Local SEO is the process of optimising your online presence to rank higher in local search and is a critical part of generating business online for law firms.
Home » Guides » Guide to Local SEO for Law Firms
Whether you are a small high street legal practice in Manchester or a large global law firm in London, you will still have potential clients that search for you locally. In this guide, we discuss some of the best local SEO ranking factors that your law firm can implement to boost your 2023 marketing efforts.
Firstly, it’s important to understand how Google calculates your law firm’s local ranking. Google breaks this down into three main factors: relevance, geographical distance, and prominence.
Relevance refers to how well a local business profile matches what someone is searching for. Add complete and detailed business information to help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches.
Distance considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search. If a user doesn't specify a location in their search we'll calculate distance based on what we do know about their location.
The prominence factor looks at how well-known your business is and that is what we're going to focus on within this guide. Based on the information that Google has available about your firm, prominence is found through various sources, such as: links, reviews and your position on search engine result pages and directories.
Google Business Profile is a simple free tool which allows you to register your business on Google and optimise location-based strategies. This can be used to increase your online visibility and reach larger audiences through adding your location and details about your service.
We encourage all law firms to create their Business Profile on Google, ensuring categories and services are accurate and encourage customer engagement through reviews.
When it comes to the ‘relevance’ ranking factor, and in order to do great local citation building for your office(s), you need to start with your physical contact details on your main online platform – your law firm website. Then you must set up a Google Business Profile (local) page (formerly Google my Business) – this is how you get a Google Maps listing.
Setting up and optimising your Google Business Profile is an important step in any local SEO campaign as it can help your law firm to appear in the Google ‘3-Pack’ for relevant search queries.
The Google 3-Pack (also known as the Local 3-Pack) is used by Google to display the top three local search results for a particular query.
Being featured in the Google 3-Pack not only boosts your online visibility, but allows potential customers to quickly find your website, directions, phone number, and other details.
In fact, listings in the Google 3-Pack have a 500% higher conversion rate compared to organic and paid conversions.
It’s worth noting that ads can also show in the Google 3-Pack, leaving only two organic local results. With competitiveness at its peak for local ranking, it’s essential for law firms to ensure they have a local SEO strategy in place to help get their local listing where they need it to be.
To increase your chance of getting featured in the Google 3-Pack, verify your Google Business Profile and start submitting these details to online local directories. If you have more than one physical location, you need to do this for each one. Consistency is key and there are many considerations to bear in mind when creating such listings, such as what to name your business (authenticity being key) and what keywords and categories for which to list your business.
MLT Tip: Adding as many relevant photos within Google Business Profile (such as office shots and team pictures) will only serve to improve your rankings. Encourage your clients to leave positive reviews on your GMB listing, as this can enhance your reputation as a reliable local business and law firm in the eyes of potential clients.
For more details on how to set up your Google Business Profile for your law firm, check out our Guide to Google Business Profile for Lawyers and our checklist.
Google is now getting more personalised with its search results. This means when you type in a query, it uses your information to give you results that are relevant to you (this is when the ‘geographical distance’ ranking factor comes into play).
If you sit at a computer in Glasgow and search for ‘employment lawyer’, your results will include employment law firms near you, and very few, if any, will be outside of your current location. It will even include Google maps listings in the results, for your convenience.
But it’s not just Google who are locally tailoring search results. More and more people are creating local searches by including their town or city in their search – an example would be ‘employment lawyer in Manchester’. Therefore, it pays to identify relevant keywords for your law firm along with specific practice areas and local keywords.
Call tracking is where a unique number is set up for each visitor to your site to track where these calls are coming from. It’s a great tool to use on your online platforms if you want to know exactly what business you are attracting online.
One of the slight complications with Local SEO and call tracking for businesses is that Google likes local numbers and a consistent NAP, which means it is best not to use call tracking phone numbers for your citations, and this includes within your Google Business Profile.
In our experience, however, the value of call tracking from all other sources – including your website, PPC campaign, and other forms of online marketing – outweighs this point.
To improve your ‘prominence’ ranking factor, and to achieve the best local SEO results, it’s important to build relevant and powerful citations. Google (and other search engines such as Bing) look for cues that your law firm is real and reputable. These citations show Google that your law firm does exist, at your address(es).
Local citations consist of the fundamental information about your business – known as your NAP. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number, and is a crucial factor for law firms to consider when implementing their local SEO strategy.
This information helps potential clients find and contact your law firm, and it also helps Google understand your business and location. Your office location is your online local identity, and the best way to achieve success through citations is by checking every mention of your law firm’s information is correct and unchanging.
This is because Google notices more than all your listings pointing back to a central website – Google also looks for listings that point back to a central physical location.
Google is very specific about these details being consistent which is why your law firm name must be the name used across all listings, and each address must be exactly the same, down to the small details. For example, the difference between ‘Unit 1a, Sheriff Court Road’ and ‘1a Sheriff Court Road’ could affect local rankings.
Your Google Business Profile forms the essence of the ‘knowledge graph’ which appears when people Google your firm. You should ensure all information entered is the same as the details on your website.
Once you are happy with your Google local listing, the next stage is to acquire or perfect other local listings you have in local directories. This will help to increase your visibility in local search results and also establish your business as a credible and reputable legal service provider in your area.
‘Local’ citations in this context doesn’t necessarily mean citations on sites from your town or city. It can also mean citations from sites within your country. UK-wide citations can be just as important, if not more important, than citations from sites for your town.
Obtaining Google reviews from clients gives Google a strong indicator that your firm is real and reputable.
In recent years, Google’s algorithm updates have taken a major shift towards displaying search results based on user experience and rewarding sites that have a genuinely good reputation.
Our recommended approach is asking clients to leave a Google review as soon as positive feedback is received. You should encourage clients to leave a review by providing a direct link, making the process as simple as possible.
Not only will positive reviews increase the likelihood that potential clients will find you, but also choose your firm over a competitor.
As with all aspects of SEO for your law firm, your best course of action with local SEO is to be authentic and create genuinely useful local citations.
This, combined with a consistent NAP; good quality, regularly updated relevant content; best on-page SEO practices, and great Google reviews, will help you to dominate the online presence relevant to your service offering.
It will give you a competitive advantage and help you to generate the online enquiries your law firm needs to thrive online.
We hope you enjoyed reading our ‘local SEO guide for lawyers’. In today’s competitive digital landscape, it is crucial for law firms to stand out among other local law firms and local businesses.
To ensure that your law firm gains visibility and attracts potential clients in your area, it is essential to implement effective local SEO strategies that are tailored to local businesses.
At MLT, it’s our job to know all about SEO strategies and keep up to date with Google’s ever-evolving algorithms. Our online business generation experts can implement these local SEO tips for your law firm.
Our online business generation experts can implement these local SEO tips for your law firm. Get in touch with us on 0333 344 2722 and let us do all the effective local SEO work for you.