If your law firm has not claimed a local business listing profile on Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Bing Maps, then you are missing out on one of the most powerful forms of search marketing available. Local map listings can be one of the most valuable and cost-effective marketing tools that attorneys can use to dominate search engines.
Attorney Local Map Marketing
Check out our specific guides on local maps optimization:
When combined with an organic SEO strategy, local search marketing can be highly successful in attracting new clients.
Now that Google has placed more emphasis and resource into its Places product, optimizing your local business listing has become even more important.
Many attorneys think that obtaining the top placement on Google is just a matter of luck. At Internet Lava we understand that luck has very little to do with it. The top placements in mapped listings require consistent and methodical optimization.
Are You Ranking on Search Engine Map Listings?
- The Importance of Local Search Marketing
- Searching for a Lawyer via Smart Phone
- The Problems with an Unclaimed Listing
- Claiming Your Law Firm’s Local Business Listing
- Local Map Optimization Factors
- Optimizing the Map Listing for High Placement
- Off Page Map Optimization
- Minimal Investment, Significant ROI
All three major search engines have sections dedicated to local map listings:
Local search marketing has become the most widely used method for finding services from a local business. Many users will turn to search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing to search for an attorney or to research legal information. These search engines in turn display mapped listings for several primary keywords in addition to the normal (“organic”) results.
In larger markets, the local business listings have become so competitive that attorneys who attempt to “do it yourself” are at a significant disadvantage. It takes more than creating a map listing to be featured on the maps. The work necessary to do so is often too time-consuming for the average business owner, much less an attorney with a busy practice.
At Internet Lava, we understand that utilizing every internet resource available is vitally important to a successful local search marketing strategy. As part of your on-line internet marketing campaign we help law firms create and optimize their local business listings so that an attorney can take advantage of this important technique for helping your ideal customers find your law firm.
The local business listings for Google Places, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Maps are becoming increasingly important because when a client performs an internet search from a smart phone, local map listings often show in the top part of the screen. Google’s new Place Search has made the local business listings even more important.
People who use a smart phone to perform a search often used Google Places instead of using Google’s organic listings, even though these same individuals are more likely to use the organic listings from their home or office computer. Now that the two have been merged, optimizing both is required for top placement.
Who would find an attorney using a smart phone? The answer might surprise you. Today’s smart phones allow you to search the internet with almost the same ease as a home computer. In the future, search engine optimization will likely increasingly take smart phone usage into heavier account.
Search engines such as Google will generally create local map listings automatically. So even if you don’t log in and create your listing, you still may have a listing that you’re not even aware of. The search engines will pull information from other sites such as InsiderPages, SuperPages, Yelp, or YellowPages.com to create these listings.
The problems with having an unclaimed listing are:
- The unclaimed listings are very unlikely to rank on the first page search results;
- You will be unable to respond to reviews clients leave;
- The unclaimed listings may have outdated or inaccurate information; and
- Another business can actually hijack your unclaimed local business listing.
It is very simple to find these listings, just visit the maps section of the search engine and search for your firms name along with the city. If you find your listing, you can log in to the search engine and claim the listing.
Once the listing has been claimed, you can add additional information that will increase your chances of ranking on the first page search results. Then you can easily ensure that all of the information in your local listing is completely accurate. You can also add pictures, videos, coupons, hours of operation, payment methods accepted, and much more. The more items you add, the better for your rankings.
Once you have claimed your local business listing in the major search engines, you can then edit the listings to optimize them for first page search results. An optimized local map listing will receive far more traffic and bring you more new clients. More people will find your local map listing if it ranks on first page search results for keywords that describe your most important areas of legal practice.
There are several important factors to optimizing a local map listing, including:
- Categories – When setting up or editing your local business listing, you will have the option to choose the categories to be listed under. This is one of the most important factors for local map optimization. You want to be sure to choose a few broad categories that are descriptive of your main legal practice, such as “Criminal Defense Attorney” or “Family Lawyer.”It is also important to input custom categories that are more specific to your most important niche areas, such as “DUI Attorney” or “Medical Malpractice Lawyer.” These custom categories will help your map listing show up on the first page search results for general web searches related to your niche areas.
