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A Beginner’s Guide to Local Search Optimization for Medical and Legal Professionals

This post was written by our staff SEO writer, Nancy Rapp, who has a law degree and works as a professor of legal studies. Her unique background allows her to view the world of law firm SEO from the eyes of both an attorney and a web consultant.

find a local professional

Though many medical doctors and lawyers have created websites for their practices, not many of these sites adhere to enough of the major search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines. A critical component of healthcare and legal SEO techniques is attention to local search optimization. This post explains how patients and clients rely on local search and what practices need to do to stay competitive.

What is a Local Search?

Doctors and lawyers operate in what are known as “brick and mortar” businesses. The name comes from the fact that clients and patients have to physically enter these establishments in order to receive professional services. The website is merely for marketing, informational and contact purposes. Thus, SEO for doctors and lawyers needs to be structured around the businesses’ location.

Fortunately for professionals, Google’s algorithm for FIND <THINGS> NEAR ME changed the face of internet searches. As a result of this location-based search option, many searches are phrased as “need doctor near me” or “top lawyer in my city.” Accordingly, more legal and medical professionals can employ SEO practices in order to capture these potential clients and patients.

SEO techniques can be put into place to help a medical practice or a law firm rank when these searches are conducted. Rank is important as patients and clients are more likely to call for an appointment with the business that appears on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs); especially the local 3-pack near the top of the Google search results. In fact, nearly 80% of internet users never even consider the second page of the SERPs.

Local 3 pack example

The Critical First Step of Local Search Optimization

No matter how much time or money one devotes to his or her law firm’s or medical practice’s SEO, the return on investment will be limited unless the professional creates a Google My Business (GMB) listing. Essentially, the listing is a free tool that allows a business to be part of Google’s search results in Google Maps and the local 3-pack, as well as the basic SERP.

The GMB listing also feeds data to the “Knowledge Box,” which appears on the right side of the SERP and contains critical business information such as a link to the business’ website, contact information and hours of operation. Depending on the needs of the business, the GMB box can also contain items such as ratings, map directions, click to call buttons, message options, popular business times, etc. A newer feature from 2017 also allows businesses to create posts for promotions, features, services, etc.

The GMB box not only helps when searchers apply the “near me” option of Google, it also provides contact information when a search is conducted for a doctor or lawyer by name. By making all of the relevant information available with a quick search, the searcher is more likely to schedule an appointment with the easy-to-find professional.

The creation of a GMB listing is simple and only requires a Google account. The creation of listings for law firms and medical practices, however, can be a bit trickier than other businesses. Professional organizations commonly have several practitioners who operate out of various locations. Though the Google My Places tool may help, an SEO expert is the best person to create the GMB profile to make sure all of the information is properly listed. As over 30% of potential patients and clients will look elsewhere if a listing is incorrect, it is important to avoid errors.

Maintaining your Local SEO Presence

There are dozens of steps to best handle local SEO for law firms and healthcare practices. The following, however, are arguably three of the most important SEO techniques that need to be addressed.

1. Draft relevant evergreen content.

Prospective patients and clients often begin their local search by researching their health problem or legal circumstances. For example, “divorce process in Georgia” or “availability of medical marijuana in South Carolina.” Similarly, searchers may browse for “doctor who treats migraines near me” or “top immigration attorney near me.” Accordingly, content should be written to cover common questions and topics while also using location-based keywords.

2. Manage your local citations.

With local searches, many potential clients and patients will rely on location-based directories. Yelp and Angie’s List, for example, provide listings and reviews for local businesses. Many doctors and lawyers focus on national directories such as Avvo, FindLaw, Healthgrades and RateMDs, but all directories need to be checked to ensure that your name, address and phone number are correct.

3. Create a social media presence.

Social media is growing in its influence for professional organizations. With 1.4 billion logins a day with Facebook alone, it is foolish to ignore these digital marketing resources. At a minimum, law firms and medical practices should create business listings within social media sources such as Facebook, as these listings appear is search engines. Furthermore, professionals can tie their business to local events and the community in order to make themselves the appealing local choice. (For a more detailed overview of how social media can be used to promote a local business, click here for some ideas.)

The above just skims the surface of the complex process involved for maintaining the local SEO for a professional business. In order to devote the time and attention to SEO practices that will garner the most potential new clients and patients, it is best to hire a web consulting firm with trained SEO experts.

Paramaya Web Consulting has been in business since 2001 and has provided SEO and web consulting services to dozens of clients. Schedule a free website review with the firm that values direct communication with its clients.

