Local SEO for Lawyers: Rank 1st in Maps Pack

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Cesar Cobo

I’m a data driven marketer who enjoys talking shop, Salsa dancing and 90’s sitcoms. Whenever I'm not maniacally pouring over an audit, I’m probably contemplating an intricate strategy to dominate Google while tenting my fingers.

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The only thing worse than getting no leads is having tire-kicking “prospects” ringing your phone off the hook.

No respectable lawyer (aka you) has time for low-quality leads. Yet, it’s the reality for many law firms that rely on outdated methods, like bus, bench, and radio ads.

Or poorly managed digital advertising efforts like pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns that drives a ton of the wrong traffic.

Since there’s no control over who’s seeing or hearing your advertisements, you’re left weeding through hundreds of unqualified callers.

Not the way an attorney should spend their days. The solution: highly-targeted local SEO for lawyers.

local seo maps pack ranking for attorneys

By dominating local search with the right keywords, you can pre-qualify leads and get more cases on your desk.

Here’s how to use local SEO to get motivated callers ringing your phone.

 

Local SEO vs. PPC vs. SEO: What’s the difference?

Local SEO, PPC, and traditional SEO have one thing in common: they help site owners get in front of internet searchers.

But where they differ is where they appear and how they work.

Let’s break this down.

 

What is local SEO?

Local SEO consists of several tactics used to appear in the local search results on Google and other search engines. When you type in a keyword with a city, state, or region (e.g., DUI attorney Austin), local businesses appear as:

  • Service ads
  • PPC ads
  • Business listings
  • Organic search results

personal injury attorney nyc - Google Search

Local SEO results appear in the business listings section, also known as the local 3-pack.

Local pack for law firms in google serps

Done right, your law firm can appear in the top three. But to achieve this, you must appeal to Google’s algorithm, which looks at three factors including:

  1. Relevance: How well your law firm’s NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) and website copy match search intent (what searchers are looking for)
  2. Proximity: How close your law firm is to the searcher (based on the city in the keyword, IP address, or mobile device’s location)
  3. Prominence: How well-known and established your law firm is — this is where backlinks come in.

By satisfying these factors, you can rank on the first page of Google and drive motivated leads to your law firm. You do this by:

  • Claiming your Google My Business (and business listings on other search engines and review sites like Avvo)
  • Optimizing your website service pages using local search terms
  • Improving your reviews and ratings

 

What is PPC?

Using PPC for lawyers can potentially generate more qualified leads. You bid on keywords related to your legal services and location, so the ads appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).

PPC for law firms example

When someone clicks on your ad, you pay the PPC rate. The cost per click (CPC) varies, depending on the keyword’s competition level — the higher the comp, the more you pay (sometimes into the hundreds of dollars).

But it’s worth it because it targets searchers looking for your legal service specifically. But only if you build a successful campaign.

If you don’t know what keywords to target, you’ll pay for non-converting clicks. And if you don’t optimize your landing pages with the right keywords, you’ll waste money on irrelevant leads.

You need ads that speak to searchers’ needs or risk losing leads to competing law firms.

 

What is SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in organic search results that appear beneath all the paid and local 3-pack areas.

Unlike PPC, you don’t pay for your listing. But it’ll take longer to achieve results. And once you reach the top, you can lose your position quickly if you don’t keep up with the latest ranking factors.

To achieve and maintain high rankings, you must focus on both on-page and off-page optimization tactics, including:

  • Publishing quality content that’s valuable, actionable, and relevant to your audience
  • Building backlinks by developing authoritative content other sites link to or guest posting on high-authority (but relevant) sites
  • Including metadata, such as title tags and descriptions, on each page of your website
  • Optimizing your site for speed and usability
  • Including your NAP details on your site to boost credibility

Local SEO, PPC, and SEO are all important pieces of your digital marketing strategy, but they shouldn’t be used in isolation. Instead, they should work together to enhance lead generation for lawyers.

 

Why is Local Search so important for lawyers?

The answer is simple: Google is how people find you online.

When a person needs legal guidance, they head to Google for information. And once they’re ready, they conduct a local search to find an attorney. These are highly motivated individuals — the ones you want calling your law firm.

But if this doesn’t convince you of the power of local SEO, then maybe you’ll find the following benefits intriguing:

  • Generating more leads: Ranking in the local 3-pack and organic search results gets your law firm in front of searchers at the exact moment they’re looking for an attorney. And, since local SEO is more targeted than other marketing methods, you’ll get more qualified leads.
  • Saving money: Relying on old-school marketing methods, like billboards and bus ads, can be expensive. But with local SEO, you can get in front of motivated leads without breaking the bank.
    Improving brand awareness: Getting your law firm to appear in the local 3-pack helps improve awareness and credibility. This is especially true when you have high ratings and reviews from raving clients.
  • Standing out from competitors: Appearing in the local 3-pack positions your law firm for more clicks from quality leads. Most begin (and sometimes end) their search here before clicking to see “more businesses.”

