Google My Business (GMB) is a free service that is often overlooked by law firms, despite how useful it is. Through a GMB account, your firm can claim the physical locations of all of your offices on Google Maps and optimize these listings for local search results. Offering you the opportunity to upload office photos and respond to client reviews, GMB is extremely important to your Internet marketing efforts, but only when used correctly. To help guide you through the process, the team at SLS Consulting has broken down the key elements of GMB so that you have the best chance at ranking locally.
How a GMB Account Benefits Law Firms
When a potential client is looking for an attorney, their first thought is to Google legal questions or keywords in the hopes of finding one near them. Common search terms are “divorce lawyers near me” or “personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles,” and ranking well with these terms can be a huge boon to your firm’s success. But, if you do not have a business listing for all of your firm’s offices or are not managing your GMB account, you may be missing out on valuable leads.
In addition, if you are in a highly competitive area, such as being located near a courthouse or business district, you will want to optimize your listing to appear at the top of Google Map results. By properly and efficiently managing your GMB account, your firm is more likely to appear in local search results, especially if a potential client needs a lawyer immediately.
How to Create a GMB Account
GMB is completely free, so there is no cost to creating a Google Business account. To begin, you will want to confirm whether you have a business listing or not for your law firm. You can do this by searching your firm’s name or address on Google or searching for it during the GMB setup process. Sometimes, business owners create listings and forget to claim them through GMB.
However, even if there is already a listing, you can claim it while setting up your account. All you need to do is:
- Go to Google Business and select “Sign In” to create or log into your account;
- Search for your firm’s name if there is already a listing or select “Add your business to Google” to create a new listing;
- Input your firm’s name;
- Assign a business category, such as “Law Firm”, “Divorce Lawyer”, or “Personal Injury Attorney” (you may include multiple categories);
- State whether your law firm is open to the public;
- Enter your office’s address;
- State whether your law firm offers services outside of your physical location;
- Enter your office’s phone number and URL; and
- Select a verification option or request to verify later.
Verification is typically done through a physical postcard that will be mailed to your office within 14 business days. This postcard will include a verification code and instructions on how to finalize your account. Google also allows businesses to verify accounts via email, phone, or directly through the search console.
If you still need to input information about your firm, you may choose to verify your GMB account at a later date. Once it is verified, you will have full control over your GMB account and can boost your local listings. You can also manage multiple offices through one account and have the option of bulk verifying your account through GMB. However, it is important to remember that GMB is only for physical offices and should not be used to managed virtual offices.
What You Need to Rank Locally
Ranking locally through GMB and improving your traffic through Google Maps is a bit different than optimizing for search engines or paid advertising. With GMB, your focus is on providing relevant services to nearby users. Businesses that respond to customer reviews, have accurate information, provide reliable business hours, feature high-quality photos, and respond to customer messages rank higher than businesses that ignore their listings.
After verifying your account, the next steps you should take include:
Claim All of Your Listings: If you have multiple offices, make sure to claim and verify all of them. This will allow you to better manage your office’s hours and phone numbers, while also being able to more easily respond to local questions and messages.
Add a Description: Google allows businesses to add short descriptions (roughly 750 words) to a business listing, but only the first 250 words will appear in search results, so you will want to include the most important selling points at the beginning. Make sure to mention your name, practice areas, years of experience, certifications, and whether or not you offer free consultations, as well as anything else that makes your firm unique. Google will review your description, so it is important to follow all GMB guidelines.
Optimize Your Keywords: Both your business description and services sections are great areas to include relevant keywords such as “car accident attorneys in Los Angeles.” Avoid keyword stuffing but include your high-value keywords in your listing to help improve your rankings so long as they are properly optimized.
Upload Photos and Videos: High-quality, clean photos of the interior and exterior of your firm will make it easier for potential clients to identify your office. Sharing photos of your attorneys, paralegals, and staff also helps to humanize your firm and put a face to people who will be handling future clients’ cases.
Ask Clients for Reviews (and Respond to Them): Google Reviews can make or break a local listing. Clients who are on the edge of contacting two firms may go with the one that has more positive reviews than the other. Consider asking old clients for reviews and providing them with a link after finalizing their cases in order to get positive feedback. You should also respond positively to reviews and answer any questions clients leave in their reviews.
Post Articles, Events, and Additional Information: GMB features a timeline structure similar to Facebook and Twitter posts that your firm should definitely take advantage of. You can share sponsored events, speaking engagements, blog posts, new awards, and firm news to help engage with users.
Keep Active: Many law firms set up GMB accounts and let them grow stagnant as they get busy with other tasks. But this is a serious mistake. Your business listings are the centerpiece of your local search strategy. Failing to update information leaves you open to missing out on valuable leads. In addition, Google listings can be subject to crowdsourcing, meaning that online users can update your business hours or address for you. Rather than relying on the whims of users, it is better to take ahold of your GMB account yourself and ensure that your firm’s name, address, and phone numbers are accurate across all listings.
At SLS Consulting, we understand that handling a GMB listing is time-consuming and tedious while you are busy marketing for new cases, preparing for trials, and onboarding new clients. But you do not have to handle it on your own. Our team of local marketing experts has years of experience helping law firms set up and optimize their GMB listings in order to grow their local search traffic. In addition to handling your GMB account, we can also develop in-depth and reliable legal marketing strategies to help grow your caseload and expand your practice areas to new clients. If you are interested in learning how SLS Consulting, Inc., can help you market your law firm, contact our office at (323) 254-1510 to schedule a free case evaluation.
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