An Overview of Local SEO for Law Firms
The starting point for getting your law firm’s local SEO strategy is Google My Business (GMB). Your firm’s GMB listing is a free local business tool you can use to get your practice listed on Google local search results and Google Maps. GMB is often a law firm’s first-impression with new clients. Lawyers can use GMB to connect with potential clients, post firm updates, and see how clients are interacting with your firm. Here is an example local search engine result page for a “law firm near me” search:
Name, Address, & Phone Number (NAP)
The core information for your firm’s business listing on Google My Business, and around the web, is commonly referred to as NAP. It consists of the following elements:
- Name: Your firm’s actual business name or officially registered trade name.
- Address: Your firm’s actual physical office location.
- Phone Number: Your firm’s real local phone number.
While having accurate, consistent NAP across the local ecosystem (including business directories, legal services directories, and review sites), is necessary, it’s really only table stakes for earning local search rankings. Here are some examples of sites you should check for NAP consistency:
- Yellow Pages
Furthermore, you should also check major social media sites, particularly:
You should also perform a Google search on your name and firm name and be sure to prioritize your local SEO efforts on updating your firm’s business information on sites that appear prominently for these searches. Not only will this play a role in improving your rankings for local organic search queries, it will also help you monitor and protect against negative reviews and prioritize where to add positive reviews and testimonials.
Local Link Building for Law Firms
For most competitive local search engine result pages (SERPs), the biggest difference-maker tends to be building local backlinks to your law firm’s website. Any local SEO campaign worth its salt should include local link building.
In fact, in our experience, local backlinks to your law firm website is one of the most ranking factors. We recommend identifying web pages that are both topically, as well as, geographically relevant to your law firm. Too many SEO services providers tend to focus on their digital marketing campaigns on building links from sites with “high domain authority (Moz’s proxy metric for website authority).” In our experience, backlinks from those sites tend not to be as impactful as those from local, relevant sites, regardless of Domain Authority.
If you’re looking to improve your local link building, we encourage you check out the following tools:
- Moz (particularly STAT Search Analytics)
- Local Falcon
Each of these tools can be extremely useful in shaping your law firm SEO marketing strategy.
Local Law Firm SEO Ranking Factors
Google provides the following guidance on how they determine local ranking:
Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.
The Relevance Local Ranking Factor
For our purposes, Relevance means how well your firm’s local listing matches what the searcher seeks. Adding complete and detailed information about your law firm can help Google better understand details about your practice and match your listing to relevant searches.
The Distance Local Ranking Factor
The Distance factor considers the physical distance a potential search result seems from a location term used in a search. If a searcher doesn’t include a location in their search, Google attempts to calculate the distance based on information they have about their location.
The Prominence Local Ranking Factor
The Prominence factor is probably the one you can most influence. It refers to how well-known your firm is from Google’s perspective. Some firms are more prominent in the “the real world,” and Google tries to reflect this in their local rankings. For example, famous lawyers, historic firms, or well-known law firms that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.
Primarily, Prominence depends on information that Google has about your law firm from across the web (mostly links, references in articles, and legal directories). Google also acknowledges that review count (number of reviews, particularly on GMB) and score are factored into local search ranking: put simply, more reviews and positive testimonials will probably improve a firm’s local ranking.