In the digital age, you need to pay strict attention to your online presence for your law firm to grow.
The days of legal clients poring over huge local directories are over. When they need legal advice, they use Google.
For example, almost two-thirds of your prospective clients head straight to online search engines.
But how do you ensure you appear consistently in relevant search results?
It’s time to boost your SEO (search engine optimization).
SEO covers various tools and techniques for increasing visibility in relevant online search results. Local SEO for lawyers, in particular, covers a solid set of strategies you can use to:
- Target people in the areas you serve
- Improve your visibility on niche keywords or terms
- Establish your firm and specialization(s)
This guide covers why you need local SEO to grow online and how the right digital marketing agency can help drive high-quality leads to your website.
What is Local SEO for Lawyers?
Local SEO for lawyers is a series of techniques that helps law firms reach online searchers in their business area(s) and appear more prominently in competitive search results (e.g., in local niches such as discrimination, immigration, and family law).
By targeting local SEO ranking factors, lawyers can expect:
- Higher rankings in location-specific searches
- Warmer (or better-qualified) client leads
- Greater prominence over other local firms
Your aim is to appear towards the top of the first page in organic search results and Google’s “local map pack.” That’s the first three local businesses that appear in relevant search results. If you fall outside this local pack, you risk losing visibility.
Local inquiries account for around 46% of all Google searches, so it’s vital to have a digital marketing strategy targeting these searches.
Which Factors Influence Local SEO for Law Firms?
Appearing highly in local search (and in the local pack) requires more than common local search terms. Your firm must legitimately and consistently optimize for several “ranking factors.”
The most influential ranking factors for attorney local SEO include:
- Your Google Business Profile
- Online reviews (and reputation)
- Link-building and citations
- Content creation
- Website optimization
- Mobile responsiveness
However, there are also detracting factors.
Google penalizes rankings that aren’t within what they deem a “reasonable vicinity” of where they target.
For now, let’s stick to exploring ranking factors in more detail.
Your Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business, or GMB) is a short listing in local search results. It aims to give Google – and searchers – confidence that you’re legitimate.
It typically presents your:
- Firm’s name
- Website address
- Specialization or niche
- Opening hours
- Contact details
- Recent client reviews and ratings
A GBP profile shows searchers the “vitals” before they visit you and adds credibility to your search result.
You can even use a GBP profile to share posts within search listings – for example, if you have news or publicity you’d like to promote.
GBP can also help you target map listings, giving Google more confidence to rank you based on specific local keywords.
GBPs are great for driving website traffic and generating direct calls to your office. Website visits are the most common actions taken via these profiles:
Here’s an example GBP snippet from our client, Simple Divorce:
Now, let’s look at one of the most crucial facets of your GBP – online reviews and ratings.
Online reviews work much like “word of mouth.” Google reviews appear directly on your GBP and help boost your ranking (and how you appear to searchers).
Reviews positively impact your Google listing if they’re:
- Highly relevant to your services
- Updated frequently
- Recent (e.g., within the past month)
While it’s good to source reviews from clients via your Google link, positive reviews across multiple platforms help boost your reputation in search even further.
Reviews displayed directly on your law firm’s website and through legal directories such as Lawyers.com and FindLaw help show Google that you’re legitimate, thus boosting your ranking potential.
Testimonials from authority clients also help to boost credibility and conversions. For example, employment law firms benefit from positive reviews left by well-known companies in the local area.
Reviews and scores compound into a “five-star” rating on your GBP. Here’s how that looks, as a snapshot, for our client Grillo Law:
Link-building and citations
Link-building and citations are two sides of the same coin – both legitimize your firm to Google and searchers.
Link-building is the art of getting other websites to link to you. Backlinks from other local websites help show local searchers that you’re worth their time and money.
Local link-building techniques include:
- Posting “guest” content on other websites
- Listing in local directories
- Creating regionally-focused content
Citations, meanwhile, are instances that show off your NAP (your name, address, and phone). This may be a listing in a relevant local law directory, for example.
The more legitimate NAP listings you have online, the more chance Google ranks you higher in local search engine results pages (SERPs for short).
Content marketing drives organic website traffic (in other words, traffic not obtained through paid advertising), and Google loves hyper-specific, helpful content.
The more helpful and relevant content you produce for your audience, the more likely your law firm’s website ranks higher in search results.
For a law firm local SEO campaign, you should focus on “city pages” or “location pages.” These are landing pages themed around specific cities or areas.
