Hi, I’m Annette Choti, an attorney of 20 years that created Law Quill, a marketing agency for small and solo law firms. Join me to learn how to grow your law firm through digital marketing strategies, SEO, social media, and more. Let’s get that law firm of yours more online visibility, a larger digital footprint, tons of organic traffic, and more clients. I’m so excited. You’re here, click that subscribe button and join me in the legal marketing lounge.
Hello, friends, have you been good? Me too. I have some exciting news for you. Some of you have probably heard this, some of you haven’t. But it is about Google My Business. And a lot of you are hopeful hopefully a lot of you are using Google My Business to grow your law firm online. Here’s the deal. Google bots are not our robot overlords yet. So what they do is they crawl the whole interwebs. And they look at your website, they look at your social media profiles. And they look at your presence on their platform on Google, and your reviews, to synthesize all that information and determine what kind of legal services you provide, what location you’re in, what your area of expertise is. And they’re basically trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with all of the pieces that you’re giving them.
Google My Business is Now Google Business Profile
Well, the big news is that Google My Business is now called Google business profile. And it’s not just a name change, they’ve also made some changes within their platform, you absolutely should be using Google My Business. So if you’re not using Google My Business, the very first thing you should do after listening to this podcast, is to go and claim your Google business profile space as your law firm. And that would be where you can get your Google reviews and all of the things. It’s very important. It’s free, that real estate is free. And it’s an incredibly important piece to your SEO puzzle.
Why Google Business Profile is Important
So let’s talk first about why Google business profile is so important. Since launching their local business profile features in 2004, which is like a million years ago, in internet years, Google has literally changed and rebranded the platform only a handful of times. The most recent restructuring just happened in November of 2021. And a lot of people are still calling it Google My Business, because that’s what we’ve called it for so long, but it’s now called Google business profile. And the changes are more than just semantics. This is more than just a vernacular change. This is some substantial changes that as a business owner, as a law firm owner, you need to know about and keeping up to date on how Google business profile is impacting your law firm can absolutely move the needle regarding SEO.
So it begs the question, what exactly is different between the former Google My Business and the new, potentially improved? I think it’s improved Google business profile. Before we get into it, I just feel compelled to say, again, why Google business profile is so important.
It is the virtual real estate that is allowing you to manage your online presence across the entire Google platform, which is an expansive network of apps and tools that serves as a default source of information for literally billions of people every day. The importance is clear. Especially considering that Google Sites Google websites are ranked as the most popular multiplatform web property in the United States. Here’s the truth of what we all know. Everyone starts looking for everything online. Pretty much with Google, we all know this right? And that includes looking for a lawyer.
They even say that 85% of consumers look for legal services on online Google Maps. So however, they’re looking for you, at some point, they’re using some Google tool to do it. And leveraging these Google Online Marketing Tools are, are what moves the needle. It’s the game changer, especially for solo practitioners, small law firms or even medium sized law firms.
If you want to know more about how Google business can be used to generate business, for your law firm, I have a couple of blog articles about how to do deep dives into Google Analytics, they’re important. And while it can take a little bit of time to understand it, it really is very important, especially if you are doing this all yourself.
How Google My Business Has Changed
So back to Google business profile, this is a quick way for potential clients to see kind of an overview of your practice you they can directly communicate with you and your team before even going to your website as well through Google business profile. And Google Business Profile really makes it even easier for them to do that. We’re going to talk about that in a minute. But if I haven’t convinced you yet, which hopefully I have, right, I hope.
But if I haven’t, then please let this convince you that in order to be competitive in the market, you have to have an online presence, you know that. And Google business profile is sort of the hub of the spoke, you know, all the spokes of your digital marketing, we’ll all go back to Google. So it’s really important to invest some time in your real estate there.
Rebranding Google My Business
So let’s start with it out with the old in with the new, Google sometimes releases updated versions of their platform. But the most recent rebranding is not just a minor change, it’s pretty significant. And it’s not just a name change, either to Google business profile, it is very important to understand what this entirely new Google Business Profile encompasses. First of all, the Google My Business app, is is going to be gone. One of the biggest changes they announced is that they are retiring, the Google My Business mobile app, the official ending date hasn’t been announced yet. But Google has decided to remove the app completely in 2022.
