Why is local SEO so important?
Local SEO is becoming more and more important and there are several reasons for this. On the one hand, mobile search queries are on the increase and these usually have a local reference. Google also announced in January 2018 that “Mobile First” would become a very important ranking factor in the course of 2018. This includes the maintenance of local structured data, the maintenance of customer agreements and a very fast mobile loading time.
The local search results are only displayed within the organic results in Google for a local search query. If the website operator restricts himself to classic SEO without additional local optimization, his website appears exclusively in the organic search results without the relevant local results. Local SEO is most important for companies and businesses that offer their products and services exclusively or predominantly offline.
79% of all smartphone owners use their smartphone for search queries. Especially tourists or people unfamiliar with the area use their mobile phones for local search queries. Even hidden shops off the beaten track have a chance of spontaneous casual customers.
Fashion shops, restaurants, cafés, and car repair shops make the biggest profit from this trend. Google has conducted a smartphone study in the past. Almost 80% of users become active through the local search results found and, for example, make a purchase or make direct contact with a local company. Nearly 44% of mobile users search at least once a week for local information with their end device. As many as 16% even do this every day.
Which businesses need local SEO?
In general, every company that operates one or more local branches or shops benefits from Local SEO. Neither the size of the company nor the industry plays an important role. A local search engine optimization of the website makes sense among other things for
- retail stores
- businesses visited by customers should rely on Local SEO
Important ranking factors for local SEO
On the one hand, the page should rank in the generic search index and on the other hand in the local search results. How well a website is placed in these areas depends on several factors. The US SEO tool provider MOZ has surveyed many specialists in the industry for this purpose.
- Google My Business website of the company (My Business Signals)
- Mentions on external websites (External local signals)
- Signals on your own page (On-page Signals)
- Internet reviews of the company (Review Signals)
- external links or backlinks from other pages (link signals)
- Signals via social networks and portals (Social Signs)
- use as such, including mobile use (Behavioral and Mobile Signals)
- personalized search in search engines (personalization)
An important factor in Local SEO is the proximity to a sought-after location. The closer a shop is to the center of a city, the better the position for ranking in Local SEO. A disadvantage in this context is the local competition.
On-page factors in local SEO
Each branch should have its own landing page with the company name and city name in the title. The company should definitely enrich its website with local content – photos, employee photos, and local blog articles reinforce the local reference for Google. The route description is particularly relevant; it should be clearly visible.
As with classic search engine optimization, the content (content) on the website plays a role in Local SEO. The best thing about the website is that it contains unique and well-structured content, which brings an advantage or added value to every visitor. With these contents, the company should stand out from its local competitors and make itself interesting for the customer.
It is particularly helpful if a branch operates a blog and maintains it regularly. Local events and reports about self-organized events also push the local ranking. The blog takes interested visitors directly to the company’s website and the online shop.
Relevance, distance, and awareness
The better the company’s data is presented, the better Google can assess whether a business is relevant to local search results. These data should be up-to-date at all times (e.g. shop opening hours, hotline or directions).
Google differentiates between whether the person searching is on the spot (“Pizzeria nearby”) or intends to visit that place (“Fish and Chips in London” and the user is in Cologne). One is looking for a concrete route description, the other is more concerned with the informative aspect of the search.
By means of the usual SEO measures, the small shops can improve their position vis-à-vis the world-famous brands. Google receives relevant information about each company through all articles, directories, and links on the Internet. The more information is found, the better. Through local information, customer reviews and positive ratings, small businesses can significantly improve their position vis-à-vis global players.
SEO for Free Law Clients
Whether you are part of a big law firm or work on your own, everyone needs clients. And boy are we willing to pay for them, aren’t we? Looking into it, DUI attorneys pay 200 to 300 dollars per click on the Google ad platform.
That is quite substantial. But in this profession, you also make a lot of money. Still, are ads the best way to go? We don’t think so, because organic rankings in Google are the #1 aspect of your web presence that can make you a star in your area and turn a one-man army into a big law firm that everybody knows.
At this point, it is safe to say that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one of the main pillars of a successful local business. This holds also true if businesses are in multiple cities or even cover the whole country.
Imagine if your law firm ranked well in your city for the type of keyword your ideal client searches for in Google. Every click to your website would be free and you would get many more visitors to your website than you ever could with ads. By ranking on Google, a local business can grow safely and often rapidly to an impressive size.
