Local search has started to take up more and more of search result pages in the last few years and local websites are getting the most exposure they’ve probably ever had. Given that Mobile web use is expected to overrun desktop use by 2014, having Google Plus Local listings, which work really well on mobile phones, is more critical than ever. Gone are the days of the dominance of yellow pages and print directories as a way to find lawyers and in with the new.
Helping Google and other search engines value your Google+ Local page can help you receive much more local search traffic. If you combine your places account with your Google+ Local, fill out your profile completely, get links to it and connect all your websites / social profiles, your law firm will rank much better in Google Plus Local.
Combine Your Google+ Local Business Page with your Google Places
A lot of people were upset with Google+ taking over Google Places, but it certainly isn’t going to revert back so getting onboard with Google Plus Local is not optional.
The Death of Google Places
It was so confusing when Google+ came out and we created a duplicate Google+ Local page when you already had a Google Places account as well. Recently Google gave us the option to finally combine them and it allows us a great feature that holds a lot of SEO benefit.
If you have not started a Google + Local page, or merged your accounts, here are the instructions:
Sign in with your email and password if you have an account and start to claim your business.
Google + Local listing Verification process:
Once you have made your Page, verify it as follows:
1. Request Your Postcard
Mouse over “Unverified” at the top of your Google+ Page and select “Verify Now”.
Confirm your address and request a postcard for verification.
It will say “In Progress” while you wait instead of showing the “Unverified” icon .
A postcard will come in about a week.
2. Enter the pin at google.com/local/verify and then submit.
Your prior info on Google Maps will be combined with the new Google+ Local listing and your business will appear on Google Maps shortly. Now you can make posts, host hangouts and gain followers.
After claiming and verifying your business you will need to adjust your listing. Fill out all sections completely and use the keyphrases and categories in areas you where want to show up.
You can see an example of a Google+ Local page and Google Places page combined with Google’s demonstration page, for The Meatball Shop from New York City. You can see that The Meatball Shop is allowed to update their page with posts, this allows you to appear much more current to search engines and it allows you to connect with reviewers. Making sure to constantly update your status feed and contribute to the community will only help you in search engines and with referral traffic.
Optimizing your Google+ Local page
Your law firm must completely fill out their Google+ Local page to help optimize it. Search engines love to have lots of content in the profile, so they better understand who you are and where they should place you.
A few things that you can do to optimize your local page are as follows:
- Add a description (up to 200 characters) using the keywords
- Upload images of your location and team (10+)
- Upload videos
- Fill out each field in your Google+ Local page
- Get listed in locally-focused directories and Industry-focused directories or blogs
Here are some directories that can help you rank better:
- Angies List
- Judy’s Book
There are many more – don’t go crazy thinking you need thousands but it is important to get a good deal of quality listings. Make 100% sure your business name, address, and phone number are the same on all of them or they will not work properly as citations.
Sites like AVVO and Martindale-Hubbel can help you as a law firm as Google can crawl their “trusted” data.
Reviews help with Google Plus Local
Reviews are something that also helps Google decides where your law firm should go in search results, and good reviews can positively impact your lead flow. You can’t pay people for reviews or tell them to positively review you but you can encourage people to consider reviewing you on Google and other places.
Connecting with your website and social profiles
Connecting your Google+ page to your website with a link shows Google more about who you are. This works ESPECIALLY well, if your website is optimized for local search terms. You must optimize your site for local keywords, if you want your site local listing to rank well. If Google does not feel your site has a strong local factor, why would it bother giving you a priority in their local results?
Linking to your website and social profiles helps build up your ‘network’ and sends more ‘link power’ which builds your law firm’s trust with Google.
Organizing your citations (links and listings in directories, review sites etc.) so they are all point at / link to your law firm’s website and have consistent data on your firm, will push you higher in local search. Google will see many sites in the local sphere mentioning and linking to you and give you credit for being well connected. Basically Google wants proof you are who you say you are and that other trusted sources can vouch for you.
Utilizing some of these tactics, such as connecting your Google Plus Local profile with your website and other accounts through linking / completely filling out your profile, will give you much more local traffic to your law firm’s website.