It might be invisible, but it doesn’t have to stay that way!
Your law practice may very well be invisible if you’re not appearing in the Google My Business local listings. (Otherwise known as Google Local Pack, Google Map Listings, etc.)
If you’ve ever done a Google search for a service or product you have seen that Google first displays 3-4 paid ads (Adwords), then displays a Map with the Local Listings and then displays the organic (non-paid) search results.
Google generates these listing results for people that do a Google search by determining where they are when they are searching. They use the GPS in their phone or computer, their IP address, the cell towers their phone is connected to, etc., to determine their location. Creepy, yes. But also, very convenient for
Take advantage of the opportunity that Google is giving to you to get potential clients without having to pay for them. Make sure your business appears at the top of those listings when people in your area are searching terms that are relevant to your practice. Remember, if you’re not at the top of those local search results that means your nearest competitors are!
Marketing dollars spent anywhere else is like fighting a war in a foreign country while the barbarians are literally and figuratively at your gate. You’re giving away that prime marketing real estate and there are steps you can take to make sure it’s yours. Those steps are also the minimum requirements to be competitive in broader geographic searches. Doing them also reinforces your other online marketing efforts while ensuring that your competitor next door doesn’t take all the low hanging fruit.
Of course, we are attorneys not a local pizza parlor. Certainly, potential clients are consulting their friends, family, and colleagues to determine who the most qualified attorneys are? Sure. There are people who still do that and your reputation building, and direct networking efforts will pay off for those that do.
However, millions of people are searching for attorneys on the Internet and particularly through Google. Are you ignoring them? Because if you are, they are certainly ignoring you. If you want to successfully market your practice on the Internet and you haven’t first focused on how you appear in the Google My Business local search listings, you’re wasting time and money.
Google My Business local listings give great weight to the one thing only a handful of your competitors can compete with – your location. And that means it also targets the market that is most likely to meet with you for a consultation.
” Remember, if you’re not at the top of those local search results that means your nearest competitors are!”
I have had several clients tell me they chose me because another attorney that came up in their searches also had great reviews but they were located across town. I know. Faint praise. It makes you cringe. They picked me based on location, but that’s the new reality at least for those who are searching for lawyers on the Internet. If the people searching for an attorney using Google knew me or knew people they felt could give them a good referral perhaps they wouldn’t be doing a Google search in the first place. But they are doing it – by the millions.
And they didn’t really pick me just for location because they specifically mentioned the Google reviews which now acts in the place of referrals from trusted people in their lives. You can judge it if you want, but that’s the reality of the market and a reason that one of the things you must do is manage your online reputation. If all other things are equal, people will select a restaurant, car wash and even an attorney who gets good reviews and is close to them.
If you want to see where you rank in your local listings and how to do better, get your free local search listings audit from Alphalegal.
So, how does this work? If someone searches for your practice area or uses other relevant keywords in your general geographic area your listing can come up prominently in the space just below the paid ads. That space is the Google My Business Maps Listings. Preferably you will be in the top 3 so people don’t have to click the “More Places” link to see your listing though they definitely do click that link.
If you don’t appear in the Google My Business local map listings you don’t have much chance of scoring high on the organic search results anyway. If you don’t appear there when people are searching in your local area, Google is saying that you are not relevant to those search terms even to those who are geographically close to you. If you’re not relevant to those search terms when people are sitting within miles of your office, you certainly are not relevant to those search terms when people are searching on the other side of town and certainly not from the other side of the county or state.
Let’s look at a typical search. In Image 1, above, you see the first page of results for a search for a divorce attorney in Hartford, CT. The first four listings are paid ads. They have limited visual appeal, but they are effective because they appear first.
Below that you have the Google Map and the 3 attorney listings. Sometimes one of the ads will appear in the Google Map Listings as it does in Image 1. Those listings are visually appealing, are not paid ads except for the top one, are associated with the map and have their Google review rating listed. They contain links to the attorney’s websites and directions. The first non paid law firm listing that appears is Freed Marcroft, LLC.
Note, in Image 2, that in the following organic search results Justia occupies the first two spots and then Brown Paindiris & Scott appear. They have a well optimized Findlaw website and they are the first of the law firms to appear in the organic search results.
The next attorney who appears in the organic search results appears 3 places later and look who it is. It’s the one who appears first in the Google My Business map location, Freed Marcroft. The first organic search result in the listing other than the Local Pack listings is Brown Paindiris & Scott and they appear 8th. In other words, Freed Marcroft and the 2 other law firms that appear in the Map listings leapfrogged in front of Brown Paindiris & Scott by optimizing their Google My Business listing.
Franky, I think the map listings are more effective than the paid ads that above them and certainly more than the organic ads that are below them for several reasons.
- Their format is more pleasing;
- Your location is noted with a pin on a map which I think not only draws the eye, but is useful information to the potential client;
- Your Google review score is prominently displayed whereas it is not for the ads;
- Potential clients can click to get directions to your office or click right to your website from the listing. People don’t know where they are going when they click on the paid ads or even if the ads are “legit;”
- Your telephone number and business hours are prominently displayed; and,
- Google appears to be endorsing you with the reviews and the placement.
How do you optimize your website and Google My Business listing? General Search Engine Optimization is always important, but Google also places value on reviews and listings in local directories among other things. None of the things that you would do to optimize yourself for local searches should hurt you in the organic searches and most should help you there, too. But not having a Google My Business listing is NOT an option.