Local SEO for Lawyers: What You Need to Know

Local seo for lawyersDid you know that more people use Google to evaluate local businesses than ever before, rising from 81 percent in 2021 to 87 percent in 2022?

It should be no surprise to lawyers that the trend carries over into the legal industry, with more people than ever taking to Google to search for a local lawyer.

With so many law firms relying on local leads to grow their businesses, local SEO for lawyers is worth paying attention to.

It’s neither difficult nor very technical to do, and if you don’t optimize your firm for local SEO, you could be missing out on hundreds of potential clients.

But where do you start, and how can you optimize your local SEO efforts to attract and nurture a steady flow of new leads?

To help you optimize your law firm locally online, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide covering what you need to know about local SEO for lawyers.

What is local SEO for lawyers?

You’re probably familiar with some of the basics of Search Engine Optimization for lawyers. Local SEO focuses on improving search engine visibility for queries with local intent.

This involves getting local businesses (in this case, your law firm) to rank better on Google when searchers look for products and services (your legal services) near their current location.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google SERP

We’ve all performed local searches. When you type in “grocery store near me,” “Thai food near me,” or “barber in downtown Miami,” these are all local searches.

But it applies to professional services too. Many people who hire lawyers want one in the local area, so they search for “personal injury lawyer near me” or “estate planning lawyer Staten Island” for instance.

Why law firms need to optimize for local SEO

Local SEO for lawyers improves the chances that Google searches for these types of legal services end up at your firm rather than the one on the next street.

You can do that by following local SEO best practices to earn more organic traffic from locals.

This entails:

  • Acquiring links and citations
  • Being consistent with name, address, and phone number/profile details (NAP)
  • Developing local content

If you optimize for local search using such strategies, Google will reward you with higher positions in its local search results for the types of legal services you provide.

That means you’ll get in front of many new prospective clients.

What is the Google Map Pack?

The Google Map Pack or (alternatively) Local Pack/Three-Pack is the first thing that searchers see on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) for local searches. It’s designed to simplify the process for users to find and interact with the businesses they‘re looking for in local search.

The Map Pack is usually a group of three businesses that Google determines are most relevant to the search intent. Here’s a look.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Map Pack

The key information on the Map Pack includes:

  • Business name – a link that directs users to the optimized Google Business Profile of the firm
  • A description – main practice area
  • Service options – on-site and/or online appointments
  • Contact information – office address, phone number, etc.
  • Reviews/rating overview (numbers and stars)
  • A link to the law firm’s website
  • Directions to the business from Google Maps
  • Opening hours and whether the business is open at present

Oykhman Criminal Defence in Calgary has optimized its business for local searches for the search term “criminal defense lawyer Calgary.” So, when you type that into Google, here’s what you’ll see.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Map Pack OCD

When you see a Map Pack like this, the businesses featured here receive the majority of the clicks on the page: around 44 percent of the total clicks (compared with 29 percent for organic results clicks).

Being one of the three businesses that Google sees as most relevant to the search term is a surefire way to drive large amounts of local traffic to your firm’s website.

This highly visible and prominent listing is, basically, free law firm marketing and drives traffic to your website.

And you can appear for any number of relevant local search results, giving you endless opportunities for high-quality leads.

This all makes a position in the Local Pack a coveted spot. But you’ll only earn a spot by being better at local SEO than competing law firms and optimizing for local search.

What is Google’s Local Finder?

If you click on a local pack listing, you’re taken to a longer list of law firms. This is Google’s local finder — where all local results for that search query are displayed, along with ads.

It returns results within a specific and limited geographic area (Google Maps takes a broader perspective) and makes it easy to find nearby businesses.

So, if you click on the Oykhman Criminal Defence link in the local pack example above, this is where you’re taken.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Local Finder

Ranking here is important for local SEO for lawyers as your firm can feature prominently in the left-hand panel.

What does it mean to be Google Screened?

A quick word about “Google Screened” as we get asked a lot about it when talking about local search with law firms.

