How to Use ‘Google My Business’ for Lawyers
By Conrad Saam
Google My Business (GMB) is a law firm’s primary connection between its online presence and physical footprint. GMB is fundamentally yet another directory because of its prevalence in Google’s search engine results. It is a key component of a strategic and effective marketing strategy for law firms. In addition, GMB provides a wealth of critical information to prospective clients, both those who are looking for a specific firm (“Ben Glass Law Firm”) as well as those researching a specific issue (“car accident attorney”).
Importance of Google My Business Lawyers
A Google law firm profile contains all the foundational information prospective clients would like to know about businesses, such as an address, phone number, and hours of operation. GMB also goes deeper by providing additional information for users—think: handicapped parking? Closed on Columbus Day? Speak Spanish? Veteran owned? What does the interior look like? Want to book an appointment directly through Google?
A Google law firm profile is the primary source for many consumers to review information when searching for lawyers or related queries. Long-standing directories have tried to keep up, but the sheer volume of reviews, and Google’s expansive reach, have made a Google law firm profile the de facto resource when researching a service-based business like a law firm.
Google My Business and Local Search
A well-filled-out Google My Business is the foundational element for showing up on local search results. The profile pops up when Google determines that the searcher has localized intent—for example, “pizza restaurant” or “criminal defense attorney”.
After claiming the profile, firms can augment it with important information. Correctly categorizing your firm by practice area is important for showing up as a specific, non-branded search query within Google’s system. You can easily evaluate if your firm has the appropriate category(s) by doing a brand query. For example, enter “Murphy Law Firm”. Then see if the descriptor in the GMB profile (that shows up on the right of the screen in the search results) is specific to your practice area or just says something generic like “law firm” or “legal services”. This is the equivalent of telling Google you are a “pizza restaurant” instead of a “restaurant”.
In these local search results, Google will also pull content from the website listed and reviews to help a firm rank for specific queries. So, if your reviews mention, “I was hit by a man who was underinsured,” or you have a website blog post with “Strategies for dealing with underinsured motorists”, you may have a leg up in ranking for queries referencing that specific issue.
One of the primary drivers of GMB presence in the Google search results is search proximity. For example, your law firm would likely appear for someone across the street but not for someone doing the same search from across the city. Many smaller firms in tertiary markets have been extremely effective in local search, within their local market, by leveraging Google’s preference for proximity.
This further helps avoid competition with large, downtown firms. However, a well-filled out GBP profile isn’t enough in the hyper-competitive legal industry. You should also have online reviews and several quality backlinks from prominent websites. This will help your firm rank higher for related search queries on the search results page.
The Spammy Underground of Local Search
Implementing local search strategies on Google has been so effective in generating business from localized audiences that many firms have faked office locations to steal market share. A Florida-based PI firm opened a Seattle office and associated a GMB profile (complete with raving reviews and office space) months before the firm had any lawyers licensed in Washington state.
More nefariously, off-shore businesses have created thousands of fake law firm profiles, generated inbound leads from them, and then laundered those leads through some well-known US-based pay-per-lead services. Many firms adopted the approach of changing their official name from (for example) “Murphy Law” to “Murphy Car Accident Lawyers of St. Louis” in a (frequently successful) attempt to game Google’s local search algorithm. A late algorithm update in early December of last year has dramatically improved the quality of results—thankfully reducing the effectiveness of this keyword-stuffed spam tactic.
Google My Business for Lawyers: Tips and Tricks
List Multiple Categories
Don’t worry about listing multiple categories for your law firm. Research by digital marketing nerds has shown that this does NOT negatively impact performance in any given category. So, if you practice both estate planning and family law, by all means, showcase that on your profile.
Evaluate Actions with Tracking Numbers
Use tracking numbers to evaluate how much action your GMB generates. This tactic has long been mistaken as problematic because of concerns that tracking numbers would confuse Google with the actual true number of the firm—thereby kicking it out of search results. The current best practice is to use a tracking number for the displayed number and list the firm’s primary number as a secondary number in the GMB listing.
Incorporate UTM Parameters to Evaluate Traffic
Speaking of tracking, you can also use UTM parameters on the click-through URL listed in your GMB profile (i.e., your website) to track the volume of traffic the GMB sends to your site.
Monitor your profile
This is obvious, but many firms fail to simply monitor what shows up when their brand is searched for. Sometimes poor-quality pictures or negative reviews pop up, and firms should proactively monitor these issues. Nefarious competitors (or their agencies) may suggest fake edits to your listing—and voila, you are now a hair salon! Or closed! Or only open on Thursdays!
If done well, Google My Business can shine a positive light on your firm when prospective clients vet you online. Hence, it’s worth remembering that GMB can be a very effective business driver for firms seeking to expand their business.
Need help with building your Google My Business profile? Let MyCase assist you.
Conrad Saam is the founder of Mockingbird Marketing, an online marketing agency focused exclusively on the legal sector. A frequent presenter at bar association and legal marketing conferences, he is the author of “Own the Map: Marketing Your Law Firm’s Address Online,” and “The FindLaw Jailbreak Guide.” A Google Small Business Advisor, Conrad has held positions for multiple ABA marketing committees.