This is a guest post by Katie Wolf, a writer at Filevine, the operating core for legal professionals. Filevine’s technology helps firms get more done with less effort and frees them to focus fully on the needs of their clients.
Law firms know they need a good website. Many of them have invested time and money in creating attractive, engaging content with good SEO.
But the biggest new search trend means many people make their most important legal decisions before they ever click on your site.
This is the age of the local search, and it’s reshaping how we interact with the internet. We use Google and Google Maps to look up grocery stores, gas stations, or restaurants in our area. Instead of bothering to look at the website or call, we often get all the information we need directly from Google My Business listings.
Finding the right lawyer is more complicated than hunting down a nice cafe. Even still, the information you present through Google My Business can either lead to quick conversion—or signal to potential clients that they should look elsewhere.
This new search pattern presents a challenge for law firms. But it’s also a huge opportunity for you to take control of your online presence and adopt a powerful marketing tool.
Here are 7 ways you can use Google My Business to grow your practice:
1. Create or Verify Your Business
Before you do anything else, you need to make sure Google knows your firm exists. And you need to make sure you’re the one with the power to make changes.
The verification process entails Google mailing a postcard to your firm’s address, with a unique verification code. Keep your eye out for it, and make sure it isn’t accidentally tossed out with the junk mail.
Only once you are verified can you make any of the changes recommended below. But this first step alone can create positive outcomes. According to Google, verified businesses are twice as likely to be considered reputable by searchers.
2. Complete as Many Fields as Possible
Once you’re verified, add as much accurate information as possible. This will increase the valuable keywords in your entry and help you rank higher in searches.
Obviously, you want to include all of your contact information. According to Google, 60% of smartphone users contact a business directly using the Google search ‘click to call’ option. It’s one of the quickest ways to gain a new client. But it’s utterly useless if you have a missing or outdated phone number on your profile. Also, be sure to add your business hours—including special hours for holidays.
Don’t stop there. This listing is prime real estate, providing one of the best opportunities you have to speak to your potential clients. Write a description of your brand (in 750 characters or less). Add areas of law you practice. Be as specific as possible—adding too many options can dilute your category signals. Add professional photos and even videos of your firm to complete the brand experience. According to Google, businesses with photos receive an average of 35% more clicks than those without photos.
3. Keep Information Consistent
You might be tempted to score some SEO points by throwing extra keywords in your business name (say, transforming “The Law Office of Jane Doe” to “The Law Office of Jane Doe Best Personal Injury Lawyer in San Diego”). But the best results come from consistency across all your platforms. Make sure your information is the same as your website and your social media profiles.
As an extra bonus, Google might automatically connect your social media profiles to your Google My Business listing. In addition to keeping your information consistent, it helps to officially verify your social media sites when that option is available.
4. Encourage Great Client Reviews
Your ratings and reviews might be the most important part of your Google My Business profile. Because there is so much at stake in choosing a lawyer, people want to get an objective sense of what current and past clients think about you.
It’s up to your clients to leave honest reviews—but there is still a lot you can do to help make it happen. Encourage your happy clients to leave their thoughts online. For extra help, reach out to a professional service like Podium’s review management software.
Having more reviews also helps with your SEO, making it more likely that you’ll show up as a top result for potential clients.
It doesn’t end once you have reviews. You should also regularly respond to them. Thank positive reviewers for taking the time to write about their experience. And with negative reviews, express regret for their bad experience, thank them for their feedback, and invite them to discuss and remedy the issue with you privately. Even the best lawyers can’t avoid the occasional foul review—but a quick, personable response helps alleviate the problem.
5. Go the Extra Mile with Posts and Questions
One relatively new feature allows firm owners to add ‘posts’ to their Google My Business profile. This is an effective new way to speak directly to your potential clients. Posts stay live for 7 days unless they’re events (in which case they stay up until the day after the event’s end date).
What makes a good post? One popular option is to highlight a quote from a positive review, with an appealing font and background. You can also promote news, mention conferences you’re attending, link to your video on Youtube, or promote community events. Or take whatever you’re promoting on your blog or in social media and link to it with a short summary.
This isn’t the place for long explanations. Posts are limited to 300 words, but only the first 100 characters or so will appear on the panel.
You can also expand your profile by filling out the Q&A section with some of the frequent questions you receive. This helps people understand if you’re the right lawyer for them, and helps relieve any confusion they might have about the process. By regularly answering their own questions in the Q&A section, you show that you’re responsive and approachable.
6. Link In Your Other Marketing Efforts
One great way to connect your profile to other marketing efforts is through a Google Ad location extension. When you link Google My Business to your Google Ads, your ads expand to include your address and a map to your location. This creates more engagement with potential clients.
Google My Business is also a great place to use a campaign URL. These allow you to see how many people are finding you through your Google My Business listing, and see in real-time how they’re responding to your efforts to expand your profile.
While we’re talking about Google, don’t forget Microsoft’s search engine, Bing. You can import your Google My Business profile into Bing Places to ensure that those potential clients as well can find you.
7. Keep at It
You can’t simply create a Google My Business profile and be done with it. The best profiles are those that are updated regularly. Update your holiday hours, add new photos and posts, and most importantly, respond to reviews and questions.
To build this rhythm into your workflow, consider adding reminders into your case management software. With automatic reminders, you can ensure you’re creating a powerful online presence without constantly worrying about it. You can also use advanced reporting tools to understand where your clients are coming from and how they’re finding you.
Google is well aware of how effective their new tools are, and they frequently add new features to Google My Business profiles. Keep your eyes open for updates and grab hold of new opportunities as they arise. You’ll catch the attention of more potential clients and out-compete those firms that can’t keep up with our changing use of internet searches.