Essentially, Google wants to present relevant, verified and reputable businesses to searchers who are looking for their services. Screened results allow Google to demonstrate the most reputable businesses through reviews without the searcher having to visit review or legal directory sites like Avvo.

Here’s what they look like.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Screened

Google Screened badges are awarded to only a few types of businesses in the U.S. at present. Law firms are one such business type.

Firms that don’t use Google Ads can achieve Google Screened status in organic search results, as well as those that use paid advertising.

To optimize your firm’s local SEO, you need to go through a process to become Google Screened, starting by checking out Google’s information page and the screening and verification page.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Screened Requirements

What factors influence local search placements for lawyers?

Before we start to help you master local SEO for law firms, we need to understand the factors that determine how Google selects businesses to feature in the Map Pack.

The official word from Google on local search rankings confirms three main factors.

Local SEO for Lawyers Rankings

So, the three main factors are:

  • Relevance: how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for.
  • Distance: how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search.
  • Prominence: how well-known a business is.

You can’t do much about distance, so you need to focus your local SEO efforts on boosting relevance and prominence.

Most of the leading authorities on local search suggest that the main ways to boost local search placements for lawyers are:

  • Verifying and optimizing your Google Business Profile
  • Improving your backlink profile
  • Maintaining a consistent name, address, and phone number/profile (NAP) across your online profiles
  • Increasing the number/quality of citations
  • Improving your website’s technical SEO
  • Improving the quality of content

Now, let’s take a closer look at some ways you can do this.

7 local SEO tips for lawyers

How do you optimize your law firm’s website to dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs)?

Here are seven of the best ways to achieve that.

1. Optimize your Google Business Profile

You’ve heard of the Google Three-Pack. Your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is sometimes called the One-Pack.

Here’s where it appears on the Google SERP.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Business Profile SERP

As you can see, your one-pack is at the center of the action with local SEO for lawyers. Without a Google Business Profile (GBP), you’ll have no chance of ranking for local queries.

Why? Because Google prefers to promote content that it can verify as accurate. GBP is the tool it uses to do that.

Put simply, GBP allows you to quickly and prominently share your business details, service offerings, and reputation with anyone searching for a local lawyer.

Let’s use Oykhman Criminal Defence as the example again, Here’s the firm’s optimized Google Business Profile.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Business Profile OCD

The information included in your Google Business Profile is pulled into Google’s Map Pack and Google Maps, plus local search results.

After you’ve created and verified your Google Business Profile, there are a few other things you can do to improve your rankings. Remember, local search for lawyers is about relevance, distance, and prominence.

How to improve your law firm’s relevance in local search

Google wants to match searchers with the best results. To do that, it wants to determine the most relevant information to the searcher.

If you own a criminal defense firm, make sure your GBP details that. A complete and detailed profile helps Google match your firm with qualified and relevant leads.

Aside from that, focus on:

  • Listing accurate and detailed descriptions, addresses, phone numbers, etc., across all local and legal directories
  • Adding a link to your website
  • Sharing updated company information through posts and business updates

local ranking factors

How to improve your law firm’s prominence in local search

Prominence refers to how well-known your business is. For example, a popular museum would rank higher than a little-known, run-down museum targeting the same keywords.

How do you improve your law firm’s prominence?

  • Generate positive reviews across the web, including on your Google Business Profile
  • Seek local and digital PR by participating in local and business events
  • Build reputable backlinks
  • Create listings in the most reputable legal directories
  • Start a legal blog on your website

Google also considers your position in web results. So, a focus on improving law firm SEO across the board is recommended.

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2. Post content on social media and your Google Business Profile

Social media becomes more and more relevant as the years go by — and Google knows it.

A healthy presence and regular sharing of content on the most relevant social media platforms can help build awareness about your law firm’s brand while indirectly supporting your local SEO efforts.

We recommend Facebook and LinkedIn for lawyers, as they tend to have the most significant ROI.

popular social media for lawyers

If you want to learn more about how you can use social media to level up your law firm, head over to our guide to social media for lawyers.

