Being an attorney is a very local business. Unless you’re a jet-setting, attorney to the stars (in which case, you probably don’t need any help from me), you probably operate in a city and its surrounding metropolitan area. At the very most, you might take clients from across the state — if the state is small. However, the chances are you’re representing a small geographic area.
So when it comes to search engine results, showing up in the SERPs (search engine results pages) for someone in San Francisco isn’t going to be very helpful if you’re based in Dallas. On the flipside, you absolutely want to be at the top of the Dallas rankings then. So how can you make sure your law firm reigns supreme in your hometown? We’ve got some basics here to answer that question.
One of the most significant aspects of Web 2.0, is the emergence of user interaction and contribution to the net. One of the ways this is happening is reviews of local businesses, restaurants and, yes, law firms. With increasing importance and prevalence, search engines are starting to give businesses and locations with many, high-rated reviews in popular services such as Yelp boosts to local searches.
Though reading online reviews of lawyers hasn’t exactly become commonplace yet, that’s another reason why you should do it — your competitors probably aren’t. If you have a client who has been very happy with the results of a settlement or case, ask them if they’d be willing to leave a short review on a review site such as Yelp. If successful, in no time, your local rankings will rocketing to the top of the SERPs.
Maintain a Blog
The algorithm at Google and most of the other main search engines love when a site produces fresh, relevant content on their website. Maintaining a blog on your website is one great way to do this. If you begin to write (or hire someone to write) about legal issues applicable to your practice or to the geographic area, you’re almost certain to get a boost in the major search engines.
Likewise, if you highlight a local issue or event, you’ll get small boosts in local rankings too. Of course, blogs carry a lot of other benefits too, including making your site a hotbed of information on a certain topic, for example, drunk driving accidents or nursing home abuse. If you write about these topics frequently, and they’re applicable to your practice, search engines will begin to associate your site with these cases with more and more frequency and make you the top ranking for “Dallas lawyer drunk driving” in no time flat.
Most other law firms have neglected blogging thus far, which puts you well ahead of them too. If you’re worried about starting or hiring a web designer, you shouldn’t be, because WordPress is a free easy to use tool that works great for bloggers and search engines easily understand.
Make Sure Search Engines Know Where You Are!
If your site never says where you are located, then how can you expect search engines to know? Don’t go overboard, and begin keyword stuffing your page, but frequently note where your office is located AND the areas you serve. In service based industries such as ours, you may serve areas beyond the address of your office.
For example, you might represent clients from Fort Worth even if your office is based in Dallas. Regularly referring to the area you serve and making sure your address is on your website is crucial. You can also embed a map from Google Maps — which Google’s algorithm loves and will help them locate you.
It’s equally important to be signed up on the main directory services — Google Places, Bing, Yahoo, etc. as well as around 20 of the largest local online directories. Again, this helps the search engine learn your address, links back to your page, and helps customers find you and your office.
If Applicable, Use City Landing Pages
Though this won’t be applicable to all law firms, many law firms choose to operate offices in several locations. If you elect to utilize this strategy, make sure you have a landing page for each office location you maintain.
Make sure these pages are unique and not just carbon copies of one another either. By creating by dedicating entire landing pages to a location of each office, the search engines will know where to direct your Dallas clients versus your Houston client, in addition to grasping the knowledge that these locations are important areas you serve. It also puts would-be clients in a great position to create a conversion for your site when compared to simply directing them to the home page where clients can get easily lost or are unsure where to find your contact information.
W.T. Johnson is the founder of The Law Offices of W.T. Johnson, a Dallas, Texas based law firm specializing in personal injury and nursing home abuse. In a competitive market of lawyers, Johnson is learning how to quickly use the internet to rise above the pack of personal injury lawyers in the Metroplex.