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Taking care of your firm’s Google Business Profile (earlier called Google My Business) is one of the most crucial aspects of SEO for law firms . Simply because most of your prospective clients will perform a Google search to check your reviews, phone number, address, photos, business description, and other info.
- Over 90% of consumers use online searches to find local businesses,
- And 42 percent of local searches involve clicks on the Google Map Pack.
So how to get started with Google My Business for lawyers? And how can you optimize your GMB listing? Let’s find out.
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What is Google Business Profile (GBP)?
A Google Business Profile (GBP) lets you manage your presence on Google’s properties such as Google Maps and organic search. Your prospective customers can check your business information such as the address & phone number, and check reviews by past customers on the profile.
Three important local search factors to improve your business rankings
While there are no tactics that guarantee top search engine rankings , you can direct your efforts towards proven factors that drive the best chance of success. Google claims that it relies on three important factors for local rankings.
Let’s look at each of these one by one:
Google picks the best match for local search queries against its Google My Business listings. It is, therefore, recommended that you enter complete and updated information about your business, which includes your address, phone numbers, business hours, and business category.
We’ll discuss how to create a profile that ensures your business appears in relevant local searches, including how to set the correct primary category for your law firm, at a later part of this post.
Searches like “divorce lawyer near me” are signals that tell Google’s algorithm to look for the nearest business for that query. If the search does not specify a location, Google will use the user’s last known location. This is why adding your business address can be a defining factor that sways a potential client towards your business instead of a competitor.
Prominence refers to a business’s popularity – online and offline. A prominent business should have a website, social media pages, and listings in directories like Google My Business.
In addition to having a strong online presence, a business should have positive customer reviews. Google reviews show up next to your business name in a Google Business Profile, so focusing on getting more positive reviews for your firm should boost your prominence.
SEO best practices also contribute to being more prominent online, so Google recommends keeping your website optimized for local search.
How to optimize a business listing for your law firm on Google Maps
Getting discovered in Google Maps is not an easy feat. However, there are best practices you can follow to ensure that your law firm’s business listing shows up in the local-3 pack, which refers to the first three businesses that appear on a map when a user Googles a local business.
Step 1: Fill in relevant details about your law firm (including your primary business category)
The primary business category of a business listing is key to its visibility. This category describes your business and the products or services it offers. It should be accurate and specific so you’ll appear in relevant searches for the right potential clients.
Our SEO Director Kevin Cook believes that setting the right primary business category for law firms is critical to your visibility . “The primary business category is by far the easiest win to make in terms of optimizing a GMB profile”, he quips.
Step 2: Upload high-quality photos of your office, outside of your building, and the like
Another factor that can help with your local SEO tactic is to use high-quality photos of your office when creating your business listing. Kevin recommends, “A hack for photos is to add your logo and an overlay to a stock photo, and maybe some text over it so it can be viewed as unique.”
On their support page , Google confirms that businesses that upload photos are more likely to get clicks to their website than businesses that don’t post photos at all. In a nutshell, Google recommends adding the following:
- Cover photo
- Business photos
Note that photos should have a dimension of 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall and in a JPG or PNG format.
Here’s an example of photos uploaded for Boston-based criminal lawyer, Matthew W. Peterson:
The Photos section can also feature Google Streetview, which gives viewers a 360-degree perspective of your location.
Step 3: Add listings for all of your law firm’s multiple locations
If your law firm serves multiple locations, then add listings for each of them. Kevin emphasizes implementing this strategy with the newfound importance of proximity.
“Proximity is increasingly important in maps, so getting a location near your target audience will pay off.”
As an added best practice, Kevin recommends getting separate or dedicated phone numbers for each location, which you can get from websites like numberbarn.com. This ensures you have unique content for each of your location’s websites.
Look at the huge number of GMB listings for different locations for Morgan & Morgan:
Step 4: Regularly update your business hours (and other business information)
Updating your business hours is a great way to keep your potential clients informed and ensure a smooth customer experience. In addition to this, Google Maps indicates when your business hours were last updated.
To change your business hours, follow these steps:
- Open your Google Business Profile.
- Go to “Edit profile” and select “Business information”.
- Click on the “Hours” tab.
- Click on the pencil icon next to the tab.
- Choose “Open with main hours”.
- Tick the boxes for the days that your business is open.
- Use the drop-down fields to set your hours.
- Click Save .
Step 5: Verify your business
Google requires that you verify your business before you can make changes on your information. This essential step also ensures that only you can make changes to your law firm’s Google Business Profile. Additionally, it builds customer trust as verified businesses are more likely to get visits and calls than unverified accounts.
You can verify your business via phone, email, video recording, live video call, and postcard. You’ll find the steps for each method on Google’s support page .
Here are the general steps to verify your business:
- Go to your Google Business profile.
- Click on Get Verified and select your preferred method of verification.
- Follow the steps to complete the verification process.
(Optional) Step 6: Add a Q&A section for your law firm’s Google business profile
Your Google Business Profile has a Q&A section where users can post questions about your business and you can provide answers. This section appears to anyone who views your business profile. Users can also “upvote” answers they feel were helpful with their queries.
Here’s an example of New York-based Kramer Dillof Livingston & Moore’s Q&A section:
While the Q&A section is not a direct ranking factor, it can contribute indirectly in the form of positive reviews, website clicks, and conversions.
3 tips for law firms to get great results with GBP
Once you’ve set up your Google Business Profile, here are quick tips on how to make the most of it.
1. Don’t choose your primary category as “law firm” or “attorney”
Setting your law firm’s primary category as “law firm” or “attorney” is not recommended. Kevin, our in-house SEO expert, believes that this is one of the most common mistakes that a law firm makes when creating a Google Business Profile.
When it comes to categories, here’s what Google wrote on their support page:
“Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business.”
Taking from this cue, your primary category should be “ X lawyer” with X being your niche or specialization. This could be anything from “divorce lawyer,” “personal injury attorney,” “family attorney” and so on.
These law firms below clearly state their business niche by using the right primary category.
2. Get more Google reviews
Getting reviews for your law firm should be one of your top priorities to achieve success with local SEO. Kevin believes this is the second most common mistake a law firm makes when marketing its business online.
Positive reviews help earn the trust of prospects as well as boost your ranking in Search.
A Bright Local Consumer Survey in 2021 reveals that 77 percent of consumers read reviews when looking at businesses online. In the same survey, 85 percent of consumers said that the overall average star rating of a business was “important” or “very important.”
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to getting positive reviews. Positive reviews are the results of superb customer experience. As such, your focus should be in offering the best service to your clients. Note that soliciting reviews in exchange for rewards is prohibited by Google as stated in their guidelines .
3. Leverage Google posts
Google Posts are a new feature within a Google Business Profile to share messages with your customers. They appear directly on the local panel and Maps and usually consist of text, images, and videos. You can promote your legal services or share valuable updates for your clients or prospects using them.
Here’s an informative blog kind of Google Post by a divorce law firm, The Larson Law Office:
Occasionally using these posts could help you stay at the top of the minds of customers and establish your thought leadership. You can also use this space to announce your special promotions or discounts.
Whether your want to get more leads , increase your revenue, or simply improve your online reputation, you need an optimized Google Business Profile. It’s a crucial aspect of your local SEO , but most law firms miss out on a thing or two on their profiles.
Hope the steps in this article help your firm build and optimize your GMB listing. If you’re short of time, then contact us to manage your law firm’s digital marketing needs .
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