Posting on your Google Business Profile

Did you know that your Google Business Profile also allows you to post content directly?

In fact, posting regular weekly legal content and updates about your law firm is best-practice local SEO for lawyers.

You can share anything you think is relevant to your target audience:

  • Firm updates: changes in your team, location, hours, and even awards.
  • Thought leadership content: answers to legal FAQs that help your target audience find solutions to legal problems.
  • Opinion on local legal cases: offer your expert opinion on local cases of interest to your audience.

Here’s how our client Trey Porter Law addresses the problem of how to expunge a criminal record in Texas on his Google Business Profile.

gmb posts for law firms

Aside from helping your target audience and promoting your firm, posting content like this regularly is a clear signal to Google that your business is relevant, authoritative and open for business.

Your content has a better chance of being pushed to the top if you’re active.

Plus, you can link back to your website’s blog posts or other landing pages directly from your Google Business Profile posts for additional SEO juice.

3. Get positive reviews from clients

Curating positive law firm reviews from clients is a surefire way to increase your rankings. Without them, you won’t be able to compete with other local firms.

Strong reviews also serve as social proof. Any prospective client searching online for a law firm will check out the reviews. Having few reviews (or many negative ones) will damage your lead generation strategies.

Soliciting reviews from happy clients is one of the key ways we helped DWI lawyer Trey Porter start to dominate Google.

google reviews

But how do you get reviews?

Like most of the best digital marketing strategies, many positive things happen organically if you provide a client-centered experience. But you sometimes need to give review-gathering a little “push.”

Many clients aren’t aware of how critical reviews are for businesses these days — or how to leave one.

Legal services rank among the highest when it comes to the importance of online reviews for potential clients to check, with 94 percent of people classifying reviews as important for financial and legal services in a recent Bright Local study.

Local SEO for Lawyers Review Importance
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It’s best to make soliciting a review from happy clients a part of the process as you close each case file.

This needn’t be burdensome. If you don’t like asking for reviews in person, your law firm practice management software may help you automate it through email.

Here’s a sample email showing how you could approach a client.

Local SEO for Lawyers Review Email

Many satisfied clients will happily leave a positive review when asked. In fact, 76 percent of people asked to leave a review do so, according to Bright Local.

Here’s some more interesting data they discovered.

Local SEO for Lawyers Reviews BrightLocal
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Don’t forget to respond to all reviews, even negative ones. It shows you care about your clients. Sometimes, you can make it right, and a client may even change a review. It also helps your local SEO efforts to show that you’re responsive.

4. Optimize profiles in online directories for citations and backlinks

While most people head to Google to search for lawyers, some browse directories like Yellow Pages or specific legal directories like Avvo. These pages are often placed high in the search results.

Your listings should be accurate and up-to-date across all directories. And consistency is key: Google loves listings that are consistent across the web and promote them favorably.

Here’s an example of what your listing should look like on Avvo, one of the most popular legal directories.

Local SEO for Lawyers Legal Directories
(Image Source)

A local citation is any online mention of a local business’s name, address, and phone number.

Citations appear online in many places but the main spots are local business directories — and it’s easy to generate many citations to help your law firm boost its local rankings.

Keep all contact information up to date, including your address, phone number, website, and other relevant information. If Google can’t figure out which of your listings is accurate, it will penalize you.

Another key benefit of listing in the main legal directories is the backlinks to your website that it generates (more about backlinks below).

Here’s a list of directories to consider listing your firm in:

  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp
  • Avvo
  • FindLaw
  • Lawyers.com
  • Justia
  • Martindale
  • NOLO

A bonus of adding your law firm to these directories is that you can generate inbound links to your website, which will aid your general SEO.

5. Create separate pages/microsites for each of your locations

Your website affects all your search engine optimization efforts. It’s an obvious place to look if you want to improve local SEO for lawyers.

Make sure you have a specific page with your location information to tell Google explicitly the localities in which you should rank (each of your locations).

