How to Get Started with Local SEO: A Guide for Solo Lawyers and Small Firms

When someone is looking for legal representation, there’s no shortage of attorneys to choose from. Online competition for legal services is fierce, but solo lawyers and small firms can compete with larger, national firms at the local level with a good content strategy and local SEO.

This article assumes that you have a single physical location for your law firm. There are additional considerations for local SEO if you have more than one location or if you operate as a “service-area business,” meaning that you do not meet clients at your location.

Step 1: Set up your Google My Business listing

Your first step is to set up and verify your law firm’s Google My Business (GMB) listing if you don’t already have one. If you’re not sure, it’s easy to check. Google will prompt you to provide your business name, address, and phone number, which is used to determine if a listing already exists.

Should you find an existing link for your business, you’ll need to claim it. Make sure your business name, address and phone number are accurate and reflect the same information that appears on your website and business cards. This information should be consistent across your online marketing collateral. Complete as many details as possible in your GMB listing, including photos.

If you don’t already have a listing, follow the steps to get one set up and verified. Verification may be through a phone call or postcard.

Keep in mind that your address must be a physical law firm address that is staffed during your business hours. P.O. boxes and virtual law offices aren’t permitted.

You may be tempted to stuff your name with eye-catching keywords or location information like “XYZ Law Firm – Personal Injury Lawyer, Atlanta.” If that isn’t your real-world business name, DON’T DO IT. Not only is it gimmicky and unprofessional, it also violates GMB guidelines for how to represent your law firm on Google. Violating those guidelines can get your listing suspended.

Step 2: Choose your categories wisely

When setting up your GMB listing, choose your categories wisely. Your primary category holds more ranking power, so you’ll want to be as specific about this one as you can be. For example, if your firm handles auto accident cases, your primary category should be “Personal Injury Lawyer” rather than the much broader “Law Firm.” Add “Law Firm” as an additional category along with any other available categories that apply to your practice.

Step 3: Set up your Bing Places listing

While Bing only gets a tiny fraction of the search market share as compared to Google, it’s still a good idea to claim your law firm’s listing at Bing Places for Business. Use the same guidelines that you used to complete your Google My Business listing, ensuring that your firm name, address, phone number, and URL are the same.

Step 4: Develop a reviews strategy

Developing a reviews strategy is the next action step in your local SEO plan. Establish a system for requesting online reviews from satisfied legal clients. Then, be sure to respond to all reviews, whether they are positive or negative. Not only is it good customer service to thank your clients for their feedback, it’s also good marketing. Your response is published along with the review, so it’s another opportunity to show that your client’s matter to you.

You should be prepared for the occasional negative review. Brush up on the do’s and don’ts of responding to negative reviews so you’ll be ready to respond calmly and professionally.

Step 5: Check your website

Once your Google My Business and Bing Places listings are set up, it’s time to review your law firm’s website. Make sure your firm name, address, and phone number are on every page of your site. It’s common practice to include these in the website footer, but your phone number should also be in your header to make it easy for prospective clients to contact you.

Step 6: Claim your profile with online lawyer directories

After reviewing your website, begin setting up or claiming attorney profiles on other sites like justia.com, avvo.com, and nolo.com. Double check to make sure your important law practice details like your firm name, address, phone number, and URL are listed the same on these sites as they are on your GMB and Bing Places listings. Add as many details about your practice areas as these sites will allow along with your profile photo.

Be aware that these sites may try to sell you advertising, but it’s completely free to claim your profile.

Step 7: Submit your law firm to business data aggregators

You should also submit data about your law firm to business data aggregators like Infogroups, Localeze, and Factual. Data aggregators collect local business data and disseminate that information throughout the local search ecosystem, including local business directory websites like Yelp, Citysearch, and SuperPages.com.

Be sure to check any existing profiles for accuracy and consistency. The more accurate your business data throughout the local search ecosystem, the more Google trusts the data in your Google My Business listings, an important factor for your law firm’s local SEO.

Step 8: Build out your practice area pages

Build out your website with content that establishes your expertise in each of your practice areas. Go beyond the main areas like “Criminal Defense” and “Personal Injury” to develop a body of content to show that you really know what you’re talking about.

For example, if you’re a family law attorney, make sure you have practice area pages related to divorce, child custody, and child support. Not only will this information be useful to potential clients, it will send signals to search engines that you provide all of these legal services to your clients.

Step 9: Optimize your attorney profile pages

Whether you’re a solo lawyer or you have 10 attorneys at your firm, individual attorney profile pages are important. Include important resume details for each attorney, such as legal credentials, certifications, and awards. Detail specific practice areas relevant to each attorney on their profile page. If you have client testimonials, add those too.

Step 10: Get a professional SEO checkup

If you’d like to make sure your law firm is reaching its full local SEO potential, schedule a free, no-obligation SEO site check today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Lakeita Hannah

Lakeita has been working in digital marketing for several years now specializing in SEO, Local Search Optimization, Google My Business, and Social Media Marketing. She first fell in love with marketing in high school from browsing through magazines. Her passion is business, the arts, and being creative which she explores in her spare time.

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