So while this mobile app is being phased out, the existing Google My Business web experience, Google business profile experience will remain available, but it will be rebranded as Business Profile Manager. So if you’re going to look for all of your stuff, that’s what you’re looking for now, the Business Profile Manager, and it is going to focus on large businesses with multiple locations.
But smaller and single location law firms or businesses are now urged to manage their profile directly through Google search, and maps. What does that mean? It means that small businesses like you small law firms can manage their online presence by signing into Google Maps, or signing into Google search, instead of using the Google Business Profile app or console. The logic that they are using behind this is that they’re removing a secondary platform, and that they are trying to really simplify and streamline the way that businesses operate online that this has yet to be seen how this is all going to operate after the app goes away. So stay tuned. But this is really one of the biggest changes, and they are trying to prepare everybody for this now.
Streamlining Google Maps
The next way that it has changed is that it has streamlined Google Maps, and search capabilities. So in launching the new Google Business Profile Google was aiming I think what they’re saying is to streamline the process of claiming and maintaining a business profile. For that reason, Google is beginning to increase the capabilities of Google Maps, and Google search.
The new Google business profile system is going to allow business owners like you to verify and claim their profile directly through maps and search. If you have already claimed your Google My Business, which is now Google business profile, this won’t impact you as much but for those new law firms that are just starting out and if you are listening to do this in the future, when all of this has happened, hopefully this helps you.
Google says that they are going to outline precisely how business owners are going to be able to verify and claim their profile in the coming months. So this particular podcast was recorded in March of 2022. So we will see how long that takes. But this shift to direct management is very important for law firms who have not yet verified their profile.
The next huge, huge movement in Google business profile is about call history. So the call history tool in Google business profile is going to allow you to keep track of phone calls that are made through Google search or maps, people are going to be able to call you directly from Google business profile. And while this is currently an experimental feature, the new Call History feature is going to make it easier to gauge how many potential clients are finding your business through Google, and immediately contacting you without even going to your website.
So in practice, you can expect a short message at the start of all calls coming from your Google business profile. And it will state that the caller is coming from Google. So you’ll know also, when a potential client hits the call button on your Google business profile, that call is now going to be recorded in the relevant tab of your profile. And then that will go into the call history.
Thus, you will be able to view all recent missed and answered calls in one organized location. For all the calls that are coming in from Google, the calls are kept for 45 days in this tab, and then you have to opt into the call history tool in order to benefit from it. Now, if your practice is based in the United States, or Canada, all of this applies to you. But for my listeners who are based outside of the United States and Canada, you may not be impacted by this feature, because you may not have it yet, I’m sorry, at least not yet. Google will probably determine in their infinite wisdom, whether or not this is a success. And then at that point, they may extend it to businesses outside of these two countries.
The next big change is business messaging through Google search or maps. So an interesting feature that Google has implemented in the new Google Business Profile rollout is a chat feature. This is going to allow you to correspond with potential clients directly through Google search, or maps fostering quicker, more personal, more efficient communication. Can you tell I’m excited? This is a big deal. Because if you have someone on your team that is able to answer potential clients, you are getting them immediately. I mean, before they are even going to other searches before they’re even coming to your website and trying to make decisions. It’s a big deal.
Through this business messaging, you can answer questions, provide clarity, basically attract more clients, you can create an automated welcome message that gets sent to clients who message you that is fully customizable. And Google wants to really see that messages that people send to you are answered within 24 hours. They really want to provide this amazing feature to businesses law firms that are going to use it and use it effectively, they may actually deactivate any chat account that regularly goes beyond this allotted 24 hour time frame. So if you make the decision to start utilizing this feature, make sure that you have the ability to answer people within 24 hours or less.
So now when potential clients view your Google business profile, they’re also going to be able to see your average response time. And that is calculated and summed up as either usually response in a few minutes or a few hours or in a day or within a few days. You really want to get that to a few minutes. If you can, that’d be awesome. Or at least within a few hours.
