How Local SEO Can Boost Your Law Business
Establishing an online presence is essential for any business, no matter what field that business happens to be in. From law firms to restaurants, everyone benefits if they can build their digital reach.
Generating a following isn’t the only thing that can benefit small businesses, though. Visibility online is key for bringing in new clients, especially when you provide a service that people need in a moment’s notice.
When someone needs a lawyer, the first thing they’re likely to do is to make a Google search. When they do that search, you want to be in the first few results. The only way to land those results is through search engine optimization (SEO).
More specifically, local SEO. We’re going to explore how local SEO can benefit your law business in this article, giving you some guidance for your next marketing campaign.
Why Choose Digital Marketing in The First Place?
Digital marketing is the new way of doing things. There are still a number of opportunities for people to market outside of the web, but those methods are becoming less and less effective.
You might reach a thousand people with an ad in the newspaper, for example, but you could reach ten thousand people for the same amount of money online. The people you reach online will also be a very specific group that matches your target demographic.
It’s just that there are so many people using their smartphones all of the time, and most of the time they’re not on their phones, they’re using their laptops. The platforms we tend to use typically make their money from ads and focus intensely on user experience.
That means their ad placements are focused and effective, and their algorithms are set up to reward players that provide a great user experience. This equation makes digital marketing very powerful.
Digital marketing tends to get spread across a few categories. Those categories, generally speaking, are social media, PPC ads, SEM, and search engine optimization.
Our focus today will be SEO, with a deep dive into local SEO and why it matters.
Search Engine Optimization Basics
A thorough understanding of local SEO requires that you have a grasp of SEO in general.
The main focus of optimization is achieving higher search results. You want to rank in the top results for searches that pertain to you and your business. It seems like a simple thing to do, but it turns out to be tough and time-consuming.
Everyone else wants to rank in the results that their target group is seeing. The process gets tough when services, like law businesses, have a wider reach and can take on clients from different areas. That only widens the pool of competition.
As more firms start using SEO, the likelihood of ranking with zero effort diminishes. You’ll only get those results if you’re a popular firm that has a lot of search traffic in the first place. If you’re still working your way up, you’ll have to do some hard work to get higher rankings.
Think of Google as less of a public service that everyone uses, and more like a business that’s trying to stay ahead. After decades of domination, it’s easy to forget that Google has an agenda and isn’t just an inherent part of the internet.
Their angle is to provide users with the most relevant results to the keywords they type in. If their results start to slip, people are more prone to shift over to Bing or Yahoo.
Google’s algorithm is excellent at determining the relevance of your site compared to other sites. It catalogs around 200 factors of your site, noticing your user experience, your content quality, your relationship to other powerful sites, and a whole lot more.
Search engine optimization is the process of understanding as much as you can about the algorithm and crafting your website and content to fit its specifications. You also have to find a way to optimize without losing user experience or value to customers.
A great SEO campaign is full of fine-tuned tactics that relate to the search engine algorithm.
It’s difficult to get all of those factors in check on your own, though. Most people who work on their campaigns alone only get to tackle the principal methods of optimization.
For our brief exploration of basic SEO before we get to our local SEO guide, these basics will be a good start.
Remember that we’re trying to rank for specific keyword phrases. Every search is specific, and trying to rank generally for “law businesses” isn’t going to get you anywhere. The key is to identify what users in your target demographic are searching for.
This means that everything starts with keyword research. There are a number of tools, some of which come straight from Google, that help you research keyword trends in different demographics.
You want to find phrases that are popular but aren’t bogged down with a lot of competition. Some tools will show you your competition, while others will just show you the numbers.
Once you identify a term with high traffic and low competition, the goal is to create content in response to the term.
We’ve all heard that “content is king” or something similar. In terms of SEO, content does play a huge role in boosting your website.
The thing about content that a lot of people miss, though, is that it has to be original, yet tethered to a particular keyword phrase. You make content in response to the term that you’re trying to rank for.
If you don’t do this, the only chance you have of ranking for search terms is if you go viral or you happen to optimize for a keyword phrase on accident.
Let’s say that you found “lawyer near me” to be a popular term in your area. You checked it out, and there isn’t significant competition in the rankings. You now have your keyword phrase to create content for.
Let’s also say that your preferred form of content is a blog post. Find an angle that fits your keyword phrase into it and think of how to write a post on that subject. For example, you could title the blog “how to find a great lawyer near me.”