For example, if you run a family law firm in Toronto and want to target up to 50 km away, create landing pages for Vaughan, Etobicoke, Markham, and Scarborough areas.
Here’s an example of how city pages may look “on-page”:
“On-page” optimization is vital to getting seen on SERPs. While not specific to local SEO, it’s conducive to healthy organic traffic.
Ensuring your website clearly states who you are and where you’re based is vital, as is ensuring your meta tags and descriptions include local keywords (where relevant). That’s something a lawyer-focused SEO agency can help you with behind the scenes.
Optimizing your website helps local SEO as Google is able to see:
- Information that’s easy to read, access, and navigate
- Relevant contact details for people to reach you by
- “Proof” that you are who you say you are
Optimizing improves user experience (UX) and helps Google’s web crawlers understand what you do a little better.
Is your website easy to navigate on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets?
Keeping your website mobile-friendly is key to attracting the right types of clients. Around 61% of people searching via mobile prefer contacting businesses with mobile-friendly websites. That applies massively to local searchers.
Local SEO staples such as map view and GBP profiles are quick to view and read while searching via mobile. Thus, optimizing for both goes hand in hand.
Set Up Your Google Business Profile and Optimize It
Setting up a GBP profile is the first crucial step toward a healthy local SEO strategy.
Here are the basics to help you get started.
Google My Business for law firms: Setup tips and tricks
|Step to take||How?|
|Fill out your firm’s name and description||After setting up your profile for the first time, enter your business name with the correct capitalization, and ensure it matches your name on your website|
|Choose an appropriate category||Type in “lawyer” in the category search box along with your specialization to find an appropriate niche listing (you can add more later)|
|Add your office’s location||Fill out your office name, address, street, city, province, and postal code (this is vital for optimizing for Google Maps) – you can also choose to specify if it’s somewhere clients can visit|
|Choose service locations||As an option, select local service areas if you don’t want to list your physical office for visitation|
|Fill out contact details||Enter your website URL and telephone number|
|Complete additional information||Ensure to list your accurate opening hours, upload photos of your location and those relevant to your service, and add a booking URL to link to your website|
|Apply for listing verification||Request Google to verify your profile via email, video call, phone, text, or even via post (this can take several business days, depending on the method, and several weeks to update online)|
|Ask clients for reviews||Once your profile is live, reach out to happy clients to leave reviews, which you can later manage through your profile dashboard|
Ideally, your GBP should look something like this snapshot from one of our clients, Stacey R. Ball:
This is just a brief overview – be sure to read our complete Google Business Profile optimization guide for additional guidance. It’s a vital feature we recommend to clients who want to boost local SEO for legal firms.
Link-Building to Improve Local SEO for Law Firms: Citations and Backlinks
Link-building is one of the best ways to cement your authority online. However, when it comes to local search engine optimization, your best practice is to balance getting links from websites that are both:
- Relevant to your niche
- Relevant to your geographic area or where you do business
Let’s dig deeper into how you can use citations and backlinks to boost your local SEO efforts.
Remember, healthy citations are all about NAPs. You need your name, address, and phone number visible on the web through legitimate directories and authority sites to show both Google and your prospects that you’re verifiable.
First, reach out to reliable and popular online directories such as:
- Find Open
- Better Business Bureau
- Apple Maps
Try finding law firm listings on Instagram and Facebook for more “social proof.” If you don’t already have a law firm Instagram account, now’s a good time to set one up.
Once you’re up and running via general business listings, apply to legal directories such as:
- US News
Remember, each directory has different application and listing processes, and you may need to provide identifying information to secure your place.
However, you don’t have to scour for local citations and listings alone. Citation builders help you find opportunities locally that are hyper-specific to your niche.
Compare the following tools and services:
- Moz Local
Alternatively, contact local SEO services for lawyers to remove all doubt.
Top-quality backlinks come from websites that don’t just tick boxes one and two above but which are also measured as “authorities” online.
These are sites that many resources link to. With online tools, try measuring a site or blog’s online authority (and “reach”). AHRefs, for example, helps you measure a website’s influence based on its backlink history.
However, scoring huge authority backlinks is not always possible when focusing on points one and two. That combination is crucial for local SEO success, but high authority is a fantastic bonus.
Research into your competitors’ backlinks, however, is vital. Backlinks niche down, just as law firms do, so checking local area practice is worthwhile. AHRefs also offers a backlink checker to help find what your rivals are using.
