Local SEO for Lawyers: What You Need to Know

Local seo for lawyersDid you know that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information?

This number carries over into the legal industry, as 46.5% of people searching for a lawyer take to Google.

Clearly, local search is worth paying attention to.

If your business isn’t optimized for local SEO, you could be missing out on hundreds of potential clients.

But what exactly is local SEO, and how can you use it to attract and nurture new leads?

To help you optimize your law firm for local SEO, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide covering all things local SEO for lawyers.



What is local SEO?

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) 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 local legal services.

We’ve all performed local searches. Think about when you typed in “grocery store near me” or “Thai food near me.” These are all local searches, and prospective clients are typing in phrases like “lawyer near me” all the time.

If you follow local SEO best practices, you can earn more organic traffic from locals.

But what determines how your law practice performs locally? Google looks at ranking factors like local content, links, citations, and social media profiles to determine how relevant your firm is to searchers.


Why law firms need to optimize for local SEO

Your law firm will get in front of many new prospective clients if you rank highly for local SEO queries. They’ll see your law firm in Google’s Map Pack.

For example, if you type in “criminal defense lawyer Toronto,” this is what you’ll see.

criminal defense lawyer toronto

Notice the three law firms ranking organically. These listings are highly visible and include essential business information like your law firm’s name, reviews, contact information, a link to your website, and more.

Studies have shown that Map Packs earn over 44% of total clicks for any query, making it a coveted spot.

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


7 local SEO tips for law firms

Now that you know why local SEO for law firms should be a priority, let’s get into how to optimize your law firm’s website to dominate the SERP.


1. Optimize your Google My Business page for Google’s Local Pack

Your Google My Business page is the center of your local SEO activities. Without an optimized GMB profile, you’ll have no chance of ranking for local queries.

Why? Because Google prefers to promote content that it can verify as accurate. GMB is the tool they use to do that.

Put simply, it’s a business page where you share your business name, address, phone number, and other information needed for anyone searching for a local lawyer.

Take a look at Oykhman Criminal Defense’s optimized GMB page.

oykhman criminal defense gmb

All information in your GMB listing is pulled into Google’s Local Pack and Google Maps, plus local search results.

After you’ve created and verified your GMB page, there are a few other things you can do to improve your rankings.

Google looks at three factors when determining what listings to show. These include relevance, distance, and prominence.

Here’s what Google has to say about these ranking factors.

google local ranking factors
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There’s little you can do to influence distance, but relevance and prominence are ranking signals you can affect.


How to improve your law firm’s relevance in Google My Business

Google wants to match searchers with the best results. To do that, they look to determine what’s the most relevant to the searcher.

If you own a criminal defense firm, make sure your GMB profile details that. The more complete and detailed your profile is, the better Google can match you 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
  • A link to your website
  • Share updated company information through posts and business updates

How to improve your law firm’s prominence in Google My Business

By prominence, Google is referring to how well known our 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 My Business page
  • Seek our local and digital PR by participating in local and business events
  • Build reputable backlinks
  • Create listings for your law firm in reputable directories
  • Start a blog

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

To help, we’ve put together an article covering everything you need to know about SEO for lawyers.


2. Post on social media and Google My Business

Social media becomes more and more relevant as years go by.

Today, Google considers social media content more important than ever before.

So, make sure you have a healthy online presence on relevant social media platforms. Regularly sharing content on social media can help you increase awareness about your brand all while indirectly supporting your SEO efforts.

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

law firm social media usage

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 GMB

Your Google My Business profile should also be home to regularly updated posts and updates about your law firm.

You can share anything you think is relevant to your client persona on your GMB profile. Company updates, first and foremost, should be published there. That includes changes in your team, location, hours, and even awards.

You can also use it as a place to establish yourself as a thought leader. If you share valuable content directly on your Google My Business profile, searchers will see that as a sign that you’re highly competent.

Here’s how our client Trey Porter Law does it.

gmb posts for law firms

Aside from that, it’s a clear signal to Google that your business is relevant, authoritative, and open for business. Google will be more likely to push your content 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 GMB posts for additional SEO juice.


3. Get positive reviews from clients

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

Aside from improving your rankings, they also serve as social proof. Any prospective client searching online for a law firm will check out the reviews. Having little to no reviews (or many negative ones) will hurt your marketing.

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

google reviews

But how do you get reviews?

Like a lot of digital marketing, many things happen organically if you’re providing a positive, client-centered experience.

We’ve found that many people aren’t aware of the importance of reviews or how to leave one. We encourage our clients to ask for reviews after the fact. It can be automated through email marketing, or you could ask in person.

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

review template

The truth is, many people would happily leave a review when asked. A BrightLocal study showed that 76% of people asked to leave a review do so.

Here’s some more interesting data they discovered.

stats asking for reviews
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And don’t forget to respond to all reviews, even negative reviews. It shows you care about all of your clients and will help your local SEO efforts.


4. Optimize online local and legal directories

While most people head to Google to search for lawyers, some browse directories like Yellow Pages or specific legal directories like Avvo. These pages can even come up 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 might look like on Avvo, a popular legal directory.

avvo directory listing
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If Google can’t figure out which of your listings is accurate, it will penalize you.

Keep all contact information up to date, including your address, phone number, website, and other relevant information.

