Prior to LawRank, Mariano worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including AT&T, and toured nationally as a stand-up comedian.
If you’re an attorney doing online marketing, getting into the local pack for your target search term is a great way of increasing your call volume.
But how do you get into the local pack?
Our Local SEO For Lawyers Guide gives you actionable steps to improve your local pack rankings.
The strategies in this guide helped us get our client – The Rodriguez Law Group – in the local pack for the HYPER-competitive term: “Los Angeles criminal lawyer,” which has a search volume of 2,400 searches per month.
- Having the keywords and/or target city in your reviews,
- Get more 5-star reviews,
- Upload more pictures and create posts on a regular basis,
- Organic SEO, with a focus on optimized anchor text (keyword and city – but don’t overdo it)
Keep reading for more info. Need help with your Local SEO? Call LawRank today to discuss your project.
- 1 Factors That Influence Local Pack Rankings
- 2 Setting Up Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing
- 3 Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing
- 4 Build Citations For Your Law Firm
- 5 Adding Local Schema To Your Site
- 6 Google My Business Reviews
- 7 On-page SEO for Local SEO
- 8 Link-Building for Local SEO
- 9 Conclusion
Factors That Influence Local Pack Rankings
To get into the local pack, you need to know what to focus on. Here are two Local SEO studies that did a great job of identifying the most important factors.
Every year the folks at Moz do a study on the most important Local SEO ranking factors. For 2018, the top five are:
- Google My Business Signals (Proximity, categories, keyword in business title, etc.) – 25.12%
- Link Signals (Inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, linking domain quantity, etc) – 16.53%
- Review Signals (Review Quantity, review velocity, review diversity, etc.) – 15.44%
- On-Page Signals (Presence of NAP, keyword in titles, domain authority, etc.) – 13.82%
- Citation Signals (IYP/aggregator NAP consistency, citation volume, etc) – 10.82%
What does the Moz Local SEO study tell us?
If you want to improve your local SEO, focus on getting more reviews, traditional SEO (link-building), and making sure you have NAP consistency.
Proximity to location: One overlooked factor is your actual location. If you want to be in the local pack for “Los Angeles personal injury attorney” but your office is in Santa Monica, CA, it’s going to be nearly impossible.
So before doing anything, set realistic expectations based on:
- Your office location, and
- How competitive the keyword you’re trying to get into the local pack for.
Local SEO Guide
The Local SEO Ranking Factors by the Local SEO Guide provides great insight.
Some of the key takeaways include:
- Get reviews with keyword and/or target city,
- Get more reviews,
- Get links with the city in the anchor text, and
- Organic SEO signals still impact Local SEO (links, onpage optimization, etc.)
Setting Up Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing
We’re going to assume that you already have a GMB Listing set up. If not, go here to create a GMB listing.
If you need assistance setting up your account, check out Google’s guide on setting up your GMB listing.
Let’s get back to optimizing your listing.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing
GMB Business Description
The first thing you want to do is make sure you update your business description. You get 750 characters, so use them wisely.
Write a brief description of your firm including your
- Name of business,
- Name of lead attorney,
- Years of experience
- Practice areas,
- Locations served,
- Awards and recognition.
“The Smith Law Firm is a premier criminal defense firm serving Los Angeles, CA and the surrounding areas. We handle all criminal defense matters including domestic violence, DUI, drug crimes, theft crimes, and more. Lead attorney Bob Smith has over 20 years experience dealing with all criminal law matters and has been recognized as a SuperLawyer. Call today for a free consultation.”
Don’t keyword stuff your description. It won’t help your Local Pack rankings and will definitely turn off potential clients.
Spamming Your Law Firm Name – Don’t Do It
If the name of your firm is The Smith Law Firm, avoid adding modifiers to it unless that’s the actual name of your firm.
In other words, don’t change the name of your firm on GMB to “The Smith Law Firm – Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys.”
That’s a violation of Google policy. You might get away with it for a while but Google will eventually catch on and change your name or worse – delete your listing.
If the real name of your business includes modifiers, then you can include them in your GMB business name. But adding them to improve your local pack rankings is a risky move that we don’t recommend and could get you penalized.
Make sure you choose the best categories for you. For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney you’ll want to choose that as your primary category.
You should also consider choosing other categories such as Lawyer, Trial Attorney, and Legal Services.
Add Pictures To Your Listing
Adding pictures is a must if you want to better engagement with your listing. According to Google, Businesses with photos get:
- 42% more driving direction requests to their location, and
- 35% more clicks through to their website
than businesses that don’t have photos. This is an easy win. Take pictures of yourself, your office, your team, and upload them to your GMB listing.
Adding photos is simple. Simply click on “photos” on the left-hand menu and start adding. Make sure you include team photos, interior pics, exterior pics, and more.
