#011: Google My Business For Law Firms
This episode is all about why Google My Business (GMB) is so important for law firms. This is FREE REAL ESTATE on the internet that Google uses in its algorithm to determine SEO and rankings for their search engine! Learn how to use this valuable tool in this episode!
Some of the resources I visited about in today’s episode include the following:
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Hello, welcome back. I am excited that you’re here because today we are going to talk about something that is really essential for your SEO puzzle. So SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. And a lot of people think that that just has to do with your website with your law firm’s website. And that’s true.
But SEO is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. So you want to have all of these pieces in place, so that Google can eventually start putting the puzzle together and figure out what the top of the puzzle box looks like what your law firm is really an expert, a specialist in what type of law you practice, and that you frankly deserve to be served up in the Google rankings higher than your competitors.
And one of the ways to do that is to make sure that your Google My Business is optimized. So let’s just talk for a minute about Google My Business. This is where you are putting all of your information about your law firm onto Google, so that you can be found in search. And this is also the place that your Google reviews are linked, it can literally move your law firm up into the coveted upper regions of a local Google search.
The truth is that many people that are searching for a law firm are doing so with a specific location in mind. They will be searching personal injury attorney in Sedona, Arizona, or they will be searching criminal defense attorney in New York City, whatever it is, they are including a location in their search many, many times.
If you have your Google My Business Page optimized, it can absolutely capture the attention of your potential clients. Because that is how they are searching for you and your Google My Business Page will be linked to that location.
So a Google My Business Page can showcase your firm, it can promote your online presence, it can give certain information such as the hours that you are available, or the days that you are open if you have an actual location or not a virtual law firm. And basically, it presents the image of your law firm to anyone who is searching for your type of law practice on the internet.
The most important thing you can remember about Google My Business is that it is free real estate for your law firm on the internet. And not only is it free, this is prime free real estate. It is prime location on the internet. In order to help you get to the top of Google quickly. Google, my business listings are spotlighted in a larger display panel, they show up bigger and better than just a standard Google search. And sometimes paid ads are at the top of Google that is true. But business listings, Google My Business is free.
So the very long story short is that if you have a law firm, you really need to take some time to grow and develop your Google My Business Page in order to get traction with your SEO. That’s search engine optimization. So if you want to have your business featured in Google My Business and you do that is the answer to that question you do want it featured in Google My Business. All you have to do is complete a few simple steps. Once your potential clients can find your law firm displayed on Google My Business, they will be able to see obviously the name of your law firm, they’ll be able to see a brief description of your law firm, which can include keywords, which can help you get to the top of Google in searches.
It will obviously have a link to your law firms website which I always call home base. You want everything on the internet, always going back to home base, which is your law firm website. It can have directions to a physical office, if you have a physical office and if you have a virtual Law Firm, you still need to grab your Google My Business Page. And that’s really important as well, because you still want to be indexed and you want your law firm to be able to be searched on Google, even if it’s a virtual, you can include information like your hours of operation, holiday hours.
Now, during COVID, you can have your COVID response, how you’re handling that if you are doing appointments through zoom, or if your office is closed, or if you require masks, it will have your contact information, it will have your reviews your Google reviews on there as well. There is a place for you to put questions and answers, and a place for you to put photographs either of all of the attorneys or your office building. Or perhaps if you have done some community work or outreach work or philanthropic work, you can put pictures of those experiences there.
And we’re going to talk about it in a minute. But here’s a sneak peek. You can also put blog posts on your Google My Business Page. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. But the point is, you really need to take full advantage of this space, because Google has these little bots that crawl all over the internet to try to really gather all of the different jigsaw pieces to figure out who you are, and create your own SEO puzzle.
And Google will take your Google My Business Page and synthesize it, along with all of the other information from your website and social media to try to make a determination how much of an expert you really are in your field.
I hope I have now convinced you. The Google My Business is really important. Let’s just get started. Every law firm and frankly, any business can get their law firm listed on Google My Business for no cost. It really is a very savvy marketing move.
This next part is important though, it should not replace your law firms website. Google My Business is great. And it can put a lot of information out there about your law firm. But it is not a website. And it can lead people to your law firm’s website. And it can do a lot more than that. But it is not as powerful as the information that you are able to put on your website. So you can link the two.