You can verify this fact immediately! Just search for different types of services in your city, like “roofing orlando” or something like that. Scroll past the ads and look at the businesses that rank at the top (including the ones in the Google Maps section). You probably know the big businesses in your own city, so it should be easy for you to see that the big guys are usually the ones ranking in the top 3, right? Guess what, they aren’t ranking there because they are big, but they got big because they are ranking and get all those free customers.
Websites with a good organic search engine ranking can pull in large numbers of visitors for a comparatively small price. Advertising in any form, whether it’s in Google, radio, magazine, and whatnot, is always more expensive. These top positions are difficult to reach due to their value and corresponding competition, but once you reach such a position, it can often be defended well. SEO is generally the most lucrative marketing related investments in the long run.
There are no guarantees for good rankings, SEO investments therefore always represent a certain risk. However, that is true for all marketing efforts. In the same way, no one can guarantee that a radio ad leads to any clients. Competition can be extremely stiff for particularly competitive search terms with large monthly search volumes and a high presumed willingness to buy. Large companies invest a lot of time and effort to place themselves at the top of the search results with Google. But if you work with one an excellent SEO company, they can usually beat your competition and get you to a double-digit ROI. Note that grand master SEOs are rare. Most agencies are not that good.
Another factor is that it is rarely sufficient to turn only one screw; good rankings are usually the result of the optimization of several factors over a longer period of time. The requirements for your own SEO activity increase proportionally with the monthly search volume of the selected keywords. Niche keywords and longer phrase combinations are therefore a popular means to get some fast rankings.
Good to know
The distinction between the terms “site” (the totality of the pages of a website) and “page” (individual pages of a website) is very important. Contrary to what is often assumed, only individual web pages compete for placement on a specific search term, not entire web sites. A single web page can also be optimized for multiple keywords, but the more specific the keyword field, the higher the chances of success.
Marketing for Lawyers
While years ago marketing for lawyers was still based on attractive office rooms in good locations, a large office image, the passing on of business cards, the obligatory entry in the business directory and in the best case an annual circular letter to existing clients was sufficient or had to be sufficient due to strict professional law, the Internet today offers excellent opportunities to win new clients, especially in the regional area. The professional code of conduct is always observed by means of factually formulated advertisements using focal points of interest and activity as an alternative to the name of the specialist attorney.
The basis of successful online marketing for lawyers is, of course, your presence on the Internet in the form of a professional homepage for your law firm. But the mere existence of this business card on the Internet is not enough to attract new clients. The domain of your homepage is usually only known to those who are already in contact with you and who are made aware of it, e.g. by your e-mail address and signature.
Regional online marketing is the key to new clients
The regional online marketing for attorneys consists of three building blocks, whereby here the own homepage is always presupposed as basis. Try to google yourself – not with your own name (a new client doesn’t know that yet), but just like a new client is looking for a lawyer: he enters “Anwalt Berlin” or “Anwalt Arbeitsrecht München” or simply “Fachanwalt Familienrecht” at Google. And what do you see? What do you see? Numerous colleagues but unfortunately not themselves? Please pay close attention to the following three areas of the Google results page:
- First the most visible (but chargeable) advertisements at the top slightly colored and on the right of the page (=Google Adwords)
- Also the (free) results next to the map under the name “local industry results” (=Google Branchencenter or Google Maps)
- And don’t forget the organic (not actively influenced) search results on the left side, which you could reach with law firm SEO.
You still haven’t found your homepage, or only on one of the lower places or on one of the other pages? Then this would be my first starting point for your efficient online marketing for attorneys to position you well in all these areas of the first page of the search results. By the way: What used to be the industry directory for lawyers’ marketing is now Google. The target group under 50 years no more rolls industry books, in order to stand then helplessly in the forest of meaningless small announcements. Today Google is used to search and your homepage then decides whether your telephone rings and a new client wants to speak to you.
A website is only as good as the advertising for it
Consequently, your homepage must be advertised on the Internet. In this case, advertising fortunately does not mean placing advertisements somewhere in the hope that new clients will become aware of them or fall back on expensive entries in the yellow pages. No, the technical possibilities of the Internet allow lawyers to control their marketing in a very targeted way nowadays: They simply draw attention to themselves (or your homepage) where people are looking for it: In Google, the market leader among the search engines through which you have probably also reached this page. Advertising is no longer advertising, but a targeted and measurable “hand reach” for a customer who is already looking for your service.
- Successful and efficient marketing for lawyers today
- Successful attorneys today therefore base their marketing on two pillars:
- Recommendation by existing clients (as before)
- The use of the huge stream of search queries on Google
You yourself are responsible for the first point: being recommended by good services and satisfied clients. On the second point, you can either stumble away without the appropriate specialist knowledge and only fall back on an expert when success is lacking and the time required is too great, or you can give the issue of winning new customers via the Internet through online marketing into professional hands right from the start.