It’s usually best to create location-specific pages for each office if you operate in different geographies. It will help get your firm in the local SERP for each area.

Oykhman Criminal Defense has created a different microsite for each of its offices — an excellent local search strategy for law firms.

law firm microsites
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Here’s another great example from one of Alberta’s leading employment law firms, which has optimized its website to rank in multiple locations in the province and beyond.

Local SEO for Lawyers Microsites
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6. Keep your law firm’s website up-to-date and optimized for search

As the hub of your local search activities, it’s essential to keep your website’s on-page SEO up-to-date and optimized for search.

Here’s where to put your time and energy into the best results with on-page SEO.

Update meta title/descriptions

Your meta titles and descriptions tell Google and searchers important information about your website’s pages.

Here’s what a homepage title and description might look like in the Google SERPs when optimized for local search.

Local SEO for Lawyers Meta

Include your main keywords in different ways on different pages, and also pay attention to the following:

  • Go through your meta tags to make sure they include the location you’re targeting for each page.
  • Add the city before the business name in the title (and the state if it fits — but no more than 50-60 characters including spaces).
  • Include your main or secondary keywords in the page description to describe what visitors will learn (keeping within a character count of 155-60 including spaces).
  • Add “near me” and “near you” to a few title tags for pages, if you like.

Here’s another good example.

Local SEO for Lawyers Meta Data

Improve keyword placement

Try to include your main and secondary keywords in all the main places on your website’s pages but make sure that it reads naturally and don’t overdo it. Write first and foremost for visitors and keep it informational.

As well as the meta titles and description, add keywords and variations of your keywords to:

  • H1 headers
  • H2 headers
  • Your content – but make sure it reads naturally (use sparingly) and don’t overuse the same keyword

This firm is targeting the keyword Albuquerque divorce lawyers by using it in the main (H1) page header.

Local SEO for Lawyers Keyword H1
(Image Source)

Suitable variations of this main keyword might be:

  • Albuquerque divorce attorney
  • Divorce lawyers in Albuquerque
  • Divorce attorney in Albuquerque
  • Divorce attorney near me
  • New Mexico divorce lawyer

Embed Google location maps

Embedding Google maps on your website is also good practice for local SEO of lawyers. Many firms include maps in the footer of every page and/or the Contact pages.

Simply go to Google Maps and locate your business. Then click on the “Share” button and the pop-up will provide an option to “Embed a map.” Click on that and then “Copy HTML.”

Once you paste that code into your website’s code, you’ll see something like this.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Maps
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Make sure your website is fast and mobile-friendly

Surveys show that roughly 63% of searches originate on mobile devices.

Local SEO for Lawyers Mobile
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Think about it — when you look up a business on your phone, what do you look for?

It’s usually:

  • Directions
  • Reviews
  • Contact information

Mobile searchers are primed and ready to contact the businesses they’re searching for — and your law firm needs to be ready for these prospective clients with a mobile-first (or at least a mobile-friendly) approach.

Google’s mobile-friendly test tool can help you take steps to ensure your website checks all the boxes — with feedback on how to improve your site.

Ideally, you should see a page like this when you type your URL in and hit enter.

Local SEO for Lawyers Mobile Friendliness
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Google prioritizes websites that are mobile-first, meaning they’re responsive and perform well on all devices. You’ll rank lower across the board if your website is designed solely for desktops.

So, if you don’t see a result like the above when you test your law firm’s URL, you need to take action to make your website more mobile-friendly — speak to your website developer.

7. Create optimized local content

Not every client will visit your website through local search results. Some will find you through high-ranking blog posts or other content.

A comprehensive content marketing strategy that develops relevant, valuable resources in your practice areas and incorporates location-specific keywords will help you feature prominently in local and non-local search results and get even more clients.

Here’s a good example from our client, The Maine Divorce Group.

