Google My Business for Law Firm: Wow Your Customers & Impress Google

google-my-business-law-firmHow do you get your Google My Business listing in perfect shape so that your law firm dominates the Google results pages?

Google My Business matters. It matters to SEO. It matters if you target local clients. And it matters to your overall marketing strategy.

Not bad for a free marketing tool!

That’s why you’ll find it included as one of the key factors in our law firm SEO guide 19 Actionable SEO Techniques To Dominate Google.

In this guide to Google My Business for Lawyers, you’ll discover what you need to do to set your account up so that it generates more local leads for your firm.



How to “own the panel” for local search

Just before we get into the nuts and bolts, anyone typing a search in for “criminal defence lawyer Alberta” will see something like this:

OCD-Alberta-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Google goes into “local search” mode and displays a map with pinned locations and featured businesses.

It wants searchers to be able to easily find and contact businesses near them. This applies to whether someone is searching for a pizza restaurant or law firm.

Rather than just displaying the titles and descriptions from websites, like on standard search engine results pages (SERPs), Google My Business listings are displayed in a featured panel.

These are not paid listings (though sometimes ads appear). They appear because the law firms have optimized their Google My Business listings and received good reviews from customers.

If you click on the link to Michael Oykhman Criminal Defence Lawyers, you will see a page like this:

OCD-Alberta-2-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

The full “panel” for this law firm looks like this:

OCD-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

As you can see, it carries a lot of information:

  • Photos from inside and outside the practice
  • Map with pins for location
  • The firm’s name
  • A link to the website
  • Directions to the office(s)
  • Google reviews star rating
  • The number of Google reviews received
  • A brief description of the practice and location
  • Office address
  • Opening hours
  • Phone number
  • Province
  • Appointment URL
  • Questions and answers
  • Reviews from the web
  • Opportunity to save details to phone
  • Google reviews
  • Opportunity to write a review

The information on this panel provides instant credibility for any law firm.

This is the Google My Business listing and you can see how it can help you dominate if you are at the top of the pile when someone is searching for a law firm in your local area.

Imagine what that could do for the volume of traffic going to your website.

How many clicks and how many clients could that generate for you?

To get there, you need to optimize your Google My Business listing by taking the steps detailed below.


How to get started with Google My Business

A few things to point out about Google My Business (GMB) from the start:

  • Every business is entitled to a GMB listing
  • It’s completely free!
  • You have to claim your listing and provide proof of ownership if you don’t yet have a listing
  • It’s not meant to replace anything (like a website) – it works alongside existing marketing
  • Google My Business replaced Google Places some time ago
  • A GMB listing will appear on Google Maps if it is relevant to a searcher
  • Multiple business locations each require a listing

If you have a listing and are aware of it, you probably know the above info already and can jump ahead to the optimization tips below.

If you’re not sure, it’s very unlikely that you have an optimized listing.

You can conduct a Google search to see if your business already has a GMB listing or not. If you’ve been around awhile, it will probably already be listed and all you need to do is claim it. It will then be yours to optimize and do as you will.

This Google page is useful for finding and managing your businesses.

Get-your-business-on-Google

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Somebody else claimed your business?

If someone else already claimed your business, you need to request ownership from the current profile owner.

Here’s what then happens, according to Google:

Request-ownership-of-a-Business-Profile-GMB

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Not listed?

If your law firm is not listed, go to the Google My Business page and sign in using your Google account.

You can then set up a listing there, taking care to enter the information accurately.

The basic information you need to input includes:

  • Your business name (with correct capitalization)
  • Your business address (in its usual format)
  • Your other contact details (telephone number, email address, etc.)
  • Opening times
  • Your service area
  • The relevant business category

More details follow about how to optimize all the information on your Google My Business listing.

Add or edit your service area

The importance of this feature may vary for different law firms.

If most of your business comes from the local vicinity, it’s important to specify the service area. If you receive business from all across your province or across Canada, it’s less important.

To optimize this section:

  • Select “card view” (rather than a list) once you are logged into your Google My Business account.
  • Click “Manage Location”
  • Click Info from the menu
  • Click the “Address” section
  • In the window that appears, select “Yes” next to “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations”
  • Enter your service area information based on the ZIP codes or cities that you serve or a given area around your location
  • If you receive customers at your offices, select the box next to “I serve customers at my business address” – your complete address will then appear on Google
  • Click Apply

GMB-Service-Area-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

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Choose your business category carefully

As a law firm, you might focus on one specific practice area, like Sinel & Olesen in New York. They are bedsore lawyers:

Sinel-Olesen-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

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Other firms like Irigonegaray, Turney, & Revenaugh, LLP in Topeka are far more diverse in their practice areas, offering services in criminal defense, personal injury, family law, and estate planning:

Irigonegaray-Turney-Revenaugh-LLP-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

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As part of your Google My Business listing, you must select a business category.

