Tag Archives: local SEO

Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide On How To Attract Local Clients Via The Internet

I know what you’re wondering: How do I attract local clients who do a Google search for law firms in my area?

In this post, I’m going to give you two ways to attract local clients – and both are free and easy enough to do in an afternoon. Let’s get to it:

First Things First

A word of consideration: As you read this article, keep in mind that there may be some ethical do’s and don’ts when it comes to soliciting or promoting online reviews of you or your law practice. Always check with your state bar association’s guidelines on what action is permissible.

You need an online presence. Forget Yellow Pages and billboards to reach local audiences. Did you know that 83% of your prospective clients will perform an online search first to find local lawyers?

You need a website and completed social media profiles. You also need to set up shop on review sites like Google My Business and Yelp. We’ll discuss this in greater detail later in this post.

You must have a responsive website. People aren’t searching the Internet strictly from their desktop computers anymore, especially when finding out information about law offices. When a client wants to find hours and directions to your office, they’re going to do so via their smartphones. Google found that 88% of local searches come from a smartphone. That’s 4% more than desktop computers.

What does this mean for you? It means that you need a website that looks great on smartphones and quickly gives your clients exactly what they need.

The best way to do that is with a well-designed website that responds to whatever device your client uses to access your information. We can help with that.

Make client testimonials a priority. Your law firm will grow based on word of mouth, both offline and online, too. Make it a part of your client outtake process to ask that they share their experience through an online review, or provide your information to others.

That said, be sure to follow the guidelines of each online review site to make sure you’re complying with the rules (more on that a little later).

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of designing your local marketing strategy:

Where Do Your Clients Search?

Let’s get real for a moment. Do your clients know anything about Martindale or even Lawyers.com? Probably not. And you may not either. But everyone knows about Google and Yelp. That’s exactly where you need to be right now if you’d like to attract local clients.
Take a look at these two graphs from the guys at SoftwareAdvice.com:

software-advice

Image Courtesy of SoftwareAdvice.com

In fact, Yelp is the most trusted review site for lawyers, by far. More than twice the amount of people go to Yelp to find a lawyer than its’ nearest competitor, Super Lawyers.

legal-servicesImage Courtesy of Yelp

The other big influencer for your law office is Google. A completely new prospective client who has never heard of you will most likely begin their search for representation with Google. Someone who’s familiar with Yelp (and who isn’t these days?) will likely head to Yelp for recommendations and reviews.

We’ll explore both sites in detail, but remember that you should also get listed on each and every site that speaks to your prospective clients. Although we’re going to focus on Google and Yelp in this post, you shouldn’t exclude Avvo.comMartindale, and Super Lawyers. They rock, too, just not as loudly (yet) as Google and Yelp. In fact, we recommend that you focus your marketing efforts on Google (60%), Yelp (20%), and Avvo (20%).

But, since you’re just beginning your local marketing, let’s tackle the two with the biggest ROI now and then focus on the others afterwards.

Would you like a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Google My Business

Let’s do an exercise right now. In your browser, do a quick Google search for “law firms in insert your city, your state” (for example, law firms in Phoenix, AZ). What comes up? Does your website show in the premium space affectionately known as Google’s local snack pack?

law-firms

Screenshot of snack pack of law firms in Phoenix, AZ

If so, fantastic! Move on to the Yelp section below. If not, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to dominating.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a free feature created by Google for any local business that would like to market and promote themselves online.

This feature increases your exposure online. How? When people do a basic search for law firms in your area, your Google My Business listing will show up before the regular search engine results. For this reason alone, Google My Business can be even more powerful than SEO (search engine optimization).

As a local law office, you can’t afford not to be listed through Google My Business. If you’re not on that top three list, your competitors are.

I already have a website. Do I need Google My Business, too?

Yes. While your website should be the central hub of your online activity (i.e. your services, blog posts, bios, and contact information), you also need a Google My Business listing. Google uses the information you provide to better construct their search engine results.

Google is a business too, and they want to provide the best and most accurate information to their customers. Google wants to make it easy for customers to find exactly what they need as quickly as possible.

That’s why they created Google My Business, which distills all of your information into an orderly, easy-to-scan structure. This feature empowers your prospective clients with the following information:

Your Business Name

Address

Phone Number

Website Link

Area of Law Expertise

Directions

Physical Location on a Local Map

Rating and Reviews

Hours of Operation

Photos of Your Practice

Top 5 Related Web Results

zachar-lawScreenshot of Zachar Law Firm in Phoenix, AZ

What is a snack pack?

Google My Business selects three local listings to showcase. We call this the snack pack. They get prime listing above other law firms.

So, why do only three listings make it? It all goes back to mobile. It turns out that the three listing snack pack looks best on smartphones and smaller screens.

How do I make it into the Google snack pack?

