For any business to be successful, it requires a healthy stream of customers, or in the case of a law practice, clients. Attracting those clients requires a law firm – your firm – to maintain high visibility amongst the public.
Modern methods like dynamic websites and SEO have long bypassed traditional advertising avenues for law firms. If you’re the savvy marketing type, though, one who’s investing in law firm internet marketing, and always looking to stay one step ahead of competing firms, it’s time you revisit a platform you already use.
Google Business Profile (previously known as “Google My Business”.)
What is Google Business Profile?
Even if you’re well-versed in the world of lawyer SEO and how it helps your law practice get noticed, Google Business Profile (GBP) flies under the radar for many firms. At its most basic, it’s a free listing service that connects individuals with local companies.
If you’ve ever searched for a local business – restaurant, lawn service, electrician or plumber – you’re familiar with GBP, even if you didn’t realize it.
And yes, as your law firm is very much a local business, a GBP listing is ideal for increasing your potential business.
In addition to listing the local business on Google Maps (the platform’s primary benefit), the GBP feature displays other vital information such as contact information, hours of operation, links to a company’s website, pictures, and reviews.
Effectively, GBP provides your law firm a free listing geared towards potential clients searching for local law services. Even the most basic listing – business name, address, phone number – can generate views from potential clients.
If you’re new to GBP, the first order of business is claiming your listing. Visit Google’s Google Business Profile page and select “Create” to get started.
A few quick points here – make sure no one else has claimed your business. If someone has, request ownership of it through Google. While not terribly common, it does happen, especially among companies or individuals with similar names.
If approved, Google sends a notification you have control of the listing.
Once you fill out the basic information, you will be asked to verify your listing. Nothing too taxing, but the most common form of verification is via a postcard sent from Google. Google lays out the instructions in great detail, and the process should take less than two weeks to complete. Most often, it’s just a few days.
Note that while you await your postcard, do not make any edits or changes to your listing, as it can create issues and delay your verification.
Upon completion of the verification process, your listing is live and starts appearing in search results. You’ll also have access to analytics to gauge the success of your listing.
Why is GBP Important for Your Law Practice?
There’s a number of benefits to having a GBP listing for your law firm. The most critical is exposure.
As noted, even a basic listing will put your firm on the radar of those searching for attorneys. A well-optimized GBP listing puts you at the front of the line. That’s critical for a local law firm that relies heavily on local clients.
And if you’re a regional firm with dozens of locations, you need to make sure each of your local listings is fully optimized as well.
The goal for optimizing your GBP is landing it on the local “Map Pack.” Also referred to as the local “3-pack,” these results appear just below a condensed Google Map and above the regular Google search results.
Whether you show up in the top three of the Map Pack or list prominently on the following results page after someone selects “View all,” it raises the profile of your firm considerably.
For one thing, you won’t be competing with aggregators such as Avvo and FindLaw. A lack of physical locations keeps these directories from appearing in local results.
But the most significant advantage of having a GBP listing is capitalizing on local searches. Nearly 50% of searches performed on Google are with local intent. And that local Map Pack? It shows up in 93% of those searches made with local intent.
With regards to the importance of just having your business show up on Google Maps – 86% of people seek a business location through the platform.
A GBP listing allows your firm to enhance its SEO and SERP rankings, increase potential client inquiries, and raise your profile above competing firms.
Fully Optimized Profile
The initial GBP setup is easy. However, you want more than a simple profile, you want it fully optimized. Let’s explore how.
Beyond entering your firm’s NAP data, you’ll want to complete as much information as possible.
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Hours of operation including special hours
- Your coverage or service area
- Type of law you specialize in
Whichever number you’ve identified as your tracking number, use that as your primary contact number.
However you advertise your law firm name, address, and contact information on other platforms – your website, legal listing services, your monument sign or stationary – keep the same format on GBP. Google recommends this and will penalize you if they believe your listing is attempting to mislead people.
Pay particular attention when selecting the type of law you specialize in. This step is crucial as you want to drive the right traffic to your law firm. To do so, you’ll need to show up in as many search results relevant to your practice as possible.
GBP requires you to select a primary business category. For example, your firm may provide both Personal Injury and Criminal Defense services. To ensure you capture both aspects, list one as your primary service and the other as secondary.
As GBP’s business categories are quite extensive, you shouldn’t have a problem finding the specific categories to fit your business. If your particular specialization isn’t listed, then use one of the general categories.
Perhaps the most straightforward step for optimization is ensuring your information is consistent across all platforms. Don’t treat GBP as a wholly separate entity.
Best practices for filling out your services include long, unique descriptions for each service your firm provides. Run a Personal Injury law firm? Then you should feature separate descriptions for each of your specializations. Consider the following list for such a firm:
- Car Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Dog Bites
- Slip and Falls
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Wrongful Death
Each one should get their own standout description. Beyond being helpful for a user, it improves the overall richness of your GBP listing and enhances your local SEO.
From the Business
Next, utilize keywords when completing your business description. Explain what you do and your benefit to potential clients. There’s no need to be uniquely creative or attempt to be overly gimmicky (Google specifically uses this word in their guidelines and says to avoid it). You have 750 characters for your description, don’t waste them.