To get these benefits, you need a solid local SEO strategy. We’ll dive into that next.

 

1. Claim or create your listing on Google Business Profile

To claim your GMB listing, go to Google Maps and type in your law firm’s name. Click on the correct one from the list, and select “Claim this business,” “Manage now,” and then choose your preferred verification option.

google business profile for attorneys

Don’t see your business appear? Click “I own or manage another business.”

If you know your law firm isn’t listed, go to Google Maps and click “Add your business” in the menu on the left side.

Add business in gbp

As you’re claiming or creating your business listing, keep the following in mind:

  • Select a primary category that best represents your firm (e.g., DUI attorney) instead of choosing “law firm.”
  • Include images of yourself, your partners, and office (exterior and interior) to stand out — choose PNG or JPG formats and keep the image size between 10 KB and 5 MB (ideally 720 x 720).
  • Fill out the listing completely, including the address, phone number, hours of operation, services, and description.

 

2. Capture reviews from happy clients

Reviews and high ratings do two things: increase your odds of appearing in the local 3-pack and attract prospective clients.

But reviews and ratings won’t grow by themselves. Like a garden, it requires you to nurture and prune your GMB reviews.

This means reaching out to clients to ask for their testimonials. You can use an email template you send a day or two after closing a case requesting a testimonial. If you’re worried about getting negative reviews, then use Typeform or Google Forms to ask for feedback first.

If it’s positive, respond with a link to leave a review and rating on your GMB listing.

When negative reviews pop up, don’t ignore them. Reply to each one to show professionalism and address the issue. This will show prospects you care and may lead to a revised rating or deletion of the negative review (if the problem’s resolved).

 

3. Get featured online and offline

Being featured on popular sites and directories boosts your firm’s recognition, attracts backlinks, and improves brand awareness. So where do you begin?

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

Build local citations

Claiming or creating your business listings in Yelp, Justia, Avvo, and other directories increases your visibility on those sites, as well as search engines.

This is critical for generic searches like “family law attorney,” which you’ll find is dominated by directories. The top results include Justia, lawyers.com, and FindLaw, among others:

Directories in SERPs for law firms

Since Google knows where you are (unless you’re searching Incognito), each directory will pull law firms from the user’s locale.

Make sure to keep your citations clean by updating them whenever there are changes in your address, phone number, and other details, so they match your site and other citations. Consistency tells Google and directories your information is accurate and trustworthy to display.

 

Online press mentions

Writing a guest blog post for Forbes or a popular legal blog is an excellent way to build your visibility and traffic to your site. You’ll post a link to your legal website, which will improve SEO.

Do this enough and you’ll see your backlink profile grow and boost your rank in the SERPs, including the local 3-pack section.

The alternative is being featured in an article as a source. Unless you have a big story to share, being the feature of the story is unlikely. So an alternative is to use platforms like Qwoted, Terkel, and HARO to find relevant stories journalists need expert quotes for.

In return, the journalist attributes the quote to your law firm and links to the site.

 

Local press features

Have insights to share about pending legislation in your legal niche? Then reach out to the press to share your take and get featured in a video or article with your quotes.

Local press includes news stations and newspapers, as well as local blogs.

 

4. Traditional SEO signals

Google, Bing, and Yahoo! have standards for ranking local listings in the SERPs.

Here’s a “get started” to-do list for quick wins:

  • Improve your website quality by hastening load speeds, ensuring the site structure is clean and organized for search engine bots and users, and posting only relevant content. Use tools like Screaming Frog to find technical SEO issues with your site.
  • Continue growing your backlink profile by sending quotes on HARO, writing guest posts for major blogs, and maintaining business citations across directories.
  • Optimize your on-page SEO by including high-converting keywords in your page titles, H2s, blog content, and metadata (meta titles, meta descriptions, and meta tags).
  • Invest in content marketing by writing or hiring writers to consistently publish relevant, optimized, and high-value posts to your blog.

Covering these areas will signal to search engines that your site is helpful to searchers, so it ranks higher.

 

Ongoing monitoring and experimentation are non-negotiable

After starting your local SEO strategy, remember to monitor your results. Test different tactics, like exploring new keywords to reach new or bigger audiences. Or testing different titles to see what gets more clicks.

Experimentation is necessary to continue improving your website’s traffic and conversions.

So watch for traffic declines to pinpoint issues in your technical or on-page SEO. Google Analytics is a popular tool for tracking site traffic and identifying high-traffic keywords, frequented pages, and user behaviors that contribute to a site’s success.

It seems like a lot because it is. Without consistency, you risk losing your ranking and quality traffic.

If you’re worried you won’t have the time to learn and do these things — you’re not alone. Lawyers come to us because we remove the guesswork and ensure consistent growth for their law firms.

Interested in achieving the same? Then schedule a call with one of our local SEO experts today.

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