Here’s the thing: one of the most common misconceptions is that name, address and phone number (NAP) citations are the most influential to improve rankings. As a result, many firms spend the majority of their time improving citations because they may not know more than the basics about how SEO works.
Research shows that optimizing Google My Business and non-citation links are the top ranking factors—not citations. Citations actually only influence about 10% of Google Map rankings and 8% of regular, non-Map Google organic rankings, according to research from Moz.
It’s easy to spend too much time on citations and delay SEO progress. Instead of spending the majority of your time working on perfecting your listings, here’s what you can do to fast track SEO results.
1. Optimize Your Firm’s Google My Business Listing
Your Google My Business listing has the biggest influence on your law firm’s local search engine rankings in Maps, making up an estimated 25% of your overall Map ranking according to research from Moz. For non-Map rankings, your profile factors in at 8%.
Thankfully, it’s not difficult to optimize your GMB listing. For some law firms, optimizing your GMB listing may be enough to get to the top of local search results and is low-hanging fruit every firm should start with.
Take these steps to optimize your firm’s Google profile:
- Check for correct contact information that matches your website.
- Choose the right categories for your practice areas and be specific (“Bankruptcy Attorney” versus “Law Firm”).
- Include additional attributes, including accessibility, amenities, languages spoken, payment information, and special features about your firm such as veteran-owned, woman-owned, LGBT-friendly, etc.
- Include a keyword-rich description that explains who your firm serves, what your practice areas are, and why someone should hire your firm.
- Claim a keyword-rich shortname that allows clients to easily leave reviews.
- Increase the number and quality of reviews, create review response policies, and routinely respond to reviews.
- Regularly post on your profile with firm news, information about your practice areas, and share new articles or blog posts from your site.
- Keep your hours up to date, including holiday closings.
- Use messaging to interact with potential clients, if you can.
Because SEO is relative, be sure to look at your competitors’ listings and set benchmarks for improvements to your profile, including the number of reviews, average rating, and posting frequency. Be careful when optimizting your Google My Business profile that you avoid common ethical pitfalls for SEO.
2. Do Competitor Backlink Analysis
While Map rankings are more significantly impacted by GMB optimization than other factors, there’s no doubt about the power of high quality links back to your site on your firm’s search rankings.
The top overall ranking factor is your site’s backlink profile, or the quality and number of links back to your website from other sites. Moz research shows your site’s backlinks account for 27.94% of non-Map rankings and 16.53% of Map rankings, making it the top path towards improving your rankings overall.
Obtaining new links to your site can be difficult, however, but keep in mind that the influence of your backlinks on rankings is relative to the backlinks of your competitors at the top of search. If your website isn’t showing up in search results for your top keywords but is being indexed, one of the first things to check is your backlink profile.
You can get started building backlinks with a competitor backlink audit using SEO software. While it’s a time consuming process, assessing each link for quality and if your firm can get a similar link can help you quickly build your backlink profile without reinventing the wheel. You can also learn more about what legal marketing your competitors are using by looking closely at their backlinks.
3. Implement a Backlink Building Plan
After assessing your competitor’s backlinks, it’s time to make a plan to replicate quality links as well as build ones that are more difficult for your competitors to replicate. The more you build relevant, quality links through methods competing firms can’t reproduce, the more protected your rankings will become.
You can use linkbuilding strategies that also help market your law firm directly to bring in more clients and indirectly through improved rankings. Strategies can include:
- Submitting articles to practice area niche publications
- Participating in local associations beyond your Bar
- Speaking opportunities to local groups and organizations
- Earned media mentions in local media and regional publications
- Community sponsorships and partnerships for local organizations, teams and events
These strategies are often used by law firms without much thought given to SEO. When your law firm participates in community events, simply asking for a link on a website can help improve your SEO quickly and easily and organizations are often happy to give links as a way of thanks for your firm’s support.
Monitor & Make Adjustments
As you start to implement these strategies to fast track your SEO results, be sure to monitor your rankings and traffic from organic search, as well as the quality and number of new matters. Don’t waste your time or marketing dollars on outdated citation-building techniques or poor quality SEO and instead focus on what research shows will move the needle faster and more efficiently for your firm.
Our law firm SEO services are designed to help law firms get to the top of search results more quickly by focusing on the above strategies. Contact us today for a local SEO evaluation and talk to one of our law firm SEO experts about your goals.