I do not only advise you on the best strategy for your individual marketing for lawyers and then leave you alone with the newly gained wisdom. I will implement my advice, e.g. to place appealing ads in Google Adwords, to make the homepage more search engine friendly, to be clearly visible in Google’s regional industry results etc., if you wish I can also do it for you.
Marketing for Law Firms
The legal advice market is more competitive than ever is a fact that does not require discussion. The brutal increase in the number of lawyers in recent years has the consequence that those who use their law firm marketing in a targeted manner are often also more successful. And this applies not only to career starters, but also to law firms that have been established for a long time.
A professional and uniform external image according to a corporate design defined by the firm’s image has become an imporant matter for large law firms, but is now also a matter for most of the larger regional players. But how can one attoney stand out from their competition at all? Which way and which ideas are clever enough to trigger the famous “wow effect” among the public seeking legal advice? Do such ideas still exist at all? And if so, which are the right ones for whom?
Different strategies for different attorneys
Questions after questions, to which of course nobody can give a blanket answer. For example, for a specialist in tax law, client loyalty is more important than for a renowned criminal defence lawyer who works exclusively forensically.
It is probably undisputed that the decision for marketing – no matter whether larger law firm or invidual attorney – is fundamental. A mere shot into the blue is not sufficient in any case. Derived from a strategy to be determined in advance and the knowledge of the own Kanzlei identity the selected measures should be always laid out on lastingness.
This means communicating regularly and continuously to the outside world. Quantity plays only a subordinate role, rather the “right” platforms and measures are decisive, because advertising can only be effective if it actually reaches the target group.
Within the framework of this series of articles on attorney marketing, we will show various ways in the coming weeks and months of (hopefully) winning new clients and consolidating existing client relationships.
A law firm has its own personality. And it is composed like a mosaic of many individual parts: from the letterhead to the language style. Whoever is aware of this can develop a real identity, a corporate identity.
A client checks whether you suit him before contacting you personally. Even if in most cases he cannot assess your consulting services in a qualified manner, he will at least form an opinion about you on the basis of his general impressions, for example on the basis of your Internet presence. So your image precedes you and influences the decision about the mandate. For this first impression there is never a second chance.
If you don’t want to leave its effect on others to chance, we recommend a regular review of the status quo. Simply ask yourself the following questions:: What image do you enjoy and does this coincide with your intentions? What do you want to say about yourself? Do you do this consistently? Who do you want to reach with it? Which media are available to you and which of them really make sense?
Did you answer honestly and self-critically? Then the first step on the way to Corporate Identity (CI) has been taken.
The concept of CI is based on the recognition that law firms are perceived as personalities and can also act similarly. It covers the entire external image and appearance (corporate design), the general behaviour of the law firm, its lawyers and employees (corporate behaviour) and, of course, marketing communication in general (corporate communication). The CI also enables an emotional positioning of your law firm, which in turn is the prerequisite for how a brand can appear and work.
Firm philosophy, mission statement, guidelines for action – they are just as much a part of the CI as the logo or the waiting loop of your telephone system.
SEO is for everyone
Search engine optimization, or SEO, os the craft of bringing websites among the top in Google. In our view, it is the most effective marketing methodology for any local business. Not only does it bring a lot of free visitors to your company homepage, it also leaves your website in great shape visually and technologically. That is, if SEO is done well! Unfortunately, the large majority of agencies does a sub par job and does seem to understand what they are doing. We will soon discuss how to estimate the quality an agency before you jump on board with them.
When setting up a CI, it is a must – logically – that you avoid all aspects that could have a negative impact on your reputation. This includes unfriendly telephone voices or a badly designed office image as well as – of course – persistent failures in court.
But you will only gain real competitive advantages with the freestyle: Recognize your impact potentials and position yourself consciously.
Comparisons with other areas are quite helpful. With cars, for example: Do not present yourself as a used beetle if you are actually a Mercedes. Your appearance must live up to the expectations of your law firm. Sounds simple, but most of them don’t succeed. Look around at your competitors: Many present themselves under value, especially in their external image. Others promise things they can’t or won’t keep.
Communicate your office identity authentically – this is the only way to create an appropriate impression for the viewer. Your very own values and goals, transported in a professional external image – this is the basis of a successful marketing strategy. With mere promises and haphazard activities, nobody is able to assert themselves against the competition today.
Develop a coherent, consistent concept that includes corporate design, corporate behaviour and corporate communication.