Are you familiar with Local Search and its potential for law firms? In this article, we focus on local search and Google My Business.
In a previous article, we explained the value of citations management for law firms, we looked into the most important citations categories, and we explored the two approaches you can take with your strategy (spoiler alert, take the active approach). Today, we will specifically dive into the world of GMB (Google My Business), we’ll start with a quick retrospective on its first steps, discover its evolution over time, and focus on what you should dedicate your efforts on to help your law firm thrive in local search.
- The GMB predecessors.
It all started back in 2005 with the launch of Google Maps and the initial addition of Google Local Business Center. It offered an information window on the maps with the main company information and limited interactions. The executives in the Search Engine behemoth quickly understood the unlimited possibilities of local search and started building around it. In 2009 they created the Google Places Pages, this new feature brought a richer full-page experience to the searcher/viewer, adding more capabilities. From our point of view, the breaking news was that for the first time Google added Ads in this section. The next cornerstone was the introduction of Google+ and its business pages. It created a standalone platform for businesses, including law firms, and you could connect it to your maps verified listing. All these until 2014, when GMB was officially launched and took over from all the previous platforms, creating a centralized hub that allows you to list, verify, manage, and promote your law firm on local search.
Below you can find a preview of how Google Places looked like:
Today, GMB is one of the most prominent, if not the most, components of local search. If you don’t already have a Google My Business listing for your law firm, you need to create it now. If you don’t maximize its potential, you need to look into it now and create a strategy that includes GMB.
- Your Law Firm’s GMB listing.
It all starts with the creation of a GMB listing. Using your Google account, head to Google My Business, and add your details. Pay particular attention and register accurate information; if you plan on creating other listings as well, we’d suggest keeping notes of the precise details you add and ensure that you have a universal presence. Among the most significant business information are your law firm’s name, address, location, phone number, and website.
As soon as you set your listing up, you’ll have to verify it to unlock all capabilities and also get the badge next to your name. The most common way for Google is through a postcard that they send to your physical address. Once you receive it, you should log in and verify the listing using your code.
After you verify your GMB, it’s time to start using and optimizing it. What’s important to understand is the more complete your listing is, the more legit and prominent your law firm will look, both to the searcher and Google. Make sure to add your working hours, any additional information (such as working remotely or other COVID-19 related GMB updates), special attributes about your law firm, and/or practice areas (free consultation for example). Additionally, don’t forget to add photos; Google says that people tend to prefer listing with business photos, so take that advice and prepare your GMB accordingly.
We save a special spot for two components of Google My Business. The first one is the product category. Most law firms forget about it as they might consider it irrelevant to them, but it isn’t. Products for a law firm are translated into services; there you can add your practice areas and any services you offer. A short but to the point description, an image preview, and the link to your practice area page. The second is posts and updates. Use GMB to share your law firm’s news, and update your clients with any ongoing offers, changes in policy, or anything that could be relevant to them and would improve their experience with your law firm’s GMB listing.
- Let’s talk about reviews.
Your law firm’s reputation management and reviews are indispensable for your digital presence. Positive reviews can build trust among your prospective clients through a concept called social proof, in other words, you prove your law firm’s legitimacy and success socially. It’s valuable to keep track of every review, positive and negative, and reply to them accordingly. This helps searchers understand how you treat your clients, the reasons they are happy with your legal services, and also how you react if something doesn’t go your way. Getting your clients to leave reviews isn’t the easiest task, but you need to give your best shot and have a strategy in place. Our advice is to look for the moments of happiness and joy and then ask for a review. When would that be? If, for example, you are a PI attorney, you can ask your clients for a review when you hand them their check.
- Local Search is not only about organic traffic.
People sometimes forget the importance of local Ads. In a previous article, we talked about and explained the value of local services ads for lawyers, but it goes way beyond that. The local pack takes the most prominent part of the SERPs, and it’s all about local search. Did you know that you can show your law firm’s ad in the local pack and stand out over the organic results? Additionally, Google recently confirmed a test project that shows ads on local business profiles. So far it’s a pilot for a very limited number of “whitelisted” companies such as Groupon, but this could be a sign of a direction Google considers taking for the future.
Conclusion: Local Search has changed a lot throughout the years, and with it, GMB is also changing. If you want your law firm to find success with local search, you have to pay attention to Google My Business. Keep your listing updated, stay active, and use all the valuable features Google offers to businesses.