Mirror how you would utilize keywords from your primary website, but pay attention to how someone might search for a law firm locally. You want to keep user intent in mind here. In other words, you want your listing to be in line with what people are actually searching for.
For instance, instead of the keywords “Dallas attorney,” consider using “real estate attorney in North Dallas.” A basic description for a Dallas real estate and tax firm might read:
“As a full-service real estate and tax law firm, DFW Attorneys at Law help you navigate the finer points of North Texas commercial and residential regulations. We have over 50 attorneys specializing in land and property acquisition and sale, deeds, zoning, and titles; local, state, and federal tax law, and estate planning. With our primary practice in Addison and offices in Frisco, McKinney, and Plano, we serve clients from across North Dallas, Collin County, and southeast Denton County.”
Granted, that’s shorter than the full character allowance, but ensure your description is straightforward and to the point while utilizing the whole space. Just make sure you’re not keyword stuffing and keep the description natural, informative and truthful, and relevant.
If you’re having trouble, always look to your firm’s mission statement or your online “About Us” webpage for inspiration.
The Insights section of your GBP dashboard is a wealth of information that makes sense of your customer engagement stats. Key data shown includes total views, how users found your listing, and how they interact with it.
Arguably, one of the most important data points is how people search for law practice. Insights identify if it’s direct (search specific to your firm’s name or address), discovery (general search for a service or category related to your business), or branded (search for brands that relate to your firm).
You can also see the queries that people are using to find your business. By understanding the common terms or phrases that result in your firm appearing in a search, you can tailor your content to take advantage of those queries. Some specific strategies include:
- Improving pages that queries map to – This can include things like incorporating more relevant long tail keywords and beefing up thin pages (less than 300 words) with more relevant content.
- Using those queries as anchor text in link building – If you’re building links to pages on your site, consider using those common queries as anchor text in the backlinks to strengthen your rankings for those terms.
- Create pages around queries – If you don’t have a page built for a common query, create one!
Based on their research, Google claims that a complete GBP profile is two times more trustworthy than a company without it. That’s hard to overlook when you account for the fact the listing is free.
Much of that stems from the reviews that are posted to your GBP listing. Not only is the feature excellent at building trust with your potential clientele, but it boosts your “social proof.”
Generate a steady stream of positive reviews, and your peer-reviewed profile as a firm that people can trust goes through the roof.
If you’re worried about negative reviews, don’t. Every business has them, especially those listed on GBP (it is an open forum, after all). But the flow of high praise reviews will easily drown out the one or two naysayers.
Just be sure that you respond to every review you receive, both positive and negative. This shows people that you’re responsive and care about your clients. If you have a negative review, it’s also an opportunity to try to resolve the situation and generate some good PR.
Build your cache of reviews through the use of reputation management software to automate the solicitation of reviews. Additionally, share your business profile with new and existing customers and ask them to leave a review of your business. Explain that reviews can make a big difference in whether someone decides to work with you, and ask them to help you by leaving a review.
Further optimization includes adding photos of your team and your business office or offices. Images are a critical factor in SEO and help provide context for those seeking out your services. Pictures also increase the confidence a client will have in interacting with your firm.
Steer well-clear of stock photos. Use only high-quality images that include your team of attorneys and support staff, exterior shots of your building, and interior shots of your reception area and conference rooms (where a client might meet with someone from your team).
Videos will further heighten the experience for users and also scores favorably with Google.
It’s important to remember that GBP is not a one and done proposition. Maintaining a relevant listing that is always up to date is vital to finding long-term success with your GBP listing. This is where several advanced tactics will prove extremely helpful.
Improve your engagement by completing Google Posts to tout new developments, new hires, or success within your firm. You can also utilize this space for news or updates related to the law in general. Anything you can relate to your business.
This type of activity not only clues Google into your ongoing relevance but engages your clientele as well.
Posts are most successful when done regularly – and not once a quarter regularly, but weekly or even daily. We get that a daily post might be a lot for some firms with limited resources. However, greater posting frequency results in greater GBP success.
Launch A Free GBP Website
Based on the information in your GBP listing, Google will create a free website for you. What’s the point of doing this if you already have a website? Because it’s a way to get another citation for your business, which strengthens your local search presence.
Use A URL Parameter
Instead of putting in your normal website URL in your GBP listing, use a URL parameter. This allows you to easily track how much search traffic is coming directly from your GBP listing in Google Analytics.
To create a URL parameter, use Google’s Campaign URL Builder.
Questions and Answers
Stay on top of the Question and Answers section by setting up alerts and populating responses with keywords. Respond timely to keep the section updated and free from open-ended inquiries.
Have friends or family ask common questions, or even better, do it yourself. You can complete your own Q&A’s by posting and answering the questions your firm fields most often from current and potential clients. Consider it a de facto FAQ.
Even if you start small with your most basic contact information, just claiming your GBP listing is a huge step toward raising your profile.
But don’t stop there. Optimize your Google Business Profile listing to reap its full benefits.
Beyond increasing your profile, it can improve your standing and trustworthiness, show off your satisfied clients, celebrate your bonafides, and generate new business. With minimal short term effort, the long term impact on your business can prove massive.