Why is local SEO for lawyers so important? According to Martindale-Avvo’s 2019 research, up to 46.5% of prospective clients use Google search when researching which law firm to choose. This is up from 2017, where Clio’s Legal Trends Report found the 37% of legal clients who found their lawyers through search engines.
This finding proves that clients still value word of mouth and referrals from family, friends, and other attorneys. However, online research is becoming increasingly relevant for people looking for legal help.
Any law firm that has started its SEO journey understands that local search engine optimization (local SEO) plays an enormous role in clients finding and recommending them online. Google is constantly preaching about the growing importance of local searches, evidenced by how the number of people searching for services “near them” are growing faster than other terms.
But what we are talking about when we say local SEO for lawyers? More importantly, how can lawyers make the most of local SEO to get new clients and make sure their existing local clients and prospects get the best experience possible? This guide of local SEO for lawyers will give you the answers.
What is local SEO for lawyers?
Local SEO is the area of search engine optimization focused on queries that have local intent. Queries refer to what people type into search engines like Google when looking for answers to their questions. Local people use these searches to look for local products, services, or information. Think about the number of times you’ve typed “gas station near me” or “restaurant near me.” These are all considered local search engine searches.
Local searchers can also trigger specific local results, such as local maps. All these can be crucial for attorneys and legal practices that serve a particular geographical area. For lawyers, these searches can range from “immigration lawyers near me” to “lawyers Seattle” and an unlimited number of variations in between.
Google’s Local Search Pack
For example, if we search for “family lawyers in Vancouver” you’ll see something similar to the following:
The image shows how search results for family law practices in specific locations usually trigger the local search pack. You’ve probably already been using Google’s Local Pack regularly—it’s the feature that appears at the top of search results for local searches. For example, if you type “family lawyers near me” or “family lawyers in Vancouver,” the results that show up at the top will be in your local area.
Proximity to the user location, reviews, and relevance to the specific query affect how legal practitioners rank on Google’s local pack. While the local search pack is relevant, there’s more to local SEO. You need to ensure:
- You optimize your law firm’s website for local queries.
- Your presence across local websites and directories is cohesive.
- You focus on legal websites that have a presence for your particular practice area and location.
The above points are all elements of local search that we will cover in this guide.
DIY Local SEO for law firms
To make the most of local SEO for lawyers, firms should start with their Google My Business listing.
1. Google My Business and Google’s Local Pack
Google My Business (GMB) is the main tool where local businesses, including law firms, can outline information about themselves to Google and get featured in Google Maps and Google Search. A GMB listing is a business page that includes business name, address, and phone number so Google can show that information to people searching for local lawyers. You can check the full guide to representing your business on Google.
Google uses the information from your GMB listing for Google Maps and its local pack, as well as local search results for local queries.
Google states that to improve your local ranking locally, you need to be the most relevant, prominent, and close in distance to the searcher. While there’s not much you can do about the distance from someone who just entered a search for a lawyer, you can definitely affect relevance and prominence.
How to be relevant in Google My Business
Your firm needs to be relevant to what the searcher is looking for.
If your legal practice specializes in personal injury cases, you need to make sure your GMB listing title and business description contains information like “personal injury lawyer.” Also, it’s best to include things like:
- The content of the reviews and your website.
- Consistent descriptions, address, and phone number across local directories.
Note that what others are saying about you (for example, through Google reviews) might influence your relevance to someone looking for a local attorney.
How to be prominent in Google My Business
Ensuring that your practice has as many positive reviews as possible. Make sure these reviews are relevant across the web across articles, directories, and even offline. Doing so can all push your law firm’s listing to the top of the search engine results.
If you already use Clio, you can check our integration with Google My Business, designed to make it easier to manage your listing and get as many reviews as possible from your clients.
2. Get reviews
Reviews will define whether people can find you online or not: More reviews equal more prominence and higher rankings. The usefulness of reviews goes even further—it’s often one of the main things people will look for when searching for a lawyer.
But how do you get more reviews to improve local SEO for lawyers?