When inserting backlinks into your content, try to diversify your “anchor text.” This is the text readers see highlighted (usually in blue) and lead to a linked site.
For local SEO to work effectively, your anchor text should be relevant to your destination, and you should avoid using the same anchors too often.
Try mixing them up with “exact match anchors.” EMAs contain targeted keywords hyper-relevant to your destination link.
“Partial match anchors,” or PMAs, rephrase a keyword but are still relevant to the destination.
Here’s an example of an EMA in action:
Diversifying these anchors to include calls to action such as “click here,” company names, or even direct URLs helps to keep your SEO “human.”
Remember, too, that Google limits and penalizes your search listings if they assume you insert links inappropriately. For example, they dislike links that lead to:
- Forum threads and discussions (they’re perceived as low-quality)
- Irrelevant content (it’s a sign of spam)
- Guestbooks (especially those in other languages – again, it’s a spam flag)
Optimize Your Website to Optimize Your Local SEO
While building and optimizing your law firm’s SEO strategy outright should always fall to the experts, there are a few ways you can polish your local SEO and keep ranking highly in local searches as you go.
Let’s explore some valuable strategies to help keep your name in the local spotlight.
8 local SEO tips for lawyers: In brief
1. Edit website code with attorney schema (and test)
Schema is code vocabulary used “behind the scenes” in your website’s HTML.
By editing schema into your HTML, you further show Google that you’re legitimate and based locally.
Let’s be clear from the outset – there’s no direct proof schema guarantees higher search engine rankings.
However, it helps Google ascertain your relevance, which can improve your overall visibility.
To start, choose a schema relevant to your specific firm and your specialism.
However, make sure to focus on the basics, such as your company name, your logo, your contact details, and your geological coordinates. Schema.org offers a complete set of attorney-related code for inspiration.
Filling out schema is like filling out your GBP, but you should also test it to see how it appears to Google. Google’s series of tests and validators is great for ensuring your schema works as expected before you “go live.”
If this all sounds a little complex, don’t worry. Lawyer SEO experts can help edit and apply schema in the background while you take care of other demands.
2. Update your tags and descriptions
Sticking with HTML, meta tags are crucial in helping to build a healthy technical SEO strategy “behind the scenes.”
Meta tags describe content for Google’s web crawlers. Much in the way schema helps to categorize your website via HTML, meta content explains what each page does in “crawler language.”
Failure to update (or even fill out) your meta tags means Google makes assumptions, which harms your local SEO and targeting relevance.
So, always ensure your page title tags are concise yet descriptive. Google’s crawlers want these tags to explain what’s on a page without stuffing keywords or going off-topic.
You should regularly audit your title tags when content changes or if you make changes to your law firm SEO strategy. For example, if you target a new primary keyword, reflect this change in your title tags.
Meta descriptions go into a little more detail, but should still concisely describe a page’s contents. Each description for each page should be unique.
These descriptions are highly visible in search results and make that crucial final difference in converting a searcher into a clicker.
A well-written meta description tag catches a searcher’s attention. It must be relevant, appealing, and contain your primary keyword. Here’s an example from our client, Grillo Law, using the keyword “personal injury lawyer (in) Toronto”:
3. Optimize your keyword (and variations) in the right places
Keywords are important in all SEO practices, but quality always wins over quantity.
That means your primary keyword needs to appear in a few “crucial” places. Again, this is both for Google’s benefit as much as it is for your readers.
Always optimize meta and title tags (and descriptions) with primary keywords in mind. For example, if you want to target “employment lawyer in Montreal,” you’d use that phrase strategically in highly visible areas of your website. These include, for example:
- Opening paragraphs
Doing so helps show readers and web crawlers what your content covers, and establishes context.
However, do also optimize variations on a keyword to avoid overstuffing. Diversifying also helps you appeal to more searchers (who look for more than one specific phrase).
Add different locations to your base keywords for various pages. Don’t just target Montreal – include areas such as Beloeil, Dorval, and Saint-Rémi in your keywords.
A good practice for mapping out local SEO keywords is assigning them to different pages (such as city pages, discussed further down).
Consider assigning multiple phrases to single pages, too, such as “divorce lawyer,” “divorce attorney,” and “separation lawyer” – all point to the same content and search intent.
4. Embed Google Maps
While one aim of great local SEO is to get your law firm into the fabled “map pack,” it’s good practice to embed a map showing your company’s location on your website, too.
