Take Advantage of a Changing Local Search Landscape
The search landscape has changed greatly in 2012, from link quality to Google+ Local, the game is changing and you need to be ready. Local search should be a huge part of any small business marketing plan. Not only does it facilitate the creation of local relationships, but getting organic listings in the Google Local 7 pack or Blended listings may be the only way for a small business to get any traction in the Google search result pages (SERPS). Law firms are no different than any other small business, they need as much qualified business as they can get. We’ve put together 4 of the top things law firms need to do to increase the leads they receive from local search marketing, here they are:
Claim Your Google Listing
Believe it or not there are some law firms out there that haven’t claimed their Google Places/+Local listing. The first step is claiming ownership of the page, and the second step is making sure the information is updated and correct. One tip on optimizing the page, use your business name – don’t try to stuff keywords into the Places listing, Google is a little smarter than that!
A couple more Places Tips
Using Meta Tags
Make sure your address is on each page of the website using micro format markup (see: schema.org). In early 2011, Google started its authorship program. This was done to create a definitive line between spam and actual content. Essentially, you need a Google+ profile and you’ll tie that in with your blog. What happens is Google then shows your picture in the search results and attributes you as the author. We implemented this about 8 months ago and have seen slightly higher click through rates from Google organic search. This is because the authorship program allows searchers to assume Google trusts your site and its content since it knows that you are the author.
One of the most important factors in local search is your Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website (referred to as NAP). A few years back having multiple phone numbers based in cities where you wanted to rank was a preferred tactic. Fast forward about 5 years and the tactic no longer works. Guess what? You may still have address and phone numbers out there that are no longer valid. Guess what? Those bogus numbers are still finding their way into local directories and maybe even your Google+ Local profile. Guess what? That’s not good! You need to spend the time to look for and correct any incorrect listings for your business. Use a Local Citation finder to search for the listings of any bad phone numbers and get them corrected. This will be a decent amount of ongoing and tedious work. In fact you should query the major local directory clearinghouses (Axiom, InfoUSA, etc.) at least once a month to make sure they haven’t used any of that old data because they syndicate that information all across the web.
Local Link Building
Links still power the web (until we’re told differently!). Your goal should be to find local businesses or directories where you can get a link back to your website. This will increase your local visibility as well as create local trust with Google. Consider it a local networking event and links are business cards, Google is looking for trust votes from other companies located in your geo-specific area. In terms of anchor text, I would generally use branded anchor text (your company name) over exact match keyword driven anchor text, consider an 80/20 split. In recent years it sounds more and more like Google is looking for you to create a company brand.
These are just four of the top factors for ranking and driving traffic from local search like Google+ Local. The process you develop will be on-going because similar to traditional SEO programs, once you stop working on them, you’ll see a slow decline in your rankings. You should find a couple of local search experts and follow them on social media and read their blogs. Getting direction from the thought leaders in the industry can be invaluable.