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5 Content Marketing Tactics for Attorneys

This post was written by our staff SEO writer, Nancy Rapp, who has a law degree and works as a professor of legal studies. Her unique background allows her to view the world of law firm SEO from the eyes of both an attorney and a web consultant.

Content Marketing for Lawyers

In 2016, the Huffington Post published an article titled: “Why Legal Firms are Racing to Adopt Content Marketing.” The article was updated this past December as the trend continues to gain momentum. Though the author provided a few marketing tips, further “how-to” information is needed for lawyers to stay competitive while maintaining their law firm’s website.

Content marketing for lawyers is part of a digital marketing campaign. Though many attorneys believe website content is written solely for search queries and to offer contact information, content marketing is more nuanced than just search engine optimization (SEO) practices. Writing for purely SEO purposes won’t necessarily make your writing appealing or easy to understand, for example. This blog post identifies 5 content marketing tactics that every attorney should adhere to when writing for his or her site.

1. Understand the difference between evergreen content and blog posts.

Every law firm needs both evergreen and blog content on their website. Many lawyers are unaware of the distinctions between the two categories, and their practice’s website suffers from impractical structuring and lack of necessary content.

Evergreen content focuses on your practice area and clarifies the laws and processes for your potential clients. For example, a wills and estates attorney would have the page “Why you need a will.” A personal injury lawyer would discuss traffic accidents and slip and fall cases. The list goes on. The point of these pages is to explain to your site visitors why they need an attorney at all and why you are the one they should hire..

Blog posts are the items you share on social media. These are trendy topics that will grab your site visitors’ attention. Is there a new marijuana law? Did you win a case regarding the custody of pets in a divorce? Did you participate in a local law school event?

Lawyers often avoid blog posts as they may feel the content seems unprofessional or unnecessary. Evergreen content is certainly more important, but blog posts are also indexed by Google. These posts will show up in search results, and help gain brand recognition for your firm.

2. Maintain an editorial content calendar.

Content marketing is a digital marketing practice, and ad campaigns get stale. Content needs to be updated frequently to follow keyword research trends as well as to keep up with your competitors. For lawyers, keywords need to be researched to ensure you stay up to date with new laws, court decisions and societal trends.

In order to stay fresh, your law firm needs an editorial content calendar. Set goals for how often you will publish—though monthly is a minimum. Additionally, by creating a calendar, you can view which topics you’ve covered as well as plan ahead for the coming months.

3. Create personas of your current and ideal clients.

Though keyword research is a critical source of inspiration for law firm marketing, you probably already know what areas you need to write about. The trick is to market to your current and prospective clients.

Think of your typical client. What are some questions that are raised at every consultation? What legal issues are typically connected? Are certain procedures more complicated than others? Does your region have unique characteristics that make it a hotbed for legal matters? Attorneys near beaches or lakes may want to discuss boating laws, for example. All of these questions could provide months of content marketing topics that need discussion on your website.

Your ideal client is just as important as your typical client. Most attorneys use content marketing to expand their practice, so be sure to target the issues your potential clients may have. In order to break into a new practice area, sound keyword research and competitive analyses are necessary. As your clients take priority, hiring a digital marketing firm is likely the more efficient approach to attracting new clients.

4. Make your content relatable.

Many clients are going through a traumatic event if they are browsing for an attorney. Death, divorce, accidents and job loss are all reasons to hire an attorney. As such, content to make you sound approachable is often more important than sounding like a know-it-all. Keep evergreen content in a conversational tone that will keep you reader engaged. How-to’s and lists also keep content readable and less intimidating.

Your bio page, testimonials and blog posts can demonstrate your legal prowess. Here, you can and should brag about your awards, successes and education. Nevertheless, a line or two about your family and interests are still necessary to appeal to nervous, potential clients.

5. Have a non-lawyer preview your content.

In truth, lawyers don’t write for non-lawyers. We learn a writing style in law school that becomes our new norm. We also take our legal knowledge for granted. We can spout off a law quickly but that doesn’t mean our audience understood what we just said.

Hiring a professional content writer is the easiest solution to this issue. An experienced writer can research any topic and present the information from a marketing standpoint. If you choose to compose the content yourself, ask your spouse or anyone outside of the legal field to be sure that your explanation is detailed and easy to understand.

Paramaya Web Consulting has managed legal websites for years and has an attorney on staff to craft legal content that is informative and SEO friendly. Contact us today for a free consultation as to how we can help expand your legal practice with digital marketing techniques.