There are two strategies you can implement to influence your Google My Business listing and hopefully make it to the coveted three within the snack pack. They are:

Position yourself as an authority. What type of law do you practice? Be sure to get as specific as possible in your Google My Business listing. Indicate if you practice family law, personal injury, bankruptcy, and so on. This will help Google determine where to rank you on their list.

bankcruptcyA Google Search for “bankruptcy lawyer phoenix az”

Get reviewed. Do you have a happy client? Direct them to your Google My Business listing. How? Here comes the creative part.

As of now, the best way to get them to your Google listing is to provide a URL that looks something like this:

https://www.google.com/#q=Zachar+Law+Firm

You’ll create a URL like this by searching for your specific law office name in Google. In the above case “Zachar Law Firm.” If your law office name sounds similar to others, specify by adding your city and state or even zipcode.

zachar2

To solicit reviews, simply ask. Make sure you direct your potential reviewers to your Google search URL (for example https://www.google.com/#q=Zachar+Law+Firm). You can ask in the emails you send out, under your signature, with a sentence like:

Leave Us a Review on Google Here: (provide a link to your Google search URL)

Every so often, you should ask your social media followers for a review. Be sure never to incentivize the reviews you ask for on Google.

Yelp

As we mentioned before, Yelp is a necessary component of your local marketing strategy. One thing you need to know about Yelp is they don’t allow you to ask for reviews. But there are still ways to win on Yelp. Let’s check it out:

What is Yelp?

Yelp is an online review site for local businesses. It’s second only to Google in terms of influence for local recommendations. They average 142 million visits every month. That’s huge.

yelpA Yelp search for “law firms in Phoenix, AZ”

Why do I need to be on Yelp?

You need to be there because your clients are there. More people use Yelp to search for law firms than they do any other review site.

What information does Yelp give potential clients?

Yelp provides the following information in the main listing:

Your Name

Address

Phone Number

Ratings and Reviews

Area of Specialization

Hero Image of You or Your Law Office

One Top Review

In the full page listing, you can add more such as:

Your Website

A Map of Your Location

An Overview of Your Practice that You Write

Does Yelp filter reviews?

It sure does. It’s been said that Yelp eliminates the best and the worst reviews. Yelp also may slash reviews from those without friends, incomplete profiles, or no other reviews. This is why it’s so important to reach active Yelp users who can positively (fingers crossed) promote your law practice.

Wait, I thought I couldn’t ask for reviews

You can’t. But you can ask your clients to visit your Yelp page. It’s a small matter of semantics but you’re a lawyer, so you should be okay with that.

The bottom line is you can encourage visitors to find you on Yelp and hope that they feel inspired to write a review about your wonderful work. You can also place a Yelp badge on your website to further promote your Yelp page. Likewise, add a link to your Yelp page under your email signature with the text, “Check us out on Yelp.”

Final Thoughts

Google My Business and Yelp can positively impact your law firm. Take an hour or two out of your day to set up your profile on these sites. Not sure how to do that? Subscribe to receive a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles.

Would you like a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Local SEO 101: What You Need To Know To Dominate the Listings

Chances are, you’ve heard of SEO. SEO is short for search engine optimization, and it’s the practice of doing everything you can to get as high up in the search engine results page (SERP, for short) as possible.

You see, landing on the first page of Google (or Bing) is not an accident. It takes deliberate effort to catapult your lawyer website (and by extension, your law firm) to the first few results, and there’s a lot of stiff competition vying for that coveted spot.

Here’s a free checklist to help you boost your SEO. Subscribe to receive this extra checklist.

Being on the first page of Google (or Bing) is absolutely crucial to grabbing potential clients. These people are on the Internet right now looking for the very legal services you offer, but studies show that most people never click beyond the first page of the search results. If you want to reach them, you’ve got to be on that first page, too.

What is local seo?

Local SEO is slightly different from normal SEO. Local SEO is about getting your website to hit the front page for a specific location, i.e. your city or state.

For example, the results that pop up when someone searches for “law firms Tucson” have all been optimized for a local search.

Local SEO is important for businesses with physical locations. When Internet users search for a law firm online, they usually want to make contact immediately. They’re not going to spend an hour searching through hundreds of listings to find your contact information that’s nestled somewhere on page seven. They’ll likely go with one of the first few listings on the first page.

So, how do you dominate the local results? Let’s take a look at a few proven strategies.

A Word About Keywords

Before we go any further, let’s talk about keywords.

Keywords are words that you type into a search box to call up a particular topic.

To dominate local results, you need to use relevant and local keywords on your website. If your law firm specializes in family law in Birmingham, AL that’s exactly what phrase you should use to describe yourself on your website. An example of this would be in your About Us page where you describe your practice as “family law Birmingham, AL.”

This small effort makes it much more likely for you to show up in the search results when someone searches in Google for that very phrase.

key-words

Image Courtesy of Google

It would be a mistake to overlook your city name here and go generic. There are hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other websites that could turn up for a generic keyword like “legal advice.”