Potential clients like knowing who they are doing business with and what your office looks like. Adding GMB pics is a great way to make you and your team stand out from the rest.
Google Trusted Photographer
Pro Tip: Another great way to add pics is to hire a trusted Google photographer to do a 360 virtual tour of your office. Click on the link and scroll down. You’ll be able to enter your location and get a list of photographers near you.
Adding posts is a great way to increase user interaction with your GMB listing. Studies show that user interaction with your listing helps to increase local pack rankings.
To add a post, click “Post” in the left-hand menu.
Then you’ll be prompted to create your first post. Once you click that button, you’ll get a pop-up like you see below.
- Add a picture,
- Write a brief post (could be about a special offer, something your office is doing, general info, etc.), and
- Add a call to action (we recommend Learn More with a link to your site)
Questions and Answers
Did you know that you can add a Q&A to your GMB Listing? It’s a great feature that’s often overlooked because access to it isn’t intuitive.
Here’s how you can do it.
- Log in to your GMB Listing
- Once you’re there, open a new browser window
- Google the name of your business and city, state (The Smith Law Firm Los Angeles, CA)
- You will see your GMB Listing on the right side of the window
- Click on “Ask a question” (see image below)
- [SCROLL PAST IMAGE FOR MORE INFO]
After you click on “Ask a Question” – do the following:
- You can now ask a question and then click “Post” when done
- Refresh the window
- Now you’ll see “See all questions” under Questions and Answers. Click that.
- You’ll get a pop-up that looks like the screenshot below
- Below your question, you’ll see the word “answer” – click on that and answer your question.
- That’s it!
Build Citations For Your Law Firm
To optimize your listing, you’ll need to build citations across various online directories. These include sites like Yelp, BBB, and Yellow Pages.
Instead of providing different directories, we’ll show you two different ways you can quickly and easily build local citations.
Automated Citation Building
To quickly build out citations, you can sign up for an account with Moz Local and Yext. Here’s a quick breakdown on both.
Cost: $99 per year for small/mid-size business
Pricing Info: https://moz.com/products/local/pricing
Moz Local works by submitting your business information to various data aggregators including Acxiom, Infogroup, and Neustar/Localeze.
Moz Local also handles your Bing listing, as well as a few local directories.
Cost: $499 Annually
Pricing Info: https://www.yext.com/pl/powerlistings/plans.html
Yext includes approximately 40 directories and other sites.
While there’s some overlap between Yext and Moz Local, you may want to consider getting both to quickly and easily build out a lot of citations for your business.
Do It Yourself – WhiteSpark
If you’d prefer to build your own citations, we recommend checking out Whitespark.
They offer a local citation finder for only $20 per month. With Whitespark, you can easily look at your competitor’s citations and build the same ones.
They offer a free version of it, but you’ll need the limitations removed in order to really benefit from this tool.
After you set up your account, you’ll be able to enter a competitor’s phone number and business name and get a list of their business citations. That list will include a link so that you can quickly sign up for the same directories.
Whitespark also provides a list of the top 50 citation sources in the United States. Check it out and start building those citations.
Bonus: The folks at BrightLocal have put together a list of the top 80+ Local SEO Citations for Lawyers. We highly recommend checking it out.
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone. NAP Consistency simply refers to all your citations having consistent information across the internet.
We commonly see inconsistent NAP info when an attorney has moved offices or a marketing company used a tracking number that doesn’t match the phone number on the website.
Make sure that all citations online match what shows on your website for:
- Business Name,
- Address, and
- Phone Number
An easy way to check for NAP Consistency is to Google your Business Name along with any old address and/or phone number that no longer matches what’s on your website.
If you find any listings with incorrect info, reach out to the site admin and ask them to update your info.
Moz Local (mentioned earlier) provides an overview of your NAP Consistency across various channels and data aggregators.
Adding Local Schema To Your Site
Local Schema helps Google understand your business location and other info relevant to Local SEO. Below we give you two ways to create the code you need.
Google Structured Data Markup Helper
Google provides a Structured Data Markup Helper so that you can easily tag your website with Structured Data. We strongly recommend that you take the time to do this for Local SEO.
Start by going to the Structured Data Markup page. Once you’re there, click “Local Business” and enter your URL. Then click “Start Tagging.”
On the next screen, you will see your homepage and “My Data Items” to the right. All you need to do is highlight the following:
- Business name,
- Address (Street, City, State, ZIP),
- Image (your logo),
- Click “Add missing tags” to add your website URL,
- Once you’ve done that, click on “CREATE HTML” to get your J-SON code.
Your code will look like this:
Copy and paste that code into the HEAD section of your site.