- Descriptions – Depending on the search engine, your local listing will have different fields that let you describe your business, such as: description, about, company information, services, hours, payment methods, etc. You can also create your own custom description fields.It is important to fill in these fields with as much text as possible. Do not spam the description area with keywords; however, be as concise as possible in describing your services and traits that set your firm apart.
- Reviews – Oftentimes, local map listings with that have several positive reviews will rank very well in search results. Reviews can be pulled into the listing from multiple sources, including Citysearch, Yelp, InsiderPages, SuperPages, or directly from Google, Yahoo, or Bing. By creating an account with the search engine, logging in, and leaving a review on your local map listing, former clients can quickly create an online user-review of your services.It is always a good idea to advise your best clients to do this whenever possible, particularly on Google Places. You want to make sure that the reviews are generated by someone who has directly benefited from the legal services that your firm has provided. Search engines can typically detect fake reviews, so be careful.
- Web Pages – The search engines scan the internet every day. They keep an index of all of the web pages across the internet that mentions your law firm. Your website(s), any online profiles, directory listings, social media pages, articles, blogs, or any other online web pages that reference your law firm, link to your website, or list your address / phone number can be gathered over time and listed on your local business listing. The more web pages that you have the better.We make sure to promote your law firm on as many different websites as possible. The websites we use are of high-quality and relevant to your practice. Search engines track the appearance of your business contact information on these other websites (called “citations”), giving your map credit and a boost as changes are made.
At Internet Lava, we help attorneys add information to the local business listings for Google Places, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Maps. We know from experience the most effective ways to optimize and maintain map listings. Our approach includes:
- Optimized and well-written information about your law firm and key practice areas;
- Handpicked custom categories that describe your most profitable niche areas;
- Properly marking the service areas and locations settings;
- Adding tagged photos of the law office, city, and individual pictures of each attorney in your law firm;
- Effectively optimized videos that describe the firm’s practice areas;
- Creating online “citations” and backlinks to increase the rank of your map listings.
Local business listings have become increasingly competitive as attorneys learn more about how profitable those listings are to their legal practice. The key to showing up in the most common search results such as “Tampa Criminal Lawyer” or “Boston Personal Injury Attorney” is to populate every field in the listings with information that is most valuable to the viewer. Google will also look at the website that you list for that particular business, and pull in websites with information about the law firm.
The rankings for a law firm’s local business listing on Google Places, Bing Maps, or Yahoo Local depend on more than how the listing is optimized. In fact, off page optimization is playing an increasingly important role in how the search engines determine the rankings for the local business listings. As the listings become more competitive, less information is available to distinguish one law firm from another unless the listing looks at off page criteria.
Off page criteria includes information on other websites about the law firm. Those other listings include some of the following major sources:
- Each attorney’s AVVO profile;
- The law firm’s profile and reviews on InsiderPages;
- Information on the attorney’s business profile on Yelp,
- Information on Yahoo.com;
- Information on Superpages.com;
- Information on InfoUSA; or
- Information on the law firm listing on Yellowpages.com.
Information from these sources will eventually be pulled directly into the Google Places local business listings. Bing and Yahoo have similar abilities. Optimizing those listings properly is increasingly important Google has started to reward law firms on Google Maps that have testimonials or reviews. A client review on InsiderPages, Yelp, or AVVO can also help your Google ranking for the local business listing on Google Maps.
Therefore, search engine optimization of your main website relevant third party profiles will also help your Google Places listing. Still not showing up? It may help to add pictures that are properly tagged with your key words, change your categories, change the description of your law firm, use an e-mail address that matches your website, or list a local phone number and fax number instead of a 1-800 number.
If your listing is still not showing up, there are hundreds of other “tricks” that Google, Bing and Yahoo uses to distinguish one business listing from another. These “tricks” become more particular and obscure as the competition for the top spot increases. The tricks and secrets are really just small factors that help the search engines distinguish between one business and another.
At Internet Lava we have experience in helping attorneys rise from obscurity to the top hold top positions in search engine maps. When combined with our effective organic SEO efforts, this results in prominent display on some of the most searched for terms related to your practice.
Call 1-800-292-Lava (5282) and learn more about how local maps optimization can compliment an internet marketing strategy for your law firm.