Local SEO for Lawyers Content
(Image Source)

The value of high-quality legal content is becoming more important, and it’s worth bearing this in mind as you develop your strategy:

Google has evolved to a point where you can focus on creating content for the user, not the search engine. You’ll still be rewarded with higher rankings.

Do local keyword research to identify high-performing keywords targeting your area.

Even if keywords like “child support in Maine” don’t convert directly into clients, they go a long way in generating backlinks and visits. This is good for SEO, in general.

Create a content plan that specifically addresses local topics in addition to your more SEO-centric posts. Luckily, there are a lot of things for lawyers to cover.

For example, you could be the local authority and publish content covering:

  • Local industry events
  • News related to your practice area
  • Local cases

Here’s a good example of “local content” from New York family law firm Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Local SEO for Lawyers Blog
(Image Source)

You can even use your insight to provide opinions on local crimes, changes in the law, or anything else you feel qualified to speak on. It won’t take long before you’re known as an authority in your area.

These are just a few options. Consider what kind of “top-of-funnel” (informative and problem-solving) content you can publish that’s relevant to your audience. Even go beyond your practice area if it’s relevant.

8. Participate in local events and organizations

Don’t stop at sharing your thoughts and opinions on local happenings. Get out there and engage with your local community. The more you participate, the more digital PR you can get.

The benefits go beyond getting your name out there.

benefits of local pr

There’s a lot of value in participating in local events. And some of those benefits directly affect your SEO, namely building backlinks.

But what types of events should you be involved in?

Consider the following:

  • Holding a volunteer day in your organization
  • Appearing in the local media as an authority on a legal topic
  • Sponsoring local events and teams
  • Establishing a scholarship

Backlinks from news organizations and schools are precious as they are considered high-authority links. Look to engage with these types of organizations whenever you can.

You can also actively generate backlinks from other local and non-local sites by engaging with your community.

Keep your link-building strategies and activities relevant to your local audience, and you’ll build valuable backlinks that will improve your local rankings (and make you feel good in the process).

9. Add local lawyer schema to help Google understand your firm

We need to get a little technical with this one, but it’s actually quite simple. Some simple DIY steps are included below but if you prefer, get your web developers, SEO specialists or “website guy” to look after this one.

Local schema is a major ranking factor in local SEO for lawyers, but what is it exactly?

Well, Google needs to understand your firm’s web page data clearly to present it how you would like in Google Search. Local schema is a type of structured data markup code that helps you help Google.

By adding local schema markup to your firm’s website, you’ll optimize it for local search, making it easier for search engines to identify where you operate and what your firm does.

How do you do that?

The easiest way is to use Google‘s Structured Data Markup Helper.

Local SEO for Lawyers Google Structured Data Helper
(Image Source)

Click on the blue button and you’ll be taken to the Structured Data Markup Helper.

From there, follow these steps:

  • Click “Local Business” and enter the URL of your firm’s website.
  • Click “Start tagging” and you’ll be taken to a page that shows your homepage.
  • From the My Data Items menu on the right-hand side, highlight the following items on your homepage:
    • Business name
    • Telephone
    • Address (Street, City, State, ZIP)
    • Image (your logo)
  • Click “Add missing tags” to add your website URL.
  • Click on “CREATE HTML” to get your J-SON code.
  • Copy and paste the code you receive into the HEAD section of your site.

If you prefer to use a more law-firm-specific schema code generator, try Juris Digital’s schema generator.

Local SEO tools for lawyers

We’ve covered the why and how of local SEO for lawyers. Now, let’s look at a few tools you can use to improve your rankings if you go the DIY route.


Google prefers to promote businesses with consistent citations. So, it’s essential to monitor all mentions of your firm online and ensure the name, address and phone number are up to date and consistent.

Whitespark helps with many elements of local search, offering local listing management and helping you build and update all local citations.

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Aside from that, it recommends where you should list your business based on competitor data and even helps build reviews — all to improve your local search rankings.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is not built for local SEO specifically but is the number one tool for technical SEO audits — specifically its SEO spider tool.

screaming frog
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