It is important to get this right as you want to show up in as many searches as possible for the relevant practice areas.

You can add primary and secondary categories. So, Irigonegaray, Turney, & Revenaugh might list criminal defence as their primary category and DWI defence as a secondary category.

Keep in mind the following:

  • You can’t create your own category
  • If you add or edit one of your existing categories, you may be asked to verify your business again

To add or edit categories for your listing simply follow these steps:

  • Sign in to your Google My Business account
  • If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage
  • Click the pencil icon  next to your primary category. Edit your primary category, or click Add another category
  • Click Apply when you’re done editing

Verifying your business listing

Verifying your business listing will mean that it can show up in search results and you can access analytics and reviews.

Without going through the verification process, Google will not make your listing visible to the world.

You can do this by mail. Yes, Google still uses snail mail as, for the integrity of its listings and search results, it wants to know that you’re a real business with a real street address.

They usually send you a postcard with a code that you can use to verify online. This process shouldn’t take longer than a week.


How to optimize your GMB listing so that it delivers more leads

You’re ready to publish all the relevant information about your business to the world. Before you do that, make sure your GMB listing is optimized.

That’s not difficult. You just need to fill out all the right information in the right fields. There are no trick questions.

It’s basic details about who you are, where you are, what you do, how to contact you, and what people think of your business.

Follow these simple guidelines and you will be good to go with an optimized listing that serves you well into the future…

Ensure that business name, location and contact details are accurate and consistent

Be sure to enter your business name and location correctly on the map: users need to be able to find you easily.

It’s also important to list your business address and telephone number as you would normally list them online and offline.

Google aggregates your business information from around the web. That means you need to keep addresses and other details EXACTLY the same so that they can locate accurate information about your business.

For instance, if your full address is normally:

  • 123 Potomac Lane
  • Sacramento
  • California 95831
  • Tel: 012345678

…enter it like this. Don’t add variations or abbreviations like “Potomac Ln” or “Cal”.

Note how the Colorado Legal Group lists its address in exactly the same format on its Google My Business listing and its website:

Colorado-Legal-Group-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms-2Colorado-Legal-Group-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

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Google actually recommends you to:

”represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationery, and other branding.”

That’s pretty clear – this is no place to get creative. Be consistent and clear with your name, address and phone number (NAP).

If you mislead or confuse people, Google will penalize you.

List your official business website

This is a simple one.

Add the URL of your most authoritative business website (if you have several websites) so that people can click the “Website” link on your listing to find out more about your business or book an appointment.

Here’s the Taylor Janis Employment Lawyers listing in Calgary, Alberta:

Taylor-Janis-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Add opening hours accurately

You are asked to list opening hours if you are a business that is available to meet customers at your premises. This will include most local law firms.

Add your opening hours and, if they change, make sure this is reflected in your GMB listing.

For instance, many firms across Canada had to close for months during the recent COVID-19 outbreak. If your office closes temporarily, keep clients informed with an update to the opening hours.

Note that Google has been adding the following note about opening hours to profiles too:

COVID-19-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

The following listing from Amiri Family Law in Ontario shows their standard opening hours listed. These hours may be similar for most law firms out there, with the office closed on weekends:

Amiri-Family-Law-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Note, however, how some criminal defence lawyers are on-call 24 hours. Jeffrey L. Reisman lists his criminal defence law firm in Toronto as “open 24 hours” because his clients have an open line to him:

Jeffrey-I-Reisman-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

There are no hard and fast rules here as long as the information is accurate and up to date.

Optimize your business description with keywords

Here’s where you get to describe your business: what it does, what it’s all about, and how your customers benefit by coming to you.

You have 750 characters in which to do this. It usually appears alongside or underneath your reviews and ratings on Google, as well as in your business’s review snippets.

Here’s what Google says about this section:

Business-Description Gudielines-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

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The main point here from a marketing perspective is to use keywords to describe the key points of your business.

Just as you would write keyword-rich content for your website and blog posts, use your main keywords when you describe your business and your services – preferably long-tail keywords that specifically describe the services you offer

Drill down into your practice areas. So, rather than thinking along the lines of “divorce lawyers Michigan”, which is highly competitive, a family law firm might want to include phrases like:

  • Collaborative divorce services in Michigan
  • Mediated divorce settlements in Michigan
  • Child custody and child support lawyers in Michigan

This can help direct qualified traffic to the website URL you list.