But make no mistake, you still need a law firm website specific for you.
Four out of five Google searches are looking for businesses in a specific location. And law firms harp I think it’s actually even more than four out of five, Google My Business not only pinpoints the location of your law firm, to seekers in that area and that geographic area, it then provides them the instant information that they need. And frankly, it makes your business credible and accessible.
I know that I have in the past in my life searched for a Google business and they’re not on the internet, they’re not they don’t have a website, they don’t have a Google My Business and instantaneously, it almost seems that that business is not credible. And even if you don’t buy that, I will tell you that it will make your business not accessible to the people that are looking for you if you do not have a Google My Business Page.
So how to get started is this, you want to go to obviously Google My Business Online. When you land on the Google My Business page. Click Manage now, and Google will lead you through all the information you need to enter such as your location, your contact information, your business hours, all of that good stuff. If your law firm has multiple locations, they will require that each location have a separate listing. At least that’s the way that it is at the time of recording this podcast.
If your law firm has different locations, you’re going to want to set up a different Google My Business Page for every location. Now make sure to list your law firm name exactly as the actual name of your law firm.
There are some digital marketers out there that are suggesting that people and businesses use keywords. This is a mistake. And here’s why. Google is trying to find all of the pieces that relate to your law firm throughout the entire internet, make it easy for them. Use your law firm name exactly as it shows up on your website, as it is listed in different legal places and legal organizations throughout the internet, do not use keywording. For the actual name of your law firm, it just confuses Google frankly. And then the Google bots are not going to be able to synthesize your entire digital footprint into one cohesive unit, which is, frankly, what’s helping your SEO and what you’re trying to accomplish to get on the first page of Google. So that’s very important.
Now, I will say that there is an area underneath your law firm’s name where you can put a description of your business. In that area, I would put your different practice areas as keywords. So that is an area that you can keyword. There are also many categories for lawyers in Google My Business, so add more specific information than just lawyer when you’re choosing your grouping. For example, use criminal lawyer or personal injury lawyer and including this specialty and specificity will really draw in your target audience.
If your law firm has more than one area of practice, and I’m sure many of you do, make sure to list it on your profile. Because Google My Business for lawyers offers various categories from which to choose. So you want to include as many as you can. This is important because if you have more than one lawyer in your law firm, one may specialize in estate planning, the other one may do more family law. All of this can be specified in your Google My Business listing.
So it’s important to note that these categories are ready-made, you can’t craft your own, at least not again at the time of this recording of this podcast. So be very careful when you choose your area of practice the first time around. Because if you decide to change categories at a later time, you may be required to complete more of the next steps. And it’s, frankly, a little inconvenient. So take the time that you need to make sure that you are putting your law firm in all of the correct categories that are applicable to you. At a later time, if you have a new practice area, or add an attorney to your firm, you can update your Google My Business Page at any time.
After you input all of this information into Google My Business, you will need to confirm your business. So before your law firm can show up as a bona fide listing, Google has to actually confirm that you exist your law firm exists and the integrity of your business address. Remember, before how I said you can still do this, if you have a virtual law firm, you can have the Google My Business postcard sent to your home. Normally, you would have it sent to your business location. And they do use snail mail, they just use the regular postal system to send you a little postcard. If you don’t have a physical location for your law firm, just use your personal address or whatever you’re using.
You cannot however, use a PO box. Again, that’s at the time of the recording of this podcast. Usually, this is completed within about a week and once your location is confirmed. And that’s done by taking the code that’s on the Google My Business postcard and inputting it into your Google My Business Page. At that point, your law firm will be visible and accessible to all the people that are looking for you.
At this point, after you have your Google My Business Page actually set up and it’s live. There are a lot of ways you can actually optimize your profile. It’s really critical to input all of the necessary information regarding your law firm into your Google My Business profile and then update it regularly really to in order to maximize this free real estate on the internet. The first thing you should do and I got seven of these,
Okay, so the first thing is, you really need to spend some time perfecting your profile. Do yourself a favor, don’t cut any corners here, fill everything out that you can possibly fill out your office hours and if you’re a virtual firm, you can just put 24 hours there, your address, your website link, contact information phone number, you can list and update all of the different locations for all of your lawyers.