While Google can put together a list of local law firms, if you haven’t optimized your content to indicate that you’re local to that specific area, you’ll get overlooked in favor of your competitors.

The moral of the story? Make all of your websites optimized for local keyword search inquiries by adding your city name.

By the way, don’t go crazy with keywords. Your site’s ranking on the search engine won’t improve from keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing is when you list a whole bunch of keywords (usually at the bottom of your page) in hopes that the search engine will select your site when a specific keyword is searched for. While this was a common practice once upon a time, you can’t trick the search engine crawlers this way anymore.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to still optimize your online presence, and we’re going to delve directly into them right now.

Pay for Ads

You need a paid ad strategy if you’d like to dominate local search engine results. That’s because the very first search results on Google happen to be advertisements.

The ads look similar to regular listings except for the telltale orange “ad” icon. They get a lot of clicks. These ads compete with regular “organic” search results and usually win.

A round of ads are also displayed near the bottom of the page, too.

Paid advertising doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Here’s a simple overview of how Google’s paid advertising works:

  • You choose a keyword phrase you’d like to rank for. This means when someone types in this phrase in the search bar, your ad will return along with the search results, hopefully at the top of the page.
  • You decide how much you’re willing to pay. Google ads are pay per click. Every time someone clicks on your ad, your account will be debited the specific amount you agreed to pay.
  • You can determine how much you’re willing to pay each day. If your limit is $5.00 per day, your ad will disappear after meeting that quota until the next day.
  • You create an ad, paying special attention to making it relevant for the keyword phrase you’re bidding on. Be sure you link to a relevant page on your website that discusses that very keyword, or else visitors will feel like you’ve tricked them. (This will negatively impact your ad campaign and cause your ad to disappear from search results.)
  • You then bid on the ad. You’re not guaranteed to win the bid. Sometimes, other competitors are also bidding for that same keyword phrase. Google doesn’t automatically choose the highest bidder, either. Instead, Google uses a quality score to decide who should receive the coveted spot.

Bing works similarly to Google.

While you’re never guaranteed a spot in the top results, optimizing your content and making sure the ad links to a relevant location will increase your chances.

Utilize Google My Business

We’ve talked extensively about Google My Business in this post: Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide on How to Attract Local Clients via the Internet. If you’d like to really understand how to list your law firm with Google, definitely check it out.

While I won’t rehash what we discussed there, I will say that getting listed on Google My Business is one of the smartest things you can do to influence where you land in the local search results.

Studies show that clients are more likely to visit a business with a completed Google My Business page.

google-my-business

Image Courtesy of Greg Gifford, DealerOn

Make it a priority to list your business on Google My Business today. In fact, you can do it right now. I’ll wait. It’s that important.

Get Reviewed

In that previous post on attracting local clients, we also talked about the importance of getting reviews, with heavy emphasis on Yelp. Be sure to check that post out, too.

While reviews on third party sites like Yelp are important, you should also actively seek reviews on Google.

These reviews help Google determine whether to display your listing in its Google My Business local results. Because an initial trio of listings feature prominently on the search results page (it’s located right underneath the ads and before the organic search results), you need to do whatever it takes to get a spot on this list.

get-reviewed

Image Courtesy of Google

Encourage your clients to leave a review of your law firm with Google. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight link you can give them, but you can provide a series of short instructions along with a visual reference like this:

get-reviewd2

Image Courtesy of Google

Create a Blog

If you don’t have a blog already, consider creating one. Websites with active blogs rank higher in search results. Why?

Search engines love to see a freshly updated website. While you’re probably not going to change the core information on your website very often (this includes the content on your About page, your Contact Us page, and your Services page), you can provide fresh content on a blog.

This is also another opportunity to appear in local search results for a specific keyword phrase. You can write about topics that your potential clients are likely to search for. An example of this may be “applying for a K-1 visa in Portland, Oregon.” Your blog post can rank near the top because it contains relevant keywords.

create-a-blog

Image Courtesy of Google

This is the most important thing to remember when writing your blog:

Focus on local keywords (i.e. city, state) everywhere especially in:

  • Your blog post title
  • Your meta description
  • The alt tags on your images

Final Thoughts

Local SEO sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Your law firm can totally dominate the local search results if you follow this advice. Ask any questions you have in the comments below and we’ll be sure to help you.

Here’s a free checklist to help you boost your SEO. Subscribe to receive this extra checklist.

Avvo For Beginners: What It Is And Why It Will Benefit Your Practice

Love it or hate it, Avvo, along with other third party lawyer review sites, is an inescapable part of the Internet landscape. Clients (past, present, and possibly imaginary) can leave reviews about your service that can either mar or bolster your law practice, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Or is there?