Your expertise should give you enough insight to write a substantial post on that subject.
On-page optimization is the practice of optimizing the text, style, arrangement, and display of your content.
That means placing your keyword phrase in the right place, the right amount of times, and with the right context. It also means crafting your website with SEO and user experience in mind.
Google frowns upon websites that aren’t intuitive for users. It’s also important to note that content quality is an on-page SEO factor. The wizards at Google have cataloged trillions of sites and used the information on those sites to tune their algorithm.
So, that algorithm can spot a useless page in a heartbeat. If you provide a valuable piece of information to your users, you’ll be rewarded in the rankings. That’s why it’s important to keep on-page SEO in mind, but do your best to keep the content organic and geared toward your users.
Understanding Local SEO
At this point, you should have a fundamental idea of what search engine optimization is. You should also have a good read on why it’s important to use SEO practices, especially when your competitors are working on their digital marketing campaigns.
It’s great to get nationwide “organic results” that give your brand exposure. The more people that see your site, the better rankings you’ll get in the future, and the cycle will continue. Organic results are the ones that come from the practices described above.
If you work on your SEO generally, you’ll get better organic results. This tends to mean that your results aren’t tuned to be location-specific. Google takes your location into account in its algorithm, but you have to do extra work to maximize your potential in your area.
There’s a distinct difference between organic results and local results.
The Ultimate Goal of Local Optimization
Let’s refer back to our keyword example from before. Your “lawyer near me” keyword phrase has location built right into it. “Near me” is something that is common among popular keywords.
We’ve all had a time when we were looking for something, say, a haircut, and we Googled “haircut near me.” The same could go for “sports store near me,” or “used cars near me,” or “lawyers near me.”
When we look for a new product or service, we use the “near me” search. Recently, those searches have provided users with an added feature. Google introduced the “snack pack” a while back, and it helps users make their choice.
The snack pack is the set of results that rests above the organic results of the search. It’s the section that has a map with locations, a few top results from your search, along with the ratings, prices, hours, and description of those results.
Those are the results that people end up clicking most of the time. We tend to get those results only when we optimize for local results. Getting into the snack pack is the ultimate goal of local SEO.
How to Optimize Locally
The nice thing about local optimization is that your standard SEO will work to your advantage. A really great SEO campaign will bleed into local searches.
A big part of local optimization is adjusting your keyword research toward location-specific searches. For example, you might optimize for “lawyer in Dallas,” “Law firm near Dallas,” or “Lawyers Dallas.”
The more optimization you do in those location-specific terms, the more prepared you are to catch those searches in your optimization net.
Make Sure You’re Present on Listing Sites
Business listing sites, especially Google MyBusiness, are essential. You have to enter your business information and claim your website domain on these sites. The more sites you’re present on, the higher chance you have of getting positive reviews and being found.
The information you place on Google MyBusiness is the information that people see when they find you in the snack pack. Ensure that all of the information is correct and that you update it as time goes on.
Remember, Google wants to give results that users will benefit from. Great online business reviews are one of the clearest indicators that your business is useful.
Do whatever you can to generate a lot of great reviews, and you’ll start to see your snack pack frequency increase. Make sure you don’t try to cheat the system in any way, though, because Google is great at sniffing out potential “black hat” tactics.
Black hat SEO is any method that intends to avoid organic progress and achieve faster results. In other words, black hat methods are just ways to cheat. Google doesn’t appreciate this and has the power to unlist your site from its archives.
Consider Lightening Your Load
All of the factors listed above just scrape the surface of a great SEO campaign. Further, an effective campaign is one that keeps going on for as long as the business is running.
That means creating content on a regular basis, adjusting practices as the algorithm changes, taking time to research keywords, and tweaking a lot of the back end factors that require some coding skill.
All of these factors add up to one full-time job. If you want to get great results, though, that’s what it takes. The nice thing is that there are professionals out there who are masters of search engine optimization as well as the other factors of digital marketing.
The investment of a professional is well worth the time you’ll save and the freedom you’ll have to work on the things you’re passionate about.
Need a Little Help?
Taking on organic results in addition to local SEO and the snack pack might be too much to ask of one person. We’re here to help, though.
Your law firm deserves the fine touch of an SEO professional. Contact us to learn more about local SEO services and move forward with a plan that will work for you.