You can do that by clicking on Manage locations and a lot of this is very intuitive for Google My Business. And you just want to really display all the information that it would make for a future client or potential client to find their way to your website, or to pick up the phone and call you.
The second thing is to take some time to craft a very good business description. You only have a limited number of characters here to describe exactly what your law firm does, what you offer, and, frankly, why someone should call you instead of someone else.
This description rests right underneath your ratings, and your reviews on Google My Business. This description should reflect exactly what you do, it can display your mission and values. And again, you need to use this real estate to tell a potential client what makes your law firm, unique, so that they choose you instead of a competitor. Consider, including information that makes you unique. But always be honest and clear about what you offer. And avoid any kind of special offers or links within the description. Obviously, publish quality content and use effective keywords here that your potential clients will be searching for, for the legal services that you offer.
The third thing is to include images. Remember before when I said that you can put pictures of you or your associates, community activities you’ve been involved in philanthropic events you’ve attended or supported or even the inside of your office, you can include all of these images in Google My Business. And I think it’s really important to take the time to sort of add fresh photos to your listing as often as you can.
So here are some more ideas other than showing off your friendly faces, and perhaps even the inside of your office, you can display your branding. By including your firm’s logo, you can add other creative pictures. And in fact, you can include a virtual tour of your office. And that can be a way for people to connect with you.
I’ll just take a moment here to say that people do business with people. I didn’t make up that saying that’s very old, frankly. And it’s true. People don’t do business with logos or buildings, or frankly, even websites, people do business with people. So you need to think about using Google My Business and your website as a way to really showcase who you are.
An interesting statistic is that after the front page of a law firm website, the next most clicked area of a website is the About Us page. The reason is that people genuinely want to know who they may be calling to represent them for a potentially life-altering matter. So make this easy for them and provide pictures and photographs, and attempt to connect with potential clients every way you can both on your website, and also on Google My Business.
Okay, the fourth tip, take advantage of free advertising. Google, my business offers free listings for special events. So if your law firm is having some sort of special event or doing something in the community, or a philanthropic or charity event, this event can appear underneath your law firms listing and it will run until the event is over. This is a really excellent free, free opportunity to show potential clients and those searching on Google what’s going on in your law firm and what you find to be important and the types of causes or charities that you support. It gives them a bit of a flavor of who you and your law firm are. So definitely take advantage of this free real estate for some free advertising regarding any special event you may have. Again, people do business with people.
The fifth thing you should do is to offer consistent updates on your law firm. There’s really nothing more frustrating for any person and especially a potential client to have a nonresponsive business or in this case a law firm. So if there are any changes or interruptions to your regular business hours or an update to an address or anything that would impact your law firm’s listing on Google My Business, you should change it. During the time of COVID. A lot of law firms went on to Google My Business and made sure to let any potential client know that they would be available at all times, even through COVID. through phone calls, and through zoom calls. And Google will often automatically add a standard disclaimer such as holiday hours may be different. But your clients will appreciate eliminating the guesswork in that if you can just simply say what your hours are in special circumstances, such as COVID, or holiday hours.
The sixth thing that you should do regarding Google My Business is to maintain your law firm’s online reputation. Now in an ideal world, a satisfied client would automatically immediately document their positive experience by instantaneously going on to Google My Business and giving you a perfect online review.
But we all know that that doesn’t happen. So you might need to provide a bit of an easier path for your client to do this. With a gentle series of reminders, links or other help. To keep a healthy online reputation in the form of good Google reviews, it is vital that you feature as many positive reviews on your Google My Business listing as possible.
As we all know, personal recommendations are one of the strongest tools a potential client is going to look for regarding a law firm if, frankly, any business in general, right. Positive online reviews are so important.
I’m going to give you a statistic that might shock you It shocked me, frankly, 92% of people trust an online review from a stranger that they’ve never met over recommendations from their family and friends. So I cannot overstate how important Google reviews are. It is the social proof that your law firm is credible and reliable. It gives immediate accessible research for potential clients to look and see how other clients have been treated at your law firm.