Let Keyword Research Lead You to a Pot of Gold

keyword research pot of gold

Though you may be hoping for the luck of the Irish to grace your business this St. Patrick’s Day, search engine optimization (SEO) practices are more likely to find you a pot of gold. With the right SEO techniques in place, you can increase your search presence and make your site more appealing to visitors.

Keyword research is arguably the most important aspect of digital marketing and SEO practices. If your business’s website lacks the terms your potential customers are looking for, they may never find your site in a Google Search. This blog post identifies some of the less common approaches to keyword research to help you optimize your site.

1. Pay attention to your website’s search box.

Whether you have an ecommerce business or a legal or medical practice, your website needs a search box. If visitors come to your site and can’t find what they are looking for, they are sure to leave.

Though a search box helps potential customers with site navigation, you will also benefit from its existence. By adjusting your settings, your Google Analytics account can monitor and list what visitors are typing into the box. Their searches tell you which keywords need to be optimized on your site. You can even adjust Google Analytics’ presentation of its data to help identify the searches that occur on the various landing pages of your site.

2. Structure your content around keyword combinations.

Basic SEO guidelines remind you to position your keywords in headings, alt tags, meta-descriptions, etc. More in-depth keywords optimization, however, requires a bit more strategic planning.

SEO guru, Bright Local, suggests targeting 2-3 keywords per page of content. Detailed keyword research provides insight to the best combinations, but you can also trust your business acumen to identify some of the appropriate pairings. For example, a legal website would be wise to place child custody and child support terms on the same page. An online retailer may pair dresses and shoes. If the keyword combinations make sense to your visitors, their sessions will be longer and are likely to be more productive.

3. Let a simple Google search identify the best keywords for your site.

Many entertainment sites have poked fun at Google’s suggested search. For example, typing in “how to” yields “how to make slime” as a top suggestion. Despite the humorous errors that may appear, Google’s suggestions offer some excellent keywords to target.

A medical SEO scenario works well as an example. Typing in “dental implants” yielded suggestions of “dental implants in one day” and “dental implants and mri.” A dental practice may not have targeted those terms on its site, but those phrases are what potential patients are searching for.

Google also helps you identify long-tail keywords to include. The phrase “dental implants” yielded potential questions such as “How much do dental implants cost without insurance?”

Accordingly, a simple internet search for topics related to your business could provide a host of content suggestions directly connected to the interests of your potential customers.

4. Use your competitors as inspiration.

Plagiarism is obviously a “no no” for any business. Not only is it a crime, but it makes your business look less professional and trustworthy. Nevertheless, keeping a close eye on your competitors’ content is strongly encouraged to help you stay in the game.

There are a host of sites on the internet to help you check the keyword ranking for your competitors. Though SEMrush’s Position Tracker is ideal for comparisons, free keyword rank tools can still be used to gain insight. See which terms are performing better on their site versus yours and make the appropriate adjustments. Similarly, check what keywords your competitors utilize that you might be missing.

5. Capitalize on seasons and trends.

This tip is less research-based than some of the others, but seasons and trends are an important aspect of keyword planning. Though evergreen content is typically not updated enough to be trendy, never underestimate the SEO potential of blog posts. Blog posts are indexed, and relevant posts can help your website’s rankings.

Many businesses have a “season” where they have an increase in clients due to no effort of their own. DUI attorneys interview more clients following the holidays, doctors see dozens more patients once the flu hits, etc. Structuring content around these events improves the relevance of your site. Plan and publish this content in advance and use keyword research techniques to find the search terms that will make your site stand out.

Events in the news are also keyword opportunities. An episode of the popular television show “This is Us,” for example, led to countless searches regarding the safety of Crock-Pots. If a news item falls in line with the nature of your business, it is prudent to quickly craft a blog post that ties in to the trend.

Seasonal and trendy keyword planning, however, takes time away from other important tasks. Additionally, if your content isn’t carefully crafted, it will fall behind similar content created by your competitors. Unless an SEO-trained leprechaun appears to help you manage your digital marketing, you may not be able to accomplish your goals while running your business.

The best approach to digital marketing is to hire a web consulting firm. The right agency is trained in competitive SEO practices and is ready implement the best keyword tactics for your site.

Paramaya Web Consulting has been in business since 2001 and has maintained the websites for dozens of businesses. Call now or use our contact form for a free evaluation for how your website can be improved.