Here’s a good example of such keywords being used naturally in the description from Spectrum Family Law in Edmonton:

Spectrum-Family-Law-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Want more tips on keyword usage? Check out our definitive guide to law firm SEO.

While keywords are clearly important, you also want to inspire action with your description. In this example from Oykhman Criminal Defence in Toronto, the focus is on encouraging clients to get in contact:

OCD-Toronto-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Encouraging action like this with a call to action in the business description is good practice.

Add photos of your staff and your business

Google understands the power of images.

What’s the first thing you see at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) when a Google My Business listing is displayed?

Wilson-Criminal-Defence-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Yes, images.

Included at the top is an option to “See photos”. Clicking on this reveals more images of the law firm, such as an outside view of the office:

Wilson-Criminal-Defence-2-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Putting faces to names and buildings to addresses is important as it helps people visualize your firm and starts to build credibility and trust.

In fact, Google points out that businesses with photos on their GMB listings receive:

  • 42 percent more requests for driving directions on Google Maps, and
  • 35 percent more click-throughs to websites than those without

Add as many photos that depict your business positively as you can: high-quality images of attorneys (pay attention to lighting and focus), images of your reception area, your lawyers talking to clients in meeting rooms, and so on.

A few tips for uploading photos to your listing:

  • Include your lawyers – not just a logo: people want to see a friendly and helpful face
  • That said, be sure to add a logo too as it’s all part of your branding
  • Keep the size of all photos between 10KB and 5MB
  • Minimum photo resolution is 720px x 720px
  • Your main cover photo will be cropped to a 16:9 aspect ratio so select an appropriate photo that will retain its integrity once cropped
  • Use JPG or PNG image file formats

If you really want to be creative, consider adding a 360-degree ‘virtual tour’ of your offices.

Solicit reviews about your firm 

Reviews and ratings feature prominently on your Google My Business listing, as you can see right at the top of this one from Patrick L. Hancock in San Antonio:

Patrick-L-Hancock-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Searchers on Google see instantly that this lawyer has a five-star rating based on multiple reviews from verified past clients.

Further down the listing, they get a taste of the reviews:

Patrick-L-Hancock-2-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

And, if visitors click through to “View all Google reviews”, they can read what all past clients have said about the firm:

Patrick-L-Hancock-3-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Customer reviews are essential to your GMB listing for: 

  • Credibility and “social proof” when customers research your business (more leads)
  • Improving your search rankings: Google will favor businesses with more positive reviews

Ideally, have a process for requesting these reviews and make it simple for clients as part of the standard case “wrap up” procedure.

Direct them to a short URL link where they can leave their reviews. Follow these steps outlined by Google to do that:

Review-Link-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

Most customers will willingly say a few words about your service if you looked after them.

Take time to respond to and thank reviewers and it will demonstrate that you value their contribution.

Complete everything!

With your listing, the more complete it is, the better you will fare. Your listing should be accurate and detailed – try to complete information for every field.


How to use the analytics from Google Insights to improve performance

Even if you complete all the fields, your Google My Business listing is not set and forget.

Since improvements were made in 2016, the analytical information provided by Google can deliver great insights, so it’s important to:

  • Track what happens through your listing
  • Keep it up-to-date with the latest information

GMB-Insights-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

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Google Insights provides information on:

  • How customers find your listing (e.g. by “direct search” where they search for your business name or a “discovery” search where they type in keywords)
  • Where customers find you (Google Search? Google Maps?) – you can even check daily about this
  • Customer actions: how did customers interact with you once they found your listing? Did they visit your website? View your photos? Call you? Email you? Ignore you?
  • Direction requests: how many visitors requested directions on Google Maps to your business (perhaps not so critical for law firms as it is for restaurants, retail outlets, etc.)
  • Phone calls: how often did customers call your business after viewing your listing?

GMB-Insights-2-Google-My-Business-Law-Firms

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This information can help you make important tweaks to your marketing strategy.

To discover how to view Insights from your desktop, Android phone or Apple device, just go here.


GMB: A quick and easy “win” for your law firm

Optimizing your Google My Business listing is an “easy win” for most law firms.

It’s free and simple to do and the potential gains are significant so there’s no reason not to put a little time to it.

You’ll boost your presence in local search results on Google and other third-party platforms that use the Google Maps API to generate location information for users.

That means more clicks and more customers for your law firm.

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