If you can’t tell, I really am very excited about this chat feature. A lot of law firms have found success putting a chat feature on their website. And this is free. This is a free way for you to connect with potential clients. It costs you literally nothing. It just opens a lot of new avenues for communication with potential clients, and I really think it’s important, particularly for lawyers, because you are instantaneously building trust and rapport and the fact that you, you are going to be there for them to answer their questions quite quickly. And that’s very, that’s deeply important to potential clients.
Performance Planner Tool
The next Google Business Profile feature is the Performance Planner Tool. So this tool is going to be particularly useful if you use Google ads. Now you know that I am a huge fan and proponent of organic marketing. That is everything except paid advertisement. But I know that some of you are interested in Google ads. So I do want to address this new feature in Google business profile. If you are utilizing Google ads to advertise your services, then listen to basically, the performance planner tool will allow you to plan local advertisement campaigns that are based on your budget.
And the tool is also going to help you see how changes to the campaign that you have, will affect your metrics and your overall performance. So the performance planner tool is really going to be quite valuable to any law firm who wants to attract more clients with targeted advertisements, utilizing Google ad campaigns. Look, it can be daunting at first, especially if you’ve never employed them in your marketing strategy, this performance planner tool, I think the entire point of it was to generate suggestions on how to improve your campaign, while still staying in your allotted budget. I think that that is really what the point of this tool is and why Google business profile created it.
This tool updates every 24 hours based on the billions. That’s because of search queries that happen every day. So the suggestions will account for variables like seasonality, your competitor activity, landing pages, all the things.
How Google Business Profile Can Help You
So I hope I have given you some interesting insight into the new Google business profile. But you may still be asking, Why am I even caring about this? How does this really impact me? The roll out of Google Business Profile really stands to impact your law firms, Google visibility and your overall online presence, it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal. Claiming and optimizing your Google business profile is very important. If you have not done so already.
You need to do that like now like, like literally after you’ve listened to this podcast, if you’ve not done so already. And if you don’t know how to do that I have a blog post on that on my website. But if you really are interested in growing your SEO, you really need to be focused on Google business profile.
And I am very excited as you can tell about some of the features that are going to be there that are offered for free, that oftentimes you have to pay for it to be on your website. Some of these changes are present right now. And some of these methods are currently available for you to engage with potential clients and reach a wider audience through Google. Do you need to do anything to prepare for these changes? Not yet, unless you haven’t claimed your Google business profile? Have I said that enough? Like seriously go do that.
But Google is going to slowly incorporate these changes. So you don’t need to really worry about any immediate upsets, or anything to disturb your SEO right away. If you are a frequent user of the Google My Business back end or mobile app, you may want to practice editing your profile directly in Google search or maps, because like I said, that Google My Business App is going away at some point in 2022. So taking the time to practice will help you adapt when those platforms are retired at some point this year.
Overall, the announcement of Google business profile is more indicative of the incremental changes and improvements that Google is trying to implement, rather than anything that you need to hysterically react to right now, but it is exciting. I think that you can have a call history and track people that are calling you directly from Google or that you can chat with them and message them directly from Google. I just think that’s really exciting.
So while you don’t necessarily need to consider how you’ll implement all these new features today, I do think that it needs to be part of your overall digital marketing strategy. If you ever have any more questions about Google business profile, of course, you can always go to the law quill website. There’s a lot of information about the old Google My Business, which is still relevant there, as well as how to claim that Google My Business Profile Google Business Profile profile, I guess I have to say that twice. And there are a lot of blog posts also about how to strategically look at your Google Analytics as well, which is very important to understand your SEO and, frankly, how to grow online. So I know that this was a really technical episode today.
But it should fill you with excitement, that there are a lot of tools that are going to be out there that are currently out there for free on Google business profile that you can use. So take a hot minute and go look at it and see what you think. And while you’re out there on the interweb take a minute please to leave me a review on iTunes, if you haven’t already. And also subscribe to the legal marketing lounge podcast. And I do hope that this episode got you a little bit excited about the changes that are happening that are free that your law firm can utilize to its advantage to grow your digital footprint online. Thank you again so much for taking the time to listen and I hope it helped. And until next time, thank you for joining me in the legal Marketing lounge.