It’s not just worthwhile from a technical perspective. A map embed shows visitors where to find you without going off-page.
Embedded maps help add to overall browsing convenience and further legitimize your firm.
Consider how long users may spend looking at maps on any given page. A map embed instantly boosts their on-page browsing time, meaning they’re less likely to click away and explore rival websites.
A Google-verified location informs visitors that you are who you say you are and this is where you’re based. Be sure to share contact details and map reviews to compound the overall effect.
Map embedding also helps rank your website for local phrases. It’s another way to show Google you’re serious and not just trying to cheat your way to a higher ranking.
Here’s how our client at Simple Divorce embeds two maps for their offices on page:
5. Show off your NAP
We’ve mentioned the importance of NAP off-page, but on-page, it’s crucial for two main reasons:
- It’s a great call to action for interested visitors
- It helps to keep you consistent across all channels
A clear NAP is a fantastic shortcut for those clients that don’t want to spend time poring over pages of details or muddling around with social media and email forms.
Then, provided you show your NAP as it appears in any citations you build elsewhere, Google and your readers see that your details are correct and up-to-date across multiple channels.
A simple NAP provides convenience and legitimacy, and reassures visitors that these are the details they need. Here’s a simple example:
6. Produce valuable content
Content is king and queen. Google values and highly ranks content that’s:
- Credible and verifiable
- Useful, actionable, and informative
- More valuable than competing sites
- Written to a high standard
- Highly unique in perspective and detail
- Engaging and focused
Google’s Helpful Content Update in 2022 hammered home the message even further. Regular content that genuinely answers search queries (with credibility and unique insight) frequently ranks higher.
Your content also needs a local focus, so produce guides relevant to the laws of your local districts and areas.
Respond to recent legal news in your area, and canvass local people on specific topics, sharing advice and findings.
For local SEO success, you need to demonstrate your expertise and interest in the area(s) you do business.
7. Create location pages
City or location pages directly target searchers from specific areas. They’re landing pages – searchers find them via Google and “land” on your website through results pages.
Location pages help you optimize area-specific keywords that are difficult to assign to general service pages elsewhere. For example, “immigration lawyers in Toronto” benefits from its own page.
Therefore, anyone searching for that highly specific term benefits from content tailored to that search intent.
Simply create content based around the term that searchers want to read and use to springboard into calling you for help.
Location pages help you rank highly on specific keywords as your content is hyper-relevant to the searcher’s intent, which appeals to Google’s “helpful content” algorithm.
8. Build with mobile in mind
More than 50% of all web traffic arrives via mobile devices. Therefore, your website should be device-responsive by design alongside a strong local SEO strategy.
Above all, your website should load quickly and present content as concisely as possible. Many website builders arrive with optimization for mobile devices built-in – but it pays to check how your site appears on mobile devices and to tweak the layout before publishing.
Many people looking for local lawyer support use mobile devices. A firm local SEO strategy should show searchers a clear NAP and map data via search results. These are quick and easy to view on the go.
If your website isn’t responsive for mobile devices, you risk losing visitors to the dreaded “back” button. User experience – including load speed – makes up for much of Google’s Core Web Vitals.
Local SEO for Attorneys FAQs
Why invest time in local SEO?
Local SEO helps you target new clients in your nearby area and helps you stand out from nearby competitors. It also helps to “warm up” potential clients with relevant information, targeting those who can benefit from your legal services.
Does SEO work for law firms?
With the help of a professional agency, a carefully-managed SEO strategy can help drive new, interested customers to law firms and attorneys everywhere.
Nearly half of digital marketers confidently claim that organic search brings in the highest returns on their investment.
What are the most important local SEO ranking factors?
The most vital local SEO ranking factors include having a complete, verified Google Business Profile, presenting legitimate client reviews, and building links from relevant blogs, websites, and online directories. However, all are highly valuable in their own right.
How much should a law firm pay for local SEO?
Agencies typically price local SEO and maintenance as part of complete packages, starting from $500 per month. However, this doesn’t account for setup costs or the scale of work required. It’s good practice to ask for a quote!
Local SEO for lawyers gets you going places
When followed precisely, local SEO for lawyers makes all the difference to a company’s growth.
Following the best local SEO practices, and our tips above, helps you:
- Welcome more organic traffic to your website
- Receive a higher proportion of calls from relevant, interested prospects
- Get an edge over the local competition
- Build a formidable local authority.
But remember, you never have to handle any of this alone – especially when you have existing clients and cases to attend to.