If you’re using WordPress, you can install the Insert Headers and Footers plugin and then insert the code into the head.
JSON Schema for Legal Services
The best schema to use for your lawyer website is the “legal services” schema. The folks at Juris Digital created this great schema generator so you can quickly get the code you need.
Filling it out is simple. However, four sections may seem confusing so we cover them below.
For this, you’ll want to insert the image link to your company logo. If you don’t have a logo, you could use an image of yourself or your team. Remember, you’ll need to include something in the Image URL box, as it’s required for this schema.
Latitude, Longitude, Google Map URL
To get these items, start by going to Google Maps.
Enter the name of your firm and hit the magnifying glass to search.
Look at the address bar on top. Copy and paste the first number into the Latitude box and the second number into the Longitude box. Don’t include the “@” for the latitude nor anything after the comma for longitude.
Next, enter the Google Map URL.
To do this, click the “Share” button.
Once you click on “Share,” you’ll see a pop-up. Click on “copy link.” Then click into the Google Map URL box in the JSON generator and paste. You’re all set!
Testing Your Schema
Once you’ve pasted your schema into your site, test it by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to make sure that you’ve set it up correctly.
You might see error or warning for not entering price. It’s ok, you don’t need to enter price.
Local Schema WordPress Plugins
Another option if you’re using WordPress is to install a Local Schema plugin.
Two that we recommend are:
Google My Business Reviews
Getting reviews can be a big challenge. We provide our clients with BirdEye. The biggest advantage of using BirdEye is that it allows you to quickly and easily send a review request email to a client.
The email looks professional and it seems to help our clients get more reviews. Below is what your client will see. You can also include a link to your Avvo profile.
You can also create your own email template and include a link to your Google My Busines review page.
It’s easy. Google My Business Help provides a resource so you can create a review link for your clients.
Once you’re there, follow the directions under “Create a link from Google Search” or “Create a link using the PlaceID Lookup Tool.”
Once you have that link, put together a form email and include the link when asking for a review.
Make sure you follow up with clients at least twice when requesting reviews, but be careful not to overdo it.
How Reviews Help Your Local Pack Rankings
Reviews help your rankings in several ways. First, review quantity and velocity helps your local pack rankings.
Another benefit is having a lot of positive reviews for potential clients to see.
Lastly, it appears that reviews with target keyword and/or target location seem to help rankings as well.
On-page SEO for Local SEO
Include Your Target Keyword in the Right Places
Keep it simple for on-page SEO. Make sure you have your target keywords and city in the following:
- Title Tag
- Meta Tag
- H1, H2
For example, if your target keyword is “Los Angeles family law attorney”, make sure you include it (or variations of it) in the tags and content.
You can use: Los Angeles family law lawyer, Family Law Attorney Los Angeles, Family Law Lawyers in Los Angeles, etc.
Don’t overuse the same keyword. Mix it up and insert it naturally into your content.
Display Your Name, Address, and Phone Number
Make sure your website clearly displays your business info including:
- Business Name
- Phone Number
You should also include business hours.
Embed a Google Map
We like to embed a Google Map for the business. To do that, go to Google Maps and search for your business.
Once you find it, click on the “Share” Button.
You’ll then get a pop-up. Click on “Embed a map.” The next step is to click “Copy HTML.”
You’ll then take that code and insert it into your website.
Link-Building for Local SEO
There are two types of Local SEO link-building. The first we covered above – citation building.
The second involves getting links from local and non-local sites to link back to your site.
Non-citation link-building will be specific to your practice area and market. So if you’re targeting “Los Angeles divorce lawyer”, you’ll want to Google that term and analyze the backlinks for the top 3 – 5 competitors.
What you’ll typically find is that the top results have a combination of different anchor text pointing to their site:
- URL (where the site’s URL is used as the anchor text)
- BRAND (The brand name is the anchor text)
- MISC (miscellaneous anchor text includes things like: click here, find out more, etc.), and
- Exact Match Anchor (EMA) or Partial Match Anchor (PMA).
An EMA anchor would be something you’re trying to rank for like “Los Angeles divorce lawyer,” while a PMA anchor has some of the keywords, i.e., “divorce lawyer Bob Smith.”
What you’ll find in most competitive markets is that many attorney top-ranked attorney sites have approximately 3% – 5% EMA/PMA.
To understand your market, you’ll need to use something like Ahrefs to research your competition.
We’re currently working on a complete link-building guide that will explain this aspect in more detail. If you need assistance with your link-building, contact us to discuss your project.
Pro Tip: Be cautious when creating exact match anchor links. They should be used sparingly to achieve the best possible effect.
We hope this guide helps you in your quest to dominate Local SEO. Did we miss something? Comment below and let us know how we did. Thank you for checking our Local SEO for Lawyers Guide.