Here’s a list of directories to consider, aside from your Google My Business profile:

  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp
  • Avvo
  • FindLaw

A bonus of adding your law firm to these directories is that you can get plenty of inbound links.

For more information, check out our article on legal directories.


5. Keep your law firm’s website up-to-date and optimized for SEO

Your law firm’s website affects all of our SEO efforts, including local SEO.

Make sure you have a specific page with your location information to tell Google explicitly where you should be ranking.

You can create location-specific pages for each of your offices if you operate in different geographies. Oykhman Criminal Defense has a different microsite for each of its offices.

law firm microsites
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This is an excellent strategy to get yourself in the local SERP for many different areas.

Aside from that, your website is the hub of all of your SEO activities. Not every client will visit your website through local search results.

Some will find you through high-ranking blog posts. Create relevant, valuable content targeting your practice areas and location-specific keywords to show up in non-local search results and get even more clients.

And even if keywords like “how to beat a DUI” don’t convert into clients, they go a long way in getting you backlinks and visits. This is good for SEO, in general.

Our content marketing guide has more tips for creating content your clients will love.

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly

Surveys show that roughly 63% of all searches are done on mobile devices.

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 make contact with the business they’re searching for — in this case, it’s your law firm.

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly to avoid losing out on prospective clients.

Google has a mobile-friendly test that you can use to make sure your website checks all the boxes. They even offer feedback on how to improve your site.

mobile friendly test
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Google prioritizes websites that are mobile-first, meaning they’re responsive and perform well on all devices. If your website is designed solely for desktops, you’ll rank lower across the board.


6. Create local content

Google has evolved to a point where you can focus on creating content for the user, not the search engine.

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

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 content you can publish that’s relevant to your audience. It could go beyond your practice area, as long as it’s relevant.


7. Participate in local events and organizations

You shouldn’t stop at sharing your thoughts and opinions on local happenings.

Get out there and participate in your local community. The more you participate, the more digital PR you can get.

The benefits go beyond getting our name out there.

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

But what exactly should you do? Consider:

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

Building backlinks from news organizations and schools is precious. Look to engage with these types of organizations whenever you can.

As long as it’s relevant, you’ll build valuable backlinks that will improve your rankings (and make you feel good in the process).


Local SEO tools

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


Whitespark

whitespark
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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. Keeping your citations plentiful and accurate will help your law firm appear in more places and boost your local rankings.

Google prefers to promote businesses with consistent citations. So, it’s essential to monitor all mentions of your business online and keep them updated.

Whitespark is the tool to use for all things local search. They offer local listing management, helping you build and update all local citations.

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


Screaming Frog

screaming frog
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While not built for local SEO specifically, Screaming Frog is the number one tool for technical SEO audits.

It’s a desktop program that crawls websites and looks for common SEO issues.

Worried about missing meta descriptions? Want to improve your link structure? Think you have some 404s? Screaming Frog will tell you all of that and more.

And you can crawl up to 500 URLs for free before upgrading to the paid version.


Moz Local

moz local
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Similar to Whitespark, Moz Local can be used to improve your online visibility by creating and managing your online local business listings in places like Google and Facebook.

Not only is Moz Local an excellent tool for keeping your listings consistent, but they also collaborate with data aggregators to get your listings in front of more eyes.

Plus, there’s a built-in review manager. You can monitor and reply to reviews across all ecosystems from one dashboard.


Semrush

semrush
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One of the most widely used SEO tools (and for a good reason), Semrush can help improve your local SEO by monitoring backlinks.

There’s also a built-in listing management tool similar to Moz Local that you can use to distribute your business data to the top directories automatically.

Aside from that, you get a roster of SEO tools, including position tracking, an on-page SEO checker, competitor analysis, and more.


Hiring professional local SEO services for law firms

We’ve given you the tips and tools you need to get started with your own local SEO campaign. But as a busy lawyer, you likely don’t have the time necessary to launch and manage your business profiles.

You can work with an SEO partner like JurisPage to level up your SEO. We guarantee a constant stream of qualified, local leads that will keep you busy.


Frequently Asked Questions


Do law firms need SEO?

Law firms need to prioritize SEO as search engines are the primary way people find and qualify businesses. If prospective clients can’t find you online, or if any aspect of your SEO is lacking, you’ll attract less qualified leads.

A strong SEO campaign involves answering clients’ questions, leading to more visibility and increased traffic.


How much do law firms spend on SEO?

Law firm SEO services can cost anywhere from $3,000 a month to up to $20,000 a month, depending on variables, including your practice area and location. The cost will increase as you add on new practice areas and locations.


Why is local SEO important for law firms?

Most law firms target clients living in a specific geographic area. As long as you focus on attracting leads residing in your state, city, or even a particular zip code, local SEO remains the best way to get new clients.


Can you pay Google to rank higher?

No, there’s no way to pay Google to rank your website higher than the rest. You can, however, pay for PPC ads.


Come out on top with a local SEO strategy

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of a strong local SEO strategy for any law firm looking to grow.

Local SEO is a cost-efficient and straightforward way to attract new leads, establish yourself as an authority in your area, and make more money.

But it’s a long game, and many law firms don’t have the time or resources to invest in SEO in a way that garners success.

Hiring a digital marketing agency like JurisPage can help you grow exponentially and master local SEO. Get a free consult today.