for a particular query. For instance, a business ranking at least 13 times for the query “car accident attorney” in Chicago.
- 20 times a business showed up at least 50% of the time for a search query in their area (12 businesses total)
- Of the 12 businesses which did show, on average they had:
- 211.6 Google Reviews
- 4.73 Star Average
- 118,922 Links
- 611.6 Linking Root Domains
- 30.8 Citation Flow
- 22.2 Trust Flow
- 75 times a company did not show at least 50% of the time for a search query in their area (47 business total)
- Of the 47 businesses which DID NOT show, on average they had:
- 151 Google Reviews
- 4.26 Star Rating
- 70,792 Links
- 519.3 Linking Root Domains
- 25.7 Citation Flow
- 19 Trust Flow
Those Who Don’t Rank (Or Rank Often)
It is obviously much more common for a business to not show in the top 5 of the Local Pack, or to only show sparingly.
- 52 companies showed in the top position less than 5% of time in queries
- 44 businesses didn’t have a position 1 Local Pack ranking at all after being in top 5 and top 3
- 31 times there was a company which was ranking in the top 5 at least 85% of the time, top 3 at least 60% of the time, and didn’t show 1st more than 20% of the time
- Of queries were businesses showed in the 1st spot over 60% of the time, all were in the top 3 of searches at least 92% of time (23 of 25 queries)
- 1 happened to not even have a website – Happy’s Bar
I didn’t dig into the quality of links as Gind Stone did on this Twitter thread, though I suspect most of the law firms have some mix of local links and higher authority relevant links. Several of the law firms ranking were larger firms with many lawyers, some with offices in other cities. This would lead to a variety of links from each city, and greater potential news coverage from local organizations. We also know that spamming the GMB name works well.
Would GMB spammed names rank well across a city? I don’t know, perhaps that’s a different test for another time.
Many businesses are able to rank for key terms in the immediate area of their office, though it is much more difficult to rank for those same key terms if you were to search 3 blocks away. The key to ranking is the Local Pack in different areas of your city are the quantity of links, linking root domains, and Google Reviews.