There isn’t any “best” way to improve your local SEO rankings. Most legal practices will have to go through a process of trial and error. But generally, you need to provide a great client-centered experience to every client. You should ask for reviews from clients who are happy with your legal services. If you see your clients in your firm’s office, you can also print small cards asking for a Google review.
However, if it’s easy for clients to leave you Google reviews, you could potentially receive bad reviews if the client has a bad experience with your firm. Be sure to focus your attention on always providing the best possible client-centered experience.
Ultimately, responding to positive and negative reviews shows you care about your clients
3. Engagement: Social media and Google My Business posts
While social media won’t directly improve your search rankings, having a healthy online presence on relevant social media channels is an easy way to increase awareness. By increasing awareness about your law firm among potential clients you can positively impact your firm’s prominence on local rankings.
You can also add blog posts to your GMB listing to keep your community engaged. Sharing posts also increases the potential for your business to appear in searches. You can learn more about posts for local businesses by reading the full Google support article.
4. Optimize your website
Your law firm website’s content also influences local SEO for lawyers. A law firm website with information about its practice area and a specific page with local content will inform Google’s decision on how to rank the website.
Beyond that, not all potential clients will be clicking on the local search result. Some will scroll and click on non-local search results. If you want to have the most chances of outranking competitor law firms in your area, make sure you’re optimizing your website for queries that include your practice areas and locations.
You can add content with information about your specific practice area and location on your homepage. Or, if you focus on several areas of law and geographies, you can create specific landing pages for each practice area and geography. If you don’t know where to start, you can check our lawyer SEO guide with some SEO best practices on getting started.
5. Optimize local and legal directories
Although the majority of people search on Google— some people use apps and directories like Yellow Pages or Yelp. Sometimes, these sites will also come up on local search results.
Ensure you cover all major local and legal directories. This way, you’re making your website as visible as possible for potential clients. Make sure your law firm address, phone number, email address, and other relevant information stay consistent across listings.
Examples of business listings for local SEO firms include Yelp, Yellow Pages, Apple Maps, Bing Places for Business, etc. You can also find a lot of legal-specific directories—check our articles on the best directories for lawyers and the best lead generation services for lawyers.
6. Leverage Google’s Screened Results
Local SEO for lawyers is similar to optimizing local SEO for any other business, but screened results are one of the things setting it apart.
Screened results are a way for Google to provide direct reviews and results for attorneys by bypassing other services like Avvo, Justia. Screened results are a key tool in any local SEO campaign.
Even if you don’t pay for Google advertising, you can still appear in organic results when searchers click on “more lawyers” under the first screened results, opening a new search vertical for your legal practice.
If you want to get started with Google Screened, you can check Google’s information page and their requirements page. This process will take more time and effort than setting up a GMB profile or creating search ads.
Finding local SEO services for law firms
Local SEO for lawyers can be confusing and complex, but this guide will help you get started. You can also work with a wide range of agencies and SEO professionals to help you work out what’s the best approach for your firm. Read more on our guide to finding SEO partners and how to know if your SEO partner sucks.
FAQs on law firm local SEO
Do law firms need SEO?
Lawyers and law firms need SEO. Local SEO for lawyers is especially important. 46.5% of users rely on search engines as part of their journey finding an attorney or qualifying recommendations from other channels. If prospective clients cannot find lawyers on Google or if their client reviews and images are not up there, it might impact a practice’s capacity to acquire new clients.
How much does law firm SEO cost?
If you want external help with your SEO efforts, the cost will depend on your specific marketing goals and who you decide to partner with. The cost of local SEO for lawyers also depends on the number of practices you manage, how many Google My Business listings,
How does SEO help law firms?
SEO makes law firms easier to find on Google and other search engines, including Google maps.
Can you pay Google to rank higher?
No. You can bid for search ads that will appear on top of organic results, but there’s no way to pay Google to rank higher on organic search results.
Digital Marketing Resources for Lawyers
Check other resources from Clio on Digital Marketing, SEO, and web design.