Like the old adage says, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. In this post, let’s discuss how you can use Avvo to attract more clients, build your brand authority, and win at life.

What is Avvo?

Avvo is a service that provides legal resources. In addition to its function as an online legal directory, Avvo makes it possible for users to review and rate attorneys.

Lawyers can easily interact with the Avvo community at large, either through Avvo’s premium-level Advisor service or through the free Q&A forum.

Avvo is one of the most popular and well respected services of its kind.

Why should I be on Avvo?

If you’re a lawyer, you’re probably on Avvo anyway. It’s suggested that 95% of all US-based attorneys are listed on Avvo– whether they want to be there or not. This is because Avvo populates its site using public information obtained from the State Bar Association.

That said, you don’t really want to leave it with just that basic information, do you? Especially since it’s free to claim your Avvo listing, why not optimize it with the type of information that will win you leads?

Check out our tips for creating a winning profile on Avvo!

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are a few other compelling reasons to claim your Avvo listing now:

+Avvo is great for SEO

If you’d like to get found via search engine (and who wouldn’t?), don’t overlook Avvo. Avvo frequently ranks on page one of search engine results for both individual and generic results, as you can see here:

avvo seo generic

avvo seo

That said, I wouldn’t recommend putting all of your eggs in the Avvo basket. You should also have a solidly built website that serves as your online hub. (We can help with that. Click here for more information.) This website should be search engine optimized and the definitive resource for your legal practice online.

However, actively maintaining a profile listing on Avvo will only help your search engine rankings, and may even drive more traffic to your website.

+Clients use the Internet for researching attorneys

While word of mouth is important, clients also turn to good ‘ole Google to find out more about an attorney before even the initial consultation. Clients don’t just look for your phone number and hours of operation online, they look for reviews, areas of expertise, and a winning smile.

This is why full representation on Avvo is a must. You need to be everywhere that your prospective clients are looking for you.

+Control the conversation

While you can’t exactly change what the reviews say about you, you can make it a two-sided conversation.

A lot of attorneys make the mistake of pretending like a bad review doesn’t exist and never responding. Ignoring an unfavorable review doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it reflects badly on you, making it look like you don’t care.

When you get actively involved on Avvo (and other review sites), you can add your response to a review, whether that review is good or bad.

When you respond, keep in mind the prospective client who will read what you’ve written. Choose words that are professional but warm, with a hint of appreciation and insight. Those are the responses that will win the argument every time compared to a “this client was horrible” type of response.

Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Using Avvo

In order to reap the benefits of being on Avvo, you must actively participate. In fact, the more you participate, the more you can positively impact your Avvo rating. Here’s a rundown of how to use Avvo effectively:

Claim your listing right now for free, and then optimize it.

After claiming your listing, it’s time to optimize it. Be sure to subscribe to receive a list of our top tips for creating a winning Avvo profile.

avvoImage Courtesy of Avvo

Participate in Avvo’s legal Q&A section.

If you’d like to build authority and raise your profile with site visitors who are looking for answers, get involved with the legal Q&A section on Avvo.

Consider upgrading to Avvo Pro.

Use Avvo Pro to track important analytics, such as how many people are contacting you based on your Avvo listing. You’ll also receive a “Pro” sign next to your name, which indicates that you are invested in the Avvo community (quite literally).

Another benefit of Avvo Pro is the ability to remove your competitors’ ads from appearing on your listing.

Advertise with Avvo.

Speaking of showing up on a competitor’s profile, you can opt in to Avvo Advertising. This service allows you to create an advertisement for your service that pops up on another attorney’s free listing.

One of the benefits of going with Avvo advertising, aside from greater exposure, is the fact that you can also target your ads to a specific demographic.

Get as many reviews and ratings as possible.

Avvo offers two types of reviews: client and colleague. Urge your clients to leave feedback for you on Avvo after successfully rendering a service. Similarly, court peer endorsements by asking for them the same way you would on LinkedIn.

To clarify, your Avvo rating is not the same as a client review or peer endorsement. Avvo ratings are determined by how active you are within the Avvo community, along with professional achievements and other information. For a more detailed look at the differences between ratings and review, check out this post: What is the difference between the Avvo Rating, Client Reviews, and Peer Endorsements?

Join Avvo Legal Services.

Another feature that Avvo offers its customers is a fixed-fee advice session. You provide the service and Avvo works as a marketer. It’s offered only to those local to your geographic area, and it’s not available in all states.

Why should you care?

Participating in Legal Services gives you more opportunities to increase your ratings. And higher ratings means that you look better in the eyes of prospective clients.

For information about Avvo Legal Services, check out this page: Avvo Advisor.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an attorney, Avvo is an essential part of your online branding efforts. Your name’s on there whether you like it or not, so claim it and control how prospective clients are introduced to your brand.

Check out our tips for creating a winning profile on Avvo!