And frankly, five star reviews on Google improves your search rankings. Because Google favors listings with more positive reviews. These are a huge part of your SEO puzzle. And we’re going to be doing a whole podcast on that later, don’t worry, I will tell you that there’s a little trick here. If you go into your Google My Business listing and go into the review section, there is the opportunity there to find a short link. It’s a very short URL. When you are emailing your clients or messaging your clients asking for a Google review, use this link. Here’s why. Once they click on that link, that’s all they have to do. Immediately it goes to your Google review site and a pop up shows up, they can click how many stars they want to give you leave the review right there and hit enter.
It’s literally that fast. In fact, you can put in your email or in your message that you send your clients that the entire process should take less than two minutes if they click this link.
Now, unfortunately, sometimes there are disgruntled clients that have a tendency to leave a negative review. If you get a negative or poor review on your Google My Business listing, don’t let it go unanswered. There are some digital marketers that say you should not answer any kind of negative review. And there’s even some information out from the American Bar Association that says you need to be very careful when you are responding to any clients, or frankly, people who have left a review for your law firm that were not a client, you need to remain very aware of attorney-client privilege.
However, I think you still have the right to answer any positive or negative review in a very professional way where you’re not disclosing any kind of attorney-client privilege or any privileged information. If you get a negative review, just remember to be calm and gracious. And then offer the person the opportunity to visit with you offline and give a phone number. It really is an opportunity to showcase your professionalism and frankly, your diplomacy.
If you get a negative review that you truly feel Not deserved, you can contact Google directly and give them the circumstances and ask for the removal, it does take a bit of time. But I would highly encourage you to do that if you feel that a review is just simply unwarranted, or it was left by someone who never even received your legal services, it’s important to keep track of these reviews. And we will be going into more depth regarding Google reviews in a podcast coming up soon.
The last bit of advice for you I have regarding optimizing your Google My Business Page is to answer potential client questions and provide some value right there. Now you want them to go to your website, but in the case that they don’t, on your Google My Business listing, there is a question and answer function that you should be checking and updating frequently. This is a great way to spotlight how responsive and helpful your law firm is towards clients. So just be sure to check for these questions on a regular basis, and provide very thoughtful answers. And, frankly, a way for these potential clients to get in contact with you if they have more questions.
Also, every Google My Business Page has space for your law firm to post articles. Again, consider this to just be free real estate on the internet that Google values to provide and showcase your expertise. Now, you can’t offer any kind of actual legal advice, just like you can’t do that on your law blog. But you can give information in the form of short articles. There is a word limit on these Google My Business Page, articles or blogs. And I believe at the time of this podcast, it was right around seven or 800. So these are not exceptionally large pieces of real estate. However, you can include really almost as many as you want. Here’s a point to remember though, these articles expire after a certain period of time. So you need to be consistently providing fresh content in this area, not only to help potential clients receive value and answers to questions, but also provide an additional location online to show the Google bots and the algorithm that you are truly an expert in your area of legal practice.
We are really not sure, to be honest with you how much these articles factor into your entire SEO puzzle. However, my personal opinion is, Google wouldn’t put it there unless they had the capability of not only searching it, but using it as part of their algorithm. So unless I hear otherwise, I am recommending all of my small and solo law firm clients to take input content in these areas on Google My Business.
I hope that all of this not only convinced you that Google My Business is super important for any business, but certainly for law firms. But it also gave you several tips on how to grab your Google My Business Page, confirm that you have your Google My Business Page, and then optimize it. Because really, along with having a quality website, fresh content, a social media strategy, and positive reviews, Google My Business is an essential tool for lawyers to truly increase their overall online visibility and digital footprint.
With that said, Do you have a Google My Business Page? When was the last time you looked at it? Is it optimized? Do you have articles or posts on there? Have you included pictures on there? Have you perfected your profile? Have you keyworded your business description? Have you taken advantage of free advertising space by listing any of your special events? And are you checking your reviews because you need to be doing that?
I hope that today you learned a lot about Google My Business. It really is such an important tool and peace in your SEO jigsaw puzzle. So I hope you take the time to revisit your Google My Business Page and optimize it so that you can get more potential clients calling you you can make more money. And now you know it’s the time I tell you hit that subscribe button so that you never miss out on any amazing episodes that are going to help your law firm with your digital marketing. So until next time, thank you so much for